The problem with farm work is that it has its own timetable and it does not care about weekends or holidays. Spring is a very important time to get all the plants in the ground so they can get growing and flourishing. Memorial day weekend and other holidays often does not exist for farmers its too busy a time especially in the spring and the fall when there is so much to do.
For most people in the North eastern United state memorial day weather probably sucked, this past weekend was not that great either if you want to hang in the great outdoors. Memorial day weekend it was cool cloudy and rained a lot. Saturday night into Sunday we got nearly three inches of rain! It rained quite a bit on Sunday morning and then light rain for most of the rest of the day.
Perfect weather for planting. – at least on our soil.
When the heavy rain was over we were outside and hard at work. Our seedlings get transplanted into their own individual pots and grown on then planted in the ground as soon as we can. Cloudy days are perfect since it allows the plants to get acclimatized to their new surrounding without being blasted by hot sunshine.
We first cover or permanent beds with black/white plastic mulch. This keeps the weeds down and keeps the soil most and stops erosion. It also helps to keep down any soil borne problems from splashing on the plants. We put ours down by hand since our rows are too close together to use a bed forming machine. We use every inch of space we have since we don’t have a huge farm.
Then we have to hand punch the plastic and plant the plant. Memorial Day weekend was just the two of us, no one else wanted to miss their weekend even if the weather was not great. So hubby did the plastic replacement and I put the plants in. We replaced the plastic on all to-be-planted rows in one of our fields and got as many plants in the ground as possible. That was just under 700 plants! That’s only part of the planting there is a lot more to do yet.
This past weekend was a little different. Its put in plants until it rains so hard that you have to run for shelter. Then hang out in the hoop house which is the closest shelter we have. Oh and while we are there lets pull some weeds out of the pots in here too shall we. Then when the rain goes over its back out and more planting. Its not cold so the rain is not a bother and it really waters in the little plants.
It gets you in the back and the legs since its all bending over, but the weather was great. Sorry if others don’t think so but there are some people who do like cloudy and rainy weather. The plants certainly do. Just look at your lawn bet that growing tall and fast.
We have hardy kiwi vines. A whole row of them. Now its time for them to flower. When in bloom they look magnificent totally festooned with flowers and the scent is intoxicating.
There is just one problem
We don’t have any male vines!
When we put in the row I purchased two females and one male. We put them in, marked which was which and watched them grow. I pruned them and waited for them to flower. That takes three years at least from planting.
Ours took five years because the frost hit them the first two and killed all the flowers off.
Next year they bloomed wonderfully and we were delighted. Then sad since we got no fruit.
Next year I looked more closely at the flowers when they arrived and discovered to my horror that we had all females! The idiot who sold us the vines (who will remain nameless) sold us all females NOT a male.
It was too late to order males for that year but they went in the ground first thing the next spring. The trouble is they will take three years to flower too. We had already waited six years with no fruit now we had to wait another three!
This really sucked.
Then I attended a session on hardy kiwis at a farm conference and the speaker told us that you could buy male kiwi pollen! Wonderful. It’s not at all cheap, which is no surprise but you can get it. So we bought some pollen.
Then I had to go out and pollinate all the flowers by hand.
So for two days I was the bee. Armed with a little bottle of pollen on a strap around my neck and a paint brush I painstakingly worked my way up the row of vines trying to pollinate as many of the hundreds and hundreds of flowers that I could.
It really makes you appreciate bees after a day pretending to be one.
The really sad thing was that in the whole time I was working on the vines I saw only two bees. One bumble bee and one honey bee. I hope it was from my hive it was so fat with female pollen from the vines it could hardly fly. But it never brought its buddies back to reap the harvest. I have no idea where my bees are going but they are not working my field this year. There were no native bees, and no bumble bees. These all got devastated by a neighboring farmