About this time of year, we start to look for windows of opportunity for direct-seeding crops. The perfect window is when the soil is not too wet and then shortly after for it to rain and ‘water-in’ the newly planted seeds. What ‘seemed like the perfect window of opportunity’ happened March 21st when we dusted off the spader (an implement that can essentially plow and till in one pass…and do so much more according to Dr. Mark Williams) and I got my first chance to crawl across the ground watching the magic happen as plant debris and bare ground turned into a nice fluffy planting bed ready for seeds. The tractor can only go 0.5 mph to operate the spader properly, so I had plenty of time to think and watch the thunderstorms in the distance and watch rush-over traffic on Nicholasville Road, although honestly it takes great concentration to simply keep your eye on the horizon and drive in straight rows.
I’m not sure who was more excited: me to see the first fresh soil of the season, or the birds as they feasted on exposed grubs, worms, and other tasty treats. Lucky for me, when I finished spading and parked the tractor, I discovered that the new “Slow Food” student chapter was wrapping up a potluck meeting at the farm and they were kind enough to let me fill up a plate before packing up the leftovers. Now if only there were slow food potlucks at the end of every work-day…
Then on Tuesday March 22nd, Ben gave us a demonstration on all the bells and whistles with the farm’s “MaterMacc”, a precision-seeder with adjustments galore! I think we did alright, because we fit 11 beds of beets, spinach, chard, and carrots into the plot. I said earlier ‘what seemed like the perfect window of opportunity‘ because although we knew it was going to get a bit cooler by the weekend, the prolonged cold weather that followed wasn’t “a perfect opportunity” for the seeds to germinate. Hopefully with this new batch of warmer weather and more rain we are receiving this week, we can start to see some germination and seedling growth.
Although not a great picture of the “MaterMacc”, here I am trying to drive straight.