This week we received our bees and they are a buzzing! Our beekeeper, Jim Fraser of Maryland Honey Company, manages our 12 hives and bottles the honey we sell at the stands. The main reason we keep the bees, however is for pollination. Last year early in the season we noticed few pollinators in our fields. I reached out to Jim, who’s honey we’ve been selling for about a decade, and we struck up an arrangement. His bees help give us assurance that our fruit and vegetable blossoms will be pollinated and keep us plenty busy picking over the next few months.
We sowed about 25 acres of buckwheat and field peas with a no-till seed drill this week as well. In just two days they’ve already germinated. We are doing this to add organic matter, choke out weeds, and fix nitrogen in our soil. This approach toward amending the soil by cover cropping is one of the cornerstone foundations of organic farming. This year as we review our soil tests which break down the chemical composition of our soil and nutrient rates I’m planning on paying particularly close attention to the column which notes the organic matter. I’m hoping to see a bigger number than the previous year.
If last year’s woes had lots to do with deer pressure, thanks to our new mile of 8′ deer fencing, this year’s may have to do with a lack thereof. It’s an adjustment to figure out what to do with all these big, beautiful heads of lettuce and baby greens that aren’t being devoured by deer. Expect to see piles of greens at the markets and CSA.
Everything is pretty much going according to plan so far this season. I’m noticing plenty of blossoms on the cucumbers and tomatoes. We even observed our first sunflower at the end of the week. We experimented with starting our first couple plantings in the greenhouse then transplanting them early May. I think this will payoff since typically sunflowers would be weeks away and they are a super popular cut flower at market.
My focus has shifted toward opening up our markets this week and placing attention on our new stand at Old Georgetown & Greentree Rd in Bethesda now open daily, 9am-6pm. One point to improve this season is shifting away from single use plastics. I thought about this greatly over the winter and have listened to some disheartening reports on their impact on the environment and on global warming and at the same time hopeful strategies and technologies on how to minimize their use. In other countries and even in certain U.S. States I’m hearing of all out bans on single use plastic. In Montgomery County, we of course have our own $.05 charge per bag.
This season we have shifted to paper as our primary bag. For our produce bags we are switching to fully compostable plant based bio-plastics. We have even found these cotton “hair nets” that fit snugly over our compostable pint and quart containers. All of these decisions toward being more environmentally friendly are costing us a pretty penny but we think it is important to reduce our footprint and be stewards of the environment. Please join us in our efforts and help us absorb the expense by being mindful and conservative with bag use and make an effort to bring your bag. Thank you and have a great week.