Here’s the new field, in various states of readiness. Up front, it’s only been plowed and disked, with big hunks of sod waiting to be busted up. Further off, the trusty Kubota compact tractor has done its thing with a 48″ rototiller, and the ground is nearly ready to go. This time around, more or less everything that’s early and direct seeded will go in at once, including a first planting of PEAS. New year, new garden—it will be interesting.
It’s steel in the field… Big machine work was the tiny farm highlight today, not the machinery itself but the intense and much-needed sod-busting action. Peter, a (certified organic) beef and grain farmer on the next two (much bigger) farms down the road, dropped by just ahead of a bit of a rainstorm, to disc the fields he’d moldboarded in the fall. There was time for two passes on the south field, then the weather hit, bringing plowing to a sudden stop as the ground almost instantly got too slippery and soft.
My experience with big tractor work is limited. Maybe someday I’ll get more involved with heavy machinery—to watch, at least, big machines are fascinating and…cool. Or perhaps I’ll go the other way, d/evolving all the way to Fukuoka-like farming with little more than an intricate method and a stick… Probably stay somewhere in between… :)
In any case, this is all one-time stuff. The double row of discs do some serious pizza-cutter work on the dense, moldboarded strips, so we’ll be able to rototill more easily and effectively, without tearing the little tiller apart. And then, the soil food web can rebuild.
Elsewhere, earlier, I direct seeded the first spinach, beets and radish. Following their progress in the new garden ground will be interesting…
The hay fields were plowed late November, the sod sliced and flipped over by the moldboard, burying the grass so it gets no sun and exposing the severed roots to winterkill. A quick, bold, chemical-free first step in preparing a large clearing for crops. In the couple of garden sections I’ve started like this, it’s been quite effective, but given the slightest break, the grass is ready to come back…
Moldboard plowing—peeling back the land—is usually big-tractor work these days. It takes a lot of energy. If you happen to of soil as a complex living web, an intricately choreographed dance of life taking place mainly in the top 6″ (15cm) or so—sounds good to me!—one look tells you that moldboarding is pretty intense and destructive. Done excessively, with big, modern machines, it is a proven soil killer, encouraging erosion and other unhelpful things. For the tiny farm, this is a one-time-only deal, to start off a new garden area. It’s just the beginning…
With the sun setting on a long day of packing and unpacking, we took a walk along the frozen ridges of the moldboard-plowed fields. The plowing, custom work by the organic beef and grain farm down the road, happened on the very last two of days before the snow and cold took over last November. The timing couldn’t have been luckier. One big step towards the new market garden. Well, after all the waiting and work-up, it feels great to be here!
Added a new section to the garden plot today, with a helping hand from Bob, his tractor and a moldboard plow. The moldboard turns the top few inches almost completely over. It’s very effective for breaking up sod, and it’s also sort of an old school approach. Apparently, some farms moldboard once or twice a season, but as a regular practice, it’s not great for the soil and has somewhat fallen from favor in recent years. Here, it’s a one-time plowing that gets the job done!