There is so much I love on the farm right now. The difference between this season and last season is astounding. Last season it felt like we’d never get it all done, everything felt like a rush, a race, we could work work work and there would always be something else, something we missed, something we forgot. This time around, I’m actually relaxed. It’s not that there isn’t a lot of work. The difference is that we have systems in place. We did the groundwork: building beds, building farm family, building community, building up the soil, building our muscles.
Today we spread buckwheat in our fall field, otherwise known as the outback. Buckwheat is a fast-growing cover crop which flowers in 4-5 weeks. It suppresses weeds, is very easy to incorporate (which is a big deal when you do most things by hand) and will add a whole lot of organic matter to the soil. It’s not only amazing that we’ve already been able to till the wet soil in the outback, but that we have the time to do something like spread cover crop. I was trying to remember what the outback looked like at this time last year, whether we had gotten on it yet. Ariel pointed out, “at this time last year, we weren’t really looking at this field.” Everything feels different.
Things I love:
1. Peas! Beautiful wonderful perfect adorable green rows of pea sprouts. I could look at them forever.
2. Garlic! Looking perky and healthy.
3. The pea trellis. Ariel is the trellis master, but it is a tedious job to do alone. We put this up on a gorgeous sunny afternoon with our awesome farm aunt Meg. We worked past quitting time, talking and laughing, and then we got ice cream to celebrate.
4. Overwintered kale! This stuff is sweet, tender, and delicious. We left last year’s kale stalks in the ground, and these plants two sprouted delicious new shoots. It’s the perfect field snack for a greens-starved farmer.
5. Baby beets. We decided to transplant our first succession of beets this season, to give them a head start and see if we could harvest them a bit earlier. So far, they are looking magical. I might decide to transplant all my beets in the future.
6. Baby toscano kale. Yum!
7. The farm. 500′ row feet of peas, brassicas, beets, and chard under the remay, weed-free pathways lined with burlap, gorgeous raised beds. We’re finished making beds in this field already. We’ve composted, added amendments, reshaped, and finished them. All 60 of them. Last year we finished sometime in the middle of June. This year, the last week in April. This might be my favorite thing.
I’ve been farming for long enough to know that this season will have its share of catastrophes. There will be crop failure – in fact, we’ve already had some. For the second year in a row, our celeriac refused to germinate in the greenhouse. This time around we started it on heat mats, but still, nothing growing. So, we’ll plant something else instead and try again next year. I’m not too worried about it. I know other things will go wrong. I know there will be plenty of exhausted, what-am-I-doing-here moments. But this time around, I’m a little more prepared for it.
In the meantime, I’m loving the more-relaxed pace of this season, the beautiful plant babies, and how easily the rhythm of farming is sliding back into my bones. And when I notice myself getting agitated about something (still waiting for those carrots to come up, still waiting for a farmer friend to till our new field), I take a breath, talk my way through it, and remind myself that it’ll all work out. It’s a whole lot easier to believe than it was last May.