After a real nice cruising start to spring, we’ve had to hit the pause button to let some rain pass. It really looked like we’d be able to cruise a bit longer and plant some delicious leaf broccoli which is apparently all the rage. It seemed so promising–Wednesday we checked the fields for dryness and actually found 7 beds just dry enough to lightly till and bed shape. And our multiple weather apps all seemed to be saying that rain would come in Thursday afternoon. Perfect! Unfortunately it rained overnight Wednesday, just enough to make planting by tractor impossible. No worries– we’d plant by hand! But after planting one bed by hand, the rain really settled in we had to abandon that plan. Since then we’ve gotten about 2 inches of rain, further delaying planting, so now we not only have the rest of the leaf broccoli to plant, but another round of lettuce and spinach are ready to plant, as well as Swiss chard and kohlrabi! Yikes! We just have to cross our fingers that this week’s predicted thunderstorms miss us so that we can maybe squeak in another round of planting!
While it’s easy to stress about not knowing when the next time we’ll be able to plant will happen, I should trick my brain into being happy about all the planting we HAVE gotten done. We’ve planted an acre of potatoes (Kennebec, Harvest Moon, Desiree and Nicola), which will happily feed our CSA and market customers from the end of July to December, and several beds of onions which, if customers cook anything like I do, will serve as the start of many a meal. We’ve also planted cold-hardy springtime goodies like beets, spinach, sugar snap peas, scallions, fennel, dill, parsley, head lettuce, escarole, bok choi, cabbage, broccoli, kale and salad mix. Wow, that is a lot! And typing it out just now actually did help calm my nerves!
However, the rain not only interrupts planting, but it also keeps us from weeding all the crops I mentioned above. We did get one round of cultivating in before this wet period, so that’s great. But we were awfully close to not even getting that round of weeding in. That’s because our very old cultivating tractor, an Allis Chalmers G, wouldn’t start. This is typical for this aged tractor, after sitting in the barn all winter, but whereas in the past Ben’s always been able to fix it with a new spark plug or a gas tank, this time when he started to investigate, it became clear the G now needs a complete engine overhaul. Ben can do this–but not in April! As soon as the prognosis became clear, Ben spent several hours on tractor websites, crowd sourcing farms on Instagram and calling friends to track down a working cultivating tractor fast. The good news about these tractors is that they are very small, so when we found one Ben traveled north in our market truck and was able to bring a working tractor home the same day. After some hammering and tweaking, we took our new G out to work the very next day.
We have a few additional crew members starting up work this week and next, so once the fields dry out, we’ll have enough people to do all the work at once–planting, cultivating, and getting the next round of beds ready. That would be for summer crops like zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, all with planting dates that are just around the corner! While I know we are all eager for that first taste of fresh veggies, I’m glad we haven’t added “harvest” to the to-do list yet. We’ve got plenty to do before that happens! Hang tight and the start of CSA will be here before we know it! (P.S. We’ll start going to 2nd Street Market with our garden starts May 11 and hopefully add fresh veggies to the offerings by Memorial Day)