All the planning, wishing and dreaming about my work at the farm in 2018 is now starting and I couldn't be happier, busier or more exhausted- in a good sort of way. Farming is not for wimps!
Every-so-often the work backs up.... like two weeks ago. The raspberry field was totally out of control. Those beautiful, but rambunctious canes were growing everywhere- I mean the field was covered with them and the "rows" were almost impossible to discern. Their growth rate is astonishing, maybe 6" a week, so it was becoming quite a jungle in the field and I was getting worried whether we'd be able to corral them.
Rick is calmer than I and he said he'd take care of it. He came to the farm and rototilled the whole field, leaving only 4 one foot wide beds evenly divided across the field. He even got rid of 10' of a trial variety which had the peculiar habit of growing laterally, instead of vertically and had dangerously sharp thorns. In just a few hours, he totally transformed this crazy, out-of-control patch into a garden any one would be proud of. Then he laid the irrigation into the rows, put new batteries into the automatic timer and set it for alternate day watering. It was a job I could have never done myself.
A few days earlier I had ordered straw for weed control in the berry patch which was to be delivered on Friday. Rick was leaving Thursday,so spreading 18 bales of straw was left to me...until I got an email Thursday from my sister Tracy that she wanted to come to the farm and work, which she did.
Tracy surprised me by getting to the farm around 8AM and though the straw-man was to deliver around 11, he showed up at 8:30 and Tracy and I started right in spreading 6" of straw across the whole field, finishing after noon. It felt very magical to have all the components of a miracle come together. ALL my raspberry worries were gone from one day to the next through volunteer efforts and the field looks beautiful.
The area where Rick rototilled out the sharp, lateral canes- about 10'- was covered with landscape fabric to discourage the canes re-emerging and self-seeded sunflower plants were transplanted from the potager to fill in the space.
Before Rick arrived, I had a chance to finish the "road stand" which is nothing more than a table with a canvas roof. But it sure is cute!
A sign post is at the end of the driveway and I can change out seasonal products easily.
Just a few other farm stand photos...
I'm going on the mantra "if you build it, they will come" because I didn't advertise and no one came the first week, but I have hope. I saw one person looking over the wares the second week, but didn't buy anything. And yesterday a lady came, walked into the garden where I was working and said she stopped for the stand but saw me and wanted to meet me- then after a nice chat, left and forgot to check out the stand! Good thing it's on self-service and I'm not paying a shop-keeper! LOL
And in other news... I'd been waiting on a dirt delivery for the perma-culture beds. Because of heavy rains, downed electric lines and trees, everything was muddy and difficult for dirt delivery, but that didn't stop the hot frame plants from growing. Eighty degree temperatures in NJ even made them grow faster and by mid-May the plants were ready to go into the ground, but no dirt! Just when I though I couldn't wait another day, the dirt was delivered.
Over the winter, the plastic for smothering the weeds was left in the frames.
Then, while Rick was rototilling, I traded out the plastic for cardboard. (which was another magical story- When I went to the recycle place, someone had just dropped off one-time-used, clean cartons which I took. They only needed to be trimmed 3" from one side to fit perfectly and I got enough to do all the beds!!!!)
The corrugated boxes will break down quickly- probably within a month- and the glue attracts worms, all the while smothering the weeds below.
Then the dirt was delivered and before the men were out of the driveway, I was planting. My hot frame plants were soooo ready!
There is still a lot of hardscape to finish the perma-culture area- fencing to protect from deer, I have bricks to edge where the mulch meets the grass and an extension to the area where I've already planted baby's breath plants- a perennial which I'll begin harvesting next year.
Working here, mostly by myself, is a quiet and pensive time. I think about gardens, and how to finance gardens (!), how to grow better plants (!!)- that sort of thing-- and all sorts of wonderings come up. At dusk, when I'm watering the plants and looking out at the big picture of the Farm in the Pines, I'm awed to have such a close look at the beauty of nature and to be a part of it. It's very humbling.
I hope your days are beauty-filled, too.