We are super excited about starting our CSA distributions next week! This week, we welcome a new season of work share folks, the team who is responsible for helping to harvest and process all the produce each Tuesday and Friday. Tuesday and Friday mornings, for the next 20 weeks will be bustling, hectic, but filled with camaraderie.
In addition to our work share folks, our farm crew this season is amazing. They are filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and cheerfulness in the face of adversity (or a long, boring job). All are great cooks. John and I always grow so much when we open ourselves to learning from everyone who joins us here at the farm.
The fun of these long spring days includes a few new tools, a water wheel transplanter being one of the funnest. This has become a favorite ride for all, including Flora who helped John and I plant a bed of eggplant on Saturday afternoon. So simple, even a 5 year old can do it!
Another tool (which works in tandem with the transplanter) is a plastic mulch layer. This implement forms a raised bed and wraps it with black plastic. Why would we want to cover our soil with plastic? We thought long and hard about this choice of using a non-renewable material on our fields. Last year we managed weeds by cultivating with the tractor about once a week. Back and forth, back and forth. The soil's structure breaks down, the roots of the crop get pruned and stressed, and we use a lot of diesel fuel. With our mulch layer we are conserving the soil, moisture, time, and energy.
The trade off is that we buy rolls of plastic and then we wrap it all up in the fall and throw it in the dump. Not an easy decision, but as we scale up to cropping 6 1/2 acres this year, the justification gets easier.
In between the beds of plastic, we are using all the leaves dropped of by neighbors to mulch the walkways, hopefully minimizing the need to tend to weeds in those areas as well and adding additional organic matter to the soil.
For the last 8 years, we have successfully used landscape fabric to convert new fields into plantable acres. This decision was made partly because we have not had the ability to water crops before this season. The landscape fabric is permeable to rain. Our new plastic mulch layer also lays a run of drip tape under the mulch, permitting the beds to get watered when needed.
(1 acre of squash going in...thanks to the helping hands of some lovely graduating seniors from Cape Elizabeth High School who spent a week working with us)
Beds are being prepped and prepped and prepped...
Still, most of our fields are without plastic, and those we still weed. Most of our cultivation (weeding) tools have been employed in the fields this season. Besides the abundant hand tools and wheel hoes, our two small cultivating tractors are profitably engaged. The electric Allis-Chalmers "G" with a set of baskets appears the most, and the International 140 (with the Williams tool bar system mounted to a 3 point hitch) a close second.
We are getting all cleaned up for the wedding season on the farm.
And we have started cranking out some serious beauty in the floral form for a few elegant events, this one happened at my new favorite spot for an afternoon tea party, the Tate House in Portland.
will be harvesting our first small haul of berries at the end of this week. Please feel free to stop in for a quart and a few tomato seedlings this weekend.
Blessings on the meal-