This week was short and went by quickly. Because both of us worked on Saturday, Suzanne gave us Monday off. We spent much of the week transplanting hot-season crops into the field in front of the greenhouses. We planted cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplants, and peppers, all under black plastic. The plastic serves three purposes; it covers the soil and helps reduce evaporation and water usage, shades out weeds, and, because it is black, absorbs heat and warms the soil, which is good for corps that need a lot of heat to grow. After primary tillage earlier in the spring, beds are prepped by spreading compost, then are given a final till and then the tractor rolls out plastic over the bed. We laid out drip irrigation under the plastic, so we will be able to water underneath the plastic. After the beds are prepped, we go down and make holes for each plant, using a post-hole digger to both make a hole in the plastic and to create space for the relatively-large transplants. After adding some fertilizer to each hole, the transplants are popped into all of the holes.
Because last week was very dry and this week was very hot also, we spent at least half an hour each day moving irrigation pipes around to water whichever crops needed it the most. The farm has three different water systems. The hydrants and the house are fed from two wells that are situated in the cow pasture above the rest of the farm. The drip irrigation comes from a tank that is gravity-filled from the creek running along the road, and the overhead irrigation is pumped from the irrigation pond. We mostly have to deal with the overhead, since the other systems are more static. The pump next to the pond attaches four-inch aluminum pipes, which branch to a series of two-inch pipes which radiates out into the fields. However, because the pipes are both expensive and easy to damage, covering the whole farm is hugely impractical, so we tend to only have pipe going to where it needs to be that day.
With temperatures climbing into the high eighties Tuesday and Wednesday, conditions were ripe for thunderstorms. On Wednesday was particularly hot, and the was a severe thunderstorm watch in the afternoon. We did mostly indoor work after lunch in anticipation of sudden rain. The big thunderheads grew and covered the sky, and around 3:30, we heard the first rumbles of thunder. We stopped our work in the greenhouses (tall metal frames in lightning is kind of a no-go) and began to close the sides and doors to all of the greenhouses. In under ten minutes, the air temperature dropped at least ten degrees, and it began to rain, slowly at first, but quickly coming faster. By the time we finished the last greenhouse, it was absolutely torrential, and I was soaked to the skin. The crew all sprinted back to the house to drip and get warm, and to watch the lightning and thunder. Most of the flashes were at least a few miles off, though we did have one big flashbang that was real close, though it didn’t hit anywhere on the ground.
Around the farm, we also put down landscaping fabric in the aisles between the blueberries to (hopefully) supress the grass and other weeds. We also transplanted dozens of trays of brassicas from mini soil blocks into plug trays, including Chinese cabbage, storage cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and some others, and we put the sweet corn and sunflowers in the ground.
On Saturday, Sidney and I did animal chores, then had the rest of a beautiful, sunny day to ourselves. We biked into South Royalton and ate at a greasy spoon which had a thrift shop in the basement, where we got some nine awesome tapes (including U2, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Northeast String Band, and a hand-titled “Hippie Music” mix) and a denim jacket all for one single US dollar. W also went swimming in the White River, which was just the right temperature for a hot, humid day.