Thursday, May 5, 2016

The sport of May Veggie Farming

There is a long gravel driveway that leads out to our vegetable field.

We've started plowing, tilling, and planting, and that's why I haven't written a blog post in a while!  

Did I mention that besides the 2 acres of veggies we're growing this year, we're also transitioning an additional 50 acres of conventionally managed corn fields into organic pasture and future fruit/veggie ground?  I've been on the tractor a lot.  Dreams coming true can involve lots of work.

There are some rocks in these fields. 

Fortunately for us, though, the fields we're planting vegetables in this year don't have hardly any rocks at all-- they are just like heaven to work in.  Actually, like heaven was a beach that was growing organic vegetables, and had friends helping.

 We've had 2 volunteer planting parties so far-- onions and broccoli.  The onions were a big haul to get in, but they are all in now!  They look a little sad for a few weeks, as they establish themselves in their new surroundings.  But they will perk up and we'll keep watering them once a week if it doesn't rain enough.

There are a lot more plants coming out of the greenhouse soon to plant as well.   Farm apprentice Stephanie has been busy helping seed trays of lettuce, peppers, basil, scallions, and more!

  Also we have 600 lbs of potato seed to plant this weekend.  We are always looking for volunteers, and potato planting is one of the easiest jobs.  Last night I spoke with 12 excited Cub Scouts in Rochester who want to come out and help plant something on a farm.  I love the possibility of including kids more, teaching them about real work, that involves their whole bodies and not just their thumbs and fingers on a screen!

Water!  We have a great well on the property, and have run a large flexible hose from the barn where it's located out to our field.


From there, we run drip irrigation lines down the 200' rows of veggies. 

It's an efficient way to get the water right to the roots of the plants, without losing a lot to evaporation.


After planting and irrigating, we will sometimes cover our plants with row cover to keep the bugs off--- in this case, the broccoli/cabbage/kale crop is protected from flea beetles.  We weigh down the cloth with sandbags.  Lots of sand available!  The cover also creates a little greenhouse environment for the plants, letting in rain and sun, keeping out bugs, and raising the temperature by 5 degrees or so.

We spent a long day setting up a high voltage deer fence.  Two fence lines with three hot wires, baited with peanut butter to teach them to stay away... hopefully it will work!


The blueberry bushes are starting to think about blooming.  

We are transitioning this quarter-acre patch of berries from conventionally managed to organic, so we spent the early spring mulching with wood chips, pruning, fertilizing with organic Fertrell fertilizer, and now we've planted grass and clover in between the rows.

And things are starting to pick up at the EquiCenter Farm again, with a tractor safety class to kick off the spring season-- a professional safety trainer came out and showed us how to avoid potential dangers around tractors.  Managers and apprentices from several other farms gathered to learn.


 The weeks ahead promise to be exhausting, with planting, planting, planting, and everything else that comes with it.  Of course the weeds will start growing too soon!  But for now, this rainy day has allowed me to take a little rest, and prepare myself for the olympic sprint that May is for vegetable farmers.

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