We are gearing up for the start of our CSA program and that means a little bit of craziness on the farm right now.
We are planting all sorts of things. Basil, peppers, hot peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, beans, sweet potatoes and more. All of these crops need to go in the ground as we’re fairly certain (!) the last frost is past. Many of these crops get planted by hand and we use a mechanical transplanter to put in the rest. It’s a big job and the entire crew plays a role.
We are also watering. Despite last week’s big rains, our soils dry out quickly. Young plants do not have a well established root system yet and so we need to make sure they have plenty of access to water. We have a number of different ways to irrigate on our farm. We use drip tape, for example, which is pretty much a long hose with holes every 8″ or so. The water, as its name implies, drips out. Drip tape significantly reduces water loss due to evaporation. It also allows us to water only where our plants are and not where the weeds are. It’s a great tool. Besides drip tape, we also use overhead sprinklers. These allow us to saturate a large area which is perfect for when we put seeds in the ground. Each time we water, we need to move hoses around the farm, check for leaks, and position sprinklers so the water goes where we want.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the time we spend weeding. It’s one of the biggest differences between organic and conventional farmers. Where the big guys just spread herbicides all over (did you know that the EPA recently doubled the acceptable limit for glyphosate in food crops? “More poison for you!”, says President Obama), organic farmers take a decidedly different, and more expensive, approach. We hand weed many of our crops. This involves walking out to the fields with a hoe, usually under the hot summer sun, and physically removing the weeds. It is a lot of work. We also use tractors to weed many of our crops and this helps us out alot. We feel that poisons in our food is a bad thing and the extra work, although unwelcome, is worth it.
Finally, the emails. Oh, the emails. I probably get about 50 emails a day, especially now that it’s May and folks are starting to think fresh vegetables. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s my job to communicate with folks and it’s actually one of my favorite parts of farming. I love to share our story with folks and help them gain a greater understanding of organic farming. But they pile up so quickly. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. On good days, I can answer most. During weeks when the weather is nice, I’m usually out on the tractor or working on some project. At the end of the day, tired and hot, I fall behind on correspondence. If you’ve emailed me recently, you know what I am talking about. Please be patient with me and know that I’ll reply just as soon as I get a break to catch up.
If you are not a member of our CSA yet, there is still room. In fact, we need about 40 more shares to make this year a success. Check out our website for more information or – gasp! – send me an email.
The whole crew at Montalbano Farms hopes that your week is merry and bright!