3/31/05 Vol. 2 #4

Boy are we tired today!  Yesterday was the big moving of the tunnels day.  We have these six 16’X48′ greenhouse structures that we slide back and forth on rails so that we can cover sensitive crops and yet still have all the benefits of outdoor culture.  We only move them once a year but usually it takes parts of two days to finish the job as there is endless unbolting and rebolting of the parts so that when high winds come they don’t end up in the next county.  One of the problems with greenhouse or protected growing is that you can build up disease and insect problems as it is the perfect warm, moist environment for them to thrive.  By uncovering the growing areas we get all the natural soil building conditions (freezing and thawing, snowfall and rainfall, full sunlight) and we can grow our soil building cover crops as well.  It is a lot of work but in a sustainable system we need to work with the ecosystem in all the ways that we can.  The reward for all of us are things like tomatoes that taste great a month earlier than we could have them from the field.

One of the reasons that we are so tired is that we got it all done in one day so that today we can plant another quarter acre of asparagus before the rains come tonight!  Because these asparagus will be in the ground for the next 10-15 years we don’t want to rush through the job of preparing the soil and planting, even though that is how it feels!  We started the preparation two winters ago with soil tests and mineral amendments, then growing cover crops to build the organic matter and to help reduce the weeds, today we will lay out 2200 plants (crowns they are called) in six inch deep trenches and cover them lightly.  As the season goes on we will continue to pull more soil over them until the trenches are filled.  With any luck we will harvest the first few spears next April!

The rest of last week was filled with deer fence maintenance (stinking deer!), tomato trellis building and planting of some new blackberries.  As you may know we started Peregrine Farm as a pick-your-own berry farm.  After fifteen years in the blackberry business we thought that we would never plant another one on the place but Betsy has missed not having some berries, at least for us.  As I can’t ever just plant a few of anything I thought that I was restrained by just putting in a 100 foot row.  Two new very promising varieties maybe we will have some next June (2006) at market!  The staff is back in full force with Joann keeping us straight, Rett (back from two months in Brazil) keeps us laughing, and new this year is Rachel who is attached to one of our alumni, Lee, and came highly recommended.  It is all we can do to keep up with these kids.  Spring is really here now!

Picture of the Week
The sliding tunnels, the wooden rails are visible at the bottom of the picture.

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