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This Week on the Farm 5/28
Less than three weeks to go before our first CSA boxes go out! We are super excited about our upcoming CSA season and can’t wait to share our produce with our members. I have heard from a lot of members that they are very excited to start eating fresh produce again and are looking forward to skipping the produce isle at the grocery store.
May is such a busy month that it has taken me a little bit longer to update our website than I would have liked. So, sit tight because we have a lot to talk about!
First things first, we have a few event updates that are important, so I wanted to make sure they got mentioned right away. We are going to have to postpone our CSA Member Strawberry Picking Discount Weekend until June 13, 14, 15. The spring was cool and the berries won’t be far enough along the weekend before. I will be sending out information later this week, so check your email for all of the details. Also, our first plant sale went so well that we are going to have another one. This Friday, May 30 from 2pm-7pm and this Saturday, May 31 from 9am-4pm we will have flowers, hanging baskets, peppers, and herbs for sale. Come stop out and say hi!
On to farm news! Last night we finally got some rain! We have been busy hauling water out to the direct seeded lettuce and the celery plants that got transplanted two weeks ago. We used our old bulk tank on wheels to haul water out. We didn’t quite get the mainline for our drip irrigation system set up in time to be able to irrigate with that, so we used old trusty to get water out to our plants. This is the first year that we needed to run the mainline the length of our back field, so it has taken longer to get everything set up. We still need to move one of our bulk tanks back to its original location after using it to frost protect in the berries, but once we move that tank we will be good to go. Luckily our well has enough pressure to pump the water to both the west and back fields without any problems.
To give you an idea of how we irrigate when all of our feeder lines are in place, early in the season we set a bulk tank in each of the far fields that acts as a reservoir for the water coming from the well house. Using a gas pump to pull the water out of the reservoir, we have a mainline that runs the length of the field. There are shut off valves at each field which allows us to pick and choose which field we are irrigating. At each shut off valve there is a quick couple that we can attach our pressure regulator to, and that in turn is attached to a field header that also has a quick couple. In that field header we have drip tape valves so we can turn individual drip lines on and off. This is something that we did not have last year because the valves are much more expensive, but we made the decision last year that it was important to be able to pick and choose what got watered. With this system we are able to run around 32-35 rows of drip tape at one time. Each tape runs the full length of the field (~375 feet), so that is a lot of water going out at once. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to fill the reservoir from the well, so although we can’t keep up if we are running a field of drip tapes, it doesn’t take very long to fill and start watering again. We are so thankful that we have invested heavily in this system the last two seasons! Although we are still at the mercy of Mother Nature, we are still able to get water out to our plants if it doesn’t rain.
We have also spent quite a bit of time fertilizing various crops with Chickity Doo Doo. Shelbi and Chelsey spent most of one day spreading the chickity on our bulb onions and on some of our Brassica crops. One of Tyler’s dad’s projects this year is to come up with a better way to side-dress fertilizer once the plants are in the ground. We will keep you updated on his designs as the season progresses since his inventions are always neat.
I can tell that summer is on its way because we have had to start cultivating already. I spent the morning on Monday cultivating and hilling our potatoes. The potatoes are just starting to come up. We were not able to get them in the ground as early as we would have liked because of all of the rain that we had in late April, so they are a little behind schedule. I was able to cultivate and hill the entire field in a couple of hours, and I am very pleased with the fact that my rows look straight (for the most part:)).
I got Tyler’s assistance cultivating in the onion and cole crop fields. We planted most of those items in a three row block. My tractor skills, while improving, are not precise enough to be able to use our three row cultivator. Tyler walked behind me and shouted when I needed to go right/left/lift the tines and he would shove on the cultivator when necessary. It will be much easier once everything is planted using our new three row carousel style transplanter. Then, all of the rows will be evenly spaced and the middle row won’t wander like it did when we had to come back through with our one row finger style transplanter. Every year we keep adding equipment which helps us become more efficient and helps to take the strain off of our bodies.
Our greenhouses look fantastic. They are plum full of plants waiting to go in the ground. We were hoping to get more things transplanted today, but we have been having issues with our tractor. Don had to run after parts twice today, so I am hoping that by tomorrow we will be ready to go. Hopefully we will be able to get our peppers, eggplants, and the first variety of tomatoes in the ground tomorrow. We also have some direct seeding to get done this week, so all eyes are on Don to get the tractor fixed.
In other news, our road to the back field is built! It is still a little rough in places, but it is serviceable. It took Denure’s a little over half of the day to finish construction and they even removed a giant rock, an old tree stump, and helped dig the retention pond at the top of our new swale. Our new road saves us so much time by not having to go around the long way and our dog loves it because he can run out to the field more quickly when he hears one of us whistle for him. He is like a speeding bullet when he hears a whistle, or when he thinks he sees a woodchuck.
I know that I haven’t covered even half of the activities that we have done over the last two weeks, but we have been so busy that sometimes it is hard to remember everything. All I know is that we have been as busy as our new hive of bees, and as happy!