Greta and her sugar kelp.

Farm Report: 5/1/23

Okay, first of all, even though the word sugar is in the name of this cold water kelp, Saccharina latissima, I did not find it sweet at all when I tasted it. Harvested straight out of the ocean, not surprisingly, it tasted like the ocean. Apparently, when it dries a white powdery substance forms on the surface of the fronds and tastes sweet. I will give it another taste test when I see this powdery substance and let you know. We do not have it on the farm to debate its culinary delights, but to utilize it to nourish our plants. 


One method is to dry it and grind it into a powder that we can use to topdress the soil. Another is to test it out as a compost with equal parts wood shavings. Greta and I promised to share our findings with each other. Greta planted this kelp last October off the coast of Orr’s island and harvested it on Thursday. It had grown to over 10 feet long! She and her friend, Sophia, both Bowdoin students and volunteers at G2G. hung it up to dry in the greenhouse and on our outside clothesline. The greenhouse kelp almost totally dried in only a couple of hours with the sunny afternoon temperatures. It was an amazing transformation from a sunny amber to dark green.

This week the Farm Skills teams learned how to take soil samples to be sent into the lab. The Wednesday team harvested all the parsley in the Rimol greenhouse so we could tarp it for the cucumber plantings in a couple of weeks. We tried to find jobs inside since it was another cold dreary day. The Saturday team got to work out in the warm sunshine, so they were also able to learn how to prep a bed for planting and run the seeder to plant carrots.

The dynamic duo of Carol and BJ were back in action on Wednesday potting up tomatoes as they chatted away. See how many layers of clothes they have on even inside the greenhouse? 

Friday was the pick of the week weather-wise–bright blue skies and temps in the 60s. We hosted our two groups from Morse high school. They were scheduled to interplant cabbages with lettuce, and Carrie had the bright idea of laying mulch first, then planting, to save time. I hate raking up last season’s straw and cardboard without recycling it. Seems like putting it on the compost pile is wasteful, so Carol and I spread it out on the grass, and Genevieve mowed over it to break it down to a finer straw/cardboard mulch. We worked out a few kinks, and then it worked perfectly! The students did a great job getting all those plants in the ground and protected with row cover.

Bob – If Bob was a superhero, he would be Superfixitman! Bob comes up with such creative solutions to problems we or Mother Nature created at the farm. The latest was his installation of a thermostatically controlled vent. We have had such a hard time controlling the temperature in our seedling trailer. All the grow lights give off such intense heat which is great for germination, but not so good for plant growth. He also fixed the Rimol door that wouldn’t slide anymore, and that was all in one week! Thank you so much, Bob!

I asked Genevieve to give the mower a spring cleaning before Doug came back to help us get the mowing under control. Just as she posed for my photo op, Doug stopped over to get started. Thank you, Doug.

Other completed tasks: we now have irrigation in our tunnels, four more plots are now planted with spring crops, and we provided protection to our newly seeded beds.  We have heavy rains in our forecast–two to three inches of rain for the midcoast and up to four for me in Androscoggin County. Too much, not enough, it’s always something to try to work around and deal with.

Luckily we have four operational growing tunnels and two more replacement tunnels scheduled for assembly and raising on Saturday, May 13, and Saturday, May 20, with a rain date of May 27. If you have the time to volunteer for one of these days and can bring a friend or two, we would really appreciate it. With our climate being so unpredictable, it seems we are relying more and more on utilizing the protected growing spaces all season long. 

One more thank you this week goes to Mila, our spring intern from Bowdoin College. This photo of Mila perfectly captures her vibrant positive spirit. So glad you are on our team this spring Mila. You are such an asset.

Those are the highlights from the farm this week. Thanks to all of you who came to join in the fun!

Always grateful,