First salad greens of the outdoor season

First brassica greens from the field

The season’s first field planting of salad greens, making a brief public appearance from under row cover, where they’re in flea beetle protection – we’re weeding today. Mustards, bok choi, arugula (a brassica relative), mizunas and more. So perfectly tasty, plucked straight from the ground, with a little dirt garnish for good measure…

Greens, protected!

Brassica greens under row cover

Floating row cover, weighed down and made semi-transparent by water, is all that stands between fine young brassica greens and the scourge of the flea beetle. The cover is placed right after seeding, weighed down by rocks every 12.5′ feet, briefly rolled back for weeding, and progressively loosened as the greens grow—we use 14′ wide sheets on 10′ wide beds. This medium-weight cover has worked as a good all-round solution, offering a few degrees of frost protection, and more durable than a lighter, insect-only weight, which would allow better light transmission (this medium weight one is 85%) and better air circulation, but also be more likely to tear.

Transplanting…never twice the same!

Lettuce transplants in the greenhouse

[From 12 Apr 2016] Today’s transplants: Still steadily plugging in seedlings in the greenhouse, waiting for more ground to dry out. This round, lettuces (above) and bok choi (elsewhere). All this transplanting is pretty straightforward—taking the photo, I might wonder, “What’s the difference between these seedlings stuck in the ground, and any others…why bother posting the same thing over and over?” Well, I don’t literally ask myself that, but I can see how some folks may think that. There’s no good answer, it really is in the eye of the beholder.

On a tiny farm, where weather runs everything, you never know how little decisions will turn out, and how critically they may affect things. Decisions like, let’s put up this greenhouse in this wet-in-spring field that’s also slow to dry, and see what happens (because the alternatives are too expensive), and fix or work around any problems we may run into. In that greenhouse, THIS lettuce planting, in mucky ground,  in all-new conditions that may also in a few days get infernally hot and downright lettuce-unfriendly if we don’t finish the end-wall windows for ventilation before the temperature shoots up, is entirely different from every other lettuce transplanting. New story, ending unknown, let’s see how it turns out! It’s always something different… :)

Stack of lettuce

Harvested all-lettuce salad mic

Friday harvest and the main green going right now is LETTUCE, appearing as small leaf salad mix. We’re waiting to do new greenhouse seeding – it’s still way wet in there – but a bunch of lettuce transplants are already in, some bok choi, too. So the season’s ramping up and the weekly look around to see what the weather has delivered for market…begins!

Weed ID-ing in the Digital Age

Weed ID app photo

Wormwood of some sort, this weed from the greenhouse, according to our best guess from a selection of possibilities offered up by the smart smartphone plant identification app I’ve been playing with/trying out. There are several such apps for Android: this one’s called Like That Garden—”See a plant, take a photo, and find out what it is – instantly!” It got the highest ratings, and is free, so I grabbed it.

Like the advertising says, it’s that simple to use. With the app, you take a snapshot of the mystery plant that’s saved as a low rez image (above) and sent off into the ether where it’s checked against a vast plant photo database, several possibilities soon return, with multiple images for each, and you pick the one most likely (I suppose in some cases, only one choice comes back, but so far, that hasn’t happened). The technology is all about advanced image recognition and visual searches, very…digital. Trying it out on a few plants, it’s worked quite well.

While this app is doing fine, I have a great (effective) weed book as well. Is the app a novelty toy, or a serious tiny farming tool? Or will the smartphone be accidentally dropped in a puddle and destroyed before we get a chance to decide? Only time will tell…

Transplanting: tiny sections

Greenhouse transplanting: tiny sections

Transplanting lettuce into the unheated greenhouse, filling it out in small sections to work around wetter areas. The seedlings, waiting for drier conditions, stayed a couple of weeks longer in trays than ideal—now they’re a little floppy and stretched, but I’m confident they’ll figure it out. This first spring, seeing how the ground dries in the new hoophouse is part of the learning curve. Tiny farming!