Hello from Shaker Organic Gardens, May 2017!


Stacey portraitby Stacey Cooper, Co-op Organic Farm Manager

This week we transplanted into the field all of our leeks, 5 more flats of scallions, all chard and kale, fennel, pac choi and lettuce. We seeded beets, spinach, arugula, peas and radish.

After irrigation lines were placed the kale and chard were mulched and covered with row fabric.

The soils are really wet at this point and weeding and direct seeding will be off the table until things dry up a bit. I was also able to get a second tilling in of the old hoop house, set up drip lines and cover the area with fabric in preparation for our hot crops.

I was able to get the fence line mowed on Wednesday and Ray will be finishing up the field this weekend or early next week.

I potted up a few dozen perennials that the Master Gardeners dug up (for the plant sale) and seeded a few flats of scallion, broccoli and cabbage for later successions.

The rain has been very challenging, but I won’t complain being that the last two seasons started with spring droughts. Not being able to till the center field thoroughly will likely make early season weed pressure more intense. It is also making transplanting a very slow process as the rows need to be hand weeded and clumps of cover crop dug up for each row planted. The soils are not warming up without sun and I can’t micro weed or cultivate early planted crops. That being said, I haven’t had to water a single field crop yet buying me time to set up the irrigation system.

The workshop last weekend went very well and we created 3 beautiful raised beds, which I was able to get fabric over before the rain started. There were a lot of great questions, enthusiasm and helpful hands!

I owe a big thank you to Alberta Snow for tending to the direct seeding on Thursday while I used our one sunny day to complete the tilling in our of cover crops!


Seeded in flats:
Lettuce, scallion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and amaranth

Seeded and transplanted into field and hoop house:
Lettuce, fennel, sunflower, heirloom tomatoes, pac choi, cherry tomatoes

I weeded our peas, carrots and beets in the field. Removed row cover from all of our alliums and fertilized our garlic.
Fennel, chard, kale, cucurbits were re-potted for the plant sale.

A second round of greens was delivered to the kitchen and bit of rhubarb for the produce department. We are still a ways out for any significant harvest. Radish and spinach will be the first field crops in about a week or two.

With help I was able to get all of the large sheets of plastic off and out of the fields and also pull the remaining winter rye that the tiller could not get to in the strawberry aisle.

I did a big round of weed whacking all the beds and miscellaneous areas the mower can’t get to.


A week on the farm….
Marin Smith started this week and will be helping out on the farm 3 mornings each week! Her first week put her to the test with knee deep mud on Monday and scorching heat on Wednesday.

Together we labeled and priced plants for the plant sale and set up the farm stand with all of the plant material. Keeping up with watering was a big task with the heat this week, but everything pulled through.

We harvested and delivered garlic scallions and some greens for the Co-op. Spinach and lettuce to come next week from the field! Maybe a few radish….

We planted 5 full rows of broccoli and cabbage and managed to get row cover on all of it (again)- until the wind picks up again =) We also got basil and more tomatoes planted in the hoop house and began to string up the old hoop house.

We built 2 more raised beds and got irrigation lines set in them. I’ve started using the newly designed irrigation system this week and I’m quite pleased with the results. Much better pressure to all of the beds!

We’ve seeded our first round of beans this week and did our first round of weeding carrots and beets. We also took the straw off about half of the garlic to give some air after all of the rain.


Yet another cool rainy week. It has been good for the crops, especially the alliums which are sizing up very nicely. We have been spending lots of time tidying up the gardens with weeding, edging, cleaning up aisles, thinning, fertilizing, and uncovering crops as needed. Marin and I worked on our upper body strengthening utilizing the wheel hoe in some damp and rocky soils.

The early season heat has sent some of the pac choi bolting before it had a chance to size up. On the bright side we are already harvesting from the field- radish, rhubarb, and spinach- mustards and what is left of the pac choi to come next week!

The peas have been trellised, cucumber, summer squash and zucchini planted and covered, beets, edamame and radish seeded, more lettuce transplanted and even some corn put into the field.

We did a full round of weed whacking including the old hoop house and got irrigation set up for the tomatoes and peppers that we will plant next week.