I did it! I harvested a Target bag full of Spinach and Mache before April!!

This is the crop that was direct seeded on 10/22/07 and had its first (of MANY!) sub zero frosts within 4 weeks. This is the crop that survived the 2nd hardest winter on record for these parts. This is the crop that I had all but given up for dead at least twice when temps bottomed below zero for a week. This is the crop that has filled me to brimming with enthusiasm for 2008.  I have never harvested so early!

The plants are barely 3″ tall -they are hugging the warm earth in the hoop house-but they had enough leaves that I was able to take several from 2 out of 3 plants. I have less than 36 sq ft of Spinach planted, and only about 12 of the mache, but I am very impressed with the yeild! Best yet I shared 2/3 of the first harvest -first share went to the farmer whose land I am using, second share to a super sweet 86 year old woman who still garden/farms her 40 acres (she refused to take it as a gift and gave us a half pint of raspberry jam). Thank to Eliot Coleman and the guts to ask a neighbor to use their land at least 3 families are enjoying fresh spinach salad in the last week of March. Be the Change!

Other aspects of this very successful day:

  • Sprout and I mixed and sifted up a double wheel barrow of potting mix (compost:sand:soil:peat)
  • Started 800 lettuce plants in flats: 700 for me 100 for the farmer
    • The farmer has a massive heating mat greenhouse apparatus setup for my use -this is unreal
  • Started 160 tomato transplants
  • Turned 4 of my 7 beds (1 in garlic, 1 under rye/vetch, one left fallow for now) to get the straw under
    • This barely feels like tilling- the soil is so friable that I can sink the fork in completely without stepping on it
  • Started hardening off the next crop of mache: two flats
  • Planted 80 row feet of peas (40 snap, 40 edible pods)
  • Talked with Kevin from Edible Forest Nursery about my previously purchased heirloom pear tree when he came into the greenhouse/shed to get his pruning supplies. I will harvest it next weekend. It is 10′ tall and bore fruit last year.
    • The entire Forest Nursery is on the farm as well -a super happy Hmong family also grows there too along with one or two other folks… it is a veritable sustainable mecca.

Put it all together… today was damn near perfect.


8 Responses

  1. Congratulations! Looks delicious!

  2. Awesome!
    I actually had some spinich that was direct seeded late fall last year that never really got going. After sitting under at least a foot of snow for two months, and looking stunted, albeit green still, I pulled them a couple of weeks ago. Now I’m wondering what would they have become had I not? Dang it. OK, next year more patience.
    Good job!

  3. Thanks Denise! I should have surplus within a week or so to start selling/trading at the CSA.

    Spinach will often overwiner in Zone 4/5 (where I am) if you mulch it heavily. This bed was under a plastic Hoop House along with the mache, radishes and some bok choi. The radishes died in the first super hard frost, and the bok choi lost all its top growth in the week of -8 nights but is coming back. Kale is another super tough plant that I will have in the house next year.


  4. awesome! I just seeded my second sucession batch of lettuce yesterday, along with a flat full of various flowers for yard. My new goal (and hopefully the planned sunspace addition will help this) is to have some kind of lettuce, greens, etc available every week.

    Are all of these seedlings going into the sub acre project or the borrowed farm land project?

  5. Kory,

    Yes, the seedlings are primarily for the Sub Acre project, with 1-200 of them getting slid into the space vacated by the hoop house in May and a bed or two at home. Germination of the old CSA seeds is real spotty due to their age (4+ years) so I am planting everything about double in the flats to hedge my bets. If they all come up I may sell/give/barter them away.


  6. You tempt me with the idea of a hoop house and early spring spinach. Especially today here in the hill of Massachusetts where we had another 6 inches of snow today.

  7. The hoop houses are fantastic, hands down. My tales even helped convince the second farmer I am partnering with to get one for their own “garden” which is pushing .16 acres. There’s is much simpler, I may do a right up of it if I can find any spare time.

    Went to Whole Foods today for Soy Milk and other staples and they were shouting about their “Fresh Local Organic Spinach”… it was $7.99 a pound and mine looked as good or better. A 10×50′ Hoop House would pay for itself in one season at that price! On a smaller scale cold frames, or even mulching over a late fall planting gets you within a week or so of where I am now for either free or virtually free if you an on a smaller scale.

  8. Congratulations, Rob. It is amazing what plants can do…

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