Crop Report: Onions are in the Ground

Fisher Hill Farm Onions

We got our onions in the ground last week. It’s and brutally slow process and if you follow us on social media you probably saw a post about driving .1 miles per hour in the tractor! Painfully slow but so necessary and actually kind of beautiful in a way. It also gives you time to think which with three kids and a business to run there isn’t much time for that.

Onions are one of the first things to hit the soil every year and it marks the beginning of the growing season. It’s a time for reflection on last years crops and a time to look into the future of where the business is heading, what changes need to be made, and what milestones to celebrate.

Onions might be the beginning of our soil crops but they are so much more than that. They are a staple of cooking for chefs and culinary hobbyists around the world. They last through the year in cold storage. Did you know they are famous for being untraceable in the archaeological world? It’s true! Their tissues leave almost no trace at all and so their origin has been debated by botanists and food historians alike. Some research suggests that they originated in Central Asia while other research suggests they came from West Pakistan.

No matter where they originated from, onions were one of the very first cultivated crops  in the world because they grew in different soils and climates, were easily transported, and lasted a long time after coming out of the ground. Ancient Chinese, Roman, and Egyptian texts have shown that onions played an important role in diets and even cultural practices. It’s amazing how far back they date and just how amazingly important they are!

We’re excited for the growing season and excited about these onions. We can’t wait to share them with you.

What do Farmers do in the Winter Time?

Fisher Hill Farm in the Winter

It seems like I get that question fairly often and certainly more folks are wondering than are actually asking, so thought I would share a bit about our winter season.

Winter is little different story for us compared to other farms because two of our ‘summer season’ farmers markets continue throughout the winter and I have a local restaurant delivery route all winter long. Between harvesting greens from the high tunnel, washing produce from storage, and taking care of the poultry we stay fairly busy.

Definitely, not summer time busy but steady nonetheless.

The first task of every winter is to order seeds.

Can’t grow vegetables without them! But before you can start placing orders you need to know what to get. I take inventory of what I had left over from the previous year and that gets the ball rolling. Then I have to look at the transplanting and seeding schedules from the previous year to see if I need to make any adjustments. I read through the stack of seed catalogs vying for my attention looking for improved or new offerings. Finally, I have a baseline of what I need and can start ordering.

Did you know that we purchase seeds from four different seed dealers?

One of the dealers is located right here in Rochester, NY. A few tweaks to the order may occur based on seed production availability or talks with the seed company reps and then the boxes start arriving. Funny thing is that even though I mostly place one bulk order with each company, they never send everything at once so it’s a steady trickle of boxes for the next 4-6 weeks, always with a surprise element of what each box actually contains!

This week I was working on getting some fields plowed for early crops.

I usually do this in the fall but it was so wet and muddy I could not get it done. Then after Christmas I started working on it and a part broke on the tractor. By the time the part arrived, Siberia had set in and the ground was frozen. Luckily, we had a February thaw and I got a chance to get back on the tractor. I finished the field that I started and got another one going. Unfortunately now it’s too muddy and I will have to wait till the ground gets a little freeze on it. There is a fine balance between muddy and frozen which can change within a few hours in the mornings and evenings.

Plowing in the Winter
Plowing in the Winter – Fisher Hill Farm

By the time the part arrived, Siberia had set in and the ground was frozen.

Another big winter task is getting all the accounting figured out for 2018 and meeting with the accountant. It usually takes a few weeks to get all the information into QuickBooks, and compile all the reports that the accountant needs to file the taxes. It’s not my favorite job of the year but a very important one.

After the taxes are all done and filed I can start working on machinery maintenance. All the tractors and RTVs need oil changes and service. Usually as you go through the machines you find little issues that need to be fixed. Then we start looking at the other equipment that gets used throughout the season. For the most part these are all tasks that we work in as time permits.

We finalized the plans this week to have a CSA pickup location in Victor, NY.

Victor Central School asked if we would be willing to setup on their campus Tuesday afternoons this market season, June-October. This will be a great opportunity for us to grow the CSA program and provide our products to the Victor area. (We did attend the Victor Farmers Market for several years from around 2005-2012.)

The sure sign of spring is getting the greenhouse ready for the first seeds. Around mid March we start early transplants of beets, chard, and tomatoes. Then every week after that the planting continues until July.

 

Phillip