I love seeing new life everywhere I look. Killdeer, native birds that nest in pastures, meadows and farmland, have returned to the fields. Their call is very distinct. Once you hear it, you can’t miss it. Since they build their nests on the ground, it’s important to keep an eye out when we are making beds for our first crops of the season. I’ve often had to plant and harvest around them! I can hear peepers chirping from the streams and ponds nearby and the daffodils and crocuses are beginning to bloom at the farm. Our garlic is emerging from the layer of leaves we put down in the fall and the perennial herbs are turning green again.
During the past couple of weeks, Kerry and I have been busy in the greenhouse seeding plants for the fields and for the seedling sale. The recent sunny, warm days are helping to guarantee good germination and steady growth. These conditions are helpful in preventing seedlings from damping off, a process caused by a fungus or mold that spreads in cold, wet conditions and kills the seedling as it’s beginning to germinate. Young seedlings are very susceptible to infections so be sure to sterilize your trays and use new potting soil if you are starting plants at home.
Last year, we had a terrible time keeping mice from eating seeds and seedlings out of the trays. We had to get creative and put up many barricades in order to keep them out. Thankfully, this year doesn’t seem nearly as bad. We were proactive in catching a few in early March and we’ve been scattering cotton balls soaked with several drops of peppermint oil on the trays to deter them. It seems to be working. I highly suggest this trick if you have a rodent issue in your gardens. In my opinion, the all-natural repellent you find in stores, which includes a mix of different oils, isn’t strong enough. I suggest getting pure peppermint oil so that you get a nice, strong smell. Place several drops on cotton balls and scatter them around the edges of your garden. Be sure to either pick them up before it rains and add more drops once a week or so.
Soon we will be moving out of the greenhouse and into the fields! We’ve started preparing the fields to seed peas and carrots and then we will begin planting onions, beets, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, bok choy, and escarole. We are fixing our deer fence, pruning our raspberries, and preparing the PYO flower beds. So many great things to look forward to!
Until next time,