Friday, May 16, 2008

a rainy friday

This morning I planted a 400' bed of potatoes, 16 different varieties given to us by Cornell for trialing.  I planted 12 feet of each variety, 20 spuds (or pieces of spuds).  Then I repeated the whole length again, so we'll have two different samples from different parts of the field.

There were a few red potatoes, a blue potato, and mostly yellow/white ones.  To differentiate between adjoining yellow/white varieties, I put an extra blue potato in, as a kind of a "buffer".

I kicked soil over the tops of the spuds with my feet (usually we use a tractor), just enough to cover them.

The soil in this field, Y, has very poor tilth.  It is rocky, poorly drained, and right now has lots of remnants of ryegrass like this:

Potatoes should do fine in this though, but planting lettuce is another story.

Most of the dandelions have gone to seed now.  I've started making my dandelion wine with the petals I collected & put in the freezer.  Tomorrow I'll mix in the sugar, oranges, lemons, & yeast, and the fermenting will begin!

All of the tall ryegrass was mowed down this week.  Dave thinks we may have mowed too close on some of the fields & the grass we wanted to grow back will have been killed.  We'll see if some of it greens up with the rain or stays yellow.  The above photo shows how the clipping of the grass allows the lower & slower-growing clover to get a chance for the light.  That's great, since clover is a legume so it puts nitrogen into the soil.

We planted the summer squash that has been dying to get out of the greenhouse finally!  
First we dug a trench with the potato trench digger (on the big tractor), then we spread some organic fertilizer by hand.  And then, placing the 4" pots at one foot intervals, we planted 'em!

It rained almost all day. The sheep seemed to not mind so much, as I had them in a really lush pasture under a tree. They munched away. I know there's a rule about grazing that says sheep only eat grass 4-6" in height, but they're making good progress on that knee-high grass. I worry a little about "bloat" but they seem pretty contented, and I bring them in after a few hours on really wet grass-- a few hours in the morning, a few in the afternoon, everybody's happy & chewing their cud.

I potted up some eggplant & tomato seedlings in the greenhouse, listening to the loud rain on the plastic roof... there was even a thundercrack!
And the next few photos are a tribute to the amazing volunteer who comes almost every day of the week & removes rocks from the fields:He's incredible. After working through the soil with a metal claw-shaped tool, going methodically down the rows on his knees, he collects the rocks in buckets, dumps them into the bucket loader, drives the tractor over to the edge of the woods, and dumps the rocks into huge piles.

And look at these smooth fields that are so gentle on the hands & knees now!

An amazing canvas onto which we will paint tomato plants over the next few weeks.

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