Plants In, Season Underway!

What a great past couple of weeks!  We have accomplished the monumental planting of our tomato, eggplant and pepper crops!  All 1,020 tomatoes are in and looking lovely!  This task, of course, was preceded by the very dusty chore of moving the huge piece of Lumite into place – It is 24′ x 300′ long, dirty, and incredibly heavy!  However, the pros of using huge weed-supressing fabric FAR outweigh the cons, that’s for sure.  As you can see, the dogs were an incredible help (ha!), and we were able to drag, line up, and secure the fabric in place all in 2 hours or so – not too bad!

 Next step was the pounding in of the posts – a huge chore that we are always so glad to accomplish every year!  This year we replaced the old 2’x4′ stakes we used with shiny new ones that were 8′ long – this is in the hopes of creating a much taller trellis than in previous years – because, well, tomatoes just wanna grow!  They will get as tall as we’ll let them, and we would like them to be tall enough for us to be standing when harvesting tomatoes this year – enough of the scooting around on all fours!  Here’s to innovation in year 8 – phew!  At any rate, Spencer-the-strong stands on a tall-ish ladder with sledgehammer in hand, while I stand below,  holding the post steady.  We have already cut the bottom of each post into a sharp angle with a circular saw, so as to facilitate pounding.  Spencer then pounds the stake about a foot into the ground.  Once all the stakes are standing, we use duckbill anchors and wire ratchets at each end of a line of posts, and create a telegraph wire type of effect with quarter-mile wire (a heavy gauge galvanized wire) strung across the tops of all the stakes.  We use a staple gun to secure them to the tops.  Finally, we use a double half hitch knot to secure the tomato twine to the wire, burying the end of the twine with the transplant, allowing us a tight, straight string to trellis the tomatoes up, securing with clips as the  tomato grows.  It’s a neat and clean system that allows for easy pruning, and great airflow between plants.  Plus, it’s just so darn neat and tidy!  We irrigate each bed with 2 lines of drip tape, which was laid under the Lumite before it was dragged into place.  Now, we can water and fertigate the whole thing by turning on one faucet!  This will be especially valuable – and was this past week with such hot days – high 80s and even 90s all week!  At any rate, it is an inspiring thing to see all of the tomatoes lined up and ready to grow – I can taste those Paul Robeson and Wapsipinicon Peach tomatoes already!!!

In other news, we have had amazing market weeks of late!  Great weather, great crowds, and tons of plant sales to all those gardeners out there – our mixed 6-packs being the clear favorite this year.  We really take pride in creating these 6-packs of tomatoes and peppers for gardeners that don’t have a ton of space for all of the same type of tomato or pepper.  We carefully select several different varieties and sell them in a mixed pack to round out gardens with an inspiring bounty of uniqueness, utility, and deliciousness!  We’re glad they are so well-received; we truly enjoy growing  them and sending them off to good homes!  We have also had a nice bounty of crops to bring to market – our custom heirloom salad mix, bordeaux spinach, baby arugula, microgreens, head lettuces, friseé, radishes galore and a surprise crop of mâche!  It only gets better and better from here each week, everyone!

This past week we had our first Food Club pickup, which was so wonderful!  It is a new tradition for us to have pickups at the farm instead of at the New North End Farmers’ Market (they’re taking a year off).  We so thoroughly enjoy sharing our farm with visitors, and it means so much more when we get to give tours to our farm share members.  What a pleasure to have members see the farm season in such a promising state – everything is planted and ready to grow – the favas are flowering, the potatoes are leafing, the onions are greening, and the tomatoes are establishing.  Each week the farm takes on a new skin with all the growth that rain and sun bring.  Each week we will get to see the changes and share in the deliciousness, my favorite part of farming!

13 Responses

  1. heather jane says:

    This is such an awesome post! I love the tomato trellis information and the six pack variety plants are a wonderful idea. As a burgeoning spin farmer in Idaho…I appreciate the tips and wonderful insight.

  2. Kathy Sandoval says:

    Half-pint: Save me a bushel of gorditas. It’s looking good in the field. Tom and I are thinking of a late summer early fall trip to see you all and do the pick-up.
    Yee ha! Can hardly wait. Half-pint groupie!

  3. Here here! So psyched about that herb garden!!!! It just all looks so DAMN FINE!

  4. charley says:

    Thanks for the work walk-through. Website and farm site are both good. I do check The Piste and like Spencer’s musings. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was smoking something funny, but I know he just lives in that comtemplative space anyway. I enjoy the other links as well.

  5. Mara says:

    Hello all! Thanks for the great comments!

    Heather Jane: So glad the tomato trellis info is helpful! It is such a great system, you’ll love it! Also, the 6-packs are indeed a good idea!
    Kathy & Tom: we would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see you late summer! You name the date!
    Jess: the herbs are growing by leaps and bounds, you won’t believe it when you pick up your share this week!
    Charley: Thanks for the feedback! The Piste is indeed all about Spencer’s contemplative space. Glad you enjoy the links page!


  6. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for the info on the tomato trellising system. I have been wanting to try it at my farm. How far apart are the posts, and what gage is the wire that you use? Thanks again for sharing all that you do, you are truly an inspiration!

  7. Mara says:

    Hi Debbie!

    The posts are placed every 10 feet, and the wire we use is whatever 1/4 mile wire is – I think it is 17 gauge. Good luck! Check the post from last year as well – there’s some more specific pictures of the duckbill anchors. Hope this helps! Thanks for posting a comment!

  8. Debbie says:

    Also forgot to ask: what are the posts made of, oak, pine?

  9. Mara says:

    They are just regular 2x4s from Lowe’s – probably pine. We’re not too worried about them degrading too much – the old ones were purchased in 2005, and have been used outside all those years – we’re still using them, though inside now; probably prolonging their life further. The new 2x4s are 8 footers. Here’s the old post with more descriptive pictures: http://halfpintfarm.com/blog/rhythm-of-the-season-weather-feasting/
    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  10. Debbie says:

    Thanks, Mara. Just one more question, I think! Do you suppose that one could use metal “T” posts, instead of 2×4’s? I have a lot of metal posts, I guess the problem would be keeping the wire at the top of the post, wouldn’t it. (I think I answered my own question!) Thanks, again for all your help. I looked at last year’s blog post again, and now I understand how a duckbill anchor works!

  11. Mara says:

    Hi Debbie. I think you could use metal posts – you’d just have to rig some sort of fitting on the top – maybe 2 short 2x4s (like 1 foot long) that have been screwed together, sandwiching the t-post between them, then stringing the wire across the top of the little 2x4s – now it’ll really look like a telegraph pole! Good luck to you – I hope it works and that you have a super-fruitful tomato year!

  12. charley says:

    Your hard work is rewarded.

  13. Ryan says:

    It’s nice to read a good article. I enjoy lots of the blog posts on your website.

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