Greenhouses, Compost and Herbs

May 2, 2012

Tuesday and Wednesday have flown by in a torrent of projects while I desperately try to keep my head above water.

This rain has been no help, either. We are doing tasks that need to get done, but I’ve wasted three pairs of socks today alone, and the chance of rain drops tomorrow but skyrockets on Friday with a chance of thunderstorms. I’ve always hated rainy days, but this takes everything to a whole new dimension of draggggg.

On Tuesday I got my official work papers and we set to work in the greenhouse. We turned on NPR and listened to the May Day broadcasts as the guys showed me how to seed. At some point I’ll be able to look and know what a 128 flat and a 96 flat looks like (they are all 10×20, but the number of cells in all of them is radically different), but it’s all still foreign to me. We fill the flats -128 for basil and lettuces and 144 and 162 for mesclun) and meticulously dole out 3-4 seeds of red chard, dandelion, lettuces and the greens for our mesclun, some by hand and some with a handheld electric seed separator. Lettuces are left on the surface and covered with a paper towel to help aid with germination, but other seeds are covered in dirt.

Then we started tomatoes in the high tunnels. This will become a huge, beautiful project over the season as we trellis them to the season and they pretty much take flight, but right now we’ve got about 350 tomato plants at their tiniest, and today Matthew and I finished planting and I watered them all. For tomatoes, we added a trowel of 2-4-2 for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and a trowel of compost. We planted them in black plastic that Keith will have us pull up at the end of the season and reuse.

In the middle of the day a potential intern named Chelsea came into the mix. Chelsea is from California and has worked on farms previously, and is super knowledge and into farming. Also, because she was spending the night Keith gave us money for our all-day anticipated pizza party. Eggplant pizza with the team? Totally excellent.

Then we headed out into the herb beds to rake, compost and mulch. There’s paper mulch and woodchips and a number of other covering I’ll have to elaborate on later, but it’s been really neat to see how they vary on every crop.

And then, of course, we cut more potatoes.

Wednesday  came and I got up at 5:30 in solidarity to my Back on My Feet running group and ran/walked five miles around the property – the roads here are a little too treacherous to run.

I took a couple photos in the gray light of dawn to give you a little better picture of where I am, but of course I’ll have to take a gazillion more really give you the scope of the place.

Home Sweet Home!

Here it is in all its glory – our garlic. About 70,000 of it.

We have several different kinds of soil on the farm – this is black dirt, and last week the boys planted rows of onions in it. Can’t wait to eat ’em.

Today I potted on sage, which means I divided little sage seedlings from big pots into smaller cell flats that we’ll harden off and then plant in the fields. Hardening off is something I’d never heard of before, and it consists of moving greenhouse plants to stands outside where the little seedlings learn how to weather the elements. Makes a lot of sense, right? From here we moved outside and, in the drizzle, composted and mulched a bed of rhubarb (after I finished watering all the tomatoes, of course), and then Jay and I planted marjoram in a neighboring bed. In the midst of this, Keith implied that I should consider taking over greenhouse duties, which would include being around to water the greenhouse plants and learn to take meticulous care of them, which is simultaneously really neat and fairly stressful  But Matt assures me it’s easy enough and I’ll be able to pick up some skills quickly, so we’ll see.

After lunch and after marjoram planting we spent the afternoon dividing mint, which meant we had to dig up and separate three different types of mint from some old beds and replant them in new beds. Sounds easy? Think again. It swallowed most of our afternoon. We would pitchfork up huge sections of mint, pull out the root systems and move them into the furrowed plots, which, when we finished, looked a little bit like a valley instead of leveled land. It’s a drag, but I furrowed a hole bed myself, and looking at those dugs rows made me feel more accomplished than anything else.

And now I’m beat. Totally and utterly exhausted. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

-Farmer Liz

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3 thoughts on “Greenhouses, Compost and Herbs

  1. Enjoying evey post Liz. I love the smell of sweet basil fresh on your hands. Keep up the good work 😉

  2. The place is beautiful, Liz. Reading every post! What a tremendous amount of practical knowledge you’ll have after this. Kept posting, baby! xos

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