When our farm team (John and I) fortuitously made a decision to wait till the first day of spring to start even a single plant, and then plan to get those plants in the ground around May 1, we had no idea just how wet April would be. Last year it was shorts and T-shirts in April. This year, people are still hitting the slopes! We made the choice to delay the start of the season partially because of how difficult it is to find farm help, but also knowing the weather risk! It’s easy to get lured into early planting when the first sun of spring comes out, but it’s not unusual for April showers to rule the day! “Mudding” in plants is not pleasant or profitable. Sadly, I’ve talked to several gardeners that planted early and had seed and plants rot or freeze, and will need to replant.
I remember one year, before I started doing my own transplants, I pre-ordered 4 flats of lettuce trays to put in the greenhouses in April. I got a call, in early February, that my 40 flats were ready to be picked up! My friend had written the order down wrong and now I had 5,000 plants instead of 500 that needed a home and it was FEBRUARY! We definitely mudded those plants in that year. That was the ugliest seed bed I have prepped and planted. . . and then the weeds.
Somehow it worked out and we did have the earliest lettuce in the valley! I remember our future son-in- law showed up to help us harvest those plants at 5am. That was impressive! I am more than aware that May has the potential to be just as cold and I have farmed through more than one June-uary, as we like to refer to a wet and cold June.
With all that said…we are thankful that this weekend the temperatures warmed, we broke ground, got the cover crop turned in, and we are closer to planting!
Supply chain issues are popping in ways that I have never experienced. I was talking to another grower and I was commenting on some of my germination issues with the first round of lettuce plants and, he shared that he was also having issues.
He had been using the same potting/transplant mix for the last decade, but this year Vermiculite wasn’t available, Vermiculite lets in air and keeps the soil from compacting. This year he did everything the same, but he is having to learn how to grow transplants with the new formulation. The only reason I even know about this is because I was hunting for a few more trays to offset our own lettuce woes!
Another friend of mine, who has farmed for decades, who I can usually count on for extra plant starts, shared with me that he hadn’t even started a single tray! He has been bitten by the labor shortage and may call it a year after the nursery season is over.
Inflation, labor, and supply chain issues affect all of us. Our team is working hard to grow and source food for your family and balance the increasing supply challenges. For now, we are going to hold our prices steady and continue to source the highest quality produce, and soon we will be harvesting produce from our own farm!
Thank you for supporting Box of Good.
Tristan, Joelle and Box of Good crew