Updates and Planting Day! April 29.

Man it’s beautiful out here. The sun is shining, it’s at least 60 degrees every day, and the nights aren’t cold enough to do any damage. That’s pretty phenomenal for April in Montana. And thanks to the weather, we’re harvesting asparagus almost two weeks earlier than last year. As long as it holds out for a few weeks in May, our market customers will get their fill. Until then, if you want asparagus let us know! We have buckets of it.

Lucinda Williams, our most rambunctious goat. Here she is on top of the shelter shed we moved out to pasture for protection from sun and rain. She prefers to lay on top of it rather than inside.

It’s still early, but there’s a lot more than asparagus out on the farm. We have six beds seeded and planted in the field, two beds of very happy green garlic, and more on the way. Despite the agreeable weather, everything is covered with either plastic or row cover to help retain heat. All plants take extra long to mature in early spring, so we’re hoping that the joi choi, kale, salad, arugula, scallions, and root veggies will be ready come market (starts May 5 under the Higgins Bridge in Missoula! Saturday from 8-1pm).

Joi Choi looking lovely out in the far garden.

All those little guys need water, though, and until our irrigation ditch is turned on we’re left to water by hand. The far garden has six hoses stretching out from the well to the planted beds and every few days we spend two hours walking along and sprinkling everything. It’s exhausting. I’ll be happy when the irrigation board opens the ditch and we can pump through our hand-line. It’s not as efficient to do it that way (more water and not as concentrated where we need it), but it’s so much less time and work. Moreover, we’ll be able to seed our cover crop of peas, oats, and vetch in the newest of our four fields as soon as the water comes on. I’ve been itching to get it in the ground.

Purrseus the cat! Seen here cuddling wild mint, which has a catnip-like effect. This legendary feline hero whose defeat of various archaic mouse-sters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians. (Perseus was the Greek hero who killed the Gorgon Medusa, and claimed Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster sent by Poseidon in retribution for Queen Cassiopeia declaring herself more beautiful than the Nereids).

The greenhouse is about as full as it can get, and we’ve moved many of our bigger seedlings into our two unheated hoophouses which get a little more sunlight than the greenhouse. If the temperature threatens to dip below 25 overnight, we move most of it into the greenhouse until morning to be on the safe side. A little extra work is worth ensuring the survival of hundreds of little veggies.

Baby asparagus in the hoophouse, ready for transplanting to our new patch. Those little ferns have little roots in their pots, and over the years they grow to a giant network under the soil and the full grown ferns reach 5 or 6 feet tall. These won’t go out until we’re sure the frost won’t get it, and we won’t even harvest asparagus from them until 2015.

Finaly, the most important announcement! We’ve scheduled our annual Planting Day! We invite you all to join us on April 29th starting at 1pm and continuing through the afternoon. We’ll have a potluck dinner around 5pm, as well as a short meeting for any Farm Share members who make it to the planting day (we’ll have another meeting in town for those who can’t make it up).

Remember to wear long pants, and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring gloves if you think you’ll want them and definitely sunscreen, water, and layers–the weather changes quickly this time of year. We’ll be planting all of our onions, shallots, leeks, asparagus, and potatoes. Remember to bring a dish for dinner, and a plate and fork for eating.

We look forward to seeing you! If you can’t make it for planting feel free to come for the potluck anyhow. We’d still love to have you.

Directions to County Rail Farm from Missoula, MT
Take Hwy90 West toward CDA then merge to Hwy93 towards Kalispell and Flathead Lake. Go North about 27 miles passing through the towns of Evaro and Arlee. Turn Left in Ravalli at the blinking light onto Hwy200 towards Thompson Falls and the National Bison Range. Go a little less than 2 miles and turn left on Pommes de Terre Ln, just after a stretch of sheep and cow pasture. It’s a small gravel raod which leads to wooden barn and tan house, that’s us. You will be able to see both from the road before you come to the turn-off. Please follow signs for parking.