Misty Days and Vegetable Farming

We are in full swing on the farm getting ready to plant our vegetable garden. The weather has been perfect for a week and suddenly just as we got ready to till and hill up rows; misty rain. For a week we have been adding several inches of composted ground up tree trimmings (collected from the line crew at local power company). This will loosen up our sandy soil and decompose into fine rich organics. There are a lot of worms in the material we are digging out of the compost pile.

The fingerling and other unique potatoes arrived yesterday. Onions will be here next week.

Eva sat on the veranda last Sunday afternoon having tea and reading seed catalogues. I am sure we have over 50. She has now finished her list and most are heritage varieties (all non gmo, many organic). The catalogs we like best are Bakers, High Mowing, Seed Savers and for things we can not find anyplace else, Johnny's and Seeds of Change. I have not looked at here list, but I will guess it will be four times more seeds than we can plant. cutting it back is a hard decision.

We will be planting oriental peppers and some other unusual varieties of vegetable for the Dallas chef's market.

Overall, not as much will be planted but we have enough for ourselves, to can or freeze, to give away to friends and family, to sell during berry season at the farm and to take to Dallas to sell in the summer occasionally. We may go to the Longview Farmer's Market and that will take some too.

After our terrible experience with the McKinney Chestnut Square Farmer's Market, we will be very selective on any market in the Dallas area. Maybe the old downtown market or Green Spot. McKinney was raft with sellers of vegetables they did not grow and were not grown even in Texas. It looked like many, and the most popular, had all gone to the night produce market in Dallas and then just unloaded the same commercial boxes and sold as farmer's produce. I watched a boy take perfect tomatoes out of a box and peel off the label on each tomato and then stack them up by a sign that said home grown. What a shame for a market so geared to being helpful to consumers and sellers. The venue is great and it has a huge following. I felt sorry for the farmers that were playing by the rules. They all had long sad stories of their experiences there, but kept coming as they hand no other access to consumers. Most told me that since we had to drive so far we should not try and compete there against the "big" guys. I mean, a vendor selling asparagus and strawberries on a really hot June day and saying it was from south of Dallas is as big a lie as you can say.

The Green Spot is said to police that type of behavior better and in Longview you are audited so they know what you grow and that is what you can sell. The trick for success at a farmer's market is to be there form the first day with something and build a relationship with the customers. for us last year, the CSA sapped all our energy and time and we could not do that and just showed up at market with blueberries. Not a good strategy.

We are also going to put a label on our blueberry pint clam shells this year. Last year an unnamed distributor in a Dallas that bought a huge order from us once and then advertised they were distributing our berries for months, but in fact were buying wholesale machine picked berried at the night market in Dallas and saying they were ours.

In any case, we are back in the vegetable gardening business as soon as we have a sunny day.