I am gulping down the coffee and typing fast as there is a lot to do this morning. The impending rain has us picking peppers this morning so we don’t have to do it in Ivan’s rain on Friday. Of course it drizzled all night so it won’t exactly be a dry experience out in the field. This is what we have been training for all season. Early in the year when it’s wet and you look at the staff and say we need to go out and get soaked they can look at you in great disbelief, now they are trained professionals and know that it has to happen and now is better than later in a driving rain. The other reason that I have a lot to do is that I have to get on a plane this afternoon and fly down to Georgia (I know right into the path of the hurricane) to give a full day workshop to a group of farmers tomorrow. I usually don’t do this type of engagement in the production season but they were extra persuasive. I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around the subject (whole farm planning) and that combined with the weather forecast I am less than excited about the whole event. Let’s hope that the forecast is correct and that they don’t close the Atlanta airport tomorrow night before I get on the plane back home. If I am not at market on Saturday you will know what happened!
We have managed to get something done this week, the dismantling of the farm for the winter is moving along. If we had one more dry day we would have had cover crops seeded on one and a quarter acres but it will now have to wait until we dry out from Ivan and maybe get them in before Jean. It is a many step process to get all of the soil ready for the winter and next year. We first mow off the remnants of the crop (what the turkeys haven’t eaten), next we have to pull up and coil all of the irrigation lines that may be left. One pass with the tractor and disk to chop up and incorporate the debris so it can begin to decompose. A second pass if needed to spread any lime, phosphorus, and potassium mineral amendments (based on soil tests that we previously took and sent to the State labs for analysis). A third pass with the tractor and the chisel plow to loosen the soil deeper. A fourth pass with the disk again to incorporate those amendments and finish the job of breaking up the soil. A fifth pass with the tractor and hilling disks to raise up beds so that in the spring when it is cold and wet the soil will dry out fast so that we can till and get crops planted. Finally we spread the cover crop seeds, some with the tractor but many by walking the rows with a chest mounted spinner so we can place them exactly where we want them. Oats and crimson clover where the lettuce will go, rye and hairy vetch where the peppers will go, triticale and clover before the early tomatoes and so on. This is the only time all year we work soil like this and it takes days to do it right and dry weather to make sure we get the soil just the way it needs to be without doing any damage to it’s structure. We are about half way done.