Fueling up

Fueling the tractor

Always satisfying to fill up the Kubota compact tractor. A little under five gallons of diesel does the trick. It’s quite amazing what you can do on just one tank, like till up 2-3 acres with fuel to spare. Depending on what’s going on, I’ll use somewhere between three and six tanks in a season, so for the amount of work the tiny tractor does, the oil-reliant portion of the program is really kinda small.

Saved by the barrel

Water barrels

No luck with the dug well—at this point, the standing level has dropped around 10 ft. since spring, and the replenish rate is barely a foot in 24 hours—so it’s on to other water sources and delivery methods. As with most things on this tiny farm, the ultimate fallback tends to be something really labor-intensive. (Hahahahaha. I have to laugh.) In this case: WATER BARRELS. In a thankfully typical seek-and-ye-shall-find situation, there is a supplier of used barrels just down the road. Who’d have thought! These are standard 55 gallon, available in steel or plastic, and only about $10 a pop, with optional lids for a couple bucks more. Of course, they’re food-grade, which means, coated on the inside and used only for food, with those weathered white labels telling the story: pickles, perhaps. Strategically located around newly seeded beds, the barrels are filled from the house well (via the former dead well pipe) and then, 2-gallon watering cans do the final job. We still need rain as things grow, but this will work for germination and seedlings. Whatever it takes!

Seed store

image

My current seed bank is around 60 Ziploc freezer bags. In alphabetical order. I haven’t been as careful lately with storage conditions as at times in the past, these plastic bins with lids (there is third one with bigger bags of larger seed, like beans and peas) are kept out of sunlight and away from heat. I could do a lot more, but I’m not going for long term storage, and most of the time there seems to be no critical difference in germination time and rate for seed 1-2 years old, which is the longest I keep anything in any sort of quantity. Fresh seed may pop up a little quicker, but with the many other variables based mainly on the weather, it all seems to even out by the time harvest day rolls around!

Rain barrel runneth over

Rain into rain barrel

The Weather recently: three weeks of hot-no-rain, followed by a couple of days of intense rain, 2″ each, then, three days of sweltering heat wave, a couple more days of intense 2″ rain, now, three days of perfect balmy summer, with the forecast for the next few days calling for cool to cold and cloudy. The rain barrels filled up several times over (the pic is from the last bout of heavy rain, three days ago). Interesting!

Rinse station icon (the white plastic laundry sink)

image

Friday is harvest day and we turn to the almost iconic white plastic laundry sink as veggie washing station. It’s a one-tub day today, with only beet greens to hydrocool (sometimes dunking in water is to wash off dirt, usually, and especially with above-ground crops, it’s to cool them down to keep ’em fresh, and the term for that is, yep, hydrocooling). The legs on this one gave out, so Jon replaced plastic with wood—a fair bit heavier overall for something we move around and stack, but then, still in service. Make do!

Your basic hand weeding

image

Hand weeding, what can I say, the cornerstone task on a tiny farm. Mel dives in (that’s beets in there, and volunteer tomatoes as weeds). This section has been unusually neglected, and still it’s really not as bad as it might look: in ideal start-of-summer conditions, what a difference just a few days can make, but it’s not too dense or deeply rooted, and a couple of hours of quick hand movements can cover a lot of area. We’ll also wheel hoe down the outside edges of the beds and down the paths, which is at least five times as fast! Give weeds too much of a head start, though, and Hand vs Weed is not a fair fight. Timing!