I love that rich, musky, almost sweet aroma of a freshly plowed field.
This is the time of year when a lot of attention and energy is spent preparing fields, a process that can’t be rushed. Right now we are mowing and tilling winter cover crops into the soil – a mix of vetch, bellbeans, peas and oats – which microorganisms will break down to release essential nutrients to ensure healthy soil for growing crops.
Most of our crops are raised from seed in a greenhouse. The moment a seed is sown the clock starts ticking. Field preparations need to be timed so as to overlap with the maturity of the seedlings and the farm’s planting schedule. Right now, the greenhouses are filled with thousands of plants waiting to be transplanted into the fields.
We use a mechanical transplanter to help us, otherwise every seedling would need to be transplanted by hand; a job both time consuming and taxing on the body. With a transplanter, seedlings are placed into a rotating carrousel, dropped into a furrow and gently tucked in by two “pressing wheels”.
So far we are right on schedule. We finished planting our second block of dry-farmed tomatoes, and the peppers – both sweet varieties and the spicier padrones and poblanos – were planted yesterday. Next up are heirloom and cherry tomatoes, radiccio, frisee, escarole, summer squash, lettuce, dill, fennel, celery, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, kale, basil and tomatillos.
The first summer squashes are starting to mature. Potatoes are growing well, and we’ll be harvesting the first spring potatoes by the end of May.
The earliest maturing tomatoes are always the sweet Sungold cherry tomatoes, and if you are wondering when to expect them, my guess is we’ll see them the first or second week in July – soon after our Blenheim Apricot harvest.
Spring may enchant with the promise of flowers and new growth but no matter how beautiful the apricot blossoms or lush the tomato plants, we need to be patient and provide the nurturing care that’s needed before we can harvest the nourishing bounty of summer.
Farmer Denesse Willey of T&D Willey Farms says it so well in one of my favorite quotes:
“To plant a seed and believe that it will germinate, out-compete weeds, bloom, set fruit, and be harvested and sold at a fair price is a great leap of faith.”