Today we started out seeding and took care of everything for the week in the greenhouse.
At 11am we left for Puyallup, WA where we took part in a field day at the WSU extension school. This is a part of the program that came to the farm a couple of weeks ago to flag a small section of our farm as a reduced/no till experiment. They have a similar set-up at their research facility with several small plots of different types of cover crop. Since it’s a recent and developing method for farming they’re studying when the best time is for terminating the cover crop and determining the best methods for planting without breaking up the ground so much.
Wet weather has returned for the week.
This morning we got some brassicas started in the greenhouse. While everyone was finishing up with that, I went over to the tomato house with Steve and we started transplanting tomatoes (picture). The tomatoes are in one-gallon pots. We use a post-hole digger to make a hole to put them in the ground and hang twine from the ceiling as guides for the plants as they reach 5 to 10 feet tall (picture).
Then in the afternoon we harvested, washed and boxed-up lettuce. After that was a short clean-up period and then we finished the day continuing the work on the tomatoes.
Market day! We spent the morning harvesting Asian greens, radishes, arugula, and some herbs. We found all of the best tomato plants and packed everything up. When they left for the market everyone else started transplanting in the tomato house and we finished one side of the house. But before we finished the tomatoes we got a break from the rain and went out to the field to get the WSU experimental plot ready. We flail mowed, bush hogged and crimped the twelve sections (picture) of land that were set up by WSU a few weeks ago. Flailing and crimping are experimental and the bush hog is how Steve normally kills the cover crop. At the beginning of June WSU will be back on the farm to help plant the squash in each section.
The test is to see if there are any significant differences in yield by comparing each test plot. The theory behind reduced till is to not disturb the naturally occurring organisms that provide nutrients for the soil therefore providing more nutrients for the cash crop. The different mowing methods are designed to kill cover crops in ways that retain the maximum nutrient benefits from those cover crops. This is done by cutting at the right time and cutting in a way that promotes the integration of the nutrients back into the soil.
The other side of the tomato house still has a week’s worth of lettuce to harvest and then we’ll fill it in with more tomatoes.
Today we weeded most of the hoop houses. In the afternoon I used a weed whacker to mow between the hoop houses and then the rain started again so we moved back inside the greenhouse to finish the day potting up and staking tomatoes.
We harvested this morning for the Saturday market. Harvesting and cleaning generally take all morning for Saturday. After lunch we transplanted the weekly lettuce and then transplanted summer squash. Squash transplanting is different from every other transplant we’ve done so far. Squash plants take up lots of space in the field. They’re planted in pairs, on mounds, with six feet of separation between mounds and then covered to retain heat and moisture as they mature.