Planting


The spring has run its course, and now it is time for the sun and heat of the long summer days to bring us Wisconsin’s bounty season.   The summer and fall (yes fall) crops are growing wonderfully. I cultivate every crop every week, eliminating the weeds we don’t like. This is my time to see up close the development of everything.

  • The winter squash is already flowering with tiny fruit visible.
  • Several of the potato varieties put on a beautiful flower display, which has just begun. This coincides with the first baby potatoes underground.
  • The earliest planted sweet corn is almost too tall to cultivate, meaning it is on schedule for early August harvest and the Corn Boil event.
  • The sweet potato slips, which look like a green stick when planted, have come to life and begun to put on leaves and shoot out roots.
  • The first green bean plantings are looking great; unlike last year when we had lots of germination problems; so lots more beans this year, one of my favorites. Even the edamame germinated perfectly, breaking our 2-year run of crop failure. Deer have been nibbling at the edamame, but not too much damage yet.
  • The pumpkins and gourds have sprouted in uniform rows, meaning another great Pumpkin Pick event is in store for October.
  • Several broccoli plantings are in the ground and have a good start; the evil flee beetle has had little impact this year on all the brassicas.
  • All the crops under row cover are lifting the cover towards the sky, meaning they are doing great and are asking to be uncovered soon; bring on the melons, cucumbers and summer squash.
  • We had a successful hand pick of Colorado Potato Beetles off the eggplant, their favorite target.
  • This is also the time to catch up on the always needed hand weeding; a slow tedious process, but that’s part of organic farming. The first planting of carrots got their final hand weeding today; they are already beginning to size up. Garlic, onions and leeks are looking great, but need hand weeding attention also.
  • There is a lot of work to do with the tomatoes, putting in stakes, getting the plants trellised, and some hand weeding.
  • The rains have been a bit much, but on the bright side, the irrigation chores have been negligible. However, a droughty period always shows up, so there will be lots of work to do to keep the plants watered.
  • The bulk of the greenhouse work and transplanting is over, but some work lingers into August.

There is much yet to do to prepare your first bounty season box of produce in July.  We hope you’ve enjoyed the early spring season delights, and do look forward to more great food from your Farm.

David

Barb planting sweet potatoes

Dandelion harvest for the final Spring Season delivery

Yun tucking in the lettuce before the rain comes

After a week of intense heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, we were all very happy to work these past few days. We had a busy schedule of harvest for the Spring Season shares and early summer planting continues. In weather like this, everyone is eager to be outside and work seems to get done faster. Yesterday morning we had a short thunderstorm that sent us running for the packing shed only to get back out into the field 20 minutes later. It’s hard not to love your work during weeks like this.

Jonnah

Morning spinach harvest before the sun gets high in the sky.

Barb walking crates of spinach out of the field.

A beautiful stand of scallions. Pulling these out of the ground is one of my favorite jobs on the farm!

Jesse counting as Jon harvests.

Jesse and Barb, son and mother, figuring out the best way to remove the row cover.

Fresh garlic harvest. The smell of garlic was so amazing while we were pulling it up!

We, and the plants, all made it through this record breaking May heat wave! We worked outside Monday and Tuesday, sweating like crazy and drinking lots of water. The end of May is the busiest time on the farm so no matter that the temperatures are soaring into the 90’s, there is tons of work to do. We harvested outside and in the hoophouses. We transplanted zucchini, sweet corn, melons and David spent a lot of time on the tractor planting many seeds. We wished we could have spent more time in the packing shed, but this week’s work kept us outside for most of the days. Wednesday was a gift, with cooler temps and rain! We worked outside until the rains came and then harvested in the hoophouse. We knew everything outside was getting well watered. Oh yes, the mosquito population is a bit crazy this year, adding to the fun!

Barb

Monday Morning salad mix harvest.

Followed by spinach harvest. You can almost see the heat hanging in the air.

Tuesday afternoon we headed into the rhubarb jungle.

Wednesday morning was spend in the hoophouse in the fennel jungle. Notice Sophon is wearing mosquito netting. It is pouring rain outside and we are happy inside, although I think all of the mosquitoes decided to get out of the rain, too.

Ryna planting tomatoes in the hoophouse. After a crop is harvested we replace it with tomatoes. Lettuce heads were in this spot on Monday.

Summer really feels like it has started for me once we start putting tomatoes in the ground outside. Yesterday we planted 3024 tomatoes along with 7496 peppers, melons, and cucumber plants! All of those thousands of seeds that were sown on chilly spring days in the potting shed are finally strong enough to grow independently out in the real world. With the massive amounts of rain that southern Wisconsin has seen the past few weeks, our field planting got behind and now we we’re playing catch up. No one is leaving on Friday until everything is in the ground! – those were the words of the big boss, David.

May is an exhilarating month on the farm. We are in full swing with the Spring Season CSA harvest while managing the frenzy of transplants that need to be put in the ground for summer deliveries. Both are equally important and need our full attention. Thursdays are devoted to the CSA delivery but guess what we’re doing tomorrow? Transplanting. We will finish out the week with sweet corn, eggplant, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, and popcorn for a total of 25,354 plants in the ground over three days. I hope you’re hungry for summer vegetables – if you aren’t signed up for the Bounty Season Share they’re still available!

Bounty Season July 19 – October 18 – send us an email to join! farm@vermontvalley.com

~Jonnah

Jonnah pauses to capture a picture of what is behind her as she works on the waterwheel transplanter. She sits on a black plastic seat and has all of the tomato plants in front of her. The water wheel pokes holes into the plastic at a determined distance and water flows into the wheel and then into the hole for the plant. 

