Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ramping up for the new season

We planted ramps last year...time to go check and see if they're sprouting in the Marshie Marsh. This year at Tree Gate Farm brings a ‘new’ electric tractor (built in 1949), new plantings, and new farm relationships. We placed a large seed potato order, our other seed orders are in, and our tiny greenhouse is already almost full of seed trays, and pots filled with overwintered plants.
We’ve been busy looking at the numbers from 2010, planning for 2011, and repairing the roof on the tractor shed. We still have to do something about the roof over the shop and decided we’ll also have to rebuild or deconstruct the potting shed before it further deconstructs itself. Currently it seems like our farming life is more about repairing old stuff (equipment, buildings, and me) than about growing things, but I guess that’s the nature of the season.

Late last fall, I purchased an old, Grand Haven Tractor. It’s a cultivating tractor, built between 1948-51, and was one of about 1500 made by the Grand Haven Stamped Products Company (Now known as the GHSP Co.).  The tiny, simple machine was intended for cultivating over a single row of crops, and with a 27” clearance, it can continue to weed a row long after most machines would be causing damage to the crop’s upper leaves. I took the tractor to our local BOCES heavy equipment class, and they’re working on some welding repairs and installation of a 48 volt electic motor, controller, and batteries for me. I’m really looking forward to putting it into use this year as we’ve already doubled our garlic plantings, have ordered 10x the potatoes, and will have significantly more pigs, chickens, corn, beans, squash, etc. over last year’s crops. So a little mechanized help with the weeding will definitely be appreciated. More on the tractor when we get it back to the farm.

Last week Sharon and I dug some horseradish for our friends at Felicia’s Atomic Lounge, who use it in their amazing Zen Mary’s. The owners have really been appreciative of our fresh horseradish and it’s been apparently very well received by their customers. We just have to remember to wash the roots outside as they're rather potent! We replanted the tops and smaller pieces of the roots, as well as two buckets full of small pieces we stored in the basement from last year’s fall harvests. We now have over 200 row feet planted, and we still have a dozen pots in the greenhouse with 3-5 tops from last year which are just sprouting and will get planted out elsewhere in the field in a few weeks. Our rhubarb plants have started budding up through the mulch, and we’ll be transplanting more divisions from my mom’s garden shortly.

Off to go open the greenhouse before it get’s to hot.