News and blog

Welcome to the blog
Posted 4/29/2010 3:45pm by Gregg Keckler.
Our website is back up and running.  We meant to TRANSFER our domain name to a new host and instead we deleted it!  It  took them awhile to forgive us for this transgression.  I have promised to pay for damages and they have finally relented.  So you can go to www.orchcountry.com  and check us out and download subscription forms, etc.  We hope to have all forms and payments in by May 15, especially if you would like  to sign up for the first session.  I will send a more extensive email in early May about what's happening and by May 20 if you are signed up for the first session you will get email about drop offs, extras, coolers, and other stuff.  See you then!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Gregg and Louise Keckler -Orchard Country Produce
Posted 4/14/2010 2:49pm by Gregg Keckler.

We are grilling asparagus every day.  The heat last week really brought it on fast.  We planted out lettuces and spinach on Monday.  The sweet onions have arrived in the mail today, so Friday we will be planting almost 3000 onions.  We have over 600 tomato plants looking good in the greenhouse. Louise

Posted 4/1/2010 5:39pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Friends and Shareholders,
    The weather is beautiful!  We have about 2 acres planted with lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, snow peas, snap peas, red beets and spring onions.  We will be planting more peas, radishes and beets this week.  We have planted seeds for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, arugala, head lettuce, kohlrobi, kale, cilantro, eggplant, and fennel in the greenhouse.  We also have new potatoes planted.  We will be planting the Evas this month and Gregg is going to try some fingerling potatoes.  We will also be planting the sweet onions by the third week in April.

    All the grapes, blackberries, black raspberries, pinks, yellows, and purples are pruned.  We are still working on the red raspberries.  We also sorted all the apples in the cooler.  There are a lot of Fuji and Pink Lady.  There are some Cameo and Braeburn as well.  This month Gregg will spray the fruit trees with copper for scab and he will spray for the 3 stages of bloom.  Apricots are in white bloom right now.  Two years ago we lost all the apricots because there was a frost during their bloom, but this year looks good so far.

    Welcome to new folks!  We hope you will enjoy our vegetables and fruit this year.  We are always trying a few new things to add to the standard fare.  I hope you will notice that I put on the website a listing of all our markets and drop offs.  I also finally wrote a bit about size of shares and samples from last year.  This year we will take pictures of the shares and put them up as well.  We still have openings at each market or drop off spot.  The DOT - Tuesday drop off and the Thursday East Columbia Library drop off are filling up fast.  So let us know if you want to get into either of these.

    If you are a Wednesday pickup just write your business in the delivery space on the subscription form - NGS, Calvert Foundation, or Fisher Lane.  If you would like a Wednesday delivery at your business, just get a total of 8 shares for the drop off and we will add you to the list.

    In May I will send specfic emails for each drop off to let you know when, how, and where.  I will also send everyone an updated list of "extras" that we sell.  You can order extras anytime by sending us an email and we will include them in the next delivery.  If you pick up at DOT, Columbia, Bethesda, or Westminster you can pay for your extras when you pick up.  If you pick up at NGS, Calvert Foundation, Fisher La or Gaithersburg we will keep a running total and at the end of each session we will send you a bill and you can send us a check.

   I do hope you can get out and enjoy the birds and plants budding.  We have a wood stove chimney at the back of our house.  Several years ago in order to keep rain from going down the stove pipe, Gregg took an old license plate, bent it into an arch, painted it black, and screwed it into the existing pipe.  This year we have a flicker who loves to sit on the chimney and peck on the license plate.  He sounds like a jack hammer if you are outside and if you are inside he sounds like a telephone ringing.  He does this for one hour beginning at 8:30 am and again at 5:30 pm.  I guess he enjoys sounding different than all the other flickers.  He is definitely taking all the paint off the license plate.  Enjoy those Birds!   
   If you have any questions or need any information, please let us know.  
                                           Growing for you, 
                    Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce 
Posted 3/25/2010 4:00pm by Gregg Keckler.

