Sunday, June 3, 2012

Photos from the past 2 weeks!

The fields are starting to glow with an amazing miraculous beauty.  It always happens around the beginning of June, when we've been frantically planting for weeks on end... not to mention laying out drip irrigation lines, weeding, thinning, cultivating, and all sorts of farmwork. 
I get so busy that I hardly look around me, just keep my head down, sticking transplants in the ground as fast as humanly possible.
Then one evening (we sometimes work in the evenings) as the sun is setting, it casts a golden light across the rows of colored lettuce, and I almost want to cry it's so beautiful.

And then at a certain point I realize, I'm sitting in the middle of a field, surrounded by FOOD!  What a truly nourishing experience.
June has come.
 The month of May blessed us with lots and lots of HEAT.  Things grew well, as long as we irrigated them.  And we did irrigate them.  We now have access to a water hydrant that the town has let us use (we pay for the water), and we have so much pressure we can water about an acre of crops with our water-conserving 200 foot long lines of drip tape.  In times of a drought (we almost had this in May-- 3 weeks without a drop of rain), this is like an IV for the plants, keeping them alive and healthy.
 The heat, combined with the mild winter and early spring, has brought on an army of millions of BUGS.  Not all bugs are bad, and we have our share of ladybugs, fireflies, and monarch butterflies, but we also have the ones that love eating our hard-earned vegetables. 

So we cover much of what we plant with giant sheets of fabric called "row cover" until the plants are large enough they can defend themselves from their insect attackers.  This is our primary pest control technique, and many farms choose to obliterate the bugs with sprays.  We choose to just prevent them from making our vegetables into their all-you-can-eat salad bar.
This bok choi was a victim of flea beetles, because it didn't get covered properly by the row cover.
The weeds are loving the heat too, and now with this rain they are going to GO CRAZY.  We have a multiple attack strategy for combating weeds.  It starts with preparing the fields years in advance of planting the crops.  In the above photo, apprentice Mike is learning to use the spring-tooth harrow.  Every few weeks we drag this old rusty comb across the fallow fields to wipe out weeds trying to reclaim the open ground.  It's easier to do this than to take the weeds out once the broccoli is there.
The 1948 Farmall Cub tractor is our tool for cultivating, which is basically a fancy word for weeding, with larger tools and horsepower.  We steer (very carefully) shovel points mounted under the tractor down the rows, obliterating the weeds, and hopefully not plowing under the broccoli.
Then there is always hand hoeing and hand weeding, which does happen quite a bit, but this is always the last resort, as it takes so much time!
 Here we are thinning beets with a few smiling volunteers.  A 200 foot row is quite long, but with good conversation, and a zen mind for a very focused, meditative task, it goes by agreeably.
I'm back into the swing of making about 3 lists a day, prioritizing and re-prioritizing, as the weather changes.  We have so much to do.  There is no way it will all get done-- my task is to figure out what has to get done NOW, and what could wait until later.
 The greenhouse is still pumping out transplants,  and in a week the fall brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) get seeded in there.  We'll need lots of volunteers for that.  These watermelons are ready to go.
 Tomatoes, so many tomatoes.  What are we ever going to do with them all?  Sauce, sauce, sauce.
  We got a crazy storm a week ago, that broke the 3-week stretch without rain.  It pounded us with an inch of rain in 20 minutes, not to mention small hail, lightning, and gale-force winds that almost blew over the greenhouse.   The tender spinach leaves have holes from the hail.  A small sacrifice, it could have been a lot worse.
 The sugar snap peas in the Pick-Your-Own garden are looking great, despite being a little too hot for what they prefer.
 They are starting to make pods, and they should be on the Pick-Your-Own list the first week or so of pick-up.
 I got a surprise visit in the back field where I was hilling the potatoes, from my mentor Elizabeth Henderson.  She is recently retired from 30 years of farming for Rochester-area CSA members (GVOCSA) and finds it hopeful that another young woman has taken up the plow.  She even helped squish the evil Colorado Potato Beetles that had found our potatoes already.
And we might have a new mascot... his name is Chief and he's really friendly!  Belongs to apprentice Deanna.  Maybe you'll see him at distribution in a few weeks.


Jay @ said...

Stunning! Thanks for sharing your progress. Really, quite impressive. Cheers!

Rabbit said...

Your fields make me smile! Thank you for getting it done. I grow an acre in Colorado by hand, well with a small tiller, tools and some dedicated friends. Thank you

Tim-Bonavida Growers

Rabbit said...

your fields are inspiring

Bejan said...