Early spring projects

Monday, March 1 marked the semi-official beginning of our farming season. The weather has noticeably improved after a long, cold, cloudy winter, with a week straight of sun and warming temperatures. Multiple natural signs of spring are appearing, including the arrival of various birds and the swelling of buds on trees.
As of Monday, we are transitioning back to our “summer” work schedule. Over the winter, we tried to take one day a week off, often used evenings as personal time, and generally slowed down a bit. This is now at an end, as we are going back to the once-a-month off-day schedule and really trying to be productive from dawn to bedtime. There is much to do with the growing season upon us, and with conditions improving to allow us to move forward on many postponed projects.

What’s happening in March:

Our 5,000 or so onions are off to a good start. We’re testing different potting soil mixes, and so far are not seeing major differences in the results. The management needs are different, as the more farm-based mixes without peat moss dry out much faster and need more attention, whereas the peat mixes are more likely to develop mold, but the onions themselves seem reasonably happy across the board:

The first goose has started laying, and once all three get going, we’ll be inundated with eggs between them and the chickens:

We’ve nearly completed clearing our new road out to the main field, along which a new water line will be run sometime in March, with year-round hydrants providing water for both produce and pastures. This will save us a great deal of work, and make our rotational pasture system far more effective and efficient.

We’re also moving forward on upgrading our pole barn into the central washing/packing area, getting bids on the concrete work and expecting the floor to be laid in March as well. Once that’s done, I’ll be building a walk-in cooler and setting up work stations, and we’ll be ready to go.
The garlic has been quietly sitting dormant through the harsh winter, and is now growing anew:

Pasture clearing is continuing, and I hope to get started installing new fencing (and upgrading the vegetable fencing) sometime in March.

Our organic paperwork for 2010 is nearly complete; it’s due in mid-March and we expect to make that deadline. The largest project remaining is completing the 2010 planting plan, which is a detailed grid presenting where all our products will be grown and when. This helps the certifier confirm what we grow and how we manage crop rotation. It’s also quite useful for us to have a master plan to work from, though there are always changes throughout the year. The improving weather is creating increasing conflict between outdoor tasks and indoor office work.

We will also try to complete our tax work in March, as April just gets too busy to justify indoor work.

I’m nearly finished building a portable (draggable) goose shed to allow easier pasturing of the geese. After this I will start in on a chicken version and possibly another one for the goats. These are mostly built from on-farm cedar lumber, though I’ll be mounting the chicken one on an old trailer frame I got at an auction.

We’ll be milling more lumber in late March, from logs we’ve been cutting and storing all winter, before which I need to complete blueprints for all my upcoming construction projects (animal sheds, walk-in cooler, fences, gates) so I can have an accurate cut list.
The Columbia Farmers Market opens March 20, though we don’t expect to start selling until mid to late April, depending on weather.

We’re meeting with our potential employees this week, and will probably have them starting in April.
We’ve been removing winter mulch from some beds and putting up our plastic over hoops, to start warming the soil for the first plantings of radishes, lettuce, and other spring items in the near future.
And so on. March will be a busy, busy month, and we’re looking forward to it.

2 thoughts on “Early spring projects

  1. What materials do you use to make those plastic ground covers? I would be interested in trying something like that to get some early lettuce and such. We've been hungry for green things!