This week has been pretty low-key in terms of taking on big, new projects. We mostly tied up loose ends and got into the rhythm of the harvest season. On Monday, we moved the sheep in the morning and saw that Bloaty is now back with the flock after a few days of his hay diet and seems to be back to normal. I suppose I was a bit too quick to assume he wouldn’t make it. Adrienne said he was looking really thin on Sunday so she ripped out some fresh grass and gave it to him and he passed a lot of diarrhea soon after. He is now very easily identifiable by his stained legs, and seems to be in good health.
We finished planting the rest of the tomatoes and also planted most of the cut flowers, sweet and hot peppers, basil, and tomatillos, all on the plastic, and one and a half rows of lettuces in Field 1. As I clipped down the snapdragons to encourage branching before we planted them, I remembered learning in Plant Physiology how removing the apical meristem cuts of the supply of auxin, thereby tipping the auxin-gibberelin ratio towards gibberelins (GAs) and stimulating lateral outgrowth. In the roots, the chemicals have opposite functions: auxin stimulates lateral outgrowth and GAs encourage root tip elongation. Lettuces are the type of crop that are only in the ground for about 40 days and harvested once, so they must be planted frequently. We finished harvesting mini head lettuce from the bed that used to be under the hoophouse and we will soon harvest full size heads from that bed. There is lettuce in Field 1 that’s about 2 weeks ahead of the lettuce we just planted, also. I am starting to keep an imagined map of the fields through time in my head so that I can think about when different groups of crops will be ready.
After we finished planting out the plastic, we put metal hoops roughly every 4 feet along each row (like we have been doing for other crops, only this time it requires stabbing it through plastic). Part of the plastic is already under a hoophouse, another section will be under a hoophouse but is currently under row cover, and nearly all of the rest (more tomatoes, the flowers, peppers, tomatilloes, and basil) we draped in two giant 100′ x 300′ pieces of row cover. We shoveled dirt over the edges like usual, but on Friday morning it rained and the wind blew, and the all of that mud couldn’t hold down the billowing gauze. Ken, Graham, Mica, and I ended up re-securing the row cover and then finding out that Ken and Adrienne had to do the same twice over the weekend. We ended up sacrificing a few flowers so that there wasn’t a big overlap for wind to access where the two sections joined. Adrienne decided that they should invest in some sand bags to keep it down through a rainy day in the future.
On a more positive note, Ken did nearly all the passes of field preparation in the field we will be using for summer squash in one triumphant day. On Tuesday, he had mowed and raked the cover crop of rye that will be used as straw next season. On Wednesday, he plowed, disced, harrowed, and hilled the beds on that field. Plowing turns over the sod from the rye, discing breaks up the sod and fluffs up the soil, harrowing (using a springtooth harrow) sifts and smooths the soil out, and then a cultivator will hilling discs hills the beds into ridges. Later, we will use a single horse, walk-behind cultivator to go in between each row and mound up soil along the crops.
Throughout the week, we got quite a lot of weeding done with all manner of implements, from hands to hoes of all sizes to Ken cultivating in the onions. On Saturday, we weeded out the whole high tunnel and filled an overflowing wheelbarrow with the debris.
On Thursday, we hooked Jewel up to the chicken coop and she pulled it from where it was across the road from the house to behind the barns because the chickens were too often stopping traffic in the road. I marveled at how easily Jewel skidded the coop across the field, but Adrienne pointed out that she weighs about 1500 pounds and the coop weighs about 400 pounds. This would be like a 150 pound human pulling 40 pounds. Since we moved the coop, they have been slightly less in the road and the eggs are more consolidated, which is a plus. I got to practice driving Jewel with the cart a bit more and got pretty good at it.
On Tuesday, Brian found a huge stash of chicken eggs in the barn and I made an 18-egg frittata for lunch with chard and bacon from the farm.
The harvest we did on Thursday was the very first vegetable harvest from Field 1 ever! The kale is tender and delicious and comes in many shades of green and purple. It was under row cover for so long that I nearly forgot about it.
On Sunday, we went to a festival in Thorndike called the Waldo County “Celebrate Open Space” festival. Ken gave horse rides with a borrowed wagon and there was music and food all around. Waldo County is pretty darn rural, so there were only about 100 people there at any given moment, but I did find a group of plastic bins, pots and pans, and other large old things nailed to boards with drumsticks available. It was called the junk percussion event!
Next week there will be lots more exciting things going on, as we will be moving the sheep down the road to a neighbor’s field and starting the CSA season!