Finally, I’m actually growing something! My first seedlings have sprouted. Some are in the hoop house where I have planted some mesclun mix, spinach and radishes. Hopefully in about a month, I’ll have some fresh baby lettuce to sell. The others are my tomato transplants. I hope to be able to transplant them into the hoop house at the end of March. The varieties I’ve planted are some of the fastest maturing tomatoes available, so if I’m lucky, I can offer tomatoes around the end of May (very lucky).
I have made my first official income as a farmer over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been selling some of the surplus from our unheated hoop house. I had planted winter vegetables in the hoop house last fall to supply our family with greens and carrots all winter. As it gets closer to spring, it appears that I will have more than our immediate family of four needs, so I’ve been selling to friends and extended family. It was very exciting to sell the first order of veggies from Foggy Hollow Farm (Thanks Emily and Wade!).
The lower field has made the transition from pasture to garden this past week. With all the sunny weather we have had, things were dry enough to break ground. I was pleased to see that the soil was very dark colored which is a good sign. I’ll be sowing peas and spinach in a few weeks out in the field.
I’ve heard the following expression from several market farmers, “Don’t plant anything that you don’t have a market for.” If I followed this advice, I would never be able to get started so I’ve decided to ignore it and instead heed a different expression, “If you grow it, they will come” (which I did not hear out the corn field…….yet). It will kind of be a leap of faith that I will be able to sell my produce but I can’t create a customer base without anything to sell, kind of a chicken vs. egg situation.
So, I will be attempting to sell at the Franklin Farmer’s Market this year. It generates a lot of traffic and there is a high interest in organic produce at the market. We’ve been shopping there for years and love it. They even have a band playing while you shop! It is open on Saturdays, so I’ll also be looking for other markets to sell at during the week, but I have not decided on where, yet.
I’ve completed my organic application and sent it in. The next steps are a review of my application and an onsite inspection. With fingers crossed, we can be USDA certified Organic by this summer. A ladybug landed on my application while I was sitting at the dinner table filling it out. I’m taking this as a very good omen as ladybugs are one of an organic farmer’s best friends. They eat bugs, not plants, most importantly aphids, a big garden pest. I actually was able to witness what ladybugs can do last growing season. The aphids had attacked my tomatoes with a vengeance shortly after I had transplanted them. I had been keeping them at bay by blasting the plants with water every few days. This knocks the aphids off and it takes them a while to mosey their way back up and into dining mode. After about a week of this I started noticing hoards of ladybugs. They had found the aphids on the tomato plants and began having a feast of their own. After another week, I had no visible aphid problem with the tomato plants! I have no idea what the ladybug was doing in my house in early February, as I have never seen an aphid in the house. I think he just wanted to help with the organic application so he would have plenty of aphids to eat this year.
There you go! Things are starting to get busy around here and stuff is growing.