Saturday, April 23, 2011

Plants in the ground!

We finally got some plants in the ground on Thursday. It was not a great day to transplant as it was sunny and very windy, but the peas had shot up and were getting pretty crowded in their pots. We started transplanting our early peas last year (as opposed to direct seeding, which is the usual) to make sure that we get a good solid stand. Cold, wet April soil can lead to pretty sporadic germination and the inevitable decision about whether to turn them under or go ahead and do all the work of trellising when you know yields will be low because there are just way fewer plants than there should be. Transplanting solves this and gives you the instant gratification of something green in the field.

The poor little guys were pretty shocked, but are looking better after some rain and cooler weather on Saturday. Sugar snap peas are a real treat so we go to great lengths to make sure we have them for as long a portion of the season as we can. With that goal we also direct seeded another 150' to be the late planting while another round of transplants are hardening off and will go in the ground in a week or so. We also direct seeded a bunch of other crops including arugula, salad mix, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi and parsnips. Some flowers were seeded during this round of planting as well.

The above picture is of our salad mix lettuce seed. We blend about a dozen varieties to get all the shapes and colors we like into the mix. It will be interesting to see if this blend, which we came up with while at Holly Hill farm, acts the same on the new ground. I assume it will, but I definitely have been curious to see what differences will emerge.

It's wild to be doing such familiar tasks in such a new environment. We got quite used to all the idiosyncrasies at Holly Hill and it will take us a while to get the feel for this new land. One big difference right off the bat has been the excellent drainage. We were able to spade, amend, do secondary tillage passes and plant a full section of the field we'll be growing on in April. The limiter was our time, not the conditions. We could have prepped the full 3 plus acres we'll be growing on this year if we weren't also trying to get some early crops planted. That was just never possible at Holly Hill where we had to use the drier sections of the drier fields first and then wait and hope for dry weather before proceeding. This is one change I welcome and love right from the get go, though it does make me worry about irrigation during the summer. We'll work on that when the time comes. Right now it just feels good to be farming again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The job before the job

Well, there have been hurdles every step of the way... BUT real farming has finally begun. We started spading our land yesterday. And the soil looks nice! Not even so many rocks (thanks to hundreds of years of farmers pulling them out of the fields and adding them to stone walls). We look forward to getting some seeds and plants in the ground, and it looks like that can start next week. I'm sure the hurdles will continue every step of the way. We'll keep leaping over them as best we can.

Life is lush in the greenhouse. It is exciting to watch more seeds push through the soil every day. We can't wait to get some of these babies out into the fields. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

A new addition to the farm

Our new tractor arrived yesterday!

 We've been shopping for a tractor for quite a while. It has been tough actually, as neither of us is a real tractor expert and it's the biggest investment we'll make this year. So what a relief to finally have it here. We bought a used Massey Ferguson 231 from a dealer in South Carolina and man are we ever excited that it wasn't an elaborate internet scam. We wired the money on Friday afternoon and, thanks to the trucker, Chris, we received the tractor on Sunday right around lunch time. Chris must not have slept much. The adventure for us was unloading it. Chris' rig did not have ramps so we had to call in Four Square towing to back their wrecker up to the truck and then back the tractor onto it. Luckily I did not see the difference in heights from the drivers seat and just did what I was told. Once on the wrecker, it was pulled up and the bed was tilted down so that I could drive right onto the ground and the tractor got it's first taste of life in Massachusetts.

 This tractor purchase was a long time coming! When we got married a little over two years ago we registered for a few things but made it clear that what we really wanted was money towards a tractor. So thank you all. It was made possible by our loving, generous friends and family. Now we just have to go and get the G, our other tractor that spent the winter back at Holly Hill Farm.