As a farmer I’m quickly realizing that I’m always talking about the weather, but holy cow, how crazy was this past heat wave in February?  I know it feels good for our souls to get outside and work/play in mid February, but my farmer self has an internal battle with this weather.  I’m concerned what the temperatures will bring this summer.  I’m also worried that my pest pressures may be more severe with this mild winter, but the optimistic side of me says the beneficial insect populations should also be higher, so they can help control the populations of my harmful pests.  Let’s hope this is the case!

Since this weather was so nice this past weekend, we were able to get a head start on prepping some land for better production.  Eric and some amazing friends in the neighborhood were able to take down three large trees that were hindering our sunlight and grow space.  It is nice to be able to get some of this necessary work done in late February!

The crew sets a game plan for tree removal.  Note: Oliver's chainsaw is only a toy!

Today is National CSA Day, so I want to thank all of you for your support of the DUG Salad subscription.  The spring session sold out quickly and I am so appreciative for what you do to make DUG successful!  Don’t worry if you missed out on the Spring Subscription, because you can still buy our produce at the DUG FarmStand, the Beaverdale Farmers Market, and the Iowa Food Coop.  There are also a few more subscriptions available for the fall session, so feel free to sign up for that before it sells out as well!

New T-shirts will be avaialble this season!

It may seem early, but we are excited to announce the FarmStand season will begin on Mother’s Day weekend (May 13th and 14th).  Be sure to add it to you calendar!  The hours are still not set in stone, but this season the FarmStand will be open Thursday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday.  Keep our opening weekend in mind if you want to buy transplants for your own personal garden.  We will be selling our transplants as well as transplants from other local growers.  Mid May is the perfect time to plant most of the plants we are selling, so the timing is ideal!

As of earlier this week, my seed starting season has began!  On Monday, I started a bunch of kale seeds, and things will really start to pick up in these next few weeks.  I’m starting hundreds of lettuce seeds this week as well.  Next week I’ll be getting some extra tomato seeds started (Ben at Wabi Sabi Farm is starting most of my tomatoes, but I’ll do a few on my own) and each week the seed starting process will grow exponentially!

The infamous Jang Seeder!

When I plant in the field I do a combination of transplanting and direct seeding my crops.  It really just depends on what type of crop I’m planting.  I transplant all plants that are “long season crops” and need an extra jump start to be healthy early in the season.  Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, kale, basil, some edible flowers, as well as some lettuce varieties are transplanted.  I do not have a greenhouse, but I do have an indoor nursery set up in my basement.  That is where I grow microgreens year round and it is also a great set up for me to start my transplants.  Transplants do prefer natural light as opposed to artificial lights, but I make sure to give my plants extra time hardening off and they have done great out in the field. Most greens, herbs, radish, carrots, turnips, and some edible flowers are directly seeded into the soil using one of my favorite tools called a Jang seeder.  The Jang is an amazing seeder which will furrow, plant, and bury my seed quickly and efficiently.  The Jang seeder is not necessary for a small home garden but it is such a time saver for my scale!

You may recall that we had to tear up most of our grow plot last fall due to the installation of our drainage system.  I’m hopeful to get the beds created again in the next couple of weeks.  It all really depends on what the weather decides to do, but as long as the ground isn’t frozen the soil should be workable.  Since we have the plot tarped, I’m not too concerned about rainfall because the tarps help to keep the soil moisture levels lower.  That said, I’m still not 100% sure how I will remove those massive tarps if they have a bunch of pooling water, but I will deal with that when the time comes!

I’ll leave you with a reminder that the 8th Annual Feed Greater Des Moines Conference is coming up.  The event is Saturday, March 4th from 9am-4pm at Grace Lutheran Church.  Attend the conference so you can, “learn from the top hunger fighting and local food organizations in Greater Des Moines about how they are combining efforts to make a difference.”  Jordan Clasen (Grade A Gardens) and I will be on the local foods panel discussing our experiences as beginning farmers.  Tickets are required and all the details can be found here.

Stay tuned for some exciting news on the horizon here at DUG!