Just got word that this coming Oct 1 Manassas farmer’s market has been cancelled due to the forecasted rain and wind from the hurricane. We are moving all 10/1 preorders to 10/8 by default, but please contact us if you would like to cancel a preorder.
We’re still cruising through summer. Steady as she goes. Lettuce output the past couple years has generally been poor during the months of July and August, but whatever we’re doing this year is working well, as output has remained fairly steady even during the hottest part of the year. We started the year on a 12-week cycle: 4 weeks as seedlings indoors, followed by 8 weeks outside in the garden. Back in mid-July, we reduced the garden time by 2 weeks (so 6 weeks outside vs. 8), as the lettuce was getting a bit long in the tooth after 8 weeks outside at that time of year. We anticipate upping the outside time back to 8 weeks later in the fall…. and to allow for that, we doubled our weekly sowing amount for a couple weeks recently.
Hoping to get an exhaust fan installed in our tomato house during the month of September, so that we can officially, for real put poly endwalls up and have it all be sealed. We’re hoping to power said fan with solar panels and a battery bank. We’ll see how that goes. This solar experiment, if it goes ok, could be a gateway to powering a number of farm stuff over the long term. We could get the lettuce house sealed and ventilated, maybe move our microgreens to a shipping container (ie move the grow room from our spare bedroom to a building external to the house)… get a walk-in cooler setup somewhere. We’ve even talked about playing with hydroponic lettuce vs. soil-grown. A number of possibilities.
Weather tomorrow looks awesome… high of 89 and sunny. Hope everyone is doing well. Come out and see us if you’re in the area!
We’re in the thick of summer and all systems go. Tomatoes are coming along nicely. The tomato production we’re getting now is about 2-3 weeks ahead of where we were this time last year…. likely due to planting earlier this year, and not having as many setbacks as last year (had some losses last year due to wind and heat). So we anticipate having a whole boatload of cherry tomatoes at the market from now until… maybe November? The larger slicer tomatoes will be fewer but should still be in attendance at the market.
Lettuce, microgreens, potted herbs, and eggs are all still rolling along. We seem to have hit a “cruising altitude” level with lettuce of around 20-30 bags per week. The goal was to consistently average 30 bags a week, so we’re slightly under that so far, but we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out. We’ve had a great go of it so far with Hidden Julles in Haymarket, who have been buying whatever lettuce and tomatoes we don’t sell at the Manassas farmer’s market. And we’re providing a limited supply of duck eggs to Buckland Farm Market each week.
One side tangent on our tomato hoop house: Back in late April, we had put fully-sealed endwalls up on the tomato house with framing, doors, poly, wiggle wire, etc. And then to ventilate the hoop house, we rolled up the poly on one long side about 3 feet and duct taped the poly to each hoop. Well that was all well and good for a couple months… but then one particular Saturday in June (Saturday, June 18 to be specific), we had a really windy day at the market (where one of our tents briefly blew over). Anyway, while the farmer’s market was underway that morning, back at the farm the plastic on our tomato house had completely ripped off its moorings due to said wind blowing in through said rolled-up side secured with said duct tape. See photo below…
What followed after this discovery was a period of shame for having secured poly with nothing but duct tape… followed by some quick online ordering of new poly and coming up with a new ventilation plan. So we had totally exposed tomatoes hanging on trellises for maybe a week while we waited on new plastic to arrive. We put up some extra wind bracing and then got the poly on and breathed a sigh of relief. But long story short, our new ventilation plan was to remove the poly from the endwalls…. which is why you don’t see poly on the endwalls in the top photo!
Anyway, proper (or at least better and somewhat automated) hoop house ventilation is one of our top focus items now and we’re hoping to get some electric, thermostat-controlled ventilation going before the end of the season. We’ll keep you posted on that.
New video posted to YouTube this morning! And quick update on tomatoes: We’re hoping to bring our first pints of cherry tomatoes to market July 2 or July 9 at the latest. Plenty of larger slicers on the way, but they’re still green…. might be later in July. We’ll keep you posted!
Hope to see you at the Manassas farmer’s market tomorrow! If we don’t see you, you can also find our duck eggs and bagged lettuce mix at Buckland Farm Market. Have a great weekend!
