Friday, May 30, 2014

Late May Farm Report

We've learned that blogs in May - assuming weather cooperates enough for us to be in the fields - are typically just reporting what is going on.  As we get into the season, the dementia that leads to creativity occurs a bit more often.  Until we get to that point, you're just going to have to deal with this.....

so, to make things easier for you - we'll start you with....

Cute baby critters!

Yes, we've had ducklings at the farm for the past week (or so).  We're doing a study to determine whether or not the Appleyard ducks or the Muscovey ducks fit our needs better.  The hope is to establish our own perpetual flock rather than raising a flock only from chicks someone else hatches.

Appleyard ducklings

Muscovey ducklings

It is true, the hatchlings DO feel a bit like a tennis ball.  If you could just get rid of the beak...and the webbed feet... they could BE a tennis ball.  We're hoping to get these guys out into the dandelions very soon.  We've been grabbing a few here and there and bringing them in to them and they seem to like them.

Tomatoes in Pots

There is a small, loyal group of people who love to grow a Silvery Fir Tree tomato in a pot on their porch (or wherever they can put the pot).  We still have a tray and a half of these guys, so we put one in a pot and we're going to try to keep a photo journal by taking a picture about once a week.  Here is our little friend on May 22.

Our captive Silvery Fir Tree tomato

Every Year is Different (Thank goodness?)

We are grateful that this year is not exactly like last year.  If you will recall (ok, some of you are new, so you might not recall) last year forced us to start things VERY late due to saturated fields.  It just wouldn't stop raining until mid June.  Our onion crop was a complete loss last year.  Happily, we are setting up to get them in the ground next.  The field is dry enough and the beds are now prepared for them.  Hurray!

Onion Seedlings awaiting their chance to go in the ground.
And, last year, this sort of photo of our farm showed us desperately trying to find places to put the multitude of trays of plants begging to go into the ground.  In fact, we showed a bucket we kept throwing seedlings into that got too old in their trays.  It's just the way it was.

This year, if we took a picture of this area every two hours over the past week, no two pictures would be alike as we add trays and remove trays for planting.  The season DID start slow for us, so we've had to compress our planting into the end of May/beginning of June.  But, this is much more positive than last year's episode. 

The cold frame area on May 29
Raised Beds to the Rescue Again!

We had to make many adjustments last year to get anything into the ground.  One was to construct three raised beds.  And, we're using them again this season.  At present, one has spinach.  The other two have chard, kale and pok choi.  Here is one that shows a sampling of kale, chard and choi.

Ah!  Raised Beds, what would we do without thee?
Planting.... Planting....

We've been at it pretty constantly.  Some of the planting is into trays, some is transplanting into pots, some into the ground.  The picture below is symbolic for us - it shows a stack of empty trays and another tray that is largely completed.  This is a VERY GOOD thing.

The alarming thing is how little these plants look when we put them in the ground.  When they're all together in a tray, they look like something.  Move them into a single row with 12 inch spacing and you get what you see below:

Cabbage, Romanesco and Cauliflower
Even the tomato plants, with the benefit of 3 1/2 inch pots look pretty small once we get them into the ground.  Now, we have to admit this is a little unfair, since we do make them shorter by planting them deep.  But, their predecessors have managed to overcome - so shall the new crop.

They shall grow and become the Tomato Forest

And, in honor of our friends at Blue Gate Farm, we wanted to show we could plant a lettuce row every bit as straight as they can.

This one is for Jill!
If you look closely, you can see we can plant tile flags too!  Yes, those green flags out there.  What do they mean?  Well, it's a cheap way to mark rows....  Just hate it when they wrap around the tiller.

New Tools!
We added a couple of tools this Spring to address a couple of problems.  One problem has to do with our six row precision seeder jamming up more than we like.  So, we purchased this roller to help prepare the seedbed.  This is one of those cases where we *could* have figured out some sort of construction of our own devising.  But, sometimes, time is precious and it is just better to get a tool others already use and go with it.  We've tried a couple of beds with it and without it.  The precision seeder dropped the drive belt on the rows we didn't use this roller and kept the belt on for the rows we did use the roller.  Ok, sounds like a win.

Not quite a steamroller, but it'll do
We also had a disk harrow for our tractor, but it had a tendency to push all of the dirt to the outside.  So, we sold that one at auction and purchased a tandem disk harrow.  Yes, we splurged and bought a new one.  But, we did this after pursuing used tandem disk harrows at auctions for two years.  We can tell you that we didn't really spend that much more for this one if you factor in the repairs we did NOT have to make in order to get it to work for us.

Oh!  So that's a tandem disk harrow...

Planting Report

A very quick report for those who have interest on how things stand at the farm.

We have a succession of radish, spinach, arugula and mustard greens that is spotty.  We're not even sure if we're going to try another one at this point.
The tomatoes are IN - both high tunnel and field.
Peppers in high tunnel are started.  Field is coming up soon (goal is June 5 to end that planting).
Potatoes are IN!
Green been successions in high tunnel and in potato field are IN!
Dry beans in potato field are IN!
Peas and carrots are IN!
Two successions of lettuce are in the field.  GArlic is up and looking great.  Scapes should join us in mid-June.
We have the first succession of beets and turnips in.
Succession I of kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are in.  Romanesco is in.

Next up?  Onions, summer squash and zucchini succession I, cucumber succession I, short season succession II or III or IV depending on the crop.

If you're wondering about our order, just consider that the readiness of each field may dictate the order.  Normally, I'd want the onions in already and broccoli usually goes in before tomatoes.  But, the tomato field was ready, the onion and broccoli area was not (until today).

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