We took the opportunity yesterday to get into the field with our hoes and our horse drawn cultivator. Since we don't use plastic mulch it is important for us to stay ahead of the weed pressure in our vegetables. Our cover crops play a large role in this by reducing weed pressure before any vegetables are planted. And, once we do plant vegetables we are vigilant about cultivating or hoeing before any germinated weed seeds can break the soil surface. (This is called the white thread stage and it is the point at which the weeds are the easiest to kill.)
Another reason to hoe and cultivate is to conserve moisture. We try to minimize the amount of irrigation we use to conserve fuel and water. By hoeing we are creating a light mulch of soil that will help keep moisture further down in the ground. This works best in the spring and fall when the weather isn't too hot.
The best cultivating tool is the hand held scuffle hoe and we use this on our just germinated vegetables like carrots, beets, and lettuce mix. Ideally we would scuffle hoe everything, but we just don't have the time. So, on our larger transplanted veggies like kale and head lettuce we use either the tractor cultivator or the horse drawn cultivator. Yesterday Toad and Lady did a good job of cultivating without killing too many plants!
In the photos you'll notice the white coverings over some beds. We call this row cover and we use it to keep insect pests off the crops. This time of year we mainly use it on our Brassicas like kale, kohlrabi, asian greens, and boc choi to keep the flea beetles away. Flea beetles are tiny little beetles that jump like fleas. They like brassicas and will put hundreds of tiny little holes in all of the leaves.
The row covers also add a few degrees of warmth which helps the plants grow a little quicker too.
Fresh chicken is available early this week. If you are interested you can place an order from our website on the Online Order Form page.
That's all for now,