Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May 21, 2007

Hello again. Last week we interplanted cucumbers and dill underneath covered rows, being that they are really good companions. The raised beds are about 8 inches from the ground, mounded up to make a little hill. Beneath the mound is a layer of compost. The mound is then covered in black plastic. The plant from seed, we cut small holes, about the size of your fist, carefully along the drip line (as to not sever the very delicate watering system). We then place a mesh fabric covering on top that protects the little guys from weather and wind.
So, we basically did the same thing for the early tomatoes. Raised the beds, covered with plastic, cut the holes, and covered it back up. The field itself that we are planting in, the larger tract, had a cover crop of clover and rye that we tilled over to draw extra nutrients from the soil. The clover especially helps with the nitrogen cycle. This also for our hungry seedlings to more readily extract much needed food from the soil. We did this, transplanting seedlings from the greenhouse, early on to get a jump start on the traditionally last summer delicacy. The fabric mesh forms over the top of the plastic in a half circle, supported by metal hooping in the middle. The mesh allows sun and moisture to enter, but shelters the tender plants from strong winds. It also creates an enviornment that has a 4 degree temperature variance, where if frost threatens, the mesh protects the plants from entering the danger zone. Within a few weeks, the plants were pushing toward the top of the mesh (about 2 feet) and had blossomed. What an amazing thing to have tomato blossoms before June 1st!!
Another thing we are really proud of is our potato crop. Not too many people grow potatoes anymore- we have found that if we can successfully produce enough potatoes, we can supply the restaurant enough for mashed everyday- several tons! We employed the system that used in many other instances- we layer a strip of compost down the center of the row, and rake it from either side to distribute the goodness. We also added rock phosphorus to help with root blossoms. Alex used the tractor and made large ferrows to place the certified seed. Potato seeds look just like little potatoes, but because they are certified, there is no gamble whether or not they will produce, and they won't dwindle after a few crops. They layed down the little potatoes and covered them up- now we have to just wait and see! Until next time.... I will tell you all about our huge community garden planting extravaganza!!

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