Time in the Greenhouse

Photos: Courtesy of Powisset Farm

In this month’s post from Powisset Farm, Meryl captures the spirit of a rite of Spring: seeding time in the greenhouse. Feel your own shoulders and muscles relax as she describes this important ritual.

Meryl LaTronica
Farm Manager, Powisset Farm

This morning I opened the door in the dusky early morning to walk my dog along the farm road. The divots in the road were filled with icy ponds, there was a thin layer of frost on the fields, and the geese were helping themselves to an all-you-can-eat buffet of the winter rye that has been slowly emerging as the snow has melted away. After a little game of dog-chase-geese and a filling of my coffee mug, I made my way into the greenhouse for a morning of seeding.

The greenhouse is where we start nearly all of our plants at Powisset. We began March 1st with onions, shallots and cabbage. Then we moved into broccoli, scallions and beets. This week we will be starting on spinach, leeks and kale.

For each week of the season, from March through August, we have a seeding schedule that we live by.  This guide instructs our farm crew about what varieties to plant, when to start them, what seed trays to use—the seed trays come in different sizes, to accommodate the needs of each plant—and how many trays we need of each crop and each variety. Each tray that is seeded is labeled with the variety name and the date that we seeded it in the greenhouse. There are times in the season when we have several plantings of the same crop going at the same time—so having the date on that label can be really helpful!

Working in the greenhouse on a chilly March day is one of the biggest joys of spring on the farm. When you take a deep breath in, you smell damp earth. When you look at your hands they are covered in potting soil, and shimmer a little when you hold then seeds in your palm. For the first time after months of harsh cold, you can feel shoulders and muscles relax in the warmth of the humid, sunny atmosphere of the greenhouse. You may even get to work in just your t-shirt, letting your arms feel the sun at last, preparing you for the summer season that is nearly here!

Springtime on the farm is busy, exciting, anxious, and full of long to-do lists. Projects range from office work to fixing tractors, plowing fields and hiring crew. So, the quiet time that we get to spend in the greenhouse, focusing on putting one seed in one plug, tray after tray, is a glorious ritual, and one that I look forward to each year.