Here we go! The ground is finally thawed, the warm summer sunshine has returned, and the farm is coming to life...fast.
We have been tending to seedlings indoors since the beginning of March, but now we can begin planting outdoors too. While the list of specific tasks on the farm seems too long to cover, the general areas of work are seeding and transplanting, plot preparation, and troubleshooting. I will take some time this month to explain a little about each of these tasks.
Seeding is happening indoors and outdoors now. Some crops, like carrots, spinach, radishes, and turnips don't mind a cool start to life, so the first rounds of these have already been directly seeded into outdoor beds. However, the majority of our early spring crops are still transplanted. Many other crops could be seeded directly as well, but the practice of transplanting gives us too many benefits to pass up. The extra work upfront pays off with greater control over the germination process, more precise plant spacing, and an earlier harvest.
Snap peas, for example, are one crop that we transplant in early spring. Peas prefer to grow in cooler weather and can germinate in cool temperatures too, but a long germination period in cool soil greatly increases the chance of the seed rotting in the ground. I can avoid the risk associated with cool soil by starting seeds indoors, then heading out to the field to plant the pea seedlings exactly where I want them, without having to worry about maintaining ideal conditions for germination for 10 days or more. An added bonus is an extra early harvest of snap peas. I can almost taste them already!
The second category of work at this time of year is plot preparation. Thankfully, we do not have any entirely new plots to set up this spring, but there is still a fair bit of grunt work involved in starting up production at each location. The biggest physical job is spreading compost on to each of our beds. To give you an idea of the scale of this work, we ordered a total of 48 cubic yards of compost for the farm this week. It is needless to say that our shovels and wheelbarrows are seeing a lot of action these days.
If shovelling was a dance move it might look a little like this. Don't worry, I'll stick to farming.
The third category of work I called "troubleshooting" because there really is no theme to this work beyond that. It seems that at this time of the year, I am always responding to problems that come up unexpectedly. Some of these are a result of our harsh winters that cause damage to our equipment, while other problems arise due to the multi-locational nature of our farm and the additional variables and people this involves, which can all impact our farm in different ways. At least now in year four, I am not heading into spring expecting everything to start up one hundred percent as planned. There will be glitches, we will sort them out one at a time, and by July, all systems will be rolling smoothly.
I will leave you with a shot of one of my favourite tasks this week, potting up tomatoes in our greenhouse. They moved on to 4 inch blocks this week, which is their final step before being planted out in the field. It is a treat for me to spend time on simple manual tasks like this when most of my job requires a lot of decision making and problem solving. The fresh smell of the greenhouse is also the perfect remedy for the last of my winter blues.