We have had an amazing two weekends of friends coming out to help. Last weekend, we planted over 100 cherry, main, and paste tomatoes and another 100 or more sweet and hot peppers--all on Saturday. Jim, Josh, Dan, Char, and Steve came at through out the day to get everything planted in the super high tunnel. The next day was cucumbers, herbs, and the flower garden--in the rain--perfect planting weather. Dixie, Tammy, Time, Nichelle, and Robin worked in the warm drizzle to get all of that in the ground. Planting usually means the following sequence of tasks--measuring the bed or row out; making 4 or 5 holes across the row--usually with a bulb planter. Next is fertilizer and water. Then the plants--mostly two inch soil blocks which fit nicely in the fresh dug holes. The plants are buried and watered again. We use something called 't' tape which is like a soaker hose. It comes on a roll so we measure it out to fit the row and usually put two to three t-tapes the length of the row--wedging it in between the plants. Next, we hook it up to the closest irrigation piping. All of our irrigation is on a timer. We are not done yet. The final task of planting is to put hoops in the ground spaced every three or four feet down the row. We cover the hoops with agribond which is a white light weight cloth to keep the plants a little warmer and/or protect them from direct sunlight during their first few days in the ground. This weekend, Wendy and Spencer came to help us get the electric fence ready for the steers which may arrive tomorrow and to put t-tape in the flower garden and set-up the winter squash rows with plastic and t-tape--all ready to plant tomorrow.
One of the really great things about farming is making things up as we go and improving our systems over time. One invention that Mark and Mom came up with is a picking apron. Mom bought aprons at Good Will and formed a deep pocket with velcro sides. It works perfectly for peas--we fill up the pockets--no buckets to drag around. Then, we empty the peas into a bucket by pulling the velcro sides down. Pretty cool!
We are racing Spring--can we get all of the plants in the ground at the right time and will the weather cooperate? Last weekend, Mom and I planted 350 chard and beets and about 225 broccoli plants. Today, it was more peas and maybe 600 leeks and 200 scallions. Our monster greenhouse is nearing completion. This has been a REALLY big job. Today, Mark and I bolted all of the pipes together which will be used to roll the sides up to allow air in on our hope to happen warm days. It has been a community project that started in February--we owe thanks to Nate, Marty, Andy, Rob, Steve, Karen, Sydney, Maria, Dixie, Dirk, Rick, Jim, Josh, Dale, Gail, and Dan who all can take credit for its construction. The most recent group activity was pulling the plastic over the 12 foot high hoops. We had eleven people pulling the plastic evenly over the top and down the other side.
We are excited for the subscriptions to start--we put a few things in one of our other high tunnels (plastic hoop house) to assure that we WILL have some variety for those initial first few weeks. The bok choy is doing so well, it may be ready too early. The work is good work--lots of fresh air, birds singing, and physical activity.....And, a sense of completion when we finish a job...and the paradox is that there is a never ending list of stuff to be done.
This blog reflects the journey of Kathleen and Mark who have left suburbia to steward this historical property and transform the land back into a working farm.