Every spring there is a Full Belly scramble to get spring and summer crops planted and growing in our fields. Frosty weather, wet weather and windy weather can all interrupt our human-oriented timeline. During the last month we have been waiting hopefully, through one rainstorm after another, until our fields were dry enough for us to get to work. Our greenhouses are full of young plants waiting to go out into the fields: spring lettuce, onions, and flowers, and the first of summer basil, melons, peppers and tomatoes. If we don’t get the plants out of the greenhouse as soon as possible, they will get leggy and hungry in their little plugs of soil. Besides the fact that the plants want to be outside, we feel the pressure of our CSA members, thinking about their next big veggie-feast!
Unlike farms that go through the winter with bare ground, Full Belly fields grow cover crops all winter long. With this winter’s wonderful rainy winter, the biomass in our fields right now is really impressive, representing captured solar energy and nutrients that need to get turned into the soil to be digested. We have several approaches to getting these fields ready for planting – sometimes our herd of sheep grazes the cover crop and it is returned to the soil in supercharged form, other times we use tractor power, chopping up the cover crop and then incorporating it.
There are a lot of other steps to complete before we can transplant our babies out of the greenhouse and into the field. Drip line for irrigation is buried into each bed and plastic is put down on the top of the beds to warm them up and get them ready for the warmth-loving tomatoes and melons. Compost is spread on every bed before we plant anything into it. All of these steps can really up-the-ante when it comes to our crunched Spring timeline.
The week of March 27th brought daily North winds of 25–35 miles per hour. This meant that we couldn’t plant, even into fields that were ready, because the little plants would be buffeted and beaten-up by the wind. The wind is predicted to continue, and there may even be another “atmospheric river” of rain on the way! Each day we try to balance the reality of the wind and the prediction of the rain against our long list of jobs to get done. The conditions aren’t optimal, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and do our best. That’s the News from Full Belly Farm!