We’ve had a few rainy markets this season, but this Saturday 6/18 is looking top notch. Come out and see us at the Manassas Farmer’s Market! We’ll have everything you see in the above photo…. lettuce mix bags (in the fridge), eggs, tomato plant starters, potted herbs, and our wide variety of live microgreens. And you can find our duck eggs and lettuce mix bags at Buckland Farm Market, as well. Enjoy the weekend!
If you find yourself heading down Route 29 toward Warrenton, you might swing by Buckland Farm Market for a few minutes. Many locally-sourced grocery items (produce, meat, eggs, dairy), an ice cream parlor, playground out back for the kids, and I’m told they plan on putting in a brewery at some point. Earlier this morning, Elissa and I delivered them some cartons of duck eggs and bags of our lettuce mix, which they then put up for sale in the refrigerated section of the store. We chatted with owner Chris Gilbert for a while and are hopeful that this new venture is a win win for everyone!
Back at the farm, our tomatoes are coming along nicely. We’re still hoping for first harvest in June, but we’ll keep you posted. Plenty of lettuce this time of year, and still good supplies of duck eggs and chicken eggs. Microgreens and potted herbs, as always. Hope to see you at the Manassas farmer’s market Saturday, or head over to Buckland Farm Market to find some of our products there!
Buckland Farm Market address: 4484 Lee Highway Warrenton, VA 20187
We got a 16’x50′ hoop house kit from Farmer’s Friend at the end of 2021, intended for aiding lettuce production. This video is a series of time lapses which cover 99% of the entire construction process. Cancel your appointments, grab some popcorn, and tuck in for a half hour of Pennington Market Farm.
The main market season is fully underway and we’re up to our elbows in farm activities these days. The latest highlights:
The past couple months have been hoop house mania for us. We completed the 16’x50′ lettuce hoop house (sans end walls) in mid-March, and then finally got some real-deal end walls up on the 12’x50′ tomato house. (The end wall attempt that we put up in October 2021 didn’t survive the winter.) The tomato house is fairly well sealed now and gets super toasty when the sun is out. Over 120 F some days! We’ve had to keep the doors open on it to ventilate mid-day.
We’ve been planting tomatoes earlier this year (due to aforementioned sealed hoop house). Last year, I think our first planting was May 8 or so… this year, April 20. So we’re hoping that with the warmer average temps in the hoop house plus the earlier planting, we’ll have tomato half pints available at the market some number of weeks earlier this year vs. last. We brought our first tomatoes to market July 31 last year, so, who knows, maybe early July, if not June this year? We’ll hope for the best and keep you posted.
A much wider selection of potted herbs this time of year vs. last. Currently bringing 16 different varieties of herbs! We grow these inside alongside our microgreens, and it can be a challenge sometimes trying to find rack space for everything. Some form of outbuilding grow room has been on our wish list for the past couple years, and that may be increasing in priority.
Chickens and ducks have been fairly productive so far this year. We did our annual soil testing of various areas of the farm, one being the bird pens. The pens have been increasing their levels of… just about every nutrient category… over these past few years. The grass is literally greener in their pens. While this is probably fine and welcome for now, I do worry about too much of a good thing over the long term. We want to keep nutrient levels, etc all within bounds. So we may consider moving the whole setup maybe sometime later this year(?)
Hope to see you at the market soon! As always, our primary sales outlet is the Manassas farmer’s market on Saturdays (8am – 1pm). We plan to be there basically every week until Thanksgiving (give or take).
A quick notice that there will be no farmer’s market on April 2. March 26 will be the last “winter market” date, then no market April 2, and then “main season” market begins April 9. To our knowledge, location will remain the commuter lot across from Baldwin Elementary. From a customer perspective, the only real difference between the two seasons is that the winter market runs from 9am – 1pm, whereas the main season market will be 8am – 1pm. I believe the April 2 break is for market manager time off, planning purposes, etc.
I should caveat that all of the above applies to the Saturday market. Manassas has typically also had a Thursday market, at least for the main season, but I don’t yet know any details about that. (We don’t currently plan on attending the Thursday market regardless.)
Just got word from the market managers that the 3/12 Manassas farmer’s market has been cancelled due to anticipated bad weather (super cold, windy, precipitation of various kinds, etc). Probably for the best. We’ll look ahead to 3/19. For anyone who had a pre-order for pickup on 3/12, we will roll that forward to 3/19. If you aren’t able to pickup on 3/19, please contact us to let us know!