Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Check out This Awesome Slide Show of Our CSA

One of our subscribers has put together an amazing slideshow of our CSA from 2009, which can be accessed here. If this slideshow doesn't make you want a CSA from Growing Washington, nothing will. The music that accompanies the slideshow is not the Willie Nelson soundtrack that I would imagine, but it is a humbling effort put together by one of our most valued customers.

2009 = like five total posts. Can we do better?

Evidently farmers are not meant to be bloggers. At least not last year. We started this here blog (or Almanac, as we call it) back in January of ought nine, and so far our track record has been abysmal. It is not that we didn't have anything to report--quite the contrary. Rather, we were just so busy in 2009 that we didn't take the proper time to report our escapades on the intertubes for the rest of the world to see.

This year, in an effort to make all our followers feel better about themselves, Growing Washington has decided to try once again to run the coolest blog this side of the Nooksack, and that side of the Skagit.

2010 is a new year. Our loyal readers (all six of you) can expect regular farm updates, exciting news about Growing Washington and its many projects, breathtaking photography, sweet-ass recipes, farmer antics, updates on our latest disasters, and award-winning journalism. You will receive the complete and low-down Dirt on Growing Washington.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hey! It's March!

Brrrr! I can't believe how cold it has been. For the record, we had a significant amount of snowfall on March 8th, and have been experiencing fairly strong freezing temperatures on both the 9th and 10th. Spring, they say, is about 10 days away. We just switched over to spring daylight savings time on Sunday, too, so the daylight hours appear to be getting longer (which they are, but not because of daylight savings--I am just awake for more of them).

This year seems extraordinarily tight financially. It might be the implosion of our consume-command economy, but I don't remember late winter/early spring being such a stressful time in past years. Indeed, it is generally the calm before the storm. My biggest concern is keeping everyone employed until the we start reeping what we've been sowing. Of course, nothing we've planted is too interested in popping out of frozen soil to enjoy the snow. So, it is likely going to be a late spring, which is a spooky combination when a destroyed economy. Adding to the problem, about 95% of our overwintering crops--those things we plant in fall to and harvest first in spring--have been destroyed by the Christmas blizzards and the early January (the 6th, I think) floods. If it isn't garlic, it is dead.

Out of curiosity I called the Farm Service Agency today to see if we would qualify for an emergency operating loan. I was surprised to learn that we are eligible for all kinds of loans, but also surprised to learn that they are getting an unprecidented amount of loan requests. In fact, they are getting so many that they are "farming" the loans out. This either means 1) that a lot of farmers are in trouble, 2) a lot of farmers were affected by the floods, or 3) a lot of farmers are looking to expand their operations and see this opportunity as a great way to get cheap loan rates. In any event, the FSA says that loans are flying out the door, so it is interesting at the very least, hopeful at best.

We have invested quite a bit into season extension infrastructure. Since farming is such a gamble on the margins, and since organic farming is even more risky, I figure that the best we can do is gamble conservately and play by the book. Although tunnels and greenhouses are expensive, they do offer the ability to generate revenue when everything outside dies. Though an unheated greenhouse, as we learned this winter, can't withstand a week of temperatures in the teens. I have never seen kale and chard and beets just give up like that outside, let alone in a greenhouse. I have also never seen 2 solid inches of ice on the INSIDE of a greenhouse.
Tulips are doing well, though. I think that the winter tulips are so wildly popular because more than anything, they are a symbol of hope. "Spring is on the way," they say. "Don't cry."

The nice thing about spring is that it is a time of renewal. You ever look at a bunch of barron deciduous trees in winter and then go back and look at those same trees mid summer? What a difference! Spring, though testy, is the necessary tool to get us from the doldrums of winter to the shades of summer. In summer I will be complaining about the heat.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Broke Down

Things are coming along at the farm. The greenhouse in the back by the raspberries is up, we are pruning the blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, and we have sets of broccoli, cabbage, beets, kale and cauliflower ready to be transplanted outside. The problem is that the water pump on the tractor went out today while Joshua was pooing (the technical term on the farm for fertilizing) the raspberries, and won't be up and running until probably this weekend. So I suspect that weather depending we will be transplanting early next week.

Our peas have begun to germinate. There were some that hadn't gotten quite covered up with soil that we finally covered up today, and sure enough, they are coming. I was a little worried with the snow and cold, but it looks like everything is going to be all right. How exciting.

Friday, February 27, 2009


After getting our peas direct-seeded outside 2 weeks ago and getting them covered with remay, mother nature decided to hit us with a blast of snow at the farm. And some considerable cold. Hopefully the peas will make it, but only time will tell. That's farming for you!

The start-greenhouse is almost filled up now, having planted another succession of broccoli and cauliflower, and more salad in boxes. And lots of onions--one variety that I am super excited about is the Gunnison Onions, as Gunnison is a town from Colorado where I spent a lot of time fishing as a kid. We also have started 3 varieties of brussels sprouts, sheba sweet corn, cucumbers, more tomatoes and tons of egg-plant. And some Rocky Ford cantaloupe, which is the best tasting melon in the world!

Hopefully the snow is done for the season and we can get to work planting in the fields. The first set of broccoli is ready to go out, and there is some cauliflower not too far behind. We also have carrots, radishes, turnips, fava beans, peas, spinach and salad mix coming along in two of the green houses. Won't be long and we'll start harvesting again!

On the chicken front, Brad built a door for the chicken coop to keep out predators. It has been working well, be if any of the chickens don't make it in for the night they may not make it through the night. I'm thinking of getting a rooster to run herd on the ladies. We currently have one chicken in the infirmary who I believe must be on some sort of psychedelic drug, as it's head won't stop moving and she can almost spin it around. It's like the Exorcist, but really funny. I'll try to get some video of it and post it online.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Season Has Officially Begun!

Although there really is no beginning or end to the farming season, there is, undoubtedbly, a sense of rebirth as winter fades into spring. This year our goal was to plant peas on Presidents' Day, and we officially missed our target at both Alm Hill and 21 Acres by one day. So, I guess that we planted peas the day after President's Day--February 17th. We are lucky in that we've had two weeks of decent temperatures and no rain. It is tempting to get out there and plant some salad and radishes and turnips and spinach and other early season varieties.
All of the greenhouses at all of the farms are active, with peas, fava beans, radishes, turnips, salad, spinach, carrots, and beets in the ground and thousand and thousands of transplants from a huge variety of crops growing in trays on tables.
The raspberries are pruned and tied up. Next on the list is the blueberries and blackberries. We'll start putting tunnels up over the berries this week to encourage early growth, and will interplant quick crops between the berry rows.