Spring is a crazy time of year for a market gardener. The glasshouse is filled with crops. In the case of capsicums, eggplants, leeks, tomatoes and pumpkins, these are our whole crop of the year. We also have successive plantings of broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, Asian greens, melons and sweet potatoes all vying for the limited space and perfect conditions to grow strong seedlings. In the field, we have the polytunnel, which we need to monitor throughout the day to ensure the correct temperature for growing early tomatoes, small plastic cloches which protect crops in the field from frost, wind, hail and colder temperatures. These need to be opened in the morning and closed at night and sometimes in between.
Spring weather is very changeable. This year we had an unseasonably late frost on the 12 November which coincided with a water supply issue. We were not expecting this frost (as our latest frost in the six years we have been here has been 31 October with other years occurring between the last week in September - second week in October). We had removed the covers from the zucchini and cucumbers, our field tomatoes were in the ground and our potato crop was already up. There was field basil germinating and more delicate lettuce varieties. All of these are frost sensitive. We had to choose which to try and save with the limited irrigation we had and hope for the best.
In Spring the whole farm gets set up for the coming season. Green manure crops are plowed in, beds are formed, seedlings are planted, watered, weeded, fed seaweed sprays. We apply biodynamic preps 500 and 501 throughout the season to try and encourage healthy soil and help plants use photosynthesis, assimilate the minerals they are taking in through their roots and tighten their pores to resist insect attacks and fungal diseases. Very busy times! I often think of Spring as a high speed freight train streaming past. You have to jump on and hope you can hold on for the ride and arrive in Summer with enough energy to make it through the rest of the season.
So here it is, the first week of Summer (in Australia) on the farm...in photos
We have also continued to work with with aspiring farmers and home gardeners through our 3 month Farm Internship programs and with our one day a week Workshare farm volunteers. We have written an extensive internship which shares our farming practices from building soil, biodynamics, seeding with the moon, pest and disease management, market garden tools and tricks, irrigation, harvest and storing crops, crop rotation and more. We have also written a few past posts you can read here.
Our Workshare volunteers commit to one day a week for a minimum period of 3 months and go home after a days work with a box of farm produce. It is wonderful to see the growing desire of people to be farmers and also wonderful to see the support of the community for locally produced food. Anyone interested in either the Farm Internships or the Workshare volunteering can contact us via email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Summer CSA Share starts in January so we ask our current CSA members and others interested if they could please let us know if they would like to be a part of our Summer Share so we can finalise our list for the Summer boxes before we get into the craziness of Christmas. May the peace and light of the season fill your homes and gardens!