It’s raining today, and just in time. Even though we’ve been irrigating, everything planted so far desperately needs this good soaking we’re getting.
This year, we’re focusing on managing our work flow. Plants from the greenhouse will start going into the ground next week. After all the work of growing these plants, it’s critical that we are able to water them after they are planted, so getting the irrigation up and running has been a priority.
Fencing is another; as soon the tender plants begin to grow, the woodchucks, rabbits and deer move right in for their share. Farmers with big fields who can’t afford to fence, instead plant extra. I don’t think I could take the anxiety. We are still small enough to to fence, and we find it preferable to feeding the local wildlife. We use electric rope fencing for the big garden, and enclose the smaller gardens with rolled wire. Eventually we want to invest in more moveable electric fencing we can adapt to the dimensions of our gardens. We also want to use the roll-up electric netting for the chickens so we can move them around to give them fresh weeds to eat — very good for their diet, keeps the predators away, and it’s a great way to control weedy areas on the farm. We recently saw this application at Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton and it works great!
To get organized, we bought one of those large wipe-off calendars and put it up in the barn where everyone can see. It really helps with the big picture, enables all the different family members to focus on the priorities, and gives us the satisfaction of checking off a task that’s been completed. It shows us we are moving forward.
To date, all of the gardens have been plowed and composted. Irrigation is about 80 percent installed. All of the potatoes are finally in the ground. The first crops of early vegetables have been seeded, including greens like lettuce, kale, chard, mache, and spinach, two crops of peas spaced two weeks apart, and spring roots like beets, carrots, and radishes. After planting all the candy onions, we saved space for a backorder of red onions coming from Gurneys who shortchanged us on our first shipment. They agreed to make it right and we expect the remainder shortly. Still to come, more succession plantings of lettuce and other greens, more beets and carrots, two more plantings of peas, and pest control crops including 400 yellow onions we will intersperse with other crops for pest control, and marigolds.
Monday, with Michael’s help, I put in four last rows of potatoes. The Kennebecs, Katahdins, Red Pontiacs, and three varieties of Fingerlings are now all safely in the ground. We ended up with seven 150 foot rows in a new bed we created just for potatoes. We tucked the remaining leftovers in the big garden at the ends of the onion rows.
To help us keep the weeds out of the potatoes this season, Bill has been tweaking the setup on the new (to us) cultivator we bought this winter from a farmer in New York. Actually, it’s a real antique, just like our tractor…
We’re still harvesting rhubarb, which is starting to send out flower buds. We lop these off to slow down the process which gives us a few more weeks of rhubarb. A few customers have taken us up our offer of rhubarb, and picked up a share. More is still available. Just call first! I’ve been freezing it cut up in bags to enjoy this winter. Once the flowers come up, it’s the end of the rhubarb.
The new pullets — 25 Comets, were delighted to get outside after Michael built them a chicken runway with a sliding hatch door to the outside pen. They were so funny to watch as they immediately took a dust bath, happily rolling around, flinging dirt under their feathers. Comets are great hens for eggs: compact birds that lay lots of large brown eggs. Ours are about 14 weeks old, and we expect them to start laying by July.