Tractor Farming Lesson One: Planting

I’ve been working on a farm not too far from us and I’ve been learning a lot. Most recently, I learned how cool equipment can be. In my classes, I learned how much can be done by hand, but using the equipment pictured above, we got so much done in very little time. It seriously was like magic.

I found pictures of similar things by searching for “seedling planter,” but my boss just called it a planter. At any rate, it hooks on behind a tractor, the container on top is filled with water and seedlings are set on the trays in front of the seats. The tractor driver drives (very) slowly and water comes out of the container and into the yellow wheel between the seats. The wheel, when lowered to contact with the ground punches a hole and fills the hole with water. The person(s) on the seats in the back put plants from the trays into the holes and cover them quickly. We got three rows (the picture below gives you an idea how long a row is) done in about 20 minutes. It was amazing. And it was fun. My boss’s granddaughter was in the other seat teaching me how to do things and we wound up competing to see who could put more plants in the ground.

The thing for me is that I kind of want to build permanent beds so that I can build up the soil structure, rather than going two steps forward and one step back. The tractor isn’t exactly light and driving that over a place I’m going to want to plant in the future seems like it makes cover-cropping kind of pointless for compaction issues. And soil structure is really important for healthy plants:Soil structure has a major influence on water and air movement, biological activity, root growth and seedling emergence.” [Wikipedia]


Lost Bird Baby and Garden Update

Yesterday, I was at the house in town mowing the yard and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. The way the thing was hopping around, I thought it was a toad. I let the mower die and went to look. Turned out, it was a baby bird. All that fluff around its head is not dandelion fluff – it’s baby bird fluff.

I looked around for where it might have come from, but my best guess was the gutter and I wasn’t going to try to get up there just to put a baby bird back (it’s a long way up and I don’t like heights). The baby didn’t seem to really like my trying to put my phone in its face to take a picture; hiding under the leaf was just one way it tried to evade me. Hopefully it’s okay – there was an adult flying around after I went back to mowing. It seems like it would be pretty defenseless, though, since it doesn’t have real feathers yet.

After I finally got the yard mown, I went to Aunt Denise’s to look at my plants. The first thing I noticed when I pulled in was that my carrot plants are nearly as tall as the peas. And the peas are about as tall as I am. The carrots have got some really nice flowers on them (I left them specifically for the flowers, since the roots were less spectacular than I was hoping for last year). I didn’t see any bugs on them (pollinators, specifically), but there was a bee in my kale flowers, so hopefully something is enjoying my carrot flowers when I’m not looking. I read online that they are supposed to bloom all summer, so I’ll leave them that long, then take them out to put something else in.

The first plants I went to investigate, though, were my pea plants. I’m really enjoying my peas – so much so that I’m not, for the most part, waiting for them to be fully ripe before I pull them off and eat them.

Some of the tomatoes from last year seeded themselves this year (right under the peas). This is a volunteer tomato that already has blooms (the plants I started at the house have just been transplanted and are recovering).  I’m not sure if this is one of the big tomatoes (just the right size for hamburgers or sandwiches) or one of the cherries. I’m hoping for the cherries because they were just so good last year, but it looks like it might be the larger tomatoes (they didn’t do so well last year because it was so wet – they just split).

Our Latest Woodland Discovery

We had a guy from the forestry department out today to talk about what we could do with our trees (whether we should try to sell our timber or just have it cut). We have about 1/4 acre clear, but since it’s a long rectangle facing north and south, there’s too much shade to grow much. I put in a little bed up at the driveway, but quickly filled that and Aunt Denise’s with plants leftover. I’m still amazed that I more than doubled the space at Aunt Denise’s, put in about as much space at our house as I have at Aunt Denise’s now, and still ran out of space.

Anyway, that’s a lot of rambling to get to the picture I wanted to share today: a red-spotted newt that we ran across while we were showing the forestry guy our trees.

Crazy Cat

Last week it was really hot, but for some reason, Coke buried herself in a blanket in the hottest part of the house. And then she had the gall looked at me like I was crazy when I told her she was out of her mind.