Much of what we plant on the farm is started for us by the company Headstart. Doing our own starts is challenging; the pH of our water is not ideal, and it requires man power to manage, which we don’t have. Years ago, Nigel made the decision to give up doing starts on the farm and sent them all to Headstart. The past few years we have done mixed seeds for many of our crops because it made harvesting a bit easier, and saved us tremendous money on our start costs. Headstart charges $157 for 1,000 plants, but when we jump to 2,001 plants, the price drops to $83 per 1,000. If we can get up to 5,001 it goes down to $54 per 1000. As you can see, we save a lot by sowing more seeds, and clearly being able to mix varieties really helped.
Unfortunately, this year, Headstart decided we could no longer send them seeds, AND no more mixing. This is a problem for a few reasons, firstly, we don’t need 5,000 seeds of each variety at each planting. As an example, we grow several types of cabbage: pointy cabbage, red, green, savoy, napa and a few different varieties of each of those types. It is important for us to maintain a good variety for the CSA shares, because no one wants red cabbage, week after week. What you do with savoy cabbage can be quite different to what you do with a pointy or a red cabbage. Clearly growing only 1,000 of each would make our Headstart costs astronomically expensive. You can understand the predicament we are in, and this is on top of our novice farmer status.
But we persevered, Nigel taught us that for sure, and with some juggling, Cameron and I came up with ways to modify the orders. Now we will get half the variety mix in the first delivery, and the rest of the varieties in the second. The deliveries are only two weeks apart, so there shouldn’t be any problem with a lack of variety. We still won’t be able to hit the cost breaks Nigel was able to reach, but we will make it work.