Spring...It is a very busy time on a vegetable farm. Seeding, Seeding, Seeding, tilling in green manure, spreading compost, glasshouse filled, making and filling soil blocks, planting, and WEEDS!!! I have photos of "What's growing" from two weeks ago...wanting to share them but...farming and mothering are about all there was time for in September. So here is a re-cap...a few weeks late but the story of what's happening never the less.
The glass house is packed full of crops...some are successive plantings like more lettuce and broccoli plantings, but many are THE crop for the year, like pumpkins, capsicums and eggplant! Our new glasshouse has been a Tetris game for the last four weeks...moving things around to try and ensure that everything that needs the protection and heat have it while we awaited the building of a polytunnel!!
Chris, the intern who joined us for two months, and Peter built a large polytunnel which is now planted with the first crop of tomatoes, zucchini and basil! We covered it just before the wind storms and it is still standing!! In addition to being planted, it has worked a treat as a place to "harden off" seedlings before we plant them in the ground, just when I thought I could no longer walk through the glasshouse. Hardening off allows seedlings a chance at cooler nighttime temperatures and a less protected environment to help them acclimate to being outside.
The wind storm - Of all weather, I find wind to be the most destructive and difficult to cope with. Standing in the new polytunnel, we watched as the wind tried to force the whole structure up. The tomatoes were already planted and secured to strings and these were pulled up around the plants...like singlets around your neck. The tunnel stayed put, though, and we learned a bit more about growing tomatoes in a tunnel and leaving some slack in the lines!
Outside, the broad beans were blown over, newly planted bok choy seedlings snapped off and established cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants ring barked or ripped right out of the ground. It was destructive and we have lost a lot of plants. Such is farming... We hope the broad beans will not be close enough to the ground to encourage a rat party!
All but one of our winter green manure crops has been incorporated into the soil. The green manure crops are farm generated fertility. Once a green manure crop reaches an optimal size (usually before producing seed, which draws nutrients out of soil and the plant itself), it is cultivated back into the soil. Soil microbes feed on these residues, turning them into valuable humus: food for future plants! This in addition to compost helps to feed our soil which in turn feeds our vegetable crops throughout the season.
And here is what's growing...
And so the farm continues to grow with fallowed paddocks becoming pumpkin fields and cultivated areas being sowed down to clover cover crops to have a rest. This year we are incorporating new crops like sweet potatoes and we are also adding new green manures with cow peas and Japanese millet. We want the land to increase in fertility...even while it is producing foods which are taken off farm. We continue to count some happenings as experience and others as success. And we keep growing! in so many ways. Our CSA share box harvest begins tomorrow!
For more information about our CSA, click here.
Our next Farm Open Day will be held on Sunday 20th October 2013. The Open Day is a great opportunity to see small scale, sustainable, market gardening, to learn more about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and to meet the farmers growing the food – us! Learn more...
Happy Spring and here's hoping all is growing well!!