Greentree Naturals Newsletter - Spring 2002
Springtime in north Idaho always seems to arrive in slow motion. The first day of spring arrived with ten inches of fresh snow! It quickly melted away, and now there are glimmers of new life peeking out from a winters worth of being under a blanket of snow.
For me, the real signs of spring come with the return of the swallows and blue birds. We have swallow houses stationed at all corners of the garden fence to encourage nesting for the earliest part of the season. The mosquito populations create the perfect feeding grounds for the swallows. We have noticed a considerable difference in the mosquito pests since we encouraged the birds to move into the free housing. Flocks of Canadian geese are starting to show up in mass as well. These are quite the site to see and hear as they ‘honk’ their way to warmer climates. The buds on the lilac are nice and fat and dreaming of summertime. We had our first crocus open just this morning! Truly an exciting time of the season!
Other true signs of spring are the daily increase of seedlings in the greenhouse. We have a small (14 x 14) attached to the house greenhouse that is already overflowing with seedlings of numerous species. We start everything in small plug trays and transplant up as they need more space. We truly need a large, fifty foot + size greenhouse for getting started every year, but will make do with this method until finances allow for such an expansion.
We have unheated ‘hoop houses’ that we use for extending the season (See photos on the home page). These work very well for meeting our needs of maintaining a cost effective means of getting crops in the ground as early as possible. We set up the first hoop (36’ x 13.5’) Easter morning. We will plant the first hoop house in assorted salad greens as well as using it for hardening off the brassica’s before transplanting them out into their permanent summer home.
With the start up of the gardening season, we are amidst lots of planning and groundwork for preparing for summer 2002. Letters and agreements have been mailed out to our CSA customers and Fresh Flower subscription candidates. This week, .I will be calling on all of our past restaurant customers to establish their needs for the season. The farmers market has now determined its starting date as the first weekend of May, so we now have an assortment of marketing opportunities to think about.
I have been finishing up the early winter travel and teaching process that always seems to expand as everyone realizes that I won’t be available for any travel once the gardening season begins. March seems like a blur with numerous trips to University of Idaho & Washington State University in Moscow \ Pullman where I taught workshops on ‘Marketing Opportunities for the Small Farm’ and gave an Organic Gardening seminar. I also had a trip to Colville WSU Learning Center to teach some of the same.
I continue to work on the On-farm Education Project with Rural Roots, and am pleased to say that the program is ever-expanding to meet our expectations (see Rural Roots website www.ruralroots.org ) about the Cultivating Success Program. The Website for Cultivating Success may be up and running soon. Check out www.cultivatingsuccess.org .
My husband, Thom, has been working part time at Spring Creek Organic farm just a few miles away for winter income. He helps in the barns with the sheep and many goats they have there. This week, they had twelve Nubian goat babies. He has been enjoying helping care for the little ones, and is learning a lot about dealing with livestock. We agreed a few years ago that we needed to integrate more animals into our farming system, but neither of us have the background. So, when Spring Creek asked for help, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for Thom to learn about them with a hands-on experience. We will most likely be bringing home a couple of those little Nubian goats in the next month. If you didn’t know, goat poop is great stuff for the compost pile and gardens. We never seem to have enough manure to meet our needs!
As the season progresses, I will make efforts to compile events on and off the farm to offer perspective of what it takes to keep a small acreage farm alive. I have written this little ‘blurb’ rather hastily, but wanted to offer a more personal aspect of who we are than all of the previous pages on the website. Happy spring!
- - Diane