David adjusting the seat on the transplanter before we lay out a couple thousand plants.

Locked and loaded for high speed transplanting.

Raised beds with plastic mulch covering drip tape irrigation. We use straw mulch in between rows to control weeds in the entire garden.

Spring is such a beautiful and magical time on the farm. Different hues of green everywhere are soft and varied and brilliant. Rains come hard and the wetland turns into a pond, only to recede the next day. Sandhill cranes are vying for nesting territory. Fog rolls through the valley in the early mornings, muting the colors and bringing with it a mystique. Dew hangs so heavily on the tall grass that you feel as if you are swimming when walking into the fields. Planted crops are thriving, despite all of the crazy weather.

Through it all we work hard. Bodies ache and grow weary. But then we look up at the beauty all around us and are reminded how lucky we are to work in such a magical place. At times we work silently and at other times we chatter and laugh. The days pass and we accomplish much.

Enjoy the spring magic in your box this week!

~Barb

Rhubarb harvest Tuesday morning. If you have never used a rhubarb leaf as a hat, give it a try. It cools your head an looks quite fashionable!

Heavy rains caused our wetland to turn into a pond. Our stream is that straight line of water in the middle. The spring vegetables are planted in far the field. The following day the waters receded and the vegetable fields are in great condition!

Last Friday we were working in the hoophouse during a downpour. The water decided to come under the edge and start flowing like a river. David is doing some water re-directing. All is well with the plants!

Harvesting salad mix Monday morning. Heavy fog and mist outside.

I stepped out through the open side wall of the hoophouse to capture this picture of our leeks, onions and garlic in the mist. They are enjoying the spring and growing well.

The sun sets on the stream behind our big field.

Yea, spring finally came, and along with it the needed warmth for vegetables to grow. We’ve had a lot of fun harvesting greens from the hoophouses. This year we are growing more than twice as much food in those hoophouses and needed to be creative about how to squeeze it all in. We decided to make the paths between the beds of greens a bit narrower. Weeding and harvesting and maneuvering in a 12 inch row is not the easiest thing to do, and all without stepping on the crop that’s flowing into the row. For the past three days, with sore backs and lots of laughs, we harvested our way through beds and beds of greens. The sunshine makes the houses warm and when it’s raining outside somehow the rain manages to leak in, creating a slick muddy walkway. A balancing act all around.

Welcome to the Spring Season!

Barb

Sauté Mix harvest in those 12 inch rows! Note how we need to balance the crates on a bucket since there is not enough room in the row to place the crate. Casey and Yun harvesting arugula. Sophon, Ryna and Neing harvesting different beds of kale and mustard greens.

Ryna, Yun, Casey harvesting spinach. We pinch off one leaf at a time. This way we can leave the smaller leaves on the plant to grow bigger for next week.

The hoophouse a couple of weeks ago. The red lettuce in the foreground is what was delivered this week. It even looked like this when there were piles of snow outside. A lovely place to be.

Wednesday night after all of the employees had gone home Eric, Barb, Jonnah, Jesse and David (all with the last name Perkins) rallied for another hour to get every little bit done. We were all on our 11th hour, ready to be done yet still having fun! Balancing a phone on a sawhorse was the only way to capture the moment. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to grow your food.

The thermometer reads 70 degrees Tuesday and there are still a few piles of snow strategically distributed around the farm, lest we forget we had a blizzard only a few days ago.

The crew is planting onions this week; the onions that were diligently cared for as they patiently waited to be planted. For the past 2 weeks, on each day that was above freezing, we would carry them into an unheated plastic structure to get hardened off (toughened up) and then carry them back into the heated greenhouse each night. This went on until last Friday when we decided they could stay out all night, along with their friends spinach, lettuce, dandelion greens, sauté mix and scallions: 36,800 cells total. That night the temperature dropped lower than expected. At 10 pm it was 32 degrees and I knew I wouldn’t sleep until we somehow protected those plants. David and I decided to double row cover them and put a space heater below the draped row cover. It looked so cozy when we were finished I thought I could just crawl under and fall asleep. I resisted and slept well in my own bed, knowing the plants were going to make it through the low evening temperatures. They did.

The other vegetables that made it through less than ideal conditions were the lettuce heads and spinach transplants which were planted into the field just days before the first snow fall. We studied the weather predictions and figured they would be protected under a blanket of snow until it melted. We also knew if we didn’t plant them before the snow came, it would be way too many days before we could get them out into the fields. We weren’t too crazy about the ice that accumulated prior to the snow storm, but plants are tough. The snow from the first storm hadn’t even melted off before the next storm hit. Now they were really covered, and hopefully as cozy as a lettuce plant under a blanket of snow can be. The snow has melted and the plants look fine! They didn’t do too much growing under the snow, but now they can get serious about that. Happy Spring!

Barb

Planting onions on Tuesday, that gorgeous 70 degree day. Sophon and Ryna in foreground.

Walking down to the greenhouse on April 19. Yes, the greenhouse is bursting with life inside.

Here we are inside the greenhouse. Quite a contrast from the snowy day outside.

All of the plants that were moved into an unheated structure to ‘harden off’ or get tough and strong before being transplanted into the field.

At 11pm last Friday night David and I were out in that hardening off area double row covering the plants and placing a space heater beneath the covered plants. The temperatures were dipping more quickly than expected.

The survivors. Here are the lettuce and spinach plants that weathered 2 snow storms! We knew they could do it!

Here comes the garlic! Planted last October. So much to look forward to!

Spring Season plants growing happily in the hoophouse. If you haven’t signed up for the Spring Season yet, you still have time.

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