Father Earth Organic Farm Welcomes you to 2023!
As we move into this new year, I am excited about the growth possibilities for myself, the farm. and especially for the food that will nourish us all through another year. I began my growing of plants for the 2023 season in December of 2022. Lara, a neighboring farmer presented me with a few garlic bulbs that she had left over from her plantings. With the help of a few volunteers, Mary, David, Caleb, and Nicolas, we planted an 80-foot bed of 5 rows of garlic on December 10, 2022. That was just a part of my preparation for the 2023 season.
People have asked if I take the winter off, or what do I do during the winter? This has been a very cold winter here in Colorado, and I would love to be on a warm beach somewhere, but there is a lot to do to get things ready so that my customers can begin enjoying my fresh organic produce by the time the Farmers market opens in May. I have already planted garlic, but that's just one item.
Seed and plant ordering is another task that takes a lot of figuring and timing, but what and how much do I order? Before I order anything, I need to know WHAT to order. I have over 300 varieties of vegetables that I grow or have grown here on the farm. I have over 30 varieties of tomatoes alone. So, at least every other year, I go through a "seed testing" process to make sure my current seeds are viable for the upcoming season. Here is a brief description of the "seed testing" procedure that I use, and the same information that I share with my gardening group and with the apprentice who come to the farm to learn gardening.
Before we place our orders for new seed, here are a few tips that may prevent re-ordering later. Years ago, I would order seeds in December or January, only to end up re-ordering some seed again in May, June or July. It was frustrating to find out in June or July that some seed I planted in April or May, did not germinate. I'm certain that most gardeners have planted seed and waited, and waited, for something to sprout, but nothing happened.
There are many reasons why "nothing" happened, but for sure, "something" happened... just not what we expected. Maybe the seeds were washed away by a week of rain, or a 4-hour down pour of rain. It could have been a late snow that killed the sprout, or insects, animals, or birds eating the seed. Many times we waste time and energy pondering over what might have happened, when, in my experience, the problem has been in the seed itself 90% of the time. I find that testing the seed will eliminate a lot of the guessing when your seed does not germinate as expected.
I normally begin the seed testing process in November. I have hundreds of seeds to test, and that process takes several weeks. You can use any absorbent paper (tissue, toilet paper, paper towel), but for larger seed (beans, fava, corn), the paper towel works better.
Tear or cut the size of paper you need to be able to fold it to secure the seed. Using a color marker, dab a spot on a corner of the paper. Use the same color to dab a spot on the notebook or paper you are using to keep a record of what you are testing. Write down the seed name, date, company, and variety of seed being tested beside the color dot. (you may use the attached record keeping tool or other means). Place 3 - 5 seeds on the paper. Fold the paper to secure the seeds. Dip the seed towel in a cup or bowl of water and place the folded paper with seeds in a clear plastic cup or glass jar. You can save space by placing 4 or 5 seed packs in the same jar or cup, as long as you can identify them. As an example, I would place 5 different varieties of tomato seed towels in the same cup, each with a different color code for identification. I would place a removable label or piece of tape on the jar or cup that just says, "tomatoes". I use less labels or tape if everything in the cup or jar is the same type of veggie or flower.
The two most controlling factors for seed germination are heat and light requirements. Most seed will germinate is a warm (65 to 75 degrees), dark place (in a closet, or cardboard box that can be closed or covered). If the seed pack says to plant the seed 1/8 inch to ½ inch deep, the seed will need some light to germinate (near a window, or in a place where some light is available). Read the seed package. Spinach, cilantro, and lettuce will probably not germinate at 70 to 80 degrees like tomatoes or beans. So you will need to find a cooler place for your testing of these types of seeds. Read the seed package to see what growing requirements each seed needs. The package will tell you how many days it will take the seed to germinate, given the right conditions of course. Check your test seeds daily. I usually give the seeds one and a half times the germination time that the package says to show a sprout. If the package says germination in 4 days, and there is no sprout in 4 days (plus 2 more days), I will toss the test seed and package, and place that seed on my new order list.
Now that I have my list of seeds to order, from whom do I order? I have several seed companies that I order from here in the US. Johnny's, Fedco, Harris, Territorial, Baker Creek, Swallowtail, Totally Tomatoes, and a couple more. All these companies sell "Non-GMO" (Genetically Modified Organism) seed, and I can purchase organic seeds from them when available.
For fruit trees or berry plants, I order from Stark brothers, Indiana Berry Co, Nourse Berry Farm, and Raintree Nursery. Many times, it's a matter of where can I get the best seeds or plants at the most cost-effective price. As an example, I could buy 25 strawberry plants from Johnny's for a price of $35, or I can get them from Indiana Berry Co for a price of $24. And because Indiana Berry Co is in Indiana, and Johnny's is in Maine, Shipping charges from Indiana is so much less than packages coming from Maine.
So here we are in the middle of February 2023. Ninety percent of all the seeds and plants I ordered in December and January, have arrived and I have begun planting seeds in containers in my basement.
