March brings the start up of the greenhouse regardless of how cold or warm the weather is. We started up the wood-stove in the greenhouse to keep it warm on the cloudy days and sub zero nights that we have been experiencing. It turned out that Michelle Jory was here again this year to help with the first tray filling and this year she took the picture of me…The first lettuce and pac choi transplants for the hoop houses are up. Our onions and leeks that we start from seed are coming along. It looks like we will have to replant some onions to make up for the poor germination of some varieties. Saturday, I brought out the sweet potatoes that wintered over in our attic to start slips. We will root the shoots and then plant them in 50 cell trays. We will then wait until all danger of frost has past to plant them out in the garden.
Our transplanter has arrived and Ken and Bill are working to retrofit it to be pulled by our Suffolk Punch horses. It will be a learning year for the transplanter. Part of the challenge with the onions is that in order to use the transplanter I planted the seeds in 200 cell trays. Previous years I broadcast seeds into flats to be separated and planted individually by hand. This year, I carefully counted out two seeds per cell. Where the germination was poor we have some empty cells. Next year, I will plant four seeds per cell and thin out where necessary.
Friday, Bill broadcast the red clover seed onto the winter cereal crops. The under seeding will grow under the wheat and rye and when the grain is harvested the under seeding will grow on. The clover will become a cover crop to fix nitrogen and protect the soil from erosion over the winter. It is good to do the under seeding on a day when there is a bit of snow on the ground so that you can see where you have already spread the seed. In the spring when the snow melts it helps water in the little seeds and the seed settles into the soft earth where it waits to germinate and spring forth.
Ken has been doing some round pen training with three of our young horses. The jury is still out on what to do with our two young stallions. We will see how they progress.
The arrival of spring is bringing the first three of our new apprentices, who expect to be with us until Thanksgiving. We are looking forward to a good season and are itching to get out to the field and start ploughing the CSA garden. One of our first jobs will be to move the hoop houses and get them ready for the first spring planting.