It was a hard week driving the tractors this week! Phew! I’m glad for the rain. My butt was getting sore sitting all day. Actually, that’s not true. I did do some other things this week but first there was all the tractor driving. And isn’t that the reason we all get into farming? Tractor driving?
It all started with the Allis Chalmers model G. The G is a small tractor where the engine is on the back and the implements are in front and below the driver. This is a great little tractor for cultivating the plants. By cultivating we mean getting rid of the weeds! I use the G to cut through the weeds to within about four inches on either side of the plant. By doing this I eliminate about 70% of the weed area. The other 30% or so has to be hoed or hand-weeded. So most of Monday was spent cultivating the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) the onions/shallots/leeks, the beets, the swiss chard, the lettuce and the fennel. The crew then came through on Monday and some of Tuesday with the hoes to work the weeds closer to the plants.
Once I was done with the G cultivation I moved on to using the Ford 4600. This is our big tractor, though it is small compared to what the corn and soybean farmers use. We use it for most everything we do here on the farm. This time of year we use it to prep the soil for planting as well as cultivating. Since it is a bigger tractor with the engine in the usual place and the implements in the back it is hard to get close to the plants without taking a few out. So for cultivating we use it in two different ways. The primary way is with sweeps that ride in the back and clear out the weeds in the aisles. It gets to within a foot or foot and a half of the plants. This is about all we need to do with this tractor; the G gets the closer area.
Its other primary cultivation task is using the flex-tine weeder to get weeds around plants that have a strong roots system or big seeds. The flex-tine weeder is a series of very flexible metal tines that when dragged through the soil dislodge small weeds. It does a fairly effective job through to make sure all areas are covered it takes a few passes. We use the flex-tine weeder primarily in the potatoes, especially prior to them emerging from the soil. And this past week was the perfect time for us to do this.
So, while the crew was leaning on their hoes in the onions and brassicas, I was feverishly driving the tractor back and forth over the potatoes. In the end I think I had the most fun.
But farming is not just about cultivating and tractor driving. We also had a bunch of planting to do. Based on our ability to predict the weather we decided we have had the last frost of the spring. Let’s hope we are right! So we planted a bunch of the warm season/frost sensitive plants this week. Primarily the tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants and corn. We also planted another round of broccoli – the third and final of the spring season – and a round of fennel. We tried to get the second round of lettuce in but the rain put an end to our day on Friday.
So, let’s see what all is in the ground so far: lots of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, bok choi, Brussels sprouts, kale, garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, summer squash, zucchini, swiss chard, beets, fennel, lettuce, sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, peppers, carrots, snap peas, radishes, and turnips. I think I got it all! We still have a lot more to transplant as well as direct seed. Coming up this week we put in the flowers, winter squash, more peppers, hot peppers, more lettuce, watermelons, more sweet corn, cucumbers, herbs and pie pumpkins. There are probably other some things I forgot.
Of course planting all these things means there is a lot more we need to cultivate. The problem of course is that you can’t cultivate just once per planting. You have to do it practically weekly. So not only do we have to cultivate all the plants we planted this week but also all we cultivated last week. Every week it gets to be more and more and more – until we finally get to start harvesting. Then we are planting, cultivating and harvesting. I am exhausted just thinking about it.
So, that is pretty much what is going on around here this past week. The rain certainly came at a great time – after we planted a bunch of stuff and not when we have a crew waiting to go to work. Now we just need the rest of the weekend to be dry and next week could be another very productive week.
A couple announcements
We are still taking orders for FruitShare, CheeseShare, MeatShare, CoffeeShare, FlowerShare and WinterShare. If you eat, these would be great things to add to your VeggieShare – except of course the flowers aren’t all edible. The first FruitShare this season will be blueberries. These have been absolutely wonderful in the past and we don’t have any reason to believe they won’t be this season. If you like blueberries or just need a few extra antioxidants, you might want to consider buying some blueberries!
Herb orders are ready for pick-up. Everyone who ordered herbs should have received an email indicating their availability. If you didn’t get the email and think you ordered herbs please let me know.
One last thing: I am shooting for the start of the season to be Wednesday June 22nd but stay tuned. It could change!
That is all I have for now. If you have any questions, comments, jokes, etc. please feel free to contact me.