Perched up high on our John Deere taking in the surroundings of fresh green tree lines, rolling hills, red barns and whinnying horses over yonder, I felt a strong sense of pride for all we’ve accomplished so far this season and am truly feeling the role of the farmer. The engine grumbles beneath me while fat tractor tires roll. The chisel claws the ground behind me like a giant bear turning over dirt, rocks, and clumps of grass. A murder of crows hangs around feasting on plump, freshly revealed earthworms, whom I find myself feeling sorry with a tinge of guilt for laying them so exposed. Suddenly my sense of accomplishment dissipates as I notice the wind unravelling all our previous days hard work of laying black plastic mulch down about ninety 200’ rows. Many of the nice, straight, and tight buried plastic rows have lifted and undulate wildly like an army of tethered giant serpents trying to take flight. I recall a literary quote that, “…life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,” and at that moment I realize, I am that idiot.
The past several days we had spent laying black plastic mulch. The purpose of the plastic mulch is to prohibit the growth of weeds, retain soil moisture, and heat up the soil to encourage early plant growth. I was so excited to be using our Rain-Flo plastic mulch layer. I loved its simplicity and the ingenuity of its design. One of us would drive the tractor while the other two would maintain a rhythm of unrolling, staking, slicing, shoveling then following the tractor another 200’ then repeat. As soon as you begin thinking of something else, you get pulled back into the sequence.
Several days earlier we had hit a bump in the road. We had realized that the disc harrow we had purchased to till our fields wasn’t really getting the job done. We made the quick decision to purchase a rototiller and spent the rest of the afternoon assembling it. Problem solved.
There seems to be a pattern this month of hitting bumps in the road, working out solutions, then overcoming the hurdle. As soon as we begin patting ourselves on the back then … bump, bump, here we go again. I can see the progress in the quilt work of our farm plots. Some are freshly plowed in rough, clumpy ground; while others tilled in fine fluffy soil; others in black plastic zebra stripes, and yet others have stripes with green polka dots of lettuce and kale.
Over the past few weeks we have planted our first transplants which were seeded by our staff over at Sharp Farms. These include kale, lettuce, bok choi, broccoli, napa cabbage, rainbow chard, spring onions and kohlrabi. This weekend, based on the current weather forecast, we are feeling pretty good about planting our first thousand tomato plants. Perhaps next week we will be ready to plant our first round of peppers, zucchinis, and cucumbers.
We are also direct seeding a weekly schedule of arugula, baby kale, baby lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots and beets. Our first seeding didn’t germinate due to a cold snap, however the second one seems to be doing pretty good. That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for weekly farm updates.