Today we finished pruning, transplanting, cleaning up all the black, pick, purple, and yellow raspberries.  Gregg and Oliver planted radishes, carrots,  and some direct planting of lettuce.  We have arugala in the greenhouse about 3 inches tall.  We have over 1000 tomato seeds started, head lettuce, kohlrobi, peppers. 

   On Monday Gregg and Oliver planted red beets, peas  and spring onions.  The man who plants our potatoes for us has planted all the little reds and he is trying to get the white Evas is between rains.  We are planting the little fingerling potatoes as well. They also finished pruning all the fruit trees.  Gregg is getting ready to spray the first blossoms.  Beleive it or not the fruit trees are beginning to blossom.  Spring is here!

We are hoping to get the red raspberries and blackberries  finished by the weekend.  Louise

Posted 3/19/2010 1:57pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
  Thanks for bearing with us.  We have found a great location for our farm stand in Bethesda.  It will be easier for folks driving in to park.  We will be located at the upper parking lot of the Universalist Unitarian Church on Cedar Lane in Bethesda.  For those of you who were walking to pick up your shares you might need to drive or take the bus.  If you signed up already and this new location will not work for you on Saturday mornings from 9-1pm.  Please let us know and we can reimburse you. 
   For those who have been waiting to see where we would locate, I hope this will be a good spot for you.  We will be setting up our farm market stand there to sell things just like at Woodmont Triangle.  We will have several large signs on Cedar Lane and also on Beach and Cedar.  If you live in this neighborhood we would appreciate it if you would tell your neighbors about the farm stand.  We are hoping to build up a buyer base in this area.  The church folks were very cooperative and are looking forward to us being there.  Many of their staff are signing up for CSAs as well.  We will be selling our beef and Ed Breckenbill's cheese there as well as eggs and butter (if there is enough). 
      I will be changing this information on local harvest and also on our website, but I am not able to change the subscription form because it is a pdf and we cannot seem to find it as a word document.  We are working on it,  

Let us know if you have any questions.  Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 3/17/2010 11:39am by Gregg Keckler.

Folks,

   We are finalizing plans for the Bethesda farm stand site and CSA drop off.  I will know for sure after Thursday.  I will keep everyone posted.

Now for plantings.  The leeks look good.  The arugala is up about 1 inch.  Lettuces are coming up.  The peppers including hot peppers are sprouting.  Gregg planted cabbage, kohlrobi, kale, and eggplant seeds this week.  Gregg is tilling the ground right now, hoping to dry it out so he and Oliver can plant spring onions tomorrow.  Next week -TOMATOES.

  Spring is coming.  Hope everyone is ready!  Louise

Posted 3/2/2010 11:41am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
   Welcome to everyone who has signed up for 2010.  We are looking forward to growing for you this year.  Just three weeks til Spring!  The snow is slowly melting which is good because it will e absorbed better with a slow melt.  The leeks look good.  Mrch is the month for planting seeds.  By the thir week in March we will be planting tomato seeds.  We will start lettuce, chard, peppers, eggplant plus others before that.  If the ground is bare and not very soggy, we will plant peas directly into the soil by March 20.  Potatoes will also be planted by then.
   Gregg, Oliver and I were not able to prune raspberries in February because of the snow.  So as soon as they are cleared of snow, we will get right on them.  In the meantime Oliver has been doing his school work - finishing Algebra II, reading Twain and Kipling, and fighting his way through the Chemistry book.  When we do get out there to prune Oliver is doing the pruning this year and I will pick up the branches.  We prune the black raspberries, yellow, pink, and purple raspberries.  Gregg always prunes the red raspberries.  (They are his babies.)  He also prunes a little on the backberries.  Then don't require too much pruning.  We rarely prune blueberries, currants, gooseberries, and elderberries.
   We have a vining hardy kiwi, but it has not produced any fruit.  We have had it for 7 years.  It flowers, but never produces fruit.  If anyone has any ideas let us know.  We transplanted it from another property and it always produced until we transplanted it.
   Our February subscriptions were higher this year than in 2009.  Thanks to those of you who have signed up in February.  Your checks have allowed us to purchase a used water wheel transplanter which can be pulled behind the tractor.  This transplanter can be used on black plastic and bare ground, if it is dry.  This will be a great time saver and back saver.  Until now we were crawling along the rows: 1 person to dig holes, 1 person to plant the plugs, 1 person to water, 1 person to cover.  So thanks to you only 1 person the drive the tractor and 1 person the feed the planter.

