It was a wet but mellow weekend here at the farm. We luckily escaped the more violent conditions that affected some towns north and east of us. Our Saturday markets were slow because of the weather, but it’s hard to complain. The farm really needed those two days of rain and the day or two on top of that since! Out in the sun on Monday, the crops looked vibrant and in some cases noticably larger than they did towards the end of last week. We got a lot of planting done last week as well as mowing. We got Rachael and Corey going on the tractor and bush hog and cleaned up our field edges and some of the hay inside of the deer fences. This fresh cut hay was then raked up and used to mulch our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. We also used some grass clippings from the yard and all of those autumn leaves our neighbors and CSA members donated to our cause last fall…many thanks! During the previous two seasons, we’d always come up short on mulch, but this year we have plenty. Please keep us in mind when the leaves fall again! Mulching those crops serves a number of purposes, most notably keeping the weed pressure down and preventing dirt from splashing up onto the leaves, thereby keeping some potential diseases at bay.
Last Thursday, the farm was visited by an inspector from MOFGA, yet another step in the process of achieving organic certification. The inspection went well, and most everything seemed in order. The inspector now takes her findings back to the certification folks at MOFGA for review, and hopefully, we’ll know whether our bid to be declared “certified organic” has been successful very soon.
The CSA starts next week, so we’ve been trying to get some random projects out of the way beforehand. We’ve picked up several loads of crushed rock and spread them behind the barn on our washing area and inside the greenhouse. We’ve done a lot of weed-wacking and general clean-up around the farm and have cleaned out and reorganized our little barn. We also decided to make a major change in the operation of our greenhouse. We heat our greenhouse with propane, an approach that is very expensive during the late winter and early spring when we start the majority of our seedlings. We wanted to find a woodstove of some sort, and we put our chimneysmith, Mike Farnham, on the case. He found a stove for us that he thought would be perfect for application in a greenhouse, a stove built by someone in Vermont out of an old propane cylinder (ironic!) that burns quite hot. Mike brought the stove over a couple weeks ago and has been by a few times since to install a new chimney in the greenhouse and do other prep work for the stove’s installation, which will hopefully happen very soon. This means more woodcutting for me, but it’s worth it considering the huge amount of money we can save by avoiding propane, not to mention the satisfaction of making the farm that much more self-sufficient.
A few weeks ago, we also messed around with constructing a rudimentary high tunnel out in Field 1 for some of our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Sonya had done something like this during her time farming in Montana. The idea is to set up a very basic, unheated greenhouse of sorts right on the beds to give the veggies extra heat and help keep them safe from disease. We used ten-foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC pipe set onto short lengths of rebar pounded into the ground to create the framework and covered it with construction plastic. The tunnel was open on each end and the plastic on the sides was anchored with dirt. The tunnel covered three 100-foot beds. Alas, our first attempt didn’t stand for long. High winds over the course of a couple days warped and collapsed the structure. We tried again on a 20-foot section of the beds, putting the PVC supports closer together and using angled connectors instead of straight ones. The new approach seemed a little better. It’s all about trial and error, folks, so though we didn’t wind up with a solid structure this season, we hope to take what we’ve learned and try again next season.
Looking ahead, our next farm potluck is happening on Wednesday, 6/23 from 6-8 PM…mark you calendars, and we’ll see you then!