This Week on the Farm 6/23
We hope you all had a nice Father’s Day weekend. Saturday and Monday we kept checking the radar because the weather alerts on our walkie talkies kept going off. Thankfully all of the severe weather this weekend passed to the south of us. Ask any farmer what they dread most and quarter inch sized hail is up there on the list. Although we didn’t get any rain on Saturday, we did get a fair amount on Monday. This means that we probably won’t have to irrigate at all for the next couple of days. This will help all of our newly transplanted crops adjust to life outside of the greenhouse.
Last week we finally managed to get all of the winter squash transplanted. All of our cucurbit crops this year grew extremely well in the greenhouse. Actually, they grew too well and and were too large to fit through our transplanter. Instead of transplanting two acres of squash by hand we got creative. In order to mark straight rows and dig a trench for the squash to be planted in, we hooked up our potato planter. (Think turn of the last century when envisioning this piece of equipment). We removed the hilling discs so it left a trench in the soil. Conveniently the potato planter in it’s current state is also able to dispense the composted chicken manure pellets that we use as our main fertilizer. Thus we were able to do a more direct fertilization instead of an overall field spread.
After we made the straight line trenches, we then hooked up our flatbed trailer to our other tractor. In order to make the whole thing more pleasant we placed several sheets of foam down on the surface of the trailer. With one person driving the tractor and trailer along the pre-made trench, one person sitting at the front of the trailer dropping plants into the trench, and two people laying off the back of the trailer placing the plants upright and filling in the soil around the plants we were able to get all of the squashes in without wrecking anyone’s back.
They do make motorized work carts that do the same thing (think massage table on wheels), but we definitely don’t have the financial resources to buy one. So like all good farmers, we improvised with what we had on hand. We even found an old beach umbrella to help shade the workers on the trailer. We have video of the whole thing in action and I am hoping we will be able to upload it to our Facebook page so everyone can see what it looks like. I realize it is somewhat difficult to explain, but it was pretty sweet to see it going down the field.
This week we are going to continue working on cultivating our fields and finish getting the last few summer crops transplanted. Our field set up this year and the weather we have had has made field work much easier than in past years. The last two seasons we have had flooding in June which made field work impossible. This year we have cultivated each field at least once. This is going to make our lives much easier as the season progresses since we won’t be fighting the weeds quite as much.
I am most excited about our tomato set up this year. We spaced each tomato row six feet apart. This means that we will be able to cultivate with the tractor between each row, even after the trellises are in place. It will also mean that there will be more airflow between the rows, hopefully meaning less risk/slower spread of disease. Our workers are really excited because the spacing will mean that we will be able to drive the four wheeler down between rows when we are harvesting and we won’t have to walk 300 feet carrying thirty pound flats of tomatoes. But, I am getting ahead of myself a bit. We still need to install the trellising before any of that will happen!
This coming weekend marks the sesquicentennial for the village of Rio, where our farm is located. We are joining in the festivities by submitting a business profile for the time capsule and we are on the Rio Garden Tour. We were on the Garden Tour four or five years ago, but a lot has changed. The tour will mainly focus on the fields nearest the buildings. We will be showing off our potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, and all of our direct seeded crops. Our new high tunnel, which still lacks the plastic, will also be featured. If you are interested in coming out, tickets are available for purchase and all proceeds go to the Rio Library. There are lots of other events scheduled the entire weekend in Rio and I am really looking forward to the parade on Sunday. The UW-Madison marching band will be playing a fifth quarter after the parade to help celebrate 150 years as a village!