Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Managing ecologies

So much of my work on the farm is not spent tending to the crops that will be the bountiful end reward to that labor, but instead is spent managing the relationships between all life on the farm. My job is to choose the seed and then give it a fighting chance. And fight it must! So many forces are aiming against that chosen seed: other competitive seeds racing our young plant for nutrients, space, light, and water; pests that seem to focus their attention only on our future harvests, and lack of rain to germinate our seed are a few examples of what we are up against.

But my bag of tricks is pretty impressive and our seeds usually triumph.

This is a picture of early Arugula and Mustard seedings under row cover. These young leaves if left uncovered would quickly find themselves dotted with tiny holes, evidence of feedings of the persistent flea beetle. If the pressure is strong enough, the plants could be set back considerably or we could have complete crop failure. This lightweight, floating row cover sits atop the plants as they grow protecting them from insects as well as offering minimal frost protection.

When April showers are nowhere to be found, you can find me on the farm laying irrigation. The seeds can't germinate without sufficient water and putting plants into the ground without watering them in will result in transplant shock and crop failure (seeing a trend?) This is an example of the drip tape irrigation connections to allow me to irrigate sections of the field at a time.

The drip line spool propped on the wheel barrel for easy unwinding.  The first 100' of drip tape being laid out...with many many many more to follow.

This is the drip emitter. Spaced every 8" for even watering of crops. Laying the line close to each row conserves water and reduces wed growth by only putting it where it is needed.

Going into the barn this evening I noticed the chickens have made a fine roosting spot for themselves. Not where it was expected, but a safe distance from the curious dogs down below. They seem very happy and active in their new home.

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