Pea vs drought: Sad and scary when plants die from lack of water. Seems way worse to me than being ravaged by pests. Kinda makes you realize how vulnerable we are. This isn’t a full-on drought, just an extended dry spell with no rain for a couple of weeks and counting. Most crops are doing fine, and only a few shallowly buried peas are getting toasted, so really, it’s all good!
Peas are coming along…once again. While the action in the field is familiar, this, my eighth season of tiny farming, is a particularly unusual one, way more about PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS, so far, than production. It will be interesting to watch… (The peas are trusty Sugar Ann edible pod—they haven’t failed me yet!)
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… :)
It’s a harvest Friday, second for the farmers’ market, and first for CSA, but the load is still light. After picking snap peas, we spent the day doing other field work. In the photo, Libby, Jordan and Michelle are hand-weeding the small strip of spring-planted garlic, and we spent some labor-intensive time thinning a 400′ (122m) of carrots, and several beds of beets (the thinnings were the beet greens harvest). In late afternoon, time to cut greens: spinach and mesclun. Plus a little parsley.
Checking back over the last four years, at this time, we had broccoli once, radishes usually, baby Swiss chard a couple of times. And, of course, garlic scapes. And, a couple of years, no peas yet. So, all in all, with the slightly slower planting schedule in this start-up this garden, and all the cloudy weather, we’re doing pretty well!
Snap peas (above) are still the crop to watch for pleasing signs of veggie life in the fields. Mild concern over the chopped sod content continues, so each new bit of healthy growth, while expected, is still a happy event! The soil itself is nice, I’m comfortable with the fair degree of clay content (water-holding is good!), I’m pretty sure we’re developing a good working relationship. And there is a lot of other stuff to see. Three successive seedings of Sugar Ann snap peas are doing well—the first two are below, and in the distance, two seedings of spinach, broccoli and cauliflower under cover, radish, beets,… And there’s lots more. With tiny farming and Mother Nature, trust is good, but seeing is believing!
At this point in the season, EVERY day is a field day, unless it’s totally rained out. Today was no exception. Lynn brought a couple of friends, Julia and Tom, to check things out and lend a hand. They’re off to work in one of our fine parks this summer, but wanted to see what was going on on this tiny farm. No problem!
I seem to’ve gotten pretty good at tossing people into the tiny farming action, with little work-up or ceremony. A quick tour around (and here, there’s not much to see just yet), and it’s on to the hands-on. Neither Tom nor Julia had experience with market gardening, but in no time, they were seeding with the seeder of the day, the trusty and heavy Planet Jr. (above). We’re doing a second planting of spinach, and a third of peas…
The Planet Jr. can take a little getting used to, so there I am, explaining how it works as we go! Knowing exactly what a tool is doing and why really makes learning to use it so much more…satisfying. I think.
Just about EVERYTHING in tiny farming is quite simple and straightforward (there’s just a LOT of simple things to know!), still, some people have a natural talent for this or that. Like, Tom can clearly walk a very straight line as he measures off more beds for onions and peas. The current bed marking method: measure and stake the path centers at both ends of the bed, and walk ’em in! It’s pretty simple.
For getting your hands dirty, there’s nothing quite like crawling along in the dirt, pushing Stuttgarter-type yellow cooking onion sets into the ground, six inches (15cm) apart, by the hundreds. Once you get into the rhythm, you can sow and chat, and things get done in no time! All in all, relaxing and productive day in the field. Fun and useful, I hope, for all! (Photos 2, 3 by Lynn.)