Helping hands

A thousand thank yous to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps leaders who came out to the farm for a three hour session of weeding squash and cabbage. Friendly, funny, energetic and thorough. My sincere appreciation to Connor, Hannah, Aspen and Sammy for their efforts which brought an acre under control. The crops look beautiful !!

The Fragrant Row

Years ago, waiting for a landscape client, we extracted enough lilac suckers to populate a row 275’ long. They are a delight each May and the ground beside them is the best-tilled on the farm, just so the tractor driver can become intoxicated.

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Giggles

May 15

The giggles for last week came at the Richmond elementary school, where the kindergarten class got a short course in plant propagation.

The brown line represented the soil surface, the two teardrops squash seeds. One is pointed upward, the other down, but each will know which direction to send its roots and top.

The brown line represented the soil surface, the two teardrops squash seeds. One is pointed upward, the other down, but each will know which direction to send its roots and top.

Everyone got a container of potting mix to plant with a pumpkin, headed for each child’s home.

Everyone got a container of potting mix to plant with a pumpkin, headed for each child’s home.

The kids were into it ! They’ll be coming to the farm June 12 to install winter squash that they planted during our session at school.

The kids were into it ! They’ll be coming to the farm June 12 to install winter squash that they planted during our session at school.

The level plain

May 21

In a fable, Aesop relates that a camel was asked if it would rather carry a load uphill or down. The animal replied, "The laden beast prefers the level plain."

Springtime on the farm is anything but. Wet, cold weather has caused the regular business of the season to proceed only by fits and starts. Last week was one of intense activity with 1500 pounds of potatoes and 5500 cabbages planted in the best-drained land on the farm. Winter squash was seeded both in the field and the greenhouse, some 5000 plants.

Fortune favors effort. A soaking rain Sunday night settled in the new cabbages, which already exhibit new roots a quarter inch long. The potatoes' eyes are extending for their emergence from the loam.

Scads more planting to do, but we're well begun.

Spring chaos

June 2

Lovely, hectic time of year. Lilacs, apple blossoms, fresh green plants on soil the color of brownie batter.

We set out another 1600 cabbage on Saturday. Winter squash, sown May 21 is in rows sufficiently emerged to guide the cultivator.

We live in hope for the potatoes. Though planted on the farm's sandiest ground, I still fear the incessant rains may cause some seed to rot. Emergence from a planting made in early May is sporadic. Brushing aside the covering soil reveals sprouts, strong albeit late to the party.

This time of year things always look so promising, dependent as ever on indifferent nature. Some growing seasons are benign, others bring hail. The agricultural crapshoot.

Fail to do your work timely and well, bear the consequences. Stay on top of things, push the work, take your chances. As I said, indifferent.

A lowery day

May 24

I have an affection for the adjective lowery. It denotes a threatening sky, blustery and chill.

I heard it first from a old man in northern Vermont who ran the forge at the mine in Lowell. A fruit farmer as well, he was my mentor in the strawberry business some 43 years ago.

So on this drizzly morning, 48 degrees, stout breeze and leaden sky, I think of him, and marvel at the speed of time.

Spring progress

May 15

Wonderfully hectic time of year. The 1500 pounds of seed potatoes went in Tuesday, last of 8000 cabbages seeded yesterday and set out strawberry and raspberry plants today. Cabbages are to be set out in the field Saturday.

The farm has several different soil types, with six acres of fine silt loam being the prized possession. It dries quickly, has great natural fertility. Allows work to proceed despite the cold. wet weather.

Kinderwienies

May 15

Excellent session with the kinderwienies in Richmond this morning. Framing the whole practice of agriculture as a magic show seemed to create excitement.

We got into tree communications, seeds knowing to grow away the center of the earth, plants bending to the sun; all seemed to intrigue them. They will be here at the farm in early June to install 100 winter squash that they seeded today.

I am in awe of their teacher, Ileen Gilbar who managed to curb their physical enthusiasm while maintaining their joy and their curiosity. As example, just before the event moved outdoors to plant seeds, the children were clamoring at the door. They were asked to form a line and, like birds,flap their wings vigorously, then diminish the pace to gliding. Amazing transformation and centering of energy. Me, I would look upon more than a dozen boisterous five-year-olds as an opportunity to try cat herding. Kids are lucky to have her and her brethren, civilizing the coming generation.

Kindergarten

May 15

Back to kindergarten!

The kids who came to the farm last fall for a joyous day of mud puddles and potato picking will get some insights into spring planting at the school today.

Each will get a pot to plant with pumpkin seeds, experimenting with seed points down or up to see how emergence is affected. They'll learn about potato eyes and how the tiny hairs on a tomato stem can become roots.

A flat of squash seed they sow today they can plant out at the farm on an early June field trip.

I was their age when introduced to alchemy of seed, soil, sun and water that sustains us all and that became my life's work. Hoping to pass the magic forward.