A beautiful day in the snowy field, looking back at the outbuildings from the greenhouse. I used the Kubota (the trusty compact tractor) to clear the path, more to take it out of the shed and give it a little run than because the snow’s too high to trudge through. The temperature’s around zero C, the sun is getting higher in the sky and warmer as she climbs, snow is melting at the edges and through the thin spots wherever you go… Is spring in the air? Sure feels like it!
Looking a tad paramilitary, brothers I met at the market (they’re studying at the nearby environmental/forestry college) pitch in to clean out the greenhouse and loosen up the soil. The space, used for seedlings in spring and early summer, tends to fill up with odds and ends, and weeds, as the season progresses. Last spring, I tried growing early lettuce in here to get a jump on the weather. This year, an even earlier start is planned. Getting the place sorted and ready to go ahead of sked is great. On the tiny farm, nothing could be better for fieldwork than plentiful, like-minded labor. Especially, volunteers!
This is about a quarter of my farming bookshelf. I get a ton of info from the Web, particularly in winter when I have more time to cruise around online, but books I’m still most fond of. Let’s see what we have…
For one-stop shopping, you could take Rodale’s Garden Problem Solver and a bunch of seeds and that’s all you’d need to get started. This book wasn’t an early acquisition, I think I got somewhere into my first year, but it’s turned out able to answer just about every organic production question I’ve had, from cultivation to irrigation. It’s a little sun-bleached from trips to the field. And then, The New Organic Grower is probably required reading if you’re selling what you grow: practical and also kinda inspiring on the microfarm marketing side. Continue reading Tiny Farm Bookshelf, Part 1
The first lettuce pushed up overnight! Here, lovely red Granada, an Oakleaf-type leaf lettuce that intensifies into a deep burgundy as it matures. Also in trays, Sierra, Simpson Elite, Two Stars and Red Salad Bowl. Now, how early will they be ready for market (the farmers’ market kicks off the first Saturday in May…)?
This is what lettuce looks like when it’s just getting started. It’s the standard seed starting mix in action! Yet another off-season image from the microfarm. :)
A little experiment in vegetative propagation—replicating rosemary from tiny, stressed cuttings. Most of the potted rosemary taken up from the herb garden last season got toasted after too many -20°C nights in the unheated greenhouse (a bit of a random how-cold-can-they-go experiment). These tiny cuttings came from one that was taken indoors earlier. They’re kinda frail and stretched from relatively low light (etiolated is the typically uncommon technical term). They’ve already been three days in the tray, let’s see how they do. (Fast forward to…results!)
Here’s the barn with the new milkhouse extension, doing fine. We were slightly concerned that the slope of the new roof might be too shallow for snow to slide off, particularly with roll-off from the roof of the barn. The starting point was determined by an existing heavy cross beam in the barn, while the next beam is halfway up the wall – sloping the roof from there would’ve required tons of extra work and materials. As it is, it seems to be working out. Not having much snow or much of a winter at all helps. I doubt the sky will be falling in!