The last-plantings-of-the-season fun continues as we watch the weather and hope these crops get a jump before cool temperatures and weaker sun start to seriously slow things down. More sun is the main thing, right now, and that’s been going well. Our last beds of spinach, lettuce, radish and Asian greens, direct seeded a week ago, got well-rained in the day after seeding, and they’re all coming up now. Still, it’s been fairly windy and dry since, so we decided to hand water them, to help ’em all along. Here, Tracy uses the RedHead water breaker to gently lay down a little flood (behind her that’s broccoli, exploded: tiny broccoli flowers from unharvested heads that we take to market as a free edible flower salad garnish). In this section, 100′ x 5 rows of lettuce mix, and the same of Bloomsdale spinach… Grow, little plants, grow! :)
Today, it’s a warmish (57°F/14°C), overcast, gray day, with a light breeze. In the next week or so, the unheated greenhouse is to be relocated, set up, and outfitted to house hardier seedlings. All things considered, right now is a fine time to start this season’s hardening off… In early afternoon, we set outside trays of onion, cauliflower and broccoli, preparing them to head out from the cosy shelter of the seedling room to the real world. They’ll stay out till early evening, then it’s back in for a few more hours under the lights, and more of the same for the next few days. These first acts and sights of spring on a tiny farm never fail to excite (I think it’s the gambler in all of us)…
The weather is warm, the days still feel long (although, at 5:00 a.m. for Saturday market, I’m already waking up in the dark)—summer is in full effect, but you know the season’s soon changing because the field is clearing out. Today, I did some tilling, cleaning up before weeds get too established, and preparing for a last seeding of spinach for fall harvest (a gamble, for sure).
In the pic, a couple more passes to the left of the freshly turned strip and we’ll be at the edge of the previous spinach planting, barely visible, seeded about 3 weeks ago. To the left of that, a half-bed of bok choi, delicious and miraculously untouched by flea beetles, at tiny baby stage from seedlings transplanted at the beginning of the month. Beside the bok choi, beds of broccoli and cauliflower, also set out 4 weeks ago, and looking pretty good for harvest in October.
This section was planted out at the start of the season to snap peas, lettuce, and the first spinach. After adding in some of the handy pelletized alfalfa, it gets to go round again!
In the next section (top right of the photo, which is…east), I’ve started tilling in an overgrowth of grass and vetch, where more peas and the first plot of potatoes used to be. That section is done for the year, and may get a protective cover of fall rye, as a green manure to be turned under in spring.
In the market garden, it’s always one thing after another… :)
Another big Friday showing of people in the field: Chris, Libby, Jordan and Lynn transplant broccoli and cauliflower, while Andie is on a solo rototilling mission in the other field. Later, everyone got together to plant a few hundred onion seedlings and sets. And some other stuff got done.
Although we’re in the thick of it as far as timing and weather and urgency to get things out, our spring schedule is slower than it could be, and the field days are so far fairly laid back. Slowing things down is the start-up stuff: a ton of tillage to do (working in the grassy remnants of last year’s hay field), water for irrigation to put in place, electricity to run, chickenhouse to build, and a long list of other basic things that we have to put in place along with starting the season’s crops. Getting it all rolling together on this new farm, now that’s fairly intense!
Broccoli, seeded a couple of weeks ago, is now putting out its second true leaves. This is good, watching the wee seedlings turn into stronger, fully-adapted little guys. This season, with a whole bunch of unknowns in a brand new garden, I’m particularly aware of every little stage, not concerned, but…watchful. Indoors, conditions are pretty well controlled, but there are different factors, like a smaller seedling room, with much lower ceilings and different ventilation and air flow, that COULD make a difference. Probably not. Probably, with the temperature and humidity the same as always (I watch the little min/max thermometer/hygrometer a lot), that’s all that really matters. But maybe not! :) So it’s good to ACTUALLY SEE the seedlings shape up. Nothing wrong with a little extra excitement to top up the spring rush…
The brassicas—cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and so much more—are satisfying at seeding time because they usually come up quick. This tray of Early Dividend broccoli is popping only three days after seeding. I don’t take notes about days to germination, except occasionally here on the blog, but I’m surely watching, especially with older seed. So far this year, with the seedling room usually around 65-68°F (18-20°C), the trays covered with clear plastic, using new seed, it’s been brassicas in 3 days, onions starting around 5. Where brassicas usually come up all at once, over a couple of days, onions can take a week to emerge right across a tray… Details! They’re everywhere! Some seem useful, some seem not.