Hello from Shaker Organic Gardens, March 2017!


Stacey portraitby Stacey Cooper, Co-op Organic Farm Manager
I’ve been tending our shallot and leek flats. Moving them into the sun each morning, a gentle watering and then back into the warmth at night. Most seem to be germinating quickly.

I’ve seeded a few  more flats this week to include lettuce, spinach, scallions and mustard greens for early transplanting outside. 19 flats to date. The heat in my building hasn’t been working since the power outage yesterday so temperatures are not ideal. I have a space heater set up in the seedling room for the time being and I’m hoping the situation is temporary.I’ve been watering the hoop house beds regularly and today I set up a new drip system in the hoop house. The arugula that I seeded last week it already coming up.I drove to Hollis this week to pick up some irrigation parts to expand the field system as well as add drip lines to both hoop houses. I also picked up a roll of 22’ wide row cover, more weed fabric, hoops, grade stakes etc.I built 3 cold frame covers out of aluminum windows that were disposed of during construction on the Trustee building. I’ll use them to cover flats at night in the hoop house and perhaps to cover early crops in the field if they hold up.


This week was spent cleaning up the hoop house and shed a bit.

I cleaned the air filter on the walk behind tiller and replaced the leaky fuel cap.

Watering and rearranging seedling flats to try to get enough sunlight to all the flats. The temperatures are a bit cooler than what I was hoping for at this point so I haven’t moved anything outside to the hoophouse. I am hoping to do so this week and might have to heat the hoophouse in this cold spell just for the sake of sunlight.Things are getting pretty leggy inside.

I spent time piecing together and putting up the frame for a low tunnel in the field. I just need the wind to die down a bit so that I can get plastic on it and start warming up the soil temperatures under the cover. I’ll use the space for early greens- mustard, pac choi, spinach, arugula and radish. A foot of snow might delay this, but it may offer some protection for the strawberries. I’m not entirely sure that the plastic will hold in place with the high winds we experience here, but it works well on other farms.20170309_121355_resized


This week has included caring for our seedlings. When possible before the snow storm I’ve been moving them out to the hoop house for the day and bringing them inside for the night. This helped to cut down on the dampening off the alliums were experiencing from not getting enough sunlight. The seedlings, now 25 flats, are overall ready to get into the hoop house, but access is tricky right now and night temps are still very cold and may be for some time.

I’ve seeded additional mustard greens and spinach for the low tunnel and started our first round of fennel.

Before the snow storm I made some repairs to the plastic on the hoop house where the wind had pulled it away from the side of the hoop house. The snow is holding it firmly in place now. I’ve shoveled out a path to the garden shed so that I can get our fertilizers and materials inside after our NOFA bulk pick up tomorrow.

Time was spent reorganizing and inventory old and new seed and getting them grouped by family and refrigerated.

I’ve ordered irrigation timers for the both hoop houses and a remote temperature sensor for the hoop house. Hoping to automate things a tiny bit to improve efficiency. The sensor should be here any minute now… I’m very eager to get it set up. It will allow me to keep track of temperatures in the hoop house from home and make easier to know when I need to open the cold frames, close them and also to know how much a difference they are making on night time low temperatures. This should give me a better idea if I can get seedlings out there sooner rather later.


Not much new to report on the garden front this week. Still contending with snow which is limiting what can be accomplished. I did get the plastic on the low tunnel in the field, which was blown off almost immediately =) The guy lines are doing their job and have kept the plastic anchored to the hoops, so it will be a quick fix when the snow melts and I can anchor the plastic better.

Moving flats in and out, watering, trimming and rotating for sun exposure is the bulk of what I’ve been doing. I moved the first flats of onions and scallions out to the hoop house early this week and have been leaving them out over night under cold frames.

Today I took all of the allium flats out to the hoop house for good and fertilized all of the flats. I set up row covers for both raised beds and removed the cold frames because they would need to be opened and closed twice a day while I’m away. I swapped out the greens that were inside my apartment to the sunroom where the alliums were. Cleaned up the shelves and seeding station for a new batch of flats next week.

I filled the direct seeded crops in the hoop house to get a higher density as some spots hadn’t germinated, mixed vermiculite into the remaining unplanted portion of the bed and seeded the rest to arugula. The mustard, arugula and spinach previously seeded are coming along slowly. They should jump once night temperatures stabilize next week.