Our potato plants are looking happy and healthy so far!
You are needed for our second hilling, scheduled for Wednesday evening, July 7th at 6:30 pm when the sun's heat will be off the field. Thankyou for rsvping as soon as possible so we know what our numbers will look like.
The eleven members who made it out to our first official hilling on June 19th worked hard on yet another beautiful sunny day! We shared some fresh organic fruit kabobs to take the edge off the heat, and left hoping that other members absent that day might be able to help finish the remaining rows.
A hanful of members met again in the field on the following Tuesday nite to continue hillng. And now it's already time for a second go at the whole field!
NOTE 2: It would also be great to hear from any folks passionate about working the field without machinery as much as posible, for eventual scything of volunteer buckwheat emerging in next year's planting quadrant! (see photos further down)
Please remember to bring a hoe, gloves and water with you on the 7th, and bring along an extra toonie towards refreshments if you like. Hope to see you soon!
Below: here's a closeup of the pea cover crop in the 2011 quadrant, beside this year's potato quadrant. There are a couple of volunteer potatoes visible from last year's planting, and also some buckwheat that has reseeded. This will need to be removed before it goes to seed again, but we want the peas to grow more before we get in there to scythe it down...
Below: We still need to keep deadheading the rye in the upper half of the field for the same reason...we don't want it to reseed. In the second photo below, you'll see how the remaining stalks in the field mature, and what they look like when they've already gone to seed...these need to be deadheaded into a bucket!
Below: the pea cover crop in the upper half of the field as of June 27th - very pretty, but taller than anticipated! This will have to be cut up before the soil is tilled in the fall, otherwise the machinery will not be able to turn it all under. It's also interspersed with grasses. THe FSC considered cutting it now and using it as mulch in the potato quadrant, but determined it best to leave where it is so that it can properly feed the soil in that section as intended
Below: A Journey Through Time!
Here's how the field looked when it was freshly laid out with planting row strings, back in May...
Next, the May 22nd planting brigade at work...we dug holes 18 inches apart in 14 and a half rows two feet apart, with approximately 60 plants per row.
Because some of the potatoes were planted with their long sprouts up in the air, and others were planted with the spouts mostly buried, the growth rate varied from plant to plant. Both photos below were taken on the same day of different plants...one just emerging from the ground, the other showing leaf growth off its long eyes that were planted straight up
The long spindly plants required hilling earlier than the rest of the plants, so Lindsey and Jan got in there a week or so before our first 'official' hilling with the membership. They put in an estimated 45 minutes. It seemed prudent to limit soil compaction with fewer feet searching out the plants that we didn't want to postpone hilling while waiting for the others to catch up (like the one below, racing ahead of the pack)
Below: our first 'official' hilling crew, June 19th (following in Jan and Lyndsey's earlier footstep)
Thanks to Ron Dobie for this photo!
Below: hilling the plants in the rows closest to the fence on the south east side was tough going, so we all took on tackling some of those plants first before filling up the potato holes and mounding some of the other plants where the weeds weren't so thick. Carboard was collected and positoned by the FSC (field management sub-committee) members the week before along the area where the long grass threatened to invade our planted area ...
Above: you can also see here, that weeds dug up from the tough planting areas and elsewhere in the field have been spread out on the cardboard to kill off the roots, and weigh down the carboard mulch suppressing further growth along that side of the field
Below: take a look at the different heights of the various plants after our first hilling, even though we planted them all at the same depth (six inches down, covered with three inches of soil). Because the long sprouts were positioned in various ways there is no overall uniformity. Our initial idea was that the first 'hilling' would be simply filling in the six inch hole that the potatoes were planted in, but additional mounding has already been necessary for most plants
Below: Membership attendance for the first hilling was lower than necessary to complete the job. Most members worked for about two and a half hours, but we still had tough patches to weed, and two or three entire rows left to finish hilling and weeding. So a second crew went out on Tuesday nite, June 22nd to continue working... here's Jan depositing some of the weeds and clumps of grass roots collected from the field earlier by Sheila and Rae onto the cardboard mulch stretching out along the southeast side of the 2010 potato quadrant
Jan and Lyndsey are new members of the Co-op this year, and a great asset to the FSC. Below, Lyndsey demonstrates her talent as a multi-tasker extraordinaire! She does keep asking, though, if anyone else has expressed interest yet in joining the four of us on the FSC...please get in touch if you're inspired to contribute to the co-op this way(no tool juggling actually required!) You can see that the soil is still moist here, just after the Summer Solstice since we've had so much rain this spring/early summer
Above: the Tuesday, June 22nd evening crew- Lydsey, Sheila, Jan, Ron, Mike (missing from photo, the photographer, Fireweed) We put in another two and a half hours in the field hilling and weeding
Below: the FSC met in the field on Sunday, May 27th to discuss field management issues, and address the water system. The cistern has already been filled by our volunteer Fire Department, thanks to Charlie. Mike Lindsay and Charlie put on the new spout that hopefully made filling the tank easier this year.
Above: Lyndsey, Derek, Mike, and Jan (missing from photo, the photographer, Fireweed) stand in front of the shrinking pile of hay mulch we plan to spread over our potato crop as far as it will go after the water system is in place
Below: the various lenghts of plastic tubing for our irrigation system are stretched out in the quadrant next to this year's potato patch for measuring. Since the photo below was taken on June 27th, Jan has purchased clamps and connectors for reconfiguring the system to suit our current planting layout. And Derek and Mike have started assembling the tubing which had to have approximately fifteen more feet added to each of fourteen lengths for this year's existing number of rows.