back at the market 3/11
We’re ramping up this week and next for our return to the Manassas farmer’s market. As the above table shows, we will not be attending the market on March 4 (though there will be a market that day). March 11 will be our first day back.
Stuff we will likely bring on the 11th: chicken eggs, duck eggs, lettuce mix (see image below), microgreens. Our first batches of herbs probably won’t be ready until sometime in April I would imagine.
As a heads up, we will be raising our egg prices this season to $4 / half dozen for chicken eggs and $5 / half dozen for duck eggs. We know these prices are historically high and yet eggs have consistently been our thinnest margin item over the years mainly due to the costs of feed for the birds (which have increased in price, as well). If you buy eggs from us consistently, one avenue to offset a little of the cost would be to utilize our “loyalty discount card”, which is basically a gift card, but we add additional money to the card based on how much you contribute to it. There is no identity information kept with the card (we don’t know which card is tied to which person, etc… similar concept to a cash payment). Anyway, feel free to ask us about the card if you’re interested or have questions.
Looking forward to next week! Please contact us between now and then if you’d like to pre-order anything for pickup at the market. Hope to see you!
Happy winter to all! Just checking in. We’ve been attempting to hibernate during the offseason, but is there really ever an offseason with farming? :-p Activity is certainly reduced, but we’re not 100% dormant… we’ve continued to grow lettuce inside in a grow tent and get batches over to Hidden Julles each week. And we’ve also been working on our new experimental hydroponic greenhouse that we’ve affectionately dubbed the “Nerd House”…
With this system, we have a shallow pool of water (about 6″ deep) with added nutrient solution. Floating on top of the water are trays of baby lettuce. The pool is sized such that we’re hoping to 100% replace last year’s in-ground lettuce output with this new hydroponic baby lettuce. We’re anticipating either a 3 or 4 -week grow time, depending on how finely we can tune the growing conditions. So that involves maintaining consistent air temperature and humidity, water temperature, light, water pH, and proper quantities of nutrient vs. water in the pool. And then at harvest time, we can run the trays through a mechanical harvester (specifically the Quick Cut Greens Harvester). Big picture, we’re hoping that we can do as much, if not more lettuce production this year vs. last… but with less labor.
On the egg front, we suffered fairly significant bird losses to predators back in November/December (lost about half of our flock over a 3-4 week period). We scrambled and tried a number of solutions, but what has seemed to be the answer is to lock the birds up at night in a coop, and then let them out in the morning. Up until this, we had just left the coops open to allow the birds free entry / exit… and our fencing arrangement had seemed a sufficient defense. We’re learning and responding as we go. We plan to replace the lost birds with ready-to-lay birds in early March so that we can ramp up production for the farmer’s market season.
And speaking of farmer’s market… Looking at the calendar, our current plan is to return to the Manassas farmer’s market Saturday, March 11. We’ll keep you posted as we approach that date.
Hope everyone is doing well! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
A heads up that the Manassas farmer’s market managers did decide to hold a farmer’s market this coming Saturday, 11/26 from 9am – 1pm. However, we do not plan to attend. We’ll be back at the market in March of 2023, and will post updates as we get nearer to that timeframe. A big thanks to all of our customers for a great 2022 season and want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
A recap of our 2022 tomato season. We’ve had some “learning experiences” with hoop house growing, but onward and upward! Already making plans for next season.
end-of-season market schedule
Wanted to relay our understanding of the Saturday Manassas farmer’s market schedule (as of this moment). Like last year, there will be a winter season market, but we plan on taking a break for a few months and then resuming market attendance in March of 2023.
We were originally planning on doing the October 29 market just like every other week, however a Cub Scout camping trip got rescheduled to that weekend due to Hurricane Ian and the other kid has a soccer game that morning… a lot going on so we decided to skip the market that day and maybe save a bit of sanity(!)
Our tomatoes may have dodged the frost the other night, so we’re hoping to get some production from them for a wee bit longer. But hard to complain about the weather this week. Hope to see you Saturday!
Oct 1 farmer’s market cancelled
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.
Stay safe and dry this weekend!
guardian of the lettuce
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!
heating the beet
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.
Hope to see you at the market Saturday!
Let Us Lettuce!
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!