The process for having fresh Organic produce available for my customers by May, began in December 2022, when I searched through several seed catalogues looking for the best veggie varieties that would do well here in Colorado. I went though my current inventory of veggie, flower, and herb seeds to see what I needed to restock for this 2023 season. I remembered using the last seed in multiple seed packs last year and was reminded of such actions by the empty seed packs that I had saved from last year. I wanted to get any early start on ordering seed for the 2023 season because several varieties of seeds were "out of stock", in several companies that I had ordered from last year. Since Covid began in 2020 and 2021, more and more people were growing their own produce and hence companies were running out. Even though I ordered some items in December, there were items that were out of stock and will not be restocked until April or May. For some veggies such as tomatoes, the months of April and May are too late to get tomatoes started.
I usually start flower seeds in late December or early January. Some flowers take as long as 6 months to produce a flower. So, starting in January will produce a flower in late June or early July. Lisianthus is one such flower. It is a beautiful (annual flower here in Colorado) flower that looks a bit like a rose, but with less fragrance and will last twice as long as a cut flower than a rose. Some veggies that take 3 or 4 months to be ready for harvest are also planted in December and January. Onions, scallions, parsley, and chives have been planted and are growing nicely in the basement. I am patiently waiting for some warmer nights so that these veggies can be placed in an unheated greenhouse so they can continue to grow before being transplanted in the fields in April and May. The nights here are still very cold and if plants are placed in the greenhouse now, they would certainly freeze. Last night had a low of 12 degrees and it is expected to be 8 degrees tonight.
Before the winter began, I installed a heating system on one of the shelves in the greenhouse. Two days ago, I placed a couple of potted plants of onions and parsley on the shelf as a test to see how the heated shelf would work. Today, February 15th, I put my boots on and walked through 5 inches of snow to check on the plants in the greenhouse. I was surprised to see that the plants were still alive and healthy and showed no signs of frostbite, even though I had placed a tray of water on the shelf above the heated shelf, and the water in the tray was frozen. So, I will check again tomorrow after we have 8 degrees tonight and see if the heated shelf is really going to work.
February 28, 2023: If you read the above paragraph, you are probably awaiting the results of the "experiment" I tried with the heated shelf. Well, that was two weeks ago, and a lot has happened since then. Over the past two weeks, we have night temperatures of anywhere between -9 degrees up to 21 degrees. Even on a heated shelf, the plants could not survive. So, back to the drawing board. I believe I will wait until the night temperatures are in the mid twenties and try again. More to come.
NOTICE REGARDING COVID-19
Father Earth Organic Farm uses Colorado State University's "Covid-19 Best Practices for Community Supported Agriculture Farms."
It's time to register for CSA shares. Get more information and application on our CSA page.
Out with the Old and In with the New!
Hello Friends of the farm and Happy New Year! I am really excited to leave the old year behind and to get into a new year with so many possibilities for new growth. Although last year's weather, through the four hail storms that visited my farm, brought damage, destruction, and death, the weather also brought to mind that we will have to make some changes in the way we grow some crops.
As we learned from last year's weather and from the weather of previous years, Colorado weather is quite unpredictable. We are learning that small changes in climate in some parts of our world can cause huge and catastrophic changes in weather in other parts of our world.
As a Farmer, I am continuously learning the when, what, why, where, and how to grow certain crops. A crop that grew well last year gives no guarantee that it will grow well the following year. Two years ago, I planted turnips, beets, and carrots in late February, simply because I could. The weather was warm and sunny in February and March that year and these three crops did very well. Last year, I planted the same three crops almost a month later because the weather would not allow planting any earlier.
There was a time I could depend on one or two weather reporting sources, but now I have four weather apps on my phone just to try to gather as much information about weather in my area in order to protect my crops. I also learned that, in order to protect more of my crops, I will need to put up another greenhouse or caterpillar tunnel. Although the hail last year destroyed 70 to 80% of the uncovered crops, less than 5% of the crops growing in the greenhouse or hoop house had any damage. The hail was big enough to punch through the greenhouse cover but had slowed down enough by the time it hit the ground that damage was minimal.
So, I will be purchasing another structure to grow plants in and I look forward to the possibilities for new growth.
Love and blessings,
8881 Elgin Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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Father Earth Organic Farm is a
small family farm in east Boulder County, Colorado that
provides quality, locally grown, organic vegetables,
fruits, and herbs. We have both a CSA program and a
farm stand. We offer hydroponically grown tomatoes and
peppers. All of our produce is non-GMO. Father Earth
Organic Farm is a small family farm in east Boulder
County, Colorado that provides quality, locally grown,
organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs. We have both
a CSA program and a farm stand. We offer hydroponically
grown tomatoes and peppers. All of our produce is non-GMO.
Father Earth Organic Farm is a small family farm in
east Boulder County, Colorado that provides quality,
locally grown, organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
We have both a CSA program and a farm stand. We offer
hydroponically grown tomatoes and peppers. All of our
produce is non-GMO.
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