This week on a sunny and mild day we met at length out on the farm and discussed how we would lay out our beds for the next season. For me this was a highly anticipated meeting to start off on the good foot for next year by reviewing the current season. This was also our opportunity to reconfigure the layout of all of our beds. We are streamlining things for next year. As opposed to the short, blocky, and choppy beds of 72’ by 200’. We are redesigning beds of 36’ by 600’ for our main crops, such as strawberries, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. Our secondary crops will inhabit rows of 400’, while our third tier and new items, such as onions and sunflowers, will occupy the smaller 300’ rows.
Really what we wanted to do was hurry and get our cover crops in before it’s too late in the season. However, there was a whole list of contingencies we needed to address before we could do this. Even though many of these beds wouldn’t be planted with vegetables until May, before we could cover crop, we needed to address the soil tests; before we gathered soil samples, however, we needed to decide what was being planted in each bed so the analysis could give us recommendations for amending the soil; before we could decide what was being planted we needed to review this current season and decide how much space we needed for each crop and keep in mind a sequencing and rotation.
The meeting took about six hours, Godofredo & Jackson, contributing their first hand, day to day, experience; Jeff, offering his book knowledge, and tractor work perspective while contributing advice from ongoing threads of text messages with other more experienced farms. I scratch down notes and sketches in my black book, compute calculations, and provide sales and production data and analysis to guide our decisions. I gather information like how many bushels we currently harvest per row, and how many we need to pick per week to figure out how many rows to designate to each crop All the while there is the steady hum of this enormous corn harvester which looks like a giant buzz razor giving our rolling hills a cornfield crew cut. We observe deer scamper, crows gather and peck, V formations of geese noisily honk like DC commuters, and a red tailed hawk gracefully sweeps the sky.
Afterwards, Jackson and I go to every bed to gather soil samples. We dig about six to eight inches deep and gather about fourteen scoops of dirt per bed. There are about fifteen beds total. We stroll down smokey blue rows of broccoli and peek in on cauliflower’s vibrant yellow billowing heads. I notice the nicest cherry tomatoes of the season, perfectly ripe shades of orange, purple, and red, and pop them in my mouth as I carry the bucket of soil. Once mighty sunflowers now face mournfully towards the ground, their round faces going to seed while seemingly reflecting on glory days of summer. It is a great way to take in the history of this first season on the new farm in the peace and tranquility of the twilight accompanied by the pair of my frollicking dogs and the steady scooping of Jackson’s post hole digger.
Have a great week everyone.