It’s that time of year again – time to plant our CSA veggies in the fields! During March we spent much of our time seeding in the greenhouse and maintaining our equipment, but as soon as the ground is dry enough to work it’s time to start moving into the fields.
There are two main ways that our vegetables are planted; either moved as small plants from the greenhouse and transplanted into the field, or sown directly into the soil as seeds. Early in the season Carrots, Beets, Salad Turnips, Radishes, Spinach, and Arugula are all directly into the ground as seeds. We use a couple different models of pull behind vegetable seeders designed back in the 1950’s; it seems the a fair amount of the best vegetable equipment for our smaller scale is from that era – they just don’t make ’em like they used to! Anyhow our seeders are pretty good at singulating the seeds and dropping them at the correct spacing and depth so that we can make quick work of the job and have very little thinning to do later on. Because the seeding equipment is old and delicate we often have a person striding behind the tractor to keep an eye on things to make sure all the belts are turning and the seeds are coming through.
Many of our crops are started indoors in our greenhouse and then transplanted outside. So far this spring we’ve transplanted Kale, Kohlrabi, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy, Collard Greens, Cabbage, Lettuce, Broccoli, and we’re starting to plant the Onions this week. We use a water-wheel transplanter to plant out little seedlings into the field. Turning “wheels” poke holes in the soil and fill them with water and a crew member very quickly plants each plant plug into the hole. The whole system is amazing – each seedling is watered in instantly, even in hot dry weather our little plants thrive for at least week without any additional water.
Planting multiple successions is the key to the summer bounty. Planting in the spring can take on an epic marathon like feel, day after day of crawling over the acres. But planting doesn’t end in June, we keep on planting until the end of August. Lettuce is planted every other week 10 different times, 5 planting of beets, 6 plantings of carrots, 3 or 4 plantings of Kale… this succession planting keeps our CSA boxes full, and fresh.
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