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April 8, 2016
Into April We Go
Notes From The Field
By Derek McGeehan
March was very kind to us. April? Well, let's just say every season presents a new set of challenges to deal with. Our crop seeding and planting schedule is based on the local climate and temperature averages as well as good old experience (with mistakes), and for our first seven seasons here during the first week of April we've been able to transplant the first round of crops outside and move other crops from the heated greenhouse to the unheated hoop house to harden off under one layer of plastic for protection. Surprise, surprise. This year we had a low of 22 degrees on Wednesday morning. Ground that had been opened up with the chisel plow to dry out was frozen solid enough that our disk harrow wasn't able to penetrate. However, after the sun had sufficiently warmed the air and the soil of the raised beds they'll call home over the next two months, Adam, Hannah, Mary Liz, and I were able to officially commence the 2016 growing season with the first round of transplants (peas) going into the ground. After peas we transplanted spinach, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, collards, and chard. Then, at about 6pm we spent the next hour or so covering with row cover anchored by sandbags the 23,000 square feet we just planted. With another forecasted low in the mid-20s on Saturday, as well as snow, we're hoping, desperately, that the spun polyester fabric cover will protect the plants enough to keep them above the cold-death temperature threshold. As of now the jet stream roller coaster is forecast to continue through the end of next week. Alas, there is hardly a dull moment on the farm this time of year but we have been able to mostly stay on the planting schedule. The aster family crops (lettuces, chicories) were the only ones we postponed this week but should have ample time to transplant them this coming Monday before the next round of precipitation.
After a physically exhausting 10 hour day of transplanting, a brief respite of greenhouse work does the body good. Here, Adam, Mary Liz, and Hannah pot up heirloom tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, asparagus, and celery.