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April 2018

Some new varieties to try

 

 If you've ever scanned a vegetable seed catalog, surely you know the giddy feeling we get every winter of new possibilities--and I admit, a little fear, as well.  ("But groundhogs ate all our cantaloupes last year.  Can we get it right this time?")

Pushing our hesitancy aside, here's a few things we're trying in 2018:

  • Did you know Anne Arundel County has its own melon variety?  The Anne Arundel muskmelon should be orange and green on the inside, similar to the Arava melon that we've grown successfully in some past years.  Varieties bred for our region are a rare treat, and with luck, this one will be well-adapted to the soil types, plant diseases and pests common to our area (think downy mildew, powdery mildew and cucumber beetles).  It's true that cantaloupes are the all-time favorite of groundhogs, which have a thriving population here at Clagett Farm.  But we have improved our skills in fencing and trapping, and we think this is our year.  Too bad we don't have a Prince George's County melon!
  • For over a decade, we couldn't size up a single beet on this farm, but we're getting better.  We think the biggest improvement was fertilizing with a little Boron (the same stuff sold as Borax in the laundry aisle of your grocery store).  Boron, Nitrogen and Sulfur are all negatively-charged ions in the soil, and are prone to leach deep into the soil and out of reach of our crops when it rains. Over the years, our Boron supply has dwindled to almost nothing, so we're slowly adding it back, little by little, and catching it with organic matter to hold it in place.  So this is the year we go a little crazy and try this new variety of striped chioggia beet to test our chops.  
  • And that last picture is of Christmas lima beans.  Normally we prefer bush beans over pole beans, because they are easier to manage and give us a big harvest quickly.  But this year we're trying out a few varieties of pole beans, including this beautiful lima.  Pole beans are said to taste better, and should produce beans over a longer period of time.  U-pick, anyone?

Wish us luck!  And better yet, invest in our new season by becoming a 2018 CSA member!  We need 250 full-paying CSA members to make this business work.  And that means you!  Who's going to eat all these lovely vegetables if you don't sign up?  

 

 


It's a good time to be a mama cow at Clagett Farm

IMG_3869bWe're up to ten calves, including a pair of twins!  And there's at least a dozen more to come.  Then in April, the new baby lambs will be born.  

The cows don't let you get close enough to pet them, but a patient visitor (human--not canine) can get to within a few yards.  So it may be chilly out, but it's still a good time to visit.

Cows serve an important purpose in the ecosystem of our farm.  They eat the grass and return those nutrients right back to the soil where it came from.  Much of this property is far too hilly to plant vegetables.  The vegetables we grow are annual plants that don't compete well with weeds.  We have to till the soil bare in order to get the vegetables established, and on these hillsides, rain would carry our precious soil into our streams, turning it from an asset into pollution.  We're constantly experimenting with growing organic vegetables with reduced tillage, but none of those techniques work well enough yet to allow us to plant on a steep slope.  Cows allow us to create a marketable product from these nutrient-poor slopes, while holding our soil in place.  That perennial grass they're eating is also constantly adding carbon into the soil, pulling it out of the atmosphere.  Thank you, cows! 


Winter brings new life to our high tunnel

IMG_20180123_120127

One of your farmers, Jared Planz, captured this photo of a storm moving in over our high tunnel.  A high tunnel is a greenhouse where we grow plants directly in the ground (as opposed to the greenhouse where we grow seedlings that get transplanted into fields elsewhere).  We've been getting the beds and frame ready so we can put on a new cover.  Pretty soon, this high tunnel will be home to an early planting of tomatoes.  Winter is still a busy time on the farm! 

We've been doing a lot of planning in spreadsheets, as well.  Did you know, over the course of this season, we'll plant 600,000 seeds in the ground, of 175 different varieties?  And before you've eaten your last leaf of salad in November, we'll get help in the fields from over 1000 people.  Getting excited yet?

(Pst!  That's your hint to sign up for a 2018 Clagett Farm CSA share.)