     The Westminster, East Columbia and DOT markets will continue this year as in past years.  We are having a little change is Bethesda.  We will work out a market stand location in the Bethesda area.  We are in contact with 3 possible locations and we are sure one of them will work out.  If you planned to pick up in Bethesda, please bear with us as we work out these details.
   The National Geographic Society Wednesday drop off will remain unchanged.  We will be visiting you folks on March 18 outside the cafeteria.  Stop by and sign up or just visiit us and enjoy a great apple!
   We will be making a drop off on Saturday mornings to 128 Goucher Terrace, Gaithersburg.  So if you wish to pick up here, just indicate it on your subscription form.
  We are looking forward to coordinating a Wednesday delivery to businesses in the Bethesda area.  If your place of business would like to sign up at least 8 CSA shares you can get a delivery on Wednesdays.  Deliveries would be possible at any business or office along I-270 Clarkburg, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Rockville, or Bethesda and also any place in Washington DC NW.  Let us know if you would like to be a part of this delivery route.

    One last word regarding markets:  Several of you informed us that Bethesda Farmer's Market was being farmed out to Farm Fresh (a market advertizer).  We know how popular Farm Fresh markets are with customers.  They are big.  They have entertainment.  They encourage lots of competition.  (Check out DuPont Circle and Silver Springs)  They are great for customers and BIG farmers.  A small time farmer friend of ours went to Silver Springs for several years.  This year he finally bailed out.  The market fee was $1800 per season plus 6% of all sales.  As a small time farmer, this is a major chunk of cash. 
   You will notice that most farmers who go to Farm Fresh markets are big.  They can afford to sell for a lower price in order to get high volume sales.  We cannot sell high volume because we don't have acre after acre of produce.  A farmer who attends a Farm Fresh Market must consider the market sales as first priority in order to recoup the fees.  We consider our CSA shareholders first.  Then when they are satisfied  we sell the excess at market.  We could never have enough to sell at a Farm Fresh market that would give us enough revenue.  I am sure that most of you never notice thses things, but if we bring 6 1/2 bushel of peaches to market every week and they sell out - why don't we bring more?  Because we kinow how many peaches we need to supply our CSA abd we cannot afford to sell more or we wouldn't  have enough. 
   All this said - Farm Fresh Markets are great if you are a customer, but not if you are the small time farmer. 

Flashback:  July 27 CSA delivery: blueberries, peaches, cabbage, cucumber, peppers, honey, onion, potatoes, Swiss chard

We look forward to seeing everyone again soon.   If you have any questions or need any information, let us know.  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 2/23/2010 2:58pm by Gregg Keckler.

The leeks are up and about 2 and half inches tall.  Once they hit 3 inches we will give them haircuts.  By cutting the stalks back it will strength the plants so they can withstand and wind and rain once we plant them outside.  Can't wait for the snow to go so we can start pruning raspberries!  Louise

Posted 2/23/2010 2:54pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
    We can't believe that this could happen so suddenly, but Bethesda Urban Partnership has decided that they no longer want the Farmer's Market - so just like that - There is no Bethesda Farmer's market!  This market was a great market for us as well as our drop off spot for over 20 CSAs   Now what!
    Dp any of you folks know of any location with visibility (store parking lot, YMCA, Gold's Gym, Community Center, etc)  near Woodmont Triangle or else where in Bethesda that would allow us to set up a market stand and sell on Saturdays.  We would be willing to pay  a fee for the space.  We do carry our own liability insurance. 
   If you could help us by giving us any suggestions, we will do our best to pursue them.  We really needed this market.  We had built up a good customer base in the five years we had been there.  Thanks for any help!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 2/10/2010 12:53pm by Gregg Keckler.

bee hives