Adding a pinch (5g) of fairly pricey Rushmore (a beautifully deep-red oakleaf) to a batch of salad mix. This is the basic all-lettuce summer blend: seven varieties, selected mainly for color (greens to reds), texture (flat to frilly), and to some degree, seed cost (the price range of lettuce varieties is quite extreme). This inexpensive digital gram scale makes it easy to add relatively small quantities of certain varieties, and keep each batch consistent. Weigh out, shake up in bottle, ready to go. Here: 100g – that’s a lot of little lettuce!
Yesterday’s harvest that went to today’s farmers’ market, my earliest market start by almost two months! From the unheated greenhouse: kale, green and red mustard, and lettuce mix times two. Harvest conditions: -2°C outside, a perfect-working-weather 10°C inside. At the end, the sun came out and it started to get sweatingly hot under a T-shirt, shirt and fleece. But, already done! No rinsing, just covered and into a cool room for a 6 a.m. pick-up this morning. It felt a little odd, starting the year’s Saturday markets so early, and indoors—this fall, if all goes as intended, weekly market will cease to end for winter and become instead a fully year-round thing…
This bowl of lettuces and kale is the first cut of spring, taken from the unheated greenhouse while snow flurries whip around outside. With the help of 6 mils of plastic and some row cover, the salad easily survived three months of winter, with temperatures that went down to -30°C (-22°F). The texture and color are good, the taste, deliciously bold. Fantastic! The flowers are bok choi that managed to bolt in the alternating warmth and cold—on sunny days, the hoophouse temperature could easily reach 10-15°C (50-59°F), even when it was sub-zero outside. Interesting!
This is exactly what small-scale looks like. Prepping and seeding another 20 or so beds, a couple already seeded with salad greens, the rest with compost lightly scattered—maybe a little more spreading, then tilling, sectioning into 50′ or 100′ by 4 or 5′ beds, smoothing, and seeding with the Planet Jr. Sometimes this tiny farming feels to me like being in a little boat on a big, big ocean. Maybe not that dramatic, but I’m definitely adrift in a deep blue sea! Fun.
This has gotta be the most painstaking way to plant out two acres of veggies! To recap: different sections of the two fields are at different stages of tillage (Peter down the road has had to come back a couple of times to disc, and there’s STILL a small section to go), and of course there was no time to spread manure in the fall. It’s even a little more complicated, with a fair amount of chopped up sod getting in the way. Sooo, we’re working a few beds at a time, with different treatments depending on the crop.
Here, Tara and Lynn prepare a 50′ x 3′ (15.2m x 0.9m) bed for baby lettuce for mesclun. Because it’s seeded densely and grows quickly, we decided to apply a fair amount of that expensive certified organic compost, and then reuse this bed for at least one or two more mesclun plantings later in the season.
Spreading from Bags Method 1: We brought over a stack of 40lb (18kg) bags in the bucket of the Kubota compact tractor, emptied 8 bags one by one, and lightly raked them in. Thinking about it afterwards, it seemed easier to empty the bags into the bucket, use a shovel to spread, then rake it in. An extra step, but overall quicker to incorporate.
Definitely hand-work, especially compared to loading up an 8-ton manure spreader and driving it around with a big tractor, like we mostly used to do! Good thing we’re only giving this special treatment to a few beds for salad greens. And it is all getting done…