One! One (fill in the blank)! Ah Ah ahhhhh! (thunder/lightning follows this proclamation)
|I LOVE to count!|
So, Rob loves to count. And, this is a good thing since counting is (amazingly) an important part of running the farm. We count eggs so we can keep track of production trends and so we have an idea of what to expect to available eggs for sale. We count our eggplant and peppers as we pick them. We do this so we can be sure to have enough for each of our CSA customers each week and we do this so we can analyze our production and make changes to become more resilient in the face of changing conditions. We count so we can determine production cost and value. And, if all of this is interesting to you, we have a very good post from 2010 that shows how we use these numbers for planning.
As you may have guessed - this leads us to a post about some of the past year's production. Now, don't get too worried, I'll keep it mildly entertaining. I hope...
Hey! We CAN grow that!
Trying to grow as many vegetable types as we do can be very trying. After all, it is not easy to learn all of the techniques for each vegetable for any kind of weather. If weather were fairly consistent, then I suspect we could have success for most everything on a regular basis. But, when conditions change dramatically from year to year, it is pretty difficult to adjust so that each and every crop succeeds. When you add soil conditions, available tools and existing growing experience for a given crop together with the weather conditions, you will find that we are better prepared to handle some crops more than others.
A few crops that have given us more problems than success finally came through for us this year.
|Ah, White Wing onions, how we love thee!|
In particular, the onions were a big success for us this season. It's not that we haven't had some onions in other seasons. We have. But, only in years where all of the conditions for weather and soil lined up. But, even in those years, it was a near thing unless we spent alot of our labor resources on weeding. So, if the year is less than perfect or the onions on the farm, the tendency is to move the labor to other crops that are doing better and will give a better return for the labor.
|But, an Ailsa Craig onion on a grilled burger? Mmmmmmm!|
So, this season, we pulled in just under 2300 bulb onions. As you can see from the first picture, the quality of the White Wings was pretty consistent. The quality of the Ailsa Craig, Yellow of Parma and Redwing onions were less consistent since they are longer season onions. They would have liked to have been in the ground a bit sooner. But, they certainly provided us with enough for the CSA and the Fall shares.
|Efficiency in weeding onions, coming right up.|
Other crops that made a strong appearance in 2014 that don't always do well for us include daikon radishes (538 up from 0), melon (385 up from 153), radish (4083, up from 3035), watermelon (128, up from 37) and turnips (1333 up from 593).
|Helios radish did well this Fall|
|Ancho/Pablano liked this season for some reason|
We KNOW we can grow that.
There are many crops we are fairly confident in our ability to come up with decent yields. Even in a down year, we can usually meet our minimum demands. In fact, we tend to get more grumpy with these in a down year because we expect much more out of them.
While the lettuce harvest is not yet complete for the year, we are running at about 50% of last year's production for number of harvests (72 vs 141), number of heads harvested (1427 to 2490) and weight harvested (442 lbs to 1034 lbs). Part of the discrepancy comes from a very cold Winter and early Spring. We abandoned the idea of a Spring share in response to that problem. Our over wintering lettuce died off and we just couldn't get a new crop into the high tunnel going. We also backed off a bit on production in response to our CSA members leaving so many heads behind in our 2013 CSA. The feedback we got told us they liked the lettuce - but maybe not so much of it.
|Bunte Forellenschus - say that three times fast!|
|A cool year leads to lots of tasty broccoli.|
|Two favorites: Golden Treasure and Black Krim|
Surely, we can grow this!
Yes, we can. And don't call me Shirley.
One example is the winter squash. We've had success before and we'll have success again. But, it just hasn't been in the cards for 2013 or 2014. We only harvested 64 winter squash this year and 250 last season. But, we have shown an ability to succeed with 1007 in 2009 and 1711 in 2007 (for example). So, what is going wrong here?
|Red Kuri showed some potential with a trial planting|
We are developing a plan to respond to these issues starting in 2015. If the weather is perfect, it won't matter. But, if the weather bears any similarity to the past several, we'll be more prepared than we have been in the past.
Continual improvement as opposed to delayed perfection. Here's to an even better year in 2015 after a decent 2014.