Springing into Season at Promise Ag!
The month of March is a patience exercise for farmers. The days are growing longer and the word “spring” seems to have moved into casual conversation, with many inquiries appearing about when one can start planting a garden or when Promise Agriculture will be hosting volunteer workdays. With February behind us, it seems like we’re in the clear… aside from the snow and ice still covering the ground in central New Jersey and winter storm warnings flashing across the weather channel. Alright, we have a few weeks to go until it’s truly spring.
Promise Agriculture is still harvesting plentifully from the spinach, kale and mache which we planted last fall inside our 1500 sq foot high tunnel. Abundant Bloomsdale Spinach has again proven to be a winter growing winner, with good tolerance to any lapse in watering, consistent leaf growth, and appearing uninteresting to our common winter pests, tiny slugs. The spinach is only just outperformed by the mache, a hearty corn salad green that truly thrives in the cold. Runner up for our winter greens this year was White Russian kale, which grew sweet and tender until the end of January. A bout of scleretonia rot developed in our purple cabbage, spreading to the broccoli and affecting the collards as well. Lesson learned: don’t try to coddle fall crops through deep winter. It’s really tempting, but don’t do it. We believe the rot was caused by too much water sitting in the developing heads of cabbage due to overhead watering with a hosehead. Since overhead watering is our only winter option in an unheated tunnel, we’ll be focusing exclusively on greens for winter 2019-2020.
March is the best time for preparation and planning. Seed catalogues have arrived in the mail, the excitement of springtime can be harnessed into crop planning, map drawing and calculating rotations. Thanks to a partnership with the Rutgers University Floriculture Greenhouse, we are able to start our sweet pepper seedlings inside their heated greenhouse. We’re piloting indoor lights to grow other early starts in our office on a small scale. Spring, see you soon!
About the Grantee
Elijah's Promise harnesses the power of food to change lives and break the cycle of poverty. Learn more at www.elijahspromise.org!