Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's new at the farm? 5/13/09

The farm is abuzz with activity this week. We have an almost full farm crew (one more next week) and plenty of work ahead of us. The fields have taken a whole new look as plastic is being laid; transplanting and direct seeded crops are in and up. The weather, although wet last week, has cooperated this spring. We have more ground prepared earlier than I can remember. The lettuce and endive have been transplanted into the field, the carrots and onions are up as are the peas and some flowers. Plenty of direct seeding next week as corn goes in along with greens and just lots of small trials.

We did a few things different this spring and it's really made quite a difference. The first thing I did was to develop a spreadsheet detailing the field location of each crop and details like whether it needed plastic or not, drip tape requirements and placement, and the number of beds needed. When a field has been prepped there's a map detailing where everything goes and ground prep instructions for each crop. We now have plastic laid for the melons and watermelons, which by the way, have just come up in the greenhouse - we're a ways away from transplanting these. The plastic is now being laid for the tomatoes which are two weeks away from transplanting.

A second thing we did this year was to bed all beds in a field at one time. Like for instance in field 1, which we call the main trial field, we bedded all 43 beds at once. As the beds were planted down the field more were already made up so we didn't have to stop what we were doing just to make a couple of beds. If we get some rain all the better. We can than stale bed the remaining beds are be that much ahead of the game. Stale bedding is preparing the soil for planting, waiting for weeds to germinate, kill them then plant. It takes out the first and usually most densely populated flush of weeds for the season.

Third we have several new people to the farm doing all kinds of tasks. Matt's been making beds until he's nearly cross eyed and Mike Bowman is laying countless miles of plastic. Jeff and Nick have been spreading fertilizer and doing the initial ground prep along with rotovating and fixing things. Jeff keeps very bust fixing all the things that get broke in the normal course of farming. I get out in the field now and then, mostly adjusting things.

We got our new harrows delivered Wednesday this week. They are a brand new set of Land Pride harrows from Union Farm Equipment. The old ones were at least forty years old and have definitely seen better days. The new ones do a lot of things the old one couldn't anymore, like stay up when going down the road. Nothing quite like having a fourteen foot set of harrows drop onto the pavement coming back from a remote field; wakes you right up! And the new ones don't sway either. The old ones would start to sway at around 15 miles per hour so you had two choices: slow down and take forever to get somewhere or let them sway. Must have been quite a sight if you were in a car meeting a wildly swaying set of harrows that greatly outweigh you along with what you're driving. Imagine how big those eyes might have been.

Until next week, Brian

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