After a week away, it was good to be back home and at work. Sadly we had ZERO rain, but thanks to our irrigation system, we’re still growing strong.
It’s been a busy week and getting busier everyday. Here’s a quick look at what’s been happening on the farm.
We’ve had a busy and highly productive couple of weeks around the farm as winter surrenders to spring. We started a farm annex, weathered what we hope was our final arctic blast, and got lots of things growing in the fields.
This season we’ll be growing most of our potatoes and sweet potatoes at the home our friends and long-time CSA supporters, Andrew and Melissa Freuh. They bought a house in August and the yard is a blank canvas. Melissa marked out a 20′ x 60′ plot and we got a crew of friends to help us cover it in cardboard and compost. (We moved 10 yards in under 2.5 hours!) While we would have liked to have done this in the fall to give our lasagna garden some time to cook, we planted Groundhog Daikon Radish Cover Crop seed which should biodrill through the turf for us in the next few weeks.
I picked up ginger root then weighed, cut, cured, and tucked it in bed. Now we wait a few weeks and watch for sprouts. Lots of seedlings – kale, romaine, fennel, radicchio, and cabbage were hardened off and transplanted, once the cold past.
These onions were seeded in the cold frame. They lifted out effortlessly from the soil and were ready for transplanting to the field. I’m going to reseed the frame and try to stay on a cycle so we can have regular stock of scallions as well as some larger onions.
Temperatures got high enough that we were able to test the roll-up sides on the high tunnel.
And finally, we found a nest of baby bunnies under one of the low tunnels as we transitioned from winter plastic to spring row covers. We replaced them once our work was done to allow their mother to continue to visit and nurse them as we decide what to do next. They opened their eyes today. They are super cute which is super scary. I’ve been burned by bunnies a number of times before. The only things saving them right now are their sweet little faces and the fact that their mother didn’t touch a single plant under the tunnel when she nested. A recent read through Tammi Hartung’s The Wildlife Vegetable Gardener is probably also to blame.
This seems like a lot of work, and we got a lot of chores accomplished that weren’t sexy enough to make this post, but there is still SO much to do!
I have been doing a lot more reading, thinking, and planning for companion planting after hearing Dan Kittredge speak at OEFFA a few weeks back. (Read about the conference and talks in this post on OEFFA Conference 2017.) I’m interplanting things I haven’t mixed up before and looking ahead to what I can add later to long season crops beds I am sowing now. All this in order to create symbiotic relationships between the plants so they are feeding and protecting one another, and the microbes in the soil, better.
I’m also looking at the Farmer’s Almanac’s Garden Calendar for some advice on optimal planting dates.
“The Farmers Almanac Gardening by the Moon Calendar is determined by our age-old formula and applies generally to regions where the climate is favorable. Because the gardening calendar is based on the phase and position of the Moon, it is consistent across all growing zones.”
I’ve been wanting to get a better handle on biodynamics. Using the Farmer’s Almanac in conjunction with a few biodynamic calendars I’ve been consulting seems like a relatively easy way of getting started.
According to the calendar, today was an optimal day for planting root crops so I set some radishes, carrots, and beet seeds out. I added a bit of innoculant to the seed packs, per Kittredge’s suggestion that the minerals in this dust help germinating seeds develop the systems they need to absorb and digest nutrients throughout their lives. Kittredge compared this with the precious colostrum nursing mammals produce for their babies in the first few days of life. Colostrum helps human infants develop healthy gut flora. I want my plants to have healthy guts because I’m sure it’ll mean I’ll have healthier gut too!
Tomorrow is a good day too, so it isn’t too late for you to get busy on your own early-early spring planting plan. Here are a few scenes from the field this afternoon to get you planting your own fertile ground.
The sun was shining bright in Columbus, Ohio today. The temperature only got to about 38°F, but it I had a purpose to be outside, down on the ground, with my hands in the soil. And I was glad for that.
I transplanted onions I started inside and moved around field sown spinach seedlings so they were more evenly distributed.
This is the last night forecasted to go below freezing for the foreseeable future. While it seems awfully weird, we’re going to take advantage of it. Hope this inspires you to do the same.
There’s been a lot going on around here. I feel alternately okay and guilty about not blogging more about it. I guess I feel like in year three much of what we’re doing has already been documented . It doesn’t make the miracles of growing any less amazing nor the commitment of those helping us out any less meaningful. It just means I’m tired of running to the computer every week. I have been maintaining our Facebook feed and hope readers will follow us there. And there have been lots of new developments and differences this year from last. There always will be. Thanks global weirding.
As I shared in March, this season we’re trying our hand at growing young ginger. (Here’s a link to my post about the workshop I attended to learn how to grow this tropical root native to Asia in central Ohio.) I’m really excited to see how this goes and so far it seems good.
After about six weeks of staring a tray full of soil, the spouts were finally growing.
The light yellowish part between the rhizome in my palm and the plant shooting out the top is young ginger. In a few months, if all goes as planned, it will be bigger and pinker and so delicious!
After running into Joseph at the market and receiving some last minute advice, I planted the sprouts in a bed that gets part sun. I’m hoping I can keep them wet enough to do really well here. Have no fear, I’ll be sure to post those results here.
In keeping with the unusually mild winter weather we enjoyed this year, overnight temperatures are predicted to be above freezing for the foreseeable future. That means it’s time to get the farm back in action. Here’s what it looked like yesterday morning.
The chickens have wrecked havoc on the beds all winter, scratching and kicking straw and soil every which way. Going into our third season it was time to remark our beds anyway – some had shrunk by a couple of feet on the ends – so the girls kind of did us a favor.
With help from die-hard CSA member Melissa, we got started measuring, moving and prepping the soil, and put a few trays of greens in the ground.
These babies were hardened off and ready to embrace the cool crisp air. (clockwise from top left- radicchio, lacinato kale, buttercrunch lettuce, rainbow chard, and romaine)
Melissa pulled the plants from the trays…
…and I tucked them into their freshly (re)made beds.
Then we covered them with a frost blanket (sorry no photo), just in case Jack Frost comes back around this way.
Next week: The Return of Happy Hour on the Farm!