Hey everyone! Happy first day of spring to you all! It's been too long since we've talked I know, but now I've got so many things to fill you in on, so get ready. There have been projects galore going on on the farm the past month or so. Karen has been getting the greenhouse ready, not only just seeding, but setting up new irrigation and more tables so we can have more space for seed trays. There's also flowers coming up everywhere so it's shaping up to be a colorful season with Karen Flowers' flowers. Jen has been busy streamlining our wash/pack space making it more efficient and putting systems in place that will last for generations to come so we can be the best wash/packers we can be. Eric has been busy putting together our irrigation plan, our fertility plan, our organic certification plan, our cultivation plan, and in his free time he can be found seeding our spring crops in the fields and hoop houses. On the perennial side, Eugenio recently attended a comprehensive blueberry seminar, so he is now a blueberry master. He's been leading a crew through all eight acres of blueberries first doing pruning, then digging out blackberries, then spreading fertilizer, then spreading leaf mulch. Everyone is just working so hard, and it's great being able to see it paying off even this early in the season.
Our spring greens are popping up everywhere! Seeing these little guys come up never gets old. (this is 5 different varieties of mustard)
As for me, I got to do some cool tractor maintenance I've never done before, changing transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, changing filters...They should be in tip top shape for the season so I'm really happy about that. And, I'm still actually working on the final touches of the hoop houses. This is basically what a finished end wall looks like (the three other end walls don't have the vent on top yet). The weird end posts you see simply stop the plastic roller from swinging in the wind and banging against the ends. The vent on top is actually super nifty and is attached to a piston that is controlled by a little wax cylinder. When it heats up inside, the wax expands, pushing the piston out opening the vent, and then when it cools the wax contracts, pulling in the piston and closing the vent automatically. Oh ya, I said it was nifty :) I also built little side doors that you can't see, so in the winter we can completely seal up the houses and still get in and out without having to roll up the ends, all while the automatic vents provide the air flow we need. It's been a fun project, though I am looking forward to them being totally finished.
Today was a really busy day for everyone. This was basically my view all day ----------------------------------->
which is fine with me because bed prep is one of my all time favorite things to do. So, I thought I'd give you a little run through on how we prepare the beds for planting into. To start, the ground is actually first broken about 4 weeks before it's scheduled to get planted into, which allows time for plant residues from previous crops to break down. And within those 4 weeks there's probably a shallow pass or two with the tiller to knock down any weeds that are trying to come back (usually grass). But, lets say those 4 weeks have gone by and now we want to plant so what do we do? First thing is fertilizer. We spread a nice mix of organic fertilizers right onto the planting surface so we cover all our nutrient needs (this season we're doing a mix of feather meal, kelp meal, gypsum, and dolomite lime). Then we use this neat implement -------------------------> called a rotary plough to dig out the pathways between beds and throw the soil onto the top of the beds so it raises them up a bit. This allows the beds to warm up and dry out faster, which is what we need for planting in spring. Then a shallow pass with the rototiller incorporates the fertilizer, levels out the bed top, and makes the soil nice and fluffy for planting, and there you have it! There are other nuances and optional steps that I'm leaving out, but I hope to put together a field-work/bed-prep workshop soon that I can do at the store and in the field with folks that are interested, so if you'd like to see something like that give a shout out!
There are two beds being prepped here. The strip of white is the fertilizer, and as you can see I already made a pass with the rotary plough on the bed to the right so it is already raised and has soil covering the fertilizer. (And in case you were wondering, the blue thing is the actual rotary plough, while the rest of the machine is our two-wheel tractor that can have multiple implements attached to it.)
Have a great weekend! And I'll definitely talk to you soon!
Til' next time,