Monday, May 14, 2007

The Tools of the Trade



There are two tools which are figuring prominently in our daily lives down there at the fields. One we do own and one that we don't: we have bought this year a Glaser Wheel hoe. It is the only way I know to cultivate at OH's present scale, especially as we are dedicated to using as little fuel as possible. Like I said though, tractors wouldn't make a lot of sense for cultivation for us. As long as our plants are kind of in a row, the wheel hoe with the oscillating blade definitely speeds things along

The other tool is the Earthway Seeder. Earthway is actually used almost like the word Xerox, there are other brands out there, some of which are thought to be at least as good or better. But in any case the idea is that you walk behind it with the seed in the little box, having already attached the right plate (which measures how often and how many of what size seed comes out), and it does the rest. The Rest is pretty important and time consuming if you have to do it by hand, as we did last year, and as our new, slightly bigger scale makes a pain in the butt. The rest includes helping you make the lines of seed a bit straighter (making it easier when you get out the above mentioned hoe), It puts the seed down at the right rate, which my hand doesn't always, and it covers up the seed a little as you go. I have had some trouble with the Earthway crushing my turnip seed, but I am going to try to practice with it a little this year.

Both of these are standards for organic farmers, though I will say, for whatever reasons, the wheelhoe is not used much at the Intervale. Most farms think they are too large for it. Though we did use it pretty extensively at Quail Hill, where we cultivated 26 acres, so I'm not entirely sure . . . lots of black plastic about which can mean not having to cultivate but once again Rachel and I are having a go at a less petro-intensive way of doing things, which may or may not drive us crazy.

As for Farm Reports: We have SO much lettuce! and lots of Brassicas going Strong in the field. The Dry weather has made some of my direct seeding germination poor, but we are working out the kinks of the irrigation system and like I said, lots of Earthway practice. Multiple plantings of beets are underway as are scallions and we have just seeded the first cukes and summer squash. Today Rachel and I transplanted out a bunch of nice flowers, which you'll just have to come and see.

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