Spring’s Greenhouse Effect

  • Seeds and guides prepared for a seed sowing workshop at Spring Ledge Farm on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in New London, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Nonie Reynders, of Newbury, N.H., references her guide while planting at seed sowing workshop at Spring Ledge Farm on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in New London, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/4/2017 10:00:18 PM

To get to a seed sowing workshop in a greenhouse at Spring Ledge Farm in New London on Saturday morning, Sara Scheuch shoveled a foot of snow off of her car.

But it was worth it, the New London resident said. A little after 10 a.m., her coat was off and she was happily breathing in the greenhouse’s warm, moist air, even as snowflakes continued to fall outside.

“It’s such a fun time,” she said of the workshop. “You won’t see any more smiles than you’ll see in this place.”

The workshop was the first of three the farm will host this spring. The events give gardeners a chance to get their green thumbs dirty and start seeds they will later transplant to outdoor gardens. For the farm, the $20 workshop brings in people and a bit of cash during an otherwise quiet season, said farm owner Greg Berger.

Customers “are not buying things to plant outside today,” said Berger during a lull in helping workshop participants find seeds and trays for planting.

“We want people to learn how to do the seeding,” Berger said. “We don’t want people to be discouraged.”

In an emailed newsletter on Friday, Berger outlined reasons for holding the workshop in spite of the April Fools’ Day snowstorm:

- It’s April dammit.

- And then there’s denial...that’s in play for sure.

- Plus we’re farmers, who just have to deal with the weather every day of the year, so no big whoop.

- And possibly stubbornness plays a role, As yankees, we don’t like to see things change.

- Although it could be pride; yup, I’m not proud to admit that pride does play a role.

The storm may have kept some participants at home, but the greenhouse was still busy with people filtering in, filling their trays with seeds and then returning to the winter day outside.

Scheuch stood at a table planting seeds in a 100-cell, black plastic tray. She selected seeds from small paper cups provided by the farm and also sowed some Brussels sprout seeds she brought from home.

Next to her were Peter and Lauri Smerald, also of New London, who attended the workshop for the third year in a row. Peter gave Scheuch some French bean seeds to add to her tray.

Scheuch said she and the Smeralds are friends through church.

“Only us Presbyterians would be out on a day like this,” she said, laughing.

She added marigold seeds to holes poked in the soil of her tray.

Nearby, Lauri Smerald — also smiling — planted flowers, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and tomatoes in her tray. She pulled out an envelope of catnip seeds the couple brought from home.

“I won’t forget anything for my little kitty,” she said.

For an extra $20, the farm allows workshop participants to leave their planted trays in a greenhouse with appropriate levels of light, temperature and humidity until May.

“They keep them for us so they grow up nice and strong,” said Scheuch.

Farm employee Alli Howe, of Warner, N.H., showed newcomers where to find the seeds and trays. Now in her third year at Spring Ledge, Howe said she likes to see people come back to pick up their seedlings.

“ ‘Oh my gosh! The plants are so big,’ ” she said, imitating the customers. “That’s my favorite day because everybody does coyote eyes.”

In addition to the seeds, trays and greenhouse space, the farmers also provide participants with a chart to use to keep track of which seeds are in which cells. They photocopy the chart, which was lucky for Scheuch last year because she lost her original.

“Don’t tell anybody about this place,” Scheuch said. As it is, she said, the greenhouse “gets really crowded” during the farm’s workshops.

Participant Joy Kubit had not yet shoveled off her car. She lives close enough to Spring Ledge to walk. The farm, which is protected by a conservation easement, is located on New London’s Main Street, just up from Colby-Sawyer College.

The easement has enabled the farm, which Berger took over from John and Sue Clough 12 years ago, to remain on Main Street.

“Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to pay the debt service,” Berger said.

Standing near Scheuch, Kubit had also planted some Brussels sprout seeds in her tray, a choice that could prove controversial at home.

“I love Brussels sprouts,” she said. “My husband hates them.”

Kubit also sowed flowers to later transfer to pots, and broccoli, basil and Swiss chard. Kubit, who is retired, has two 4-by-8 raised beds, which is enough.

“There’s just two of us,” she said.

At another table, Deb Lloyd, of Grantham, stood arranging seeds on top of the soil in her tray. Lloyd said she attended the workshop in honor of her friend Doug Kern, who died on April 1 last year.

“I’ve really been thinking about him,” she said, of Kern with whom she liked to cook.

Lloyd planted lupines, tomatoes and Swiss chard.

“I’ll think of Doug when they grow,” she said.

The farm will be offering the workshop again this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It takes about half an hour to pick seeds and sow trays. It costs $20 to take the tray home immediately and $40 to leave it in the farm’s greenhouse to grow until May. The farm will hold another workshop in May to give participants a chance to start plants that take less time to germinate.

To reserve a spot, call 603-526-6253 or email greg@springledgefarm.com. More information about the farm and other workshops can be found online at springledgefarm.com.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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