The Crop Report: Week 11 | Finding Spring on the Farm
- Mar 17, 2021
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Spring weather has us all bouncing around the farm with an extra giddyup. It’s hard to be a farmer with so many things grabbing your attention from all angles! Jumping from one tunnel or flower field to the next has us wondering if we have some form of attention deficit disorder. We don’t, but it’s hard to focus when you see life bursting from the ground right beside you.
After spending last week saving the ranunculus crop, this week we (literally) uncovered more successes, and of course, obstacles. We pulled off the row cover from our spring fields to assess what's underneath. We had some winners and some losers as is always the case with the big spring reveal.
Some rows, like the bachelor buttons, look AMAZING which is exciting after having a wimpy season with them last year. If you are looking to get your hands in the dirt and grow something, I say start with the buttons! Bachelor buttons grow fast, are hardy, and give the most royal blue flower you have ever seen. Sure, they come in all sorts of cool colors but the nostalgic electric blue classic will quickly win over every winter-thawing heart! That said, these little guys have a way of wearing out their welcome as spring comes to a close. When they’re happy, they produce an endless supply of tedious harvesting, but, until we rip the doormat out from under them, COME ON IN BOYS!!!!
The field ranunculus that we trialed this year turned out to be a total loss due to poor bed placement. I hadn’t grown them in the field rows before so I knew there was a risk. We chose to plant them last fall, and due to good crop rotation in other areas, the deer pressure moved to the outlying rows. Between the deer’s mow job and the quick onset of choking weeds they just didn’t make it. We have made some adjustments and notes for next time.
It’s hard to lose the work we put into the field ranunculus, but it was only a few rows and the amazing show our wrinkled cress is putting on just next door is an easy distraction. Seems this isn’t our year for the copious amounts of ranunculus I’m accustomed to harvesting, but that’s also one of the reasons we grow so many different flower varieties. Something has to work out, right?
Uncovering each row after the final throws of winter always has us weary of what we will find. While we do our best to set up the plants for spring success (most of the time) the reveal always feels brutal. We are a few weeks out from aggressive green growth, so sometimes removing the cover on these beds doesn’t reveal anything super impressive. Nonetheless, we know the puny little plants underneath the blanket will quickly turn the corner and produce amazing blooms. It feels so good once everything is uncovered, weeded, and watered. The plants need to breathe, and it’s time for them to really do their thing.
I upgraded the thickness of our frost blanket for our fields this past winter and honestly wasn’t that impressed. I think in the future we will go back to the lighter weight fabric but double layer it to help with the beating winds and nosey deer. Agrobon is the brand that we use but I’m not sure there is a lot of difference in the variety on the market. While handy, this lightweight blanket becomes quite the annoyance and it seems like we have contractor bags filled with them around every corner. It’s always dirty, tangled, and miraculously sprouts new holes in the exact places where you need full coverage. We do our best to wrangle the swaths of fabric, but it’s a real chore this time of year.
In addition to the happy bachelor buttons, I was also pretty excited to see the peonies send up the first tips of shoots as we cleared the beds! May is coming and this crop is going to be in full production this year with a show that we eagerly anticipate every year.
We planted our first round of rose lily crates which I cannot wait for because last year I fell head over heels for the rose lilies. Speaking of crates...we (ok, I) forgot about the last crates of daffodils that were still planted underground. OOPS! The crates have been dug and while we missed an early bloom window, we learned a LOT and may accidentally have a late planting of them! These freshly unearthed daffodil crates were super yellow at first, but over a few days, we watched them green-up and produce little flower buds. March is going to be a full show of color!
While we keep uncovering and checking on each crop, we are scheduling our time to prepare for the lisianthus planting. I’m excited to get them tucked into the newly amended beds and see how they will perform this year. We are figuring out where to put the crates of dahlias that are getting booted from cooler storage, once again balancing the limited space until the passing threat of frost. Uncovering spring on the farm always reveals more than what we were expecting, and judging by what I see today, this season is going to be one of our best ones yet.