The Crop Report

The Crop Report: Week 8 | The Spring Assessment

The Crop Report: Week 8 | The Spring Assessment

This week came in with a high-powered dose of Vitamin D! We went from twiddling our thumbs to developing a plan of attack now that the weather has finally become tolerable. There are some projects we can't wait to jump into but we have to stick to our priorities. This can be hard just because some projects are more fun than others. We are now creating our daily rhythm for spring; something I miss at the end of winter.

We begin the days by opening houses, uncovering the crops, walking the fields, and assessing the rotation of watering. I even considered unzippering the sides of some of our houses to let out the heat. After spending last week battling snow and ice, it’s funny how quickly plant care can change on a farm.

I'm instantly in a better mood when the sun shines and the temperatures climb. When the last winter storm pushed over the mountains, it seemed like everything changed. It was a shift you could feel because, for the first time this year, it *feels* like spring we all found a little extra bounce in our step. The smiles, laughs, and hustle all seem to come a little easier now that the sun is shining a little brighter on our backs.

The last daffodils are scheduled to be dug this week and join the succession of forced crates, while our naturalized daff bulbs are just beginning to nose out of the ground. We will also do our first light harvest of anemone, ranunculus, and forced daffodils, along with some pussy willow branches, cherry branches, and possibly a few hellebore. While we are still a few weeks out from filling buckets with blooms the first rounds of harvest have everyone so stinking excited.

We are finally able to uncover some of our field rows and begin to assess the growth and clear out the winter weeds. This is also when we remind ourselves not to panic when we don't like what we see when we uncover. We have to remind ourselves that the plants are still dormant, we have multiple plantings of each crop to account for loss, and best of all, WE STILL HAVE TIME. We are going to start the field work with the field-grown ranunculus, but we need to hurry because the first half of March seems to be coming in like an ideal spring.

While the farm hasn’t turned bright green just yet, we know it's coming so part of our field work is making sure all the landscape fabric used on the farm is tacked down, tight and smooth. A small ripple or a little slack can easily be lifted by the spring wind. We use WAY more sod staples to tack the fabric than probably any other farmer on the planet, but I’ve gotten so tired of runaway strips. Staples are cheap, so we make sure to go above and beyond to prevent future headaches (reads: labor hours). We generally tack down every 12-18 inches and even in the middle of pathways.

Another benefit of securing the landscape fabric early in the season is because we’re putting new staples in the ground and for us, weathered staples work worlds better. Our sod staples are shiny and smooth when we buy them, so if we put them in the ground early, they’ll have more time out in the elements and corrode a bit. Once the metal is pitted from the wear, they remain in the ground much better than brand new smooth ones.

Fabric care is critical to starting crops off on the right foot. When we lay the fabric, we are mindful to have a few inches of overlap and think through which fabric lays on top and folding the ends to prevent fray (the lawn mower’s #1 enemy.)

In the houses, we pull out and wash the usable fabric to prevent algae and fungal build-up. Using our quick farmer thinking last week, we decided to let mother nature help us out with the fabric in the lisianthus bed. We removed the fabric from the house, stretched it out in a bright sunny area, tacked it down, and then let it snow on it last week. We had to add a little elbow grease to get some of the built-up stuff loose, but we were pretty impressed with the snow’s work. Today in the sunshine it looks great! Before we bring it back in, we'll use an oxygenated disinfectant to make sure it's clear of pathogens before the lisianthus are planted next week.

It's amazing how much you can get done on a nice day, and with a stretch of them in our forecast, we can’t wait to see how many boxes we can check off our spring to-do list. No, the new tractor won’t make it to the farm in time for this first wave of work, but that’s ok. We have plenty of projects waiting for it when it does arrive. The farm is beginning to hum again, a sound I've greatly missed.

- xoxo Jess

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