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Growing Out of Winter

By Michael Sommer
Purple Sage Farms

This past weekend we attended the Grower’s Own Conference at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. It was put on by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and some other sponsors with a lot of hard work from Jennifer Miller and Beth Rasgorshek.

The ground has thawed inside the greenhouses and our planting is beginning. We have filled up three greenhouses with cruciferous vegetable transplants like broccoli and lacinato kale. In the greenhouses, many crops survived one of the coldest winters ever in the Treasure Valley and many did not. We are clearing the struggling beds and preparing them for our earliest plantings of spring greens.

Under the lights in the germination room another round of cold weather crops is beginning. Chard, peas, endive and butterhead lettuce have sprouted and they are building the first set of true leaves.  To put all these plants in their own plug trays is a tedious job but essential for fast growth and survival in the cold season. I cringe to have to anticipate weeds this early in the season but I have learned to always be thinking of ways we can give our crops an advantage to out-grow them. I still hate weeding as much as I did when I was ten; I like to let the plants take care of it themselves.

This past weekend we attended the Grower’s Own Conference at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. It was put on  by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and some other sponsors with a lot of hard work from Jennifer Miller and Beth Rasgorshek. The guest speaker was Laura Masterson of 47th Avenue Farm outside of Portland, OR.

The two-day conference facilitated conversations on all sorts of topics related to farming like how to produce things on the farm to sell in the winter season, farm and food safety, and how to figure your farms expenses and produce prices. There were lots of great conversations and I always get a morale boost from the winter lull after I see a group of the food community in Idaho that I live with.

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