Now we really feel like we can say we have a winter CSA, as now it really feels like winter! Paul and Jason are washing produce today - a slippery, icy experience. Paul turned on all the electric and propane freestanding heaters we own and pointed them at the floor around the barrel washer. Like missiles in the cold war. Sorry, awful joke. It's a bit too cold for me to wash with Saul out there with them. There won't be any spinach this week as its under about a foot of snow.
This week I thought I'd give you a little dialogue about how we grow carrots. Carrots! A truly reliable winter food. So healthy, such nice bright colors, and so storable. We grow about 5 generations of carrots during the summer. Our distribution goal for carrots is to be able to distribute them every week that it is climatically possible to have a carrot around here in NY. We figure that most people love carrots, and that they are in most people's cooking and eating repertoire. A good item for us to have around.
The first 4 generations of carrots are for the summer CSA, and the last, big planting is for the winter CSA. The summer CSA goes through about 600 row feet of carrots in a week. One of our 200 foot long beds is equal to 600 row feet. Since the summer CSA runs for 26 weeks, we end up planting about 29-30 beds of carrots for the summer. The winter CSA eats through about 6 beds. All told we plant about 35 beds of carrots a year.
Carrots are super easy to store (and eat), but tricky to germinate and keep weeded. The reason for this is that the seeds germinate slowly - 5 to 10 days or so depending on water and temperature- and then once germinated, grow very slowly. We usually stale bed our carrot fields. This means that we form the beds for the carrots to be planted into, let the first round of weeds flush, and then reform the beds, killing the weeds in the process. We do this as many times as we can before we need to plant, or as many times as the weed pressure demands. It is much easier to kill a whole field of weeds with a couple swoops of the tractor than with 10 bent backs, hot sun, and 100 fingers. It stands to reason that our final plantings of carrots usually have much less weed pressure than the earlier plantings. We try to seed the carrots before it rains, but not before a torrential downpour. Heavy rain can compact the top layer of the soil, preventing the seeds from being able to push through. So, the carrots are seeded. Then, if the soil stays nice and moist we do nothing. Usually we have to set up drip irrigation along each row and keep the soil moist by pumping water from the pond until we have germination.
Once the carrots are up, and sometimes before, we go through with the Super A cultivation tractor with the basket weeder attachment. The basket weeder disturbs all of the weeds in the bed except for the three little strips where the carrots are. Depending on soil conditions we go through with the basket weeder about 3 more times, and then move onto another attachment that is slightly more aggressive and hills around the carrots. We usually don't get away without at least one hand weeding. Sometimes more, sometimes less. In 09 we had to do a lot of hand weeding, in part because the season was so wet. Wet soil prevents the use of the tractor. I could go on and on with the ins and outs of growing carrots, but won't! I'll save you that particular torture for another email. For now lets end it by saying, "have a carrot!"
Now, onto other topics. The winter CSA, as of tomorrow is half over. That means that, to keep your payments current, everyone needs to have paid at least $137.50 so far. Of course, payment in full is also acceptable. Checks can either be brought to the Winter CSA distribution and put in the Money Jar, or mailed to the farm. Payment in full is due by the last distribution (February 10th).