7/5/06 Vol. 3 #17

The day after July 4th, we gave the staff the day off as it was going to blistering hot anyway.  Normally we would have worked a little and then taken the rest of the day easy.  We did the little bit of work but then had to go truck shopping.  I would rather walk across hot coals than go to a car dealership but Betsy’s little truck had finally gotten so unreliable (it is only twenty years old I don’t understand why these trucks can’t last longer) that we had to do something.  The big white truck is what most people see at market and when we do wholesale deliveries but the little truck is Betsy’s work vehicle.  It goes around and around the farm with buckets of water for the flowers and moves plants and supplies and more.  About twenty Saturdays a year it goes to market too.  Usually carrying 20-30 buckets of flowers it is this duty that makes it critical to the farm business. So while we only drive it less than 1000 miles a year we couldn’t carry on without it.  If you need a wheelbarrow and don’t have one there is just not substitute.  We have debated for years what to do, maybe a different kind of vehicle, or an on farm “stuff mover” and it always comes back to the same formula, one big truck, one little truck.  Last Saturday we had to borrow Rachel’s truck to get everything to market because the old girl just wouldn’t go.  This just won’t do so off we went on mission to knock it out quickly.  Believe it or not two stops later after very direct no nonsense haggling on our part we drove home with a new work truck for Betsy, I still wonder about the color name though “Impulse Red Pearl”.

Today is finally cover crop seeding day.  It dried out enough this week to get the acre of spring crops (or the remnants of) mowed down and turned under.  The rains are coming back tonight so I really need to get the soybeans and millet sown to take advantage of this next wet window.  This is always a race but made even more difficult with trying to get it all done before we have to go to market this afternoon.  These cover crops are the life blood of our soil fertility program.  In eight weeks we can grow up to eight tons per acre of organic matter, in place!  It is one of the miracles of raising crops.  That you can spin out about 150 pounds of seed and then two months later mow down 16,000 pounds of material and captured over 100 pounds of free nitrogen out of the atmosphere is mind boggling.  Include the fact that we don’t have to spend hours running up and down the road hauling manure or compost and then spreading it on the fields, my back and the environment are applauding.  When we turn these cover crops, also known as “green manure”, under they are broken down by the millions of soil inhabitants and all those nutrients are released for the next crop to use.  The earthworms, fungi and bacteria are all applauding too.  What a system nature developed over the billions of years!  Maybe I will take the Impulse Red Pearl over to our farm supply to get the seeds.

Picture of the Week
A sea of Lisianthus

8/27/08 Vol. 5 #23

Well that was the largest rain event we’ve had in maybe a year or more, 3.5 inches.  Just in time to help with the crops but it also helps to get the ground ready for fall planting of cover crops and next springs earliest flowers.  It has been so dry that it has been impossible to get the soil probe into the ground to take soil samples much less think about turning crop residues in.  The fall process here at the farm starts with taking soil tests of every planting area in August.  By the time we are ready to begin preparing the fields for next year, in September, the results will have come back.  We amend the fields only once every year as we are really feeding the soil microbes that in turn help release the nutrients that actually feed the crops.  We are just trying to make the soil environment ideal for all of the “livestock” that live in the soil and help us farm.

What we add to the soil are minerals that get used up in the process of growing the cash crops.  Every time we send a flower or head of lettuce home with you, you take some of our minerals with you so we have to replace them.  We add lime (calcium and magnesium) to make sure the soil is not too acid for the little critters.  We also add phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) which are major players in root, plant and fruit development.  With that all set for the coming year we then can turn under the remnants of this years crops and get the soil ready for the winter.  We will raise up beds or wide ridges so the soil will drain faster and warm up quicker in the late winter and early spring when we need to begin planting.  After that we will seed it all down with soil holding and improving cover crops of a grain and a legume.  It is hard to imagine that we need to be getting ready for next year already.

On the turkey front the two that were injured last week have been returned to general population.  One we slipped back in a few days later with the younger birds and then moved back with the older birds and they all are getting along fine.  Quee Queg (remember the tattooed native from Moby Dick), the more injured of the two stayed in the hospital for a week and now is in the same process of re-entry, first with the little guys and then the whole clan.  We moved them to a new field so there are new things to keep everyone entertained.  Did I say it was like teenagers?

Picture of the Week
some damp turkeys, Quee Queg on the far left