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This Week on the Farm 4/29
As usual in springtime, we were very busy this week. Early this week Tyler spent an afternoon replacing the p.t.o. shaft on one of our tractors. We tried using our new 3pt rototiller with a p.t.o. adaptor (a six inch piece of metal that fit over our smaller p.t.o. shaft to make it the correct size for the rototiller), but with the enormous amount of torque that is produced when the rototiller is running the adaptor twisted in half. Thankfully when this happened it didn’t cause any damage to the rototiller or to the tractor. We ended up buying a whole new larger p.t.o. shaft and swapping the out the old one. To do this Tyler had to drain the hydrolic fluid and the differential fluid. Draining and refilling the fluids ended up being the hardest part, so all in all not a terrible fix.
Once the new p.t.o. shaft was up and running we test drove it outside in one of the fields. It worked perfectly, although Tyler is still afraid of breaking it after all of the trouble it has caused so far. After the test drive he drove it down under the high tunnel several times to till up the ground and get it ready for the spinach, arugula, loose leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce plantings that will be under the tunnel. The initial run went fine, although when he tilled again on Friday night he did snag one of the hoops with the tractor tire. Since it is now bent at a funny angle we are going to have to replace that hoop. A small price to pay for the ability to use the new tiller!
We had Dave & Kate Carlson’s help again this week, this time to plant all of our cole crop plugs. We planted over 5,570 plants in a little over four hours using our two row transplanter. We planted three types of kohlrabi, two types of cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and our first planting of broccoli. We are going to have to get out and put the row covers out sometime this week since the cabbage moths are already out and we don’t want them to lay their eggs on our delicious veggies. We love when a field gets planted in one day!
On Friday we planted spinach and arugula in the high tunnel. We are planning on putting the plastic on the high tunnel this week. Once we put the plastic on we have to set up drip irrigation for all of the stuff planted inside since the rain can’t get inside. We will also finish planting the romaine and the loose leaf lettuce this week.
In other news we had to destroy our two plantings of napa cabbage due to an outbreak of Alternaria brassicicola. We noticed yellowing leaves and black spots on the undersides of the leaves early last week. We pulled the flats away from any other plants in the cabbage family until we could decide what the disease was and what we could do about it. After doing some research we narrowed it down to two species of Alternaria, a type of fungal disease. The disease is usually spread by seed, so we contacted the seed company to let them know what happened and to see if they have any advice on any organic seed treatments we can use on our remaining seed. We decided it was best to destroy the plants and get rid of the pathogen source since it can spread to other plants, especially brussels sprouts. We are waiting to hear back from the seed company before we plant more seed/buy a new variety.
In other news, our strawberries are about two to three weeks away from starting production. Thankfully the next seven nights are supposed to be warmer, so we won’t have to cover the berries or wake up to turn the sprinklers on. We are still a month away from the average last frost date, so who knows if we still have sleepless nights ahead of us!