Month on the Farm: January 2018

Happy new year from the Johnson Family Farm! It’s only mid-January, but the 2018 season has officially begun: Seeds ordered, new nursery being built, and much wishful thinking for this year’s gardens.

Our first winter project is in the works! We’re building a small semi-heated nursery on a south-facing porch of the house, perfect for transitioning seedlings from the warmth of being indoors on out to the garden greenhouse. We’ll be starting our first batches of plants around the end of February with the hope of getting our early crops in the ground by the end of March, depending on the snow melt.

I like to kick off the new year by placing seed orders and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks poring through all the seed catalogs, trying to decide what to try growing this year along with the winners we grew last year. I’ve said it before – I think the hardest part of farming is the planning of it all. Not the labor, the dirt, the sweat – but trying to figure out what to grow that has a profitable & marketable value, how much and in how many successions, where to plant it and when, beneficial crop rotations, and everything else. We take our seed selection very seriously and only purchase organic, non-GMO seeds. Or swap with other area growers.


In addition to all the hard work, farming is a costly venture – not just from the outlaying of cash, but also with all the risks of working with nature. Any farmer will concur, but in the same breath will say it’s worth it in the end once you get over the hurdle of the first few years of establishment. We’re getting there! We have our set budget this year, which will most likely already be exhausted by the time our first plants hit the ground. Just for reference sake for new or aspiring farmers, our main seed orders totaled around $400, and that’s only for a 1/3 acre of intensive growing area. I shudder to think of how much other farmers have to outlay in the sowing of larger gardens. Included in this year’s budget is a new air conditioner for our walk-in cooler, a 5 gallon salad spinner, a truckload of compost, a push-type seeder, flame weeder, landscape fabric, and then as many of the hundred other things we need until the money runs out. Plus occasional 12-packs of beer and pizza for my awesome helpers. 😉

This year we’ll also be making increased use of season extension with more row covers, low tunnels, and two new & improved hoop houses. We’ll be starting out the season with spring salad greens, spinach, chard, radishes, baby beets, and snow peas. Some new additions to our crop plans this year include marionberries, turnips, rutabaga, cabbage, corn, edible flowers, and overwintered parsnips.

Is it spring yet?! 🙂


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