-Early morning barley-
This Wednesday will be the official start of The Cloverleaf 2012 season. On Wednesday our CSA (community supported agriculture) members will find their way to our Davis drop-off location and get their first box of delicious vegetables! We are extremely excited to be launching our CSA and to begin feeding our community. But we are also concerned. As beginning farmers we know that there will be some bumps in the road, but this feels like pothole heaven.
Last summer, when Emma and I started The Cloverleaf, our tomatoes grew faster than we could keep up with and our newly-planted melons took over the furrows in a blink of an eye. We did the necessary soil sampling in the fall, added soil amendments in the winter, and did our best with proper irrigation and planting. Unfortunately, this year, our summer bounty is in the ground and it is not growing. Between the four of us we have over 10 years of farming experience. We have labored over the reasons for the lack of germination and poor growth of transplants. Do we not have enough wind protection? Are our pest pressures too high? Was our bed prep not deep enough? Did we water too much? Did we water too li ttle? With all of these possibilities, no clear answer has presented itself. Luckily, our early summer greens, beets, herbs, garlic, onions and turnips are happy, healthy and growing. Because of this we will have vegetables for the next few weeks, but beyond that we are unsure of the future. Do we replant? Start over? Can we afford to start over? These are the types of questions we are facing now, just as we start harvesting for our first CSA baskets.
What we do know is that we need to keep moving forward, continuing to talk to farmers, extension advisers, doing our research and adding a little fish emulsion here and a row cover there. We are trying our hardest to overcome the challenges of growing produce on land that we do not yet fully understand. Despite these initial setbacks, I have faith in our collective farming ability to find a way to have melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, basil, corn and all the rest of our summer crops covering our little plot of land and filling our CSA boxes with a plethora of summer produce.