2018 Newsletter #2

We are finally breaking new ground.

The past few weeks have been pretty exciting for us in terms of physical progress on the farm. We got ahold of our new small-scale implements, and had our first chance to work the soil we have been “solarizing” with large black silage tarps for the past month or so. The perennial grass was dry and brown, which made it alot easier to work up, and should also mean that it will not be coming back to haunt us. We purchased a BCS 2-wheel walking tractor (pictured with Jesse above), and have so far been impressed with the versatility and power coming from such a small package.

To do this primary sod-breaking, we are employing a Berta rotary plow, which looks like a big drill bit for the soil. It takes an 8-10″ strip of soil and throws it to the right, in order to work the soil to a 12-14″ depth. This is quite an aggressive soil-working activity, and we are only using it to break this new ground for the first time. From here on, we will be using minimal tillage practices in order to preserve our soil structure and microbiome. After our fields are opened up, this tool can then be used to help us create our raised beds, without having to do all of that digging by hand, and will make a handy trencher for planting potatoes.

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This is what the soil looks like after one pass with the rotary plow. Pretty nifty!

We also took on a task that at times during the weekend long process, seemed impossible. We moved a ramshackle old shed from behind one barn to beside another. Sounds easy enough, but oh boy, was it a test in patience and ingenuity.

As any other fellow market gardeners out there know, success in this business requires a bit of know-how…….in just about every aspect of life. Besides all of the necessary knowledge one needs about soil health and fertility, seed starting and plant propagation, irrigation, harvest and storage practices, sales, marketing, and accounting, there are so many other types of jobs that just need to get done somehow. In the end, the shed travelled with its front end riding the mower deck on the tractor (supported by chains and straps to keep from tearing itself apart), and its back end rolling on logs, replaced every few feet.

Sure, we probably could have put up a brand new shed in the time it took us to move this one to its current location, but every penny saved counts, and this will make a great spot closer to the garden plots to keep our hand tools, and possibly house a few stray kittens.

While we appreciate having a few good mousers on staff here at the farm, we arrived at this property to find about 5 resident mama cats, with 3 or 4 litters in tow. We are currently reaching out to “Change for Paws” (Woodstock) in order to help control this growing population. Any donations of cat food to help keep this colony healthy are appreciated.

After we arrived on the farm property at the end of May, one of the first things we did was divide and plant the ancient rhubarb that had been growing at the old farm property for decades. We weren’t sure the 3 plants we brought with us would survive the trip, after having already produced an abundance of stalks earlier in the spring. But, we divided them neatly into 26 root chunks, added composted manure, covered the grass around them with cardboard, and the surrounding area with 6″ of wood chips, and hoped for the best.

And luckily enough, they made it! The strip they are planted in will be filled with fruit trees, and beneficial insect attractant plants to become one of our perennial orchard strips, acting as windbreaks between veggie plots.

We think having the thick wood chip mulch around each plant kept the soil cool and moist, enabling them to survive the heat wave we encountered just after they were planted.

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