Entry #10 From the Farm

5/7, Monday

I’m monitoring the greenhouses and watering the plants this week. I make sure fans are working and everything is watered as it’s needed in the morning and then again in the evening.

We seeded today like normal and tried to get it finished early to stay out of the greenhouse. The weather has turned to warm and dry so it gets hot fast in the greenhouse even with ventilation. We took a short break from seeding to move the Guineas (Picture) from the hen house to and outside cage and released the new baby chickens, which are a couple of weeks old now, into the hen house (Picture).

Later we transplanted basil into a hoop house, so it’s in the ground and staying warm with extra cover. Once we finished transplanting a neighbor asked us to take some old decaying hay bales that we added to our compost pile (Picture). These are opportunities to use the bigger equipment like tractors and dump trucks. I attached forks on the bucket of our tractor and helped remove the sides of the bed of a truck to make it a flat bed for putting the hay on.

5/8, Tuesday

I went out early today to water tomatoes and basil. Then we all met and walked around the farm to see all of the things we’ve been working on and to see what needed to get done today.

We harvested more leeks and washed them. Then Steve and I staked some Alder trees that we planted several weeks ago. They don’t have strong roots yet and some of them blew over. Then we came back and harvested and washed lettuce for tomorrow’s market. Once all of that was finished we did some direct seeding of spinach, coriander, beets, baby bok choy and carrots. I used a hand seeder (Picture) to plant one row of coriander and one row of beets. To finish the day, Steve and I went back to our neighbors and picked-up more rotten hay bales.

5/9, Wednesday

Today was a market day (Picture) and we started out harvesting kale raab, kale and collard greens. Raab is what eventually turns into the flower and seed of a brassica plant (Picture). A local Seattle restaurant usually buys the kale raab, when we have it, at the Wednesday market. Raab is probably the most nutritious part of the plant. It’s packed with protein and all the other good stuff that comes with kale because it’s where the seeds are forming and the plant uses a lot of nutrients to produce the seeds. After that we harvested more nettles from the woods and bagged them up.

After harvesting I went to the leek and onion plot to till and weed. Tilling took the rest of the morning and after lunch we did more weeding in the chard house. Once all the farming work was finished I had a chance to use the tractor to turn our compost pile (Picture).

5/10, Thursday

Today we got ready for another Saturday market and transplanted this week’s lettuce. Last night we had a light frost and lost some tomato plants. Everything else outside seems to have made it through the frost. We reorganized tomato plants and harvested leeks first and then went out to the field to transplant lettuce. We finished the lettuce after lunch then mowed around the pond. Last was setting up the lettuce cleaning station for tomorrow.

5/11, Friday

We had a fast paced morning today, harvesting and washing lettuce for the Saturday market. We boxed-up nearly 400 heads of lettuce in about an hour and a half then took a short break. After the break I started watering tomatoes and lettuce that we have on the hardening off tables. When the lettuce and tomatoes reach a certain age we take them out of the greenhouse and put them on these tables so they can acclimate (harden) to the weather outside before they are transplanted into the field. So it goes, soil blocks, hardening off table, transplanting and maybe someday I’ll get some pictures of harvesting. Harvesting is kind of a busy time so it’s not easy for someone to take pictures while it’s happening.

After watering I went to the first field we transplanted lettuce and cultivated the ground for some weed control. As I finished that a faculty member from Washington State University Extension arrived. He has been working with the Steve on the farm for a number of years experimenting with organic cover crop and reduced tillage practice. We flagged a section of field that he is going to use to grow a few different crops on using a no till method. My basic understanding is that when the cover crop, in this case barley and clover, reaches a very specific level of maturity we’ll try three different methods for killing the cover and planting the crops without disking or tilling the field.

Although tilling has its benefits it has a number of negative impacts on the soil as well. Just under the surface are millions of microorganisms and worms that are creating good nutritious soil. When we break into the ground it disturbs and kills a lot of these beneficial organisms. Tilling has been described as a fire, hurricane and earthquake happening all at once on a microscopic level. So the idea of no till is to only break enough of the surface to put in a seed or a transplant.

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