Over the next few days we are transplanting nearly 20,000 plants at our farm. Early May is the frost date and many of the warm weather veggies don’t get planted until we are clear of the threat of frost. Transplants have been produced from seed in the greenhouses at Sharp’s Farm with the help of the Norman’s Crew since late February. We have been transplanting certain crops since late March: onions, kale, lettuce, chard & bok choy. Also we have been directly sowing spring salad mixes and asian greens. We even gambled a bit by planting a tomato bed a couple weeks ago to experiment with our low tunnel. Although a major storm took out the low tunnel last week, the tomatoes are doing well and we re-approached some methods to reinforce our structure which should pay off in the long run.
So over the next few days we are planting peppers, eggplant, all kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and zucchinis. We are direct seeding greenbeans and sunflowers, and planting another succession of bok choy, napa cabbage, and lettuce. We also planted our first acre of blackberries and raspberries which won’t be ready for harvest until next season.
It is also time to start thinking about our next cover crop in our fallow fields. We are cutting down the winter rye which is about four feet tall and flowering before it starts reseeding itself. Next we will drill in a spring manure mix that will include field peas, clover and oats. We are going to try a mix to see if it will control the weeds more effectively. We’ve noticed there is a lot of undergrowth by just planting rye, but by planting a mix with a variety of root systems and growth habits perhaps we can control this a bit more.
So far this season has been pretty smooth sailing. Having the deer fence in place has been a godsend and has allowed us to concentrate on the growing. Even still there are some setbacks and hiccups that have popped up in our field production. The first is how the winter rye has become a weed in our onion fields. It was so cool and wet back in March and early April that it never really died after tillage, it just came back. This year we were committed to the cover cropping which definitely has its benefits, but offers new challenges as well. Moving forward we need to do a better job, either terminating the cover crop or thinking ahead from the previous season by planting something less hardy and possibly laying the plastic mulch in advance. We are also noticing some flea beetle pressure on our baby asian greens which is making them look a bit like swiss cheese. Insect pressure may be increased this season due to the mild April. We should have had floating row covers in place to prevent this. I think this is what we will do moving forward. That’s all for this week. Enjoy.