The rainy spring this year was very welcome, especially after the drought last summer. It’s made planting a bit trickier, though, because the soil has been wet for quite a while and we’ve had to stay out of the fields to avoid compacting the soil too much. A few weeks ago, a dry patch allowed Devan to transplant the brassica seedlings from the greenhouse into the fields and cover them with row cover to keep out the dreaded flea beetle and cabbage butterflies. (The brassica family includes cabbages, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.) More recently, some consecutive dry days allowed Devan to get into the unplanted fields with the tractor and cultivate the soil to reduce the perennial weed pressure by turning up their roots to dry out in the sun and wind.
We’ve also been able to direct seed carrots, mesclun mix, and at least a dozen other vegetables that can’t be transplanted or don’t need the early start that the greenhouse provides. The photo at left shows Devan filling a manual seeder that cuts a shallow trench in the soil, drops seeds in the trench at the required distance, and then fills in the trench to cover the seed as he pushes it along the row. Sounds straightforward, but it does require practice to keep the seeder going in a straight line and at a consistent depth.
Work at Fair Fields always goes faster when family and friends show up to help. This was the case a couple of weekends ago, when Devan’s mom, dad, uncle Jim, sister Nora and Nora’s friend Devin came to the farm. The weather was dry and warm and we were able to get a lot done, as well as to have a great time together and eat some wonderful meals.
As we worked together we were able to see that many of the vegetables which had been direct-seeded in previous weeks were poking up from their neat rows. Fresh peas, here we come!