Hello from Shaker Organic Gardens, April 2017!


Stacey portraitby Stacey Cooper, Co-op Organic Farm Manager

(Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the bottom!)

On the farm I have seeded our hot crops- eggplant, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes. I’ve placed the germinated chard and kale flats into the hoop house and re-potted some for the plant sale as well as thinned and re-potted some for the field as well.Voles are targeting our transplanted lettuce and spinach in the hoop house, but it seems to be distracting them from our direct seeded crops and most importantly our seedling flats. The pac choi that I’ve planted into the bread flats seems to be growing quickly.

I dug and re-potted the strawberry runners that I planted last fall to make more room in the hoop house raised beds and set up two more seedling benches for the growing number of flats. I set up 5 flood lights to create a makeshift grow light area for our hot crops once they germinate, which should provide some relief for the flats in the stretches of cloudy days.

I’ve taken the rainy week to implement an idea gleaned from the NOFA winter conference and have started incubating Indigenous Microorganisms =) I have cooked organic rice, filled wood boxes and partially buried them under trees on site. In about a week I will harvest the fungal mats and ferment them. I’m also working on some home brews to use as natural pest deterrents and foliar sprays.


I’ve been hardening off our flats as needed, outside the sunroom or outside the hoop house as weather allows. I’ve set up a shade structure with netting to keep seedlings from getting sun scald (and ‘chipmunked’) as I rotate them outside during the day. Sooo many seedlings.

I put in a first round of cleaning the barn attic and basement as well as the shed. Cleaned our bins, baskets etc. I’ve fixed the loose ground fabric in the field, planted mustards, pac choi, spinach and lettuce outside and seeded arugula and radish in the field. I’ve put the deer fence back up and turned it on as the deer have been visiting the strawberries again.

I also have a nice compost bin to place in the field to use for our microbe pile.

I’ve seeded more rounds of greens for both the field and the plant sale and re- potted more chard and kale to larger sized cells.

I spread lime in the old hoop house and the portion of the large field where we will be building more raised beds this spring and got a first tilling done in the old hoop house. I used our new 14’ row cover to cover the garlic beds and hopefully keep the ground hog out.

I finally got an irrigation timer set up in the hoop house, very excited =)


This week I uncovered, prepped and planted several raised beds to carrots and beets as well as prepped 3 beds for our volunteer day (today). I prepped and seeded and planted the low tunnel to spinach, arugula, mustard and radish. I also got our first row of peas seeded and trellised. I put down some drip lines and weed fabric for crops that will need it.

I put row cover over all of the newly seeded/ transplanted crops in the field. It has been a challenge to keep the plastic and row covers in place with the sustained high winds over the last two weeks, however the rain has been just right to keep things watered without having to haul water to the field.

Ray was able to till a new plot for our raised bed workshop and I got it covered with plastic the same day to keep the soil dry until next week.

The hoop house is packed full of seedlings including our hot crops, which have a little tent to keep them warm at night.

It looks like our first batch of arugula will be ready within a week. I’ve seeded into flats our first crops of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower along with successions of scallions and pac choi.

Today I hope to get our alliums planted with the help of a few volunteers and hopefully we will get the tomatoes re-potted as well.


Tis the season where I start taking selfies with the garlic!

Our volunteer day went well and we were able to get our onions and scallions planted and we re-potted our peppers and tomatoes.
On Sunday I planted our shallots, fertilized and got row cover over the rest of our alliums. During the week I seeded flats of cucumber, summer squash, zucchini , lettuce, fennel and basil. I direct seeded into the field more rounds of arugula, mustard and pac choi as well as two more rows of early carrots.

I am finding that the raised beds are much easier to prep this spring compared to last (less weed growth…) let’s hope this transfers to summer growing as well.

I had a visitor come by and help me dig up stray strawberry runners which I potted up for the plant sale.
The hoop house is completely full of seedlings and they are looking very healthy! Alberta came by Thursday and helped me complete our first greens harvest (delivered to the kitchen this morning!) and we also tidied the hoop house.

The perennial bed has been weeded and the rhubarb is off to a great start this spring. I was able to till about 4 rows in the center field for kale, chard and beet planting next week. We may not got a dry spell enabling us to do a full tilling of the center field so it might come down to using the walking behind for each row as needed.

I’ve set up the classroom and staged materials and tools in the field for our raised bed workshop tomorrow. Hoping to get 4 more beds in place for our cucurbits. The alfalfa I planted last season in the new raised bed area is doing very well, I hope it is as rugged as the nutsedge.