Yes! I am ready to pull my coverall on…plunge my feet deep into my muck boots and start farming. I am so excited…can you tell? Well, it has been a long cold winter and spring fever has hit hard with all this warm sunshine glowing down on my farm’s field. It is also the time I have to remember to rein in some of my over excitement to get planting and take it slow and careful. It is still February which means winter is still here and this could just be a little tease before old man winter decides it would be funny to dump a few more inches of snow and drop the temperatures to below freezing for a few days here in middle Tennessee. The first order of business here on the farm is to get our planting beds ready for these early crops. They need to be amended before we plant anything in them at all. We add shovel after shovel full of rich compost to each bed right before we plant. Our tractor is being repaired so I am having to use the 4-wheeler and garden cart to retrieve the compost from the piles Mark has be cooking all over the farm. After a couple of months of little to no hard labor on my part this shoveling is kicking my back-end..:)
I am working in what we call the kitchen garden because the beds are only 12ft. long so they are easy to hoop and if I do lose them to cold weather I won’t suffer too much. It is a gamble to plant this early but I like walking the edge always have. It is part of the thrill of farming. I do hedge my bets by using mini greenhouse we call low-tunnels. These are super easy and inexpensive to build. They are a temporary source of protection and we only keep them up for a few days or weeks at a time. They are made with common PVC pipe you can find at any hardware store. We just stick one end into the ground and bend the pipe over the bed to secure the other end into the ground. Nothing fancy, but they work . Once we have the beds hooped we cover the pipes with a clear plastic and staple the sides to our raised bed wood. These low-tunnels will act as little greenhouses and will hold about 4 to 6 degrees higher temperature at night. I have to ventilate the low-tunnels during the day by opening up both ends so they don’t get too hot inside. A sunny day with temps in the 50’s can raise my low-tunnel heat to 80 or above.
Once I have the beds nicely amended and all the hoops in place ready to be covered I spent the rest of the afternoon planting spinach, radishes, Arugula,lettuce and cilantro. I also planted out some broccoli seedling I started back in December. Over the course of the next couple of weeks we will be working in the main production field doing the same thing…only on the 40 foot long beds…Lord I hope the tractor is fixed by then….hear me ole farmer Mark:)