Categories
Greenhouse Reflections Spring 2012 Spring Cultivation 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

The Magic of Farming in the Spring

After our brief waltz with summer temperatures, the more seasonal cool nights and blustery, sunny days of early spring have returned.

photo of seedlings in the greenhouse
Our tables are filling up with tough little seedlings.

The seedlings in the greenhouse are holding up well despite the colder temperatures.  Every evening, if it looks like the temperatures will dip into the 30’s, we cover up the seedlings with a thin sheet of row cover to protect them from cold damage.

Some of the seedlings are growing so well that they need to be transplanted into larger “homes” so that their roots can find the moisture and nutrients that they need to grow.

Rosemarie, Sarah, and Breanne – hard at work transplanting greens during volunteer hours on Friday, March 30.

Thanks to the careful work of volunteers, these Mesclun Mix Greens and Arugula are thriving.

photo of transplanted greens
Greens growing strong after 1 week in their new homes!

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Despite the cooler days, volunteers are still filling the fields, and jumping right in to plant seeds in The Sem, transplant seedlings in the greenhouse, and plant  seeds in the field.

volunteers planting seeds
Kyle, Dave and Tommy, plant seeds in the basement of The Sem.

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photo of Volunteers prep first bed
A team of volunteers prep our first bed of the season with ease.

Last week, on March 30th, 18 volunteers arrived at The Farm and got right to work prepping and “pre-weeding”. Before I knew it, the first bed was masterfully prepared and the group was ready to plant two varieties of radish: Rudolf and Pink Beauty.

With this many helping hands, hundreds of seeds are sown in minutes!

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The “magic” of this time of year comes during these bustling times of group activity, and also in the unexpected moments of quiet reflection.

These come early in the morning when the frost is still melting away…

Morning Frost

…and in the early evening when we tuck the seedlings in to protect them from the cold nights.

photo of seedlings tucked in
Onions, cabbage, lettuce, kale and flowers – all tucked in for the night.

Under the cover of night, the seedlings withstand the cold and greet us the next day a little bit stronger, and one day closer to their time to grow to their full potential in the field. 

These seedlings are embracing the sunlight of each day, modeling “Carpe Diem” in a whole new way!

photo of onion seedlings
A sea of onion seedlings – strong after a good night’s rest – greet the morning.

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Outside of the greenhouse, the soils are warming under consistent sunny skies and temperatures in the 50’s. As a result, today was a perfect day to plant peas.

photo of peas
Peas in hand – ready to grow.

I prepped the soil with a rototiller, a rake and a hoe and planted the peas in 2 straight rows, with a string to guide my work.

photo of peas planted
Peas are planted 1 month ahead of our first pea planting in 2011.

We now have 2 beds planted – many more to come!

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I am looking forward to planting our onion and lettuce seedlings next week with the help of our volunteers!

In The Sem we continue to plant our seeds. 

In the greenhouse, you’ll see kale, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, collards, dill, cilantro, parsley, and other greens growing in all shapes and sizes.

At The Farm, the perennials are waking up from their winter’s nap, and will be there to greet you!

Photo of new growth on raspberry canes
New growth on raspberry canes planted last spring.
Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

Seeds Want To Grow

 

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like mint, are as fine as dust, while some, like marigolds, look like miniature magic wands.  Regardless of size and shape:

“Drop a seed in the ground and it wants to grow!”

I read this wonderful truth a few months ago in The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman, and suddenly felt much more at ease about the rapidly approaching growing season.  After all, if the seeds WANT to grow, then all we have to do is provide them with the right amount of light, warmth, nutrients, and moisture, and surely they will take root and we will be rewarded with healthy, delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers!

A tray of bell pepper seedlings beginning to grow

 

And yet, the question remains:

How much of each of these elements do different plants need to thrive?

A small tomato seed peeks out of a slot in the tray
A tomato seed on a bed of Fort Vee Potting Mix from Vermont Compost Company.

There are many answers to this question that we can find print, in conversations with friends in the farming community, or through our own careful observations.

A few marigold seedlings show off their leafy stems
Strong, little Marigold seedling (April 8, 2011).

 

We listen, we water, we transplant, we wait, and we watch quietly as the seeds do the bulk of the work and grow into strong little seedlings.

peppers photo up close
Bell pepper seedlings (April 14, 2011).

 

The marigolds in the tray now grow larger as time has passed
Marigolds (April 13, 2011).
Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 Volunteer

Many hands…

March 29, 2011

Today my first volunteers joined me to help transplant Rainbow Lacinato Kale, Red Russian Kale, and Early Wonder Beets.

Morgan and Brian were natural farmers as they prepared the trays and moved the sprouts from 128 cell trays to 50 cell trays.  The next home for these seedlings will be in the less protected field across the street in just a couple of weeks.  It is hard to picture these young plants weathering the wild weather that New England has to offer – as I write this snow falls outside my window – but I have a feeling that this Kale will be just fine.

 

brian and morgan transplanting 1 3.31 close up
Volunteers Brian and Morgan share the task of transplanting nutritious Rainbow Lacinato and Red Russian Kale!

 

It’s true what they say: “Many Hands Make Light Work!”

 

brian and morgan transplanting 3.31 picture of the volunteers
Brian Switzer and Morgan Buckley transplanting Kale as part of their Learning Community course.

 

April 7, 2011

Today Ariel, Brian, Morgan and I transplanted Red and Green Wave Mustard Greens…

photo of Morgan and Ariel Transplanting Mustard Greens
Morgan and Ariel transplanting Green Wave Mustard Greens.

 

…and Green Bib Lettuce…

Photo of Transplanting Green Bib Lettuce
Transplanting Green Bib Lettuce.

 

…before joining forces with Associate Director of Grounds, Paul Ricci, to stake out the site for…

photo of Brian, Morgan and Ariel stake out Greenhouse site
Brian, Morgan and Ariel stake out Greenhouse site.

…our 18′ x 48′ Eastpoint Rimol Greenhouse that arrived today.

Photo of Greenhouse Kit in the Truck
Rimol Greenhouse Kit arrives April 7, 2011.

 

Our seedlings are happily growing under lights put up by Carpenter John and Electrician Rick from Facilities Management…

photo of Seedlings in Basement of Holy Cross
Brian transplants Mustard Greens amidst thousands of vegetable and flower seedlings.

 

…but when the time comes they will be moved out to the greenhouse located in the site just across the street!

photo of Greenhouse Site
The site for the greenhouse prepared by Dick Murray located in our field just south of The Clock Farm on Route 138.

Come join us!

Simply Click on the “Volunteer” Tab above on this blog, fill out the form, and we’ll be in touch.