It's big time planting season now. The seed flats were sown weeks ago, watered, hardened off and every day bring another batch that's ready to go out. And prepping the beds, fighting back the quack grass and working in the clay, can feel like a full time job by itself! But both must happen for there to be veggies and flowers to harvest. So for now, there is not time to enjoy your handywork but just to get busy!
There are lots of microgreen growing and the eggs are piling up!
Plus, I had so many Ranunculus corms from last year that I stopped pre-sprouting them when I reached 15 trays, so the rest will be available at the Markets and Online. I'll be bagging them up this week and all they need before planting is a few hours to soak in cool water so they can plump up before going into the ground (I'll have planting/care/info cards available too!)
Plus, Plus, I'll have some more of my farm-saved seeds available like Delphinium, Columbine, and Bachelor Buttons.
Whenever the nights are clear my lows are usually 10 degrees colder than forecast so hard frosts abound but the plants stay cozy!
The germination attic is also getting crowded by all the microgreens that are busy growing for the first markets! Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Basil, Mild Mix, and Spicy Mix will all be available!!!
With planting out comes the web of hoses that I manage day and night. I'll wait a few weeks before setting up the new drip/sprayer irrigation system (hopefully the really hard frosts will be over) but even then I need all these hoses to get the water there! Only I know where they all go and where they all come from mwahahaha
Gearing up for the season also means a fresh oil and filter change for my little tractor, Oscar the Grouch, who gets a new attachment once I assemble it.
Meet the Cookie Monster aka the Chipper/Shredder!
Where to find it all?
The 2021 Market Season starts May 6th!
Fire & Ice
In the mountains, the abnormal is normal. At least with weather. So it can be sunny, clear and a bright 75F one day and cloudy, dark, with a cold icy snow and temps in the teens. But no matter, because the plants keep growing, the buds keep opening, and more and more birds return everyday (the Violet Green Swallows are back to nest in the old hollowed out fence post near the field plot)!
As a farmer you learn to watch the weather closely and quickly develop that 'weather eye'. Every little change can effect your whole day and rearrange your priorities. And it's always better to plan for the worst but hope for the best. Plants have routinely surprised me at what they can tolerate, survive, and thrive in, but knowing I've given them the best chance with the tools I have helps me sleep a little easier, even if I also sometimes set a few midnight (and 2am and 4am lol) alarms to check the outside temp or the greenhouse temp or both!
The Raspberries went in with a little help from my handy dandy dump cart and some well aged horse manure that's been moved around a few times as the whole pile of it kept being in the way. It's current home is as the hens' favorite hill to climb that is slowly becoming a grassy knoll, but I was able to get some good rich soil by sneaking in underneath!
At the end of the weekend it decided to have rain that turned into snow and then froze hard into an icy coating on everything! *crunch, crunch*
Where to find it all?
Just a few weeks until the 2021 Market Season starts on May 6th!
For many of the flower varieties that I grow (and some veggies), it takes weeks and weeks of growing in flats before the little seedlings are ready to be planted outside. Some can be seeded directly into the ground (or require it because they won't tolerate transplanting) but that extra time spent inside gives them a head start. That way they are ahead of the weeds and the weather which is especially important in our short growing season!
But all that pampering means a lot of time spent watering, removing their humidity domes and checking their position under the lights, moving them outside, and, most importantly, hardening off. If it isn't done right, it can mean their death as the outside temperatures, winds, and bright sun can freeze them, dry them out, and burn them.
And just like raising just-hatched chicks, most of your time is spent monitoring to check that it isn't too cold, too hot, too windy, too bright, or that they aren't too dry or sitting in too much water.
But once they are hardened off, they can handle most everything a Montana growing season can throw at them, they just need some spring training first and a helpful coach/farmer!
Leaving the landscape fabric down and the skeleton of the low tunnels up saves me a lot of time both setting up and taking down each year. And, leaving the plant material in until spring means I don't need to remove the landscape fabric and tunnel hoops and that the roots of those plants remain in the soil as a home and food for all the soil creatures, which means I see many more earthworms each spring than I do if I stripped it clean in the fall! Happy Soil = Happy Plant
Saturday brought snow flurries then sun, then more flurries, then more sun which meant I got some time to rest while the hens hid inside their huts.
The first special test fruit trees and vines have arrived! 3 different cherries, 2 different asian pears, and a smattering of raspberries. Hopefully they will be able to survive the summer frosts and we'll see over the next few years if they can fruit through those frosts as well! Time will, literally, tell.
Where to find it all?
Everything will be available again when Market Season starts the first week of May!
I'm Farmer Megan with a life full of cackles, clucks, quacks, weeds, crazy kitten, and one tiny, senior, blind dog.