News From the Farm | April 9, 2018

The Water Information report from our local Water District says that Indian Valley Reservoir received just over 11-inches of rain this year, compared to almost 31 last year.  This includes runoff from last week’s storm, which added a precious 3-inches for the two surface water sources (Clear Lake and Indian Valley Reservoir) that provide irrigation water at Full Belly Farm.  Word is that despite the very low water year overall there will be enough water in Cache Creek for our summer irrigation season.

Spring rain creates a forceful motivator on the farm when there is a long list of projects to complete.  Not only is there a daily deadline when the sun goes down, but the promise of rain on the way means that all field activities will have to stop when the rain arrives.  Last week, tractors were still out in the fields as the first drops fell. 

We had about a 7-day window after the last storms, when fields had dried out enough for us to get to work.  So we did, planting crops that will show up in your CSA boxes over the summer: Asian, Italian and other varieties of eggplant; corn, beans and summer squash.  Our first planting of tomatoes is now in the ground and our 3rd planting of tomatoes has been seeded into trays in the greenhouse.  As usual, we have cherry tomatoes, romas, slicers and about 15 varieties of heirlooms. Getting the tomatoes into the ground is a layered process. First we mow down cover crops, then we apply compost and work it in.  Next, for tomatoes and many other summer crops, we apply a fertilizer and get the drip irrigation tape buried in the soil.  Finally we put polymulch (plastic) on the beds and then, only then when all of these preparations are complete, are we ready to get a big transplanting crew out and on the job. In some fields we only got so far as preparing the beds before the rains.  The melons and basil are waiting anxiously in the greenhouse, long overdue for planting. As soon as the soil dries out, they are next in line.

Our sheep and chickens are working very hard, munching their way through cover crops and weeds. This time of year is one of the peaks in their work responsibilities, when the grass is abundant, the weather is perfect and they are as happy as can be.  But the sheep can’t keep up with all the weed growth, and we spend many hours hoeing and cultivating so that the crops have space to grow.

No report of this week’s activities would be complete without mentioning the Celosia, Ammi, Delphiniums, Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Yarrow, Verbena and Sunflowers that got planted last week.  We are already harvesting an explosion of Anemones, Calendula, Iris, Stock, and Ranunculus that you are all welcome to enjoy by adding flowers to your produce pick-up!

The next three weeks are a time when the winter crops become scarce and the spring crops planted in February, while kicking into a major growth spurt, aren’t yet ready to be picked.  Because of that, we may have to get creative, and our members may have to be patient with the contents of the box.  But never fear, in May there will be a fanfare, a veritable Spring Bonanza, as all of the beautiful crops that we have in the ground burst onto the scene and into your boxes.

— Judith Redmond and Andrew Brait

We are happy with our potato field and it LOVED the rain.  We are expecting to start harvesting these potatoes in early May.