Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's New At The Farm? 9/9/09

We continue to harvest tomatoes; both for fresh eating and for seed. The Late Blight has come and gone and now we begin a seed savers finest time of year. We'll harvest eating tomatoes today and Friday, and seed tomatoes each day this week.

We're getting some fields seeded down for the season. Last week we seeded an acre of purple top turnips and a half acre of kale. This week we're working on a field that we've used for many years; well, let me expand on this.

Probably fifteen years ago I rented a five acre field a couple of miles from the Albion farm. This five acre plot is located in the midst of a much larger field of approximately fifty acres. I rented it the year of the drought and was impressed that I could drive right to it, never giving it a thought as to the field conditions in a wet year; I was just so excited to rent this field! Anyways, this field was owned by a man named Jack so we called it Jack's field; pretty original huh? We started out using the lower parts of the field and as time moved on it became apparent that, in all but an extremely dry year, we would have to move up the hill to avoid the mud issues. Over the years we continued to move up the hill so now we're on the top of the hill.

The field has many advantages: the two biggest ones are the isolation and water availability. Isolation is important as we grow many squashes and pumpkins for seed and don't want them outcrossing with plants from people's gardens or from local growers. This isolation is at least ¾ of a mile from anyone's garden. The other is water availability. Well, this year we didn't need water to irrigate Jack's field but many years we have used the pond water for irrigation. We usually run drip tape under the poly but overhead is fairly easy and we usually only have to do it once a season.

Well, to continue my story, every year or two we move up the hill a bit. Three or four years ago the land changed hands and now we (or we should; old habits die hard) call it Dave's field. Dave harvests hay to sell and he and I discussed seeding down the part of the field we didn't use anymore. After plowing and harrowing and seeding down with grass seed and red clover, we waited. We got a pretty even stand but got a gully washer thundershower before the grass was firmly established. They call them gully washers because that's what they do; they make gullies. We now had gullies running through our newly seeded field and no real good ways of fixing them as the ground was too wet to get on.

At the time we decided not to do anything further with the field as we had much already invested and a poor stand of grass. He's been mowing it for hay or mulch is a better term for it. This year it had a great crop of some daisy-like weed; not much value for hay. The field has been worked over the years and has gotten progressively rougher. Trust me it's rough; I felt like I was bronco riding while plowing it.

If you've been following my column this summer you know we've had a large sprayer spraying our tomato productions for the control of Late Blight. In order to get to our tomatoes at Dave's field, he had to drive his rig through the hayfield and it was pretty wet; I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. Even though we had permission from Dave, I think the ruts were deeper than he imagined they would be. So I got a call the other day asking what we were going to do about the ruts. I went down, and yep, those ruts were pretty deep, and there was standing water in them and they were preventing the water from draining off the field.

Nick went down to the field with me on Tuesday this week. I suggested we plow, harrow, rotovate and reseed. He disagreed. He rotovated it yesterday and we'll be ready for reseeding tomorrow. I plowed the big field - probably around five acres or so. Nick is harrowing it today for seeding on Thursday; it looks like we might get rain for Friday so we'll want to get it done before then. We'll seed it down with Beef Bank which is mostly perennial ryegrass and we'll throw some oats in there for a nurse crop. Hopefully it'll take off and we'll get a good stand finally, and be done with that field.

Until next week, enjoy the weather, Brian.

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