4/3/08 Vol. 5 #3

The rain has certainly been unexpected and welcome.  Originally forecast for just some drizzly weather it turned into almost three days of off and on rain, almost two inches worth.  Everyone is asking “is the drought over?” and the quick answer is no.  Yes the streams are running well right now and many ponds and reservoirs are full or filling.  I am sure the ground water is in no way recharged and as soon as the leaves come out on the trees and the heat hits it will become evident in reduced stream flows.  The National Weather Service/NOAA is forecasting the next three months to have normal precipitation for our area, better news than before.  I still am apprehensive and we are taking all precautions we can to store water.  The upper pond was still six feet down, the spring that used to feed it has long ago gone dry and there is only maybe five acres of watershed above it so we started filling it this week.  Normally we slowly fill the lower pond by means of a gravity feed, two inch line, that runs 800 feet from the creek at about five gallons a minute.  When the lower pond is full we pump that water uphill to the upper pond using the electric irrigation pump, 24 hours of pumping will nearly empty the lower pond and raise the upper pond by about two feet, something like 50,0000 gallons.  We then have to let the lower pond refill, which can take many days, and then start again.  With the creek running well right now we decided to be more aggressive and pump from the creek into the lower pond at a much higher rate and then relay pump at the same time to the upper pond.  So we borrowed a gasoline powered pump and have it set up on the creek bank hooked into that two inch pipe we already have laid and it is working well.  The gas engine has to be refilled every two hours when it runs out of gas but hopefully with three days of running water we can have both ponds completely full.  96 hours of pumping, another 150,000 gallons of water.

Difficult to get a lot of farm work done this week, a bit damp.  The staff did spend Monday morning in the greenhouse moving up the seedlings for the main planting of tomatoes, from one inch containers to four inch containers so they will have large vigorous root systems when we plant them out in 3 weeks.  About 700 plants of 15 varieties.  Tedious work both in working with the little plants but also making sure not to mix the varieties up and mislabel them.  It’s good practice for when they have to do the same thing with the peppers in a few weeks, 2500 plants of 30 varieties.  Perfect weather to do this kind of work as the plants are not as stressed when it’s overcast.  The sugar snap peas got trellised too.  600 feet of plastic net on metal posts to support the soon to be five foot tall vines.  Otherwise we are doing that early spring clean up of fallen limbs, cutting the last firewood for next winter, and other around the farm odds and ends.

Picture of the Week
The temporary pumping station, this large creek was dry for nearly 6 months last year!

4/8/08 Vol. 5 #4

OK so the rain has officially put us behind as far as field work is concerned.  Plants are backing up in the greenhouse and hopefully we will get them all in Thursday and Friday.  We also really need to get some cover crops turned under so they can decompose in time for us to plant the cash crops that will need their nutrients to grow.  The scariest thing is the main planting of tomatoes is to be planted in two weeks and we have to get the Big Tops built over the field they are going into, and fast!  The most difficult part of the process is drilling the legs into the ground.  They go in, or are supposed to go in, thirty inches deep.  You till a field for a quarter of a century and you think you know where all the rocks are but it turns out that you only know where the rocks are in the top twelve inches, there are parts of the planet down there that you can only hope you miss.  We started with the legs yesterday and so far not too bad, 15% have hit rocks we couldn’t work around.  We knew this field would be a trial and feel if it stays about the same we will be fine.  Big rocks mean we have to get a BIG jackhammer to bust them up.  We will drill or attempt to drill in all 95 legs and anchors first and then go rent the jackhammer and finish up the troublesome holes all in one day.  If we can get the rest of the legs in today then we can quickly finish it up early next week.  Let’s hope, because tomatoes wait for no one!

The rest of the water pumping went well last week and now both ponds are essentially full.  Lets hope they stay that way and the only use for that water will be to swim in this summer when it’s hot!  Things are really greening up fast now and with all this rain and warm temperatures it will all move really quickly, crops and weeds.  We need to get the last of the lettuces in the ground as well as seeding of the last spinach, and radishes.  Believe it or not we need to seed the first Zinnias and plant the first Celosias too.  Betsy even started mowing this week, you know that the last frost date is approaching when the first summer crops go in and the weedeater comes out!

Picture of the Week
Cov hanging on for dear life while we drill in legs for the Big Tops