We thought it was going to rain today, but it didn’t. So I made a few soil blocks and then we decided to start doing things outside. First we did a unique and make shift task. There is a man made pond/mote with steep dam all around it and the grass has to be mowed every now and then. It’s too steep for the riding lawn mower to make it all the way to the bottom without it sliding into the water. So we chained the lawn mower to one of the Allis-Chalmers model G tractors and dragged it around until it was all the way to the bottom. On the one hand it was an odd process, but on the other hand I got to drive a cool old tractor (See Picture) that we’ll use later in the season to plant seeds in the field.
The model G tractor was first built in 1948 in Gadsden, AL. Used mostly for small farms and landscape businesses, it’s compact size and complete line of implements made it an ideal tractor for those smaller jobs. It has a 4-cylinder engine that sits on the rear tires. Having the engine in the back offers a greater view for the driver and additional weight and traction on the back wheels. In 1955 production was stopped when demand for the tractor fell. Farmers found the tractor was not able to adequately harvest things like grain and was not able to keep up with large scale farm production. But we have two here and we use them for seeding still. I like them because they’re quiet and on the smaller side, which makes them easier for me to handle. Hopefully I’ll get to use it a lot more in the months to come.
After that we went to our neighbors and helped plant ten Alder trees. She gave us five or six trees too and we came back and planted those on the farm. At this point Steve is trying to get the trees moved where they need to be before we start working seriously on produce production and before the trees come completely out of dormancy. While they moved trees I did the last round of tilling in the greenhouse so we can plant lettuce at the end of the week.
Since we cut seeding short yesterday, today we finished the lettuce for the week and moved tomato plants to pots. This may be a good chance to talk about transplanting. I don’t think I’ve talked about this in detail yet. In the book, The New Organic Grower, which I have talked about and that we follow for much of our production, there is one chapter dedicated to transplanting. It states that “transplanting should be understood in three separate operations: seeding, potting on, and setting out.” Seeding is what we’ve been doing every Monday; putting seeds in soil blocks to get them going. Potting on is what we’re doing with the tomato plants and chard. We start them in the soil blocks and when they reach a certain age we transplant them into 4” containers (See Picture). The next step for the tomatoes is a little different for us because we sell the whole plant rather than just the tomatoes, so we pot them again into 1-gallon pots. The final step, setting out, which I will experience at the end of the week, is planting the young plants in the field or in the production greenhouse. The production greenhouse has a dirt floor and is plowed just like in the field but gives added protection and warmth. We’ll start planting the lettuce in the production greenhouse this week.
That was most of the day, but with the remaining time Steve and I fixed the breaks on a lawnmower and put a repaired tire back in the “G” tractor.
Today was a day of onsieing, potting and pipe bending. We onsied lettuce for most of the day and since we had to pot tomatoes too, because they’re getting big, we stopped the onsieing and there’s still more to do. In the afternoon Steve and I started bending the arches from the greenhouse I took apart last week. It’s a fairly simple process with the pipe bender we’re using, but some of the pipes broke partially or completely when they collapsed. This makes it a little more difficult and we may be doing some welding next week.
We started the day doing more onsieing and potting tomatoes while Steve tilled the greenhouse one more time so we could set out the lettuce. The onsieing took all morning, but we finally finished this round of lettuce. Then we started setting out. All of the lettuce is planted by hand so we were down on our hands and knees putting the little lettuces in rows. It’s starting to look like a farm now with veggies going into the ground (See Picture) and two new interns coming this weekend. The rain is still coming down strong with no sign of it letting up and the water table and river have risen again. A high water table and lots of rain makes it hard to plow and plant things in the fields, which we aren’t ready to do yet anyway.
It was a short day today with the arrival of our newest intern, Trevor. He’s from Wylie, TX and plays the banjo. Before he got here we finished up some work in the house, repairing a light fixture, making crossbeams for a bed and mending a leaking drainpipe on the dishwasher. Then we bent a few more greenhouse arches back into shape before picking Trevor up in Olympia. Once he got here we did a tour of the property and that was the rest of the day. We’ll probably do a little more work on the greenhouse arches tomorrow.
Today we spent time shaping and welding those arches for the greenhouse I had taken apart and have been talking about for two weeks. At this pace it should be back up and in operation at the end of next week. I’ll get some pictures of the welding up next week sometime. Cecelia was taking pictures so I have to wait on getting the camera from her.
Other than the welding, we did some of the everyday chores of feeding the chickens and ducks and checking the greenhouse for slugs and making sure the water systems are working.
See ya next week!