Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 5/26/10

Busy, busy, busy!

We're keeping busy planting and transplanting; both in the greenhouses and in the fields. Lots of ground prep activities like chisel plowing, harrowing, rototilling and making beds. One more small field and the fertilizer spreading will be done. And here's what everyone's doing:

Jason has become one with the mulch layer. He has laid approximately 35,000 feet of IRT mulch and has another 50,000 or so to go. Our conversations every morning start with "you'll be laying plastic today". The fields here on the Albion farm get drip tape, but the isolated fields do not, so they go much faster. He'll be at the farm today and tomorrow and at the surrounding fields the rest of this week and all of next week.

Jeff is driving the transplanter as Kelly, Becky and Sonya are transplanting lettuce and endive in the main trial field. Craig, Gordon and Matt are working with Adam on some new tunnels, Nick is making beds at one of our isolation fields, Jill is harvesting strawberries in the poly tunnel Elisa is going from greenhouse to greenhouse, Russ and Megan are planting in one of the greenhouses, Mike is thinning lettuce and I'm mapping fields; hoping everything will fit.

The weather has been warm and dry so we have accomplished much in the past few weeks. This week and next week will see the bulk of the planting and transplanting; then all we have to do is take care of it. Thousands of plants will get transplanted onto tens of thousands of feet of bare ground and also into plastic mulch. Crops to be transplanted include peppers, brassicas, leeks, melons, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and just about anything else you can think of. Direct seeded crops include beans, sweet corn, turnips, greens, lettuces and herbs are all slated to go in.

Although I long to be in the field, it is imperative I get all the necessary planning done. Nothing worse than getting out in to the field planting when you run out of room to plant. There are many factors that can affect how much room is in the field to plant. Wider bed spacing can throw off the bedfeet figures, beds not going all the way to the end of the field and the biggest culprit is: inaccurate math. Figuring bedfeet is challenging at best. With the different spacing of each crop, field conditions and plant loss before we get into the field, figuring out exactly how many feet is needed for each particular crop is challenging.

Fields change over the years. For example, we rent a field down the road from Johnny's. We have rented this field for probably around 15 years or so. When I first mapped out this field there were 3.75 acres in it. It has since shrunk! It now has 1.9 acres plantable ground. And why? Because we stopped using parts of the field: the part that is all ledge - impossible to plow and nothing will grow there because there is no topsoil. We stopped using a small portion next to the woods because of the damage from feathered and furry creatures, we stopped using some of the southern uphill slope due to the tremendous amount of rocks - here again plants can't grow there as there isn't any room for their roots. These ledgy and rocky spots are just too hard on the equipment to grind up anyways. There's a couple of spots where there's ledge poking out of the ground - we eliminated these as well. So the original map shows 27,225 bedfeet and the new one shows 13,833 feet - a huge difference when planning the fields. If I planned on using 20 thousand feet and then went out to plant I would be surprised, and not the good way either. At that time I would have to juggle some crops and fields around or otherwise find some additional ground and ground prep more than I had planned.

So, memo to myself, make new field maps every couple of years and that will help in the planning stages midwinter.

Until next week, this is what it's all about.


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