Spring has sprung. April showers, warmer temperatures, and hands-on attention make a happy garden. Farming is subject to the whims of Mother Nature, and so far, she seems content to help.
The farm’s focus this year has been succession planting, meaning getting multiple crops from a single plot throughout the growing season. For example, spinach, a cool weather, frost-hardy crop, comes up first, followed by beans after the spinach is harvested. The broccoli will be followed by a cover crop, or “green manure” to enrich the soil naturally.
The spinach is doing well in the center beds. Two cuttings from the one small 30″×12′ plot have already provided more than three pounds of the leafy green. Green and purple beans are filling out the row of spinach and the spinach bed will cycle to beans when the spinach is done.
The red leaf lettuce is coming along nicely and should be ready later in April. The rain showers most certainly help! This year, these beds were sown with lettuce and carrots. A row of lettuce with a row of carrots on either side offers an optimal yield of the two crops. This technique may be used in the future if it continues to show success.
The broccoli crop has been a particular challenge, inasmuch as, insect larvae find the leaves tasty. The solution, from the organic farmers’ toolkit, is a soil dwelling bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt is safe to humans and devastating to moth and butterfly larvae (thank you for that one, Mother Nature!). The broccoli is now coming along. The full row of three beds is planted for succession harvest in May and June.
Squash transplants are filling out. Three more hills will follow and all together should provide a significant yield of patty pan squash. Space should not be a problem for this sprawling vine this year!
The onion transplants are getting settled and should offer lovely sweet red and yellow onions this summer. Remember: trim the roots on the transplants to speed growth.
Tomatoes will be transplanted before the end of the month. The direct seeding methods need… improvement. Fifteen plants should provide a good harvest.
In addition to continuing to use principles central to organic farming, we will irrigate the gardens with rainwater and, as often as possible, the use of hand tools in place of petroleum powered devices.
Moving forward, the plan is to expand the garden, establish standard 30″×100′ beds and develop a long term crop rotation plan.