Last week was big for me and my fledgling farm. It was my debut at the farmers market, and the first time I could put a little bit of money in the bank after many months of preparation. With warmer weather and a little bit of rain, all that prep work is paying off – vegetables are growing by leaps and bounds every day. But the work isn’t over by any means! Now that the threat of frost is over, I will be planting warm weather crops: tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, okra, beans, and basil.
Once all of these crops are in the ground, my entire 1-acre field will be filled. That doesn’t mean that I can just sit back and watch the plants grow. As the weather steadily gets warmer, all my cool-loving plants like radishes, lettuces, and spring greens will begin to finish their life cycle by going to seed. At that point, they are no longer tasty, so I will mow them down, till them back into the soil, and rotate a new crop into that location. In this way, I will get almost two crop cycles out of my 1-acre garden, making it kind of like a 2-acre garden! To guide me in this process of cycling crops through the garden, I created a crop plan back during those really cold winter days. So far, the plan is pretty much on course, but I’ve had to adapt a little by pushing back my planting dates due to the long and cold winter this year. One crop that has been waiting patiently to go in the ground are my onions. I seeded them into flats that lived inside my house during February. In March, they went into the greenhouse, but still had to survive through some cold nights – you all remember those 16 degree nights, right? My hope was that they’d be big enough to plant out in the field by the end of March, but not so! They are still sizing up in my greenhouse and will hopefully go to live out in the garden in the next week or two. On the flip side, I started some brussels sprouts at the beginning of April thinking they would be planted out into the field around June 1.
Well, they’ve been growing like crazy, so I planted them out in the field this week. That’s how it goes – the plants do their thing according to their own schedule and the weather, and it’s my job to observe them and adapt my plan as necessary to make sure they have the best growing environment possible.