We got our onions in the ground last week. It’s and brutally slow process and if you follow us on social media you probably saw a post about driving .1 miles per hour in the tractor! Painfully slow but so necessary and actually kind of beautiful in a way. It also gives you time to think which with three kids and a business to run there isn’t much time for that.
Onions are one of the first things to hit the soil every year and it marks the beginning of the growing season. It’s a time for reflection on last years crops and a time to look into the future of where the business is heading, what changes need to be made, and what milestones to celebrate.
Onions might be the beginning of our soil crops but they are so much more than that. They are a staple of cooking for chefs and culinary hobbyists around the world. They last through the year in cold storage. Did you know they are famous for being untraceable in the archaeological world? It’s true! Their tissues leave almost no trace at all and so their origin has been debated by botanists and food historians alike. Some research suggests that they originated in Central Asia while other research suggests they came from West Pakistan.
No matter where they originated from, onions were one of the very first cultivated crops in the world because they grew in different soils and climates, were easily transported, and lasted a long time after coming out of the ground. Ancient Chinese, Roman, and Egyptian texts have shown that onions played an important role in diets and even cultural practices. It’s amazing how far back they date and just how amazingly important they are!
We’re excited for the growing season and excited about these onions. We can’t wait to share them with you.
Have you noticed that the hours of daylight have been increasing?
December 21st is the shortest day with less than 9 hours of daylight. On January 21st this jumped to 9 hours 32 minutes and February 14th increased again to 10 hours 30 minutes. Doing the math, since December 21st we have gained 1 hour 30 minutes and these gains seem more noticeable each day.
The sun even feels much warmer when it decides to make an appearance. The combined longer daylight and warmer sun means it’s time to start planting again in the High Tunnel. Out with the old and in with the new.
This week we finished harvesting one of the beds of Asian Greens and began the process of replanting a new crop for early spring harvest.
We stagger the plantings so we can have a steady supply of greens throughout the spring. After we finished harvesting we used the broad fork to loosen the soil and then clear out the old plants and debris by hand. Just a simple tool that uses muscle to loosen and aerate the soil for the new crop. The goal is to loosen the soil but not disturb it too much and keep all the topsoil on the top layer.
Now we are almost ready to plant, but there is one more important step.
We need to till the top 2-3 inches to smooth it out and make the perfect seed bed. Keep in mind we are planting very tiny seeds and they need the best conditions as possible. The tool for this is called the tilther and uses a cordless electric drill to power it. A very cool tool that is specifically designed for this purpose.
Finally we can plant into that perfect seed bed.
I didn’t have to amend the soil for this planting because lettuce and radishes are not big feeders. Also, last fall we added compost to all the beds. For this job I use a little six row push seeder that does a pretty good job. It doesn’t singulate the seeds perfectly but for this job is serves the purpose.
Half the bed is lettuce mix.
Other half is red radishes.
Here are the finished beds and all that is left is to cover them with row cover to keep them warm on the cooler nights.
They are not going to germinate very fast but once they get going they should be ready in early April. Also we are trying an experiment this year and we wrapped the outside walls of the tunnel in a reflective insulated wrap. The goal is the keep it warmer and reflect more of that stippled sunlight to the ground.
Now I hope you have a new appreciation for St Valentine’s Day and we can’t wait to start harvesting the first new crops of 2019. Also new this week are micro greens and pea shoots. Be sure to stop by the market and give them a try.