This Week on the Farm 5/19
This week seems like we split our time between two main activities, planting and cleaning up buildings around the farm. The early part of the week we had help from several of our CSA members to help direct seed and to transplant onions. We planted all of our bulb onions, cippolini onions, and two of our four plantings of scallions. Although we use our two row transplanter to plant a lot of the onions, we interplant between the plants to fit more plants in a row. This means a lot of bending/kneeling/generally backbreaking labor to get all of the plants in the ground.
On Monday, Tyler and our friend Emma spent the entire day direct seeding. They planted kale, loose leaf lettuce, turnips, beets, dill, and radishes. We still aren’t sure how much we like our three row seeder that we built this year. We are seeding in an area that was under no-till corn last year, so there is a lot of “trash” (corn stalk stubble) in the fields that causes our seeder to work a little unevenly. I think that as we work the soil over the course of the next couple of seasons that will be less of an issue.
All of the direct seeded crops are completely under drip this year and we were able to install the drip tapes on everything that has been seeded so far. We haven’t really needed to irrigate this year, which is a far cry from last year! The onions that we planted will have overhead irrigation and all of the hoses have been cleaned and are on the back of the bulk tank wagon ready to be installed. I am slightly concerned that our piles of hoses are too tall and will tip over as we travel down the road, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t have any problems.
We cleaned out the chicken coop this week and rearranged everything so our tools and supplies are more accessible. By cleaning and organizing we were able to get a count of how many totes we need to add this year. We had a pretty good idea of how many we needed to add, but it always depends on how many people sign up for each share type. This year the half and half every other week boxes were the most popular.
We are transitioning to smaller boxes for the half and half every other week shares for all drop sites this year, so there were a lot of totes that needed to be prepped. We decided to move to the smaller totes for the smaller share sizes because the more tightly packed the produce is the less bruising during transport. There is less room for stuff to move around and bang into other veggies with the smaller totes, so we think it is worth the investment. It also helps our members at our “unmanned” pick up sites find their totes more quickly. Thankfully my dad was willing to come down from Appleton and drill holes in all of our new totes. It took him all day to drill the side air vents and the drainage holes. We still need to label all of the totes, but we are getting close to being ready to go for the first delivery.
This Saturday we cleaned out the basement of the east barn. It hadn’t been cleaned in more than ten years, so a lot of junk had accumulated. We pressure washed the floors and installed some of our tables that we had purchased last fall. We have more tables that are a different size and we have to remove the legs before we will be able to fit them through the door. Later this summer when it is super hot and humid out, we can spend some time down in the barn putting wire mesh or lath on top of the tables. We will then have space to store all of our winter squash and other vegetables that can be stored for a long time.
In the past we have stored our pumpkins and winter squash under the pine trees and then covered them with a tarp if it was supposed to freeze. This was a lot of work and we would lose a fair amount of squash because they would get damp. Now we will have a cool, dry area that we can store the produce without fear of frost damage.
In other news, the strawberries are blossoming. We did lose some if the first blossoms to frost. We think it happened when they were still in the bud stage. But the damage shouldn’t impact the crop too much. Stay tuned about the CSA Strawberry Picking Discount Weekend. We may need to change the dates since it has been a late spring!