Seeds and crops spread wide on a sheet, tweaked and refined in the long Winter months. With a cup of coffee, whilst on break from shoveling, the farmer stares at seed catalogs, reading descriptions and yields. Holding a warm cup of tea with Holly Hill honey there is nearby many a soil test preaching amendments, recommendations and crop rotations. The computer screen burns internet fuel, holding all the information for the year and years past for that matter. Beginning in late February (err March), there are seeds of onions, spinach and hardy crops to find their way into black plastic trays, 17 year-old wooden boxes shallow and deep, with hopes for germination in a cold, high tunneled hoop house. That greenhouse holds heat when the sun shines. The heat pads, few and far between, provide somewhat steady heat from below. The compromised wood stove eats up the neatly stacked cord wood piles, leaving bare pallets for to hold future seedlings. It is a character building Spring that brings stiff breezes, little sleep and varied warmth. But the temps will rise in the daylight hours and fall so fast at night when the sun descends. Once up-potted and hardened-off, the farmer contemplates where to gently transplant the plants.
And what news of the fields? Some upper elevation fields have dry rows. Some fields below the hills and boulders are far too wet. The John Deere is up and running, wary of the mud, but loudly making furrows. Upturned rocks could stack into cairns or little walls, like their ancestors before them that line properties and make good neighbors. The farmer can also walk behind the roto-tiller to further awaken the soil and carefully muster some microbial life from its long slumber. (No-till enthusiasts, I digress, straw has been gathered for mulch). So much depends on sleep and how best to use the waking hours. The weeds wake too, ready to spread and grow, challenging the hardiest of wanted perennials. Kids of all ages are ready to help. 1st and 2nd graders have little hand-held cultivators to hoe. A seventh grade intern has two tools at the end of his wrists. And high school seniors, whose hand helds mostly stay pocketed, wield a garden fork (thin-tined pitch forks are for hay). All those involved in a Spring field trip or others completing community service can all be excited for the prospect of soil that’s alive and turned, turned, turned, especially in this season.
But back to the plan, which is always as wide as a lap or desk top screen. But whether it is neatly printed and placed in a – binder or crumpled and dirty in a back pocket, now is the time to gratefully receive those vegetables that are hardy. Peas, spinach, kale and chard may go first. Leek by leek is due next. The crop plan, both educational and farm operational show the date 3/4 on a clean popsicle stick, with a J for Johnny’s organic seeds(no relation). The next column on that master blaster computer sheet suggests a May 1st TP (transplant) date into Peck’s Meadow. Right on time. A teen and a teacher. A farmer and the best laid plans have three to a row at 8 inches for 150 bed feet. Keep the mice at bay and thank a tireless, organized, well-thought out, collaborative collective plan. Potato leek soup in October anyone?
© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm