Farm Update, May 14, 2016

This week reminded me more of my stint in Seattle than mid-May in the DC area. At the farm the dark saturated coffee grind soil and thick fog has me daydreaming of the smell of fresh roasted coffee in a thick clay mug, with a newspaper or guitar. However despite the urge to go back to bed we have managed to forge ahead with our planting schedule and even picked our first harvest. Here is this week’s dirt.

We planted about an acre of tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant, cucumbers, and zuchinnis. In addition to our red and yellow beefsteak tomatoes we also have a nice selection of heirloom, roma, and cherry tomatoes. Having the experience at the stands to know which are the most desired varieties really came in handy this past winter when ordering seeds. It is rewarding to feel the transplants of sungolds, cherokees, brandyboys, and amish paste between my fingers.

The transplanter is a very cool device. Last year when planting, my back would complain as I crawled around on my hands and knees in the dirt. This year its a more civilized activity. With a driver on the tractor and one to three on the seats of the transplanter we cruise along plugging holes with baby plants. The transplanter pokes holes in the plastic spaced to the specific crop and fills them with water. For those of us in the seats our job is to keep plugging them holes. It’s nice to get into a zone focusing on the rhythm of pulling a plant from the tray, reaching down, and pushing it into the drenched soil. When your tray is empty you can look back and see a nice straight line of evenly spaced, freshly watered plants. We get done in a couple hours what would have taken us all week last year. It’s a good feeling.

This week we also harvested our first crop of kale and chard. Our plants look very healthy. The curly kale leaves are the color of the blue ridge mountains and snap off the stalk as we move down the row in the drizzling rain.

To wrap up this week, after hearing the forecast for Sunday night of possible temps dipping down into the thirties we made the quick decision to run up to Shippensburg for some row cover which is essentially an acre sized blanket for our plants. It seems a theme this year as we complete a task while patting ourselves on the back here comes another humbling wave about to break. Tomatoes don’t like temps dipping below 41 degrees and cucumbits need it even warmer. Stay tuned next week for tales of unseasonably cold May nights and adventures in tomato staking. Have a great week everyone.