On the first summerlike day of the season we await a delivery at the farm for a new piece of machinery which symbolizes a new level of farming and independence. For the past few seasons we have been leasing out surplus acreage to a farmer that has managed it through a rotation of corn, soy, and wheat. This season we are taking on the “whole enchilada” of forty acres. We will have between fifteen and twenty planted in vegetable production while the remaining will be in some sort of cover crop to suppress weeds, control erosion, and add organic matter to the soil. It also becomes part of the rotation by improving and reserving the soil for future plantings. We try and create a four year rotation which takes into account our three primary families of crops, (nightshades, brassicas, and cucurbits). A cover crop gives us that fourth year. Currently we are planting barley whose fibrous root system makes it a good nutrient recycler and provides increased water movement. In September we will switch to winter rye and forage radish. We’ve rented a seed drill to assist us in seeding.
The way the seed drill functions is by creating a shallow trench, filling it with seed, then covering it with soil. Its a simple design which makes me picture if someone had three hands one would slice a trench along the row, the next would cup while holding and sprinkling seeds, and the last would drag over the loose soil filling the trench. It is a much more effective method of sowing than broadcasting because the seeds are planted an inch or so under the soil. This protects them from the sun, being eaten by birds or being carried off by wind and rain. We seeded all the barley in one day but need a good soaking rain to get those seed germinating. Before we return the drill we want to sow our waterways in Kentucky Bluegrass. The feeling of managing the entire farm by ourselves is a liberating one. There is a feeling of independence somewhere between removing the training wheels from your bike, getting your driver’s license, or heading off to college. It opens up new possibilities of how we run our farm.
This week we are planting our first rows of tomato plants, we finished weeding the strawberry patch and preparing the beds for next week’s major planting of summer veggies: zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and heirloom tomatoes. Have a great week everyone.