Happy Garlic Ready for the Snow

Friday, March 26, 2010

Accelerating Toward a Bottleneck

The hours of daylight following the vernal equinox and the budding and blooming seem to increase with the workload on the farm and garden. This is not a coincidence. It is as if a door is opening during the next couple of months through which much of the planting of 2010’s growing season must pass. This door will close, and with it the opportunities for getting many of our favorite summer veggies (corn, melons, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) in the ground will also pass.

During spring, I often find myself oscillating between exuberant, joyful anticipation and unavoidable anxiety about how to make all the pieces of this year’s puzzle come together, as we accelerate towards the bottleneck. A rough estimate suggests that I have about 13,000 square bed feet (this number excludes paths) of vegetable ground to prepare, amend, plant, irrigate, weed, etc. This does not take in to account the tasks of starting seedlings in our greenhouse, potting them up, and hardening them off before transplanting them into prepared soil; almost all of this work will be happening in the next couple months, and the orchard, berries, vines, and other perennials too will demand some attention. Sometimes I wonder and worry a little – how will it all get done? But then I remember the answer – one piece at a time.

The puzzle is really starting to come together now that the soil at the farm is starting to dry out. I've been waiting not so patiently for the opportunity to get in there and start preparing the first of the beds for potatoes, onions, early season tomatoes and the first succession crops. This was a great week for it and I spent most of my days at the farm incorporating the winter cover crop, preparing beds, and planting our first carrots and beets.

The saying, "april is the cruelest month" only really makes sense to farmers and gardeners, everything is beautiful and you want nothing more than to sit in the sun and enjoy it, unfortunately it is also one of the busiest months and if you hope to enjoy a great summer garden you'd best put in your time. Furthermore it is already getting late in the season, most of my broccoli and cabbage are already in the ground, potatoes and onions will be in by mid april, early tomato starts are about 6 inches tall, peppers are germinating in the greenhouse, and we should harvest our first lettuce and spinach in about a month (not counting overwintered crops). So get out there, a little planning and a little bit of early season work will make the busy months of April and May that much easier and/or allow that much more to get done!

Ryan Wanamaker