Winter planning and plotting…

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Now that the holidays are over, and celebrations mostly concluded…we’ve buckled down to winter planning for 2011. Although we are growing in a very small space (<1/2 acre), we will be utilizing the space very efficiently. Instead of planting one crop per bed for the entire season, we will be planting several crops or successions of the same crop in the same space. This spells out a whole lot more planning than I would assume most larger scale growers do.

For example: In Plot B, which is currently under the hoop house, there is currently nothing growing. We will plant salad mix there once we get the plastic on (Feb/March), then move the hoop to expose the soil and plant flowers in the beginning of summer. Finally, in October, we will pull flowers and sow a new spinach crop and move the hoop back over the plot for protection and continued harvesting till December. In between all that is a lot of soil and fertility management as well as pest and weed control.

Some of the plans I’ve been working on include: what we are planting next year and where, how much seed and what varieties to order (2 different specialty salad mixes, 4 carrot varieties, 5 beet varieties, 14 specialty tomato varieties, 20 cut flower varieties and much, much more!!) , greenhouse production plan (when are we starting the transplants indoors?), 2011 production schedule (fitting all of the plans into a tentative schedule), and a plan for special projects like raspberry production under low tunnels and a small tree fruit orchard.

Andrew has started sketching a plan for constructing a transplant greenhouse. We are keeping it simple and relatively small. We’re hoping to have it complete by March when the majority of transplants will be started. It should be easier to put up since Andrew is designing the plans himself. We haven’t quite worked out how to provide minimal heat inside the structure yet though.

Andrew and I have also been discussing work schedules quite a bit. I think working off-farm is an important topic for new farmers to think about. Too often (keep in mind, I’m saying this before our first full season) new farmers start out slow and keep another full time job while they work on the farm as more of a ‘hobby’. This is sometimes necessary, in order to pay the bills and keep up a standard of living. We think we can swing it with me working an off-farm job 3-4 days a week from March-November. We’re working towards being able to take one full time income from the farm by next year. I know this is ambitious, but I think its possible on our scale.

Next week we will submit our seed order, order greenhouse production materials and materials to build the greenhouse. It may be snowing out, but we are working diligently to prepare for Spring!

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