Work and Luck

Hope all of you enjoyed the first week of produce from the farm. It was a good first week for sure. Never before in the last five seasons have we come up with strawberries and broccoli in the first full week of June. Both of these crops can be fickle –especially in relation to fertility and the temperatures that come between April 15 and May 15. Strawberries are a perennial crop that we plant into plastic mulch a full year ahead of their harvest. This means that bed preparation and fertilization have to be done well because the plants are on their own from planting to harvest a year later. Broccoli is an annual that we plant many times over the season (the plants you are taking home were set out on the 12th of April) without plastic, but fertilization is also crucial as it is what we call a “heavy feeder”, meaning it requires a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus to establish and grow good size heads. Those of you who are gardeners will know that getting crops to grow in the cold soils of spring is much more difficult that getting them to grow in June or July. We use all kinds of tricks like floating row covers to keep the air warm and plastic to warm the soil but the most important thing we do is fertilize. Cold soils can’t supply plants with all the nutrients they need to grow –especially when they require “heavy” amounts of them. We have been using fish meal (literally ground up fish off-cuts from New Brunswick canneries) for many years with great success in these early crops. Fish are very high in nitrogen, which is crucial in leaf, flower and fruit development as well as phosphorus, which drives root growth. The Native Americans of New England knew this as they used the running alewives, seined out of the rivers with baskets to fertilize their corn fields. The other vital piece of the puzzle for us to grow good early crops is…luck, by way of moderate temperatures. From the middle of April through the end of May this year our coldest night (and there was just one of them) was 28 degrees. Broccoli will withstand anything above 25 or 26 with ease. Berries can’t have anything below 32 after the blossoms form in early May but miraculously that cold night came during the last week of April. I’m not sure if the real story here is how great it is to get strawberries and broccoli so early this year or how crazy it is that we have been working at it for the last five seasons with less success. Maybe this is one of those questions that shouldn’t be asked…we’ll keep our heads down and hope to revisit the success in 2014. Along similar lines, the blessing of cabbage in this weeks’ share is something that may fade for all of you in the next month –we have three varieties maturing at the same time. Get ready for lots of cole slaw recipes.

Great local products at pick-up. Eggs, organic milk, cheese, fresh bread, lamb sausage, bacon, pork sausage, ground beef, fair trade coffee and organic gelato, all locally produced, will be available. Try them out to compliment your vegetables. We will begin pre-ordering for milk, eggs and bread at the end of the month for those of you that want to bring them home every week without fail.

Crystal Spring Farm Day Camp has a few space spaces available both weeks (July 6th-10th and July 13th-17, 9am-3pm), kids ages 6-10 are invited to join us here at the farm. Read more and register for camp at our website: or contact Maura at or 729.1112.

CSA Shares still available! Summer is here and we might as well eat good food with our friends and neighbors.

Crystal Spring Blend Coffee. That’s right, our own blend of fair trade locally roasted coffee from Brunswick roaster Wicked Joe’s Coffee will be available this week. Twelve ounce bags are $10 with all profits going to help put a new roof on our barn, re-wire the outbuildings and retrofit our water supply. Drink deeply.

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