Thanksgiving 2011

by Bob on November 24, 2011

Well, once again I did a miserable job of writing. The last post was about five months ago! So much for this year, I’ll try to do better in 2012.

The weather this year presented an abnormal challenge – or did I say the same thing a year ago? Spring was cold and wet, and we were late getting transplants in the ground. Fortunately we were able to use the flowers from the greenhouses and high tunnels (unheated greenhouses) until we got production from the fields. Summer was hotter than usual, stressing both us and the plants. Then, in August, it started to rain. Since that time there have been very few periods when the ground was dry enough to work. So far this week we have had 2” of rain and more is forecast. It is said that farmers always complain about the weather. That’s true, but the success of our work is highly dependent on temperature, moisture, and light. See the paragraph on winterberry…

Sales at the farmers markets this summer were very good, with one exception. During the past two years many new markets have opened, and the customers have more options of where and when to shop. We tried a new location, sales were terrible, and we won’t be there next year, but Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh gets better every year. While weather is always a governing factor, sales improve there every year. Ligonier is still good, but sales there are down somewhat, especially after the stock market fluctuations of early August. We watch the developing financial events in both Europe and the US and hope that conditions will be the same or better next year – after all, flowers may make you feel good, but they are not essential.

We are continuously looking for new products to grow and sell, and we found a good one this year. While buying seeds to sprout last winter (for us) I found a mention of shoots, which are gigantic sprouts or immature plants, depending on how you look at it. We grew a few pea shoots, then sunflower shoots, and finally popcorn shoots. While we still do a few popcorn and sunflower trays, the pea shoots are a real hit with upscale restaurants. We eat the rejects and enjoy them – they add a special flavor to an otherwise bland salad.

WinterberryWe are pretty much done outside, except for cutting and selling the winterberry (deciduous holly). The past two years we have had late spring frosts, after the plants came out of dormancy, and production was very poor – last year it was zero. This year the bushes liked the weather, and we have a bumper crop, an embarrassment of riches so to speak. Normally we would be done with the harvest, but we still have about 94 of the 100 plants to cut, trim, bundle and sell. Fortunately the weather forecast for the next week is predicting above normal temperatures (along with lots of rain). Cutting in the rain is a nasty job, but cold makes it even worse.

Every fall we have to decide whether to continue the next year. Father Time and Arthur Itis continue to make it harder to work, and we wonder if all this is Weddingsworthwhile. We have decided, for 2012 at least, that we will continue as we have for several years – farmers markets, wholesaling, weddings, etc. Having made that decision, the next day I ordered lisianthus seeds, which we need to plant this week in order to have blooms in June, the following day we cut winterberry, and the next day the back went into spasms. Might be the wrong decision, but for now, onward and upward.

Hope you have had a good year, and we wish you the best for the Christmas season.

(the Creaky and Cranky Curmudgeon)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Arthur (king) Itis December 10, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Quit blaming it on me and get to work. Grow more pea shoots and wheat grass and start juicing!

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