I tapped my maple trees two weeks ago and still no sap to boil. I really don’t think spring will ever come, and as I write this at the tail end of March, it is 21°F out but Weather Underground says it feels like 12°F. And it does. It does!
Hannah Davidson has her hands in the soil. Photo by John Falk
So what was I to think when this crazy email from my friend Hannah Davidson arrived, inviting me to join a seedling CSA at the Good Earth Farm in Brandon, Vermont. Really? A two-foot-deep blanket of snow still covers my garden. I’m just guessing here, but I really don’t think I am going to be able to sow seeds in mid-April for my usual spring greens and peas.
This is Hannah’s first year selling her seedlings via a CSA, and it turns out seedling CSAs is the newest trend in small scale-agriculture circles. The grower, whose expenses all hit in the early spring for greenhouse energy and maintenance costs, soil, and seeds, gets money upfront. The gardeners get seedlings spread out through the planting season --- in this case, including plants for a fall harvest picked up in August – without worrying that the seedlings they want to buy will all disappear by the time Memorial Day weekend winds down.
It’s the fall harvest plants that excites me with the idea of this CSA. I always plan to get a fall sowing in, and I almost never succeed. In the dog days of August, I stop believing that the weather will ever be cool enough to support another planting of lettuce or spinach.
Oh! Just like I don’t believe spring will ever come…
Hannah Davidson with tomato plants. Photo by John Falk
My check goes in the mail today. Two hundred dollars will cover five pick-ups of plants.
Here’s what I’m going to be getting: The first pick-up of plants will be on May 2nd or 3rd and is scheduled to include two 4-packs of lettuce, two 4-packs of spinach, one 4-pack of kale, one 4-pack of chard, two 6-packs of snap peas, a bundle of 25 yellow and 25 red onions, and one each 4-inch pot of dill, cilantro, parsley, plus one 4-pack of my choice.
The second pick-up will be on May 23 or 24 and will include one 4-pack of broccoli, one 4-pack of cabbage, one 4-pack of sauce tomatoes, one 4- pack of heirloom tomatoes, one 4-pack of peppers or chiles, one mixed 4-pack of zucchini/summer squash, two 4-inch pots of basil, and two free choice plants (larger tomatoes or perennial herbs or flowers).
Third pick-up will be on June 6 or 7 and will include one 4-pack of butternut squash, one 4-pack of mixed pumpkins/winter squash, one 4-pack of musk melon/watermelon, one 4-pack of cucumbers, two 4-packs of lettuce, one 4-pack of eggplant, one 4-pack of brussels sprouts, and two free choice plants.
The fourth pick-up on July 11or 12 will be light, but will include cucumbers, zucchini/squash, broccoli, storage cabbage, kale, chard, and more herbs for succession planting.
Finally, the fifth pick-up on August 8 or 9, will include curly parsley, flat parsley, dill, kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli.
Yes, I will be losing out on getting to choose my favorite varieties. I don’t know whether Hannah knows I like Asian varieties of both cucumbers and eggplant. She definitely doesn’t know (yet!) that she is being overly generous in the summer squash department. But what I love is the fact that I am committing to renewing a patch of the garden each month when I prepare some beds for the new plants.
I am also committing to the idea of spring. Now if the weather would just cooperate.
Tomatoes growing in the greenhouse last year. Photo by Hannah Davidson