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This Week on the Farm 4/28
We have been very busy these last two weeks. Although the weather has been unseasonably cool and very wet, we have still managed to get some field work done. Our friend Drew came out again last week and helped us finish construction on the second swale. Tyler and his father tried a different method of construction on this swale to try to reduce soil compaction. This second method worked much better. With the rain that we have had since construction, we can definitely see a difference in the second swale’s ability to drain. Given all of the rain that we have had in the last two weeks, we have found that the swale has helped reduce the amount of water down slope, but we will still need to install a grass water way in two of our fields. This is something we were hoping to avoid by having built the swales, but the drainage in these two fields is such that we are going to have to go ahead and put in the grass waterway. There is standing water in a few locations, and that will cause problems if that happens later in the season. Thankfully we still have time to address these problems before we get more of our crops in the ground.
We used some of our left over cover crop seed from last year to seed the swales to prevent erosion and keep the swale in place. We also used some of our strawberry plants that were displaced during construction to stabilize the retention hill on the downslope side of the swale. We are actually pretty excited about using the strawberry plants in this location since they will be somewhat elevated. This will make for easier picking for some of our older members since they will not have to stoop to pick berries. With all of the work we have been doing with the berries, I am really looking forward to strawberries this summer!
Uphill from the strawberries and the swale, we planted twelve apple trees and five pear trees. We got a few pointers from our friends Jared and Kim Lapacek, owners of Lapacek’s Orchard in Poynette, on how to best plant the trees. My sister and her family came down this past Saturday and helped us plant the trees. Our dog helped dig a few of the holes, which helped give our backs a break. The hill looks completely different and Tyler and I are excited about how that area of the farm is coming together.
Last week we finished construction on our caterpillar style high tunnel (now known as the “Cat”). This is where we are going to harden our plants off before they are transplanted outside. Our onion plants are currently hanging out in there waiting for the weather to turn so we can get out into the field and get them in the ground. The kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi plants have already been in and been taken out. We were able to get those transplanted last week Wednesday. They are looking very perky in their new location, despite the wet, windy conditions.
On Saturday I moved six trays of lettuce out to the Cat and when I went out to water I notice that someone had been munching on the lettuce. We quickly moved the flats back into the greenhouse and set a live trap with some lettuce and cheese (I have no idea if woodchucks like cheese. It was available in our fridge so I thought I would give it a try). When we went out on Sunday morning we found the woodchuck in the trap. We took the trap and relocated the woodchuck off farm to an area where it won’t be able to do any damage to our crops. We were then able to move the flats of lettuce back out to the Cat and given how the woodchuck munched, the damaged plants should regrow and still produce nice transplants.
I mentioned that we transplanted some of our cole crops last week. Before the rain set in we also planted our sugar snap and our snow peas. This year we remembered to order inoculant for our pea and bean seed. The inoculant helps the roots of these crops form little nodules where nitrogen fixing bacteria live. By having a built in source of nitrogen, the plants are able to produce more fruit per plant than their non-inoculated counterparts. We are hoping for increased yields, since that means more pounds per foot and less time spent bent over or on our knees picking peas.
Our garlic plants are looking fantastic. There were a few cold, cold nights where we actually went out and covered the plants with a frost blanket. Normally temperatures in the 20s don’t impact the plants negatively, but with temps that were projected below 20 degrees we didn’t want to take the risk of damaging what is a very expensive crop. The blanket worked and our plants made it through without even the slightest amount of leaf damage. We are going to fertilize them later this week and I am really looking forward to seeing how they produce this year.
With all of this rainy weather we still have not been able to get our potatoes in the ground. Hopefully it will dry out enough this weekend that we can get the potatoes cut and get them in the ground. The potato seed we ordered this year looks great and we should be able to get a lot of seed pieces from each potato. Keep your fingers crossed for some dry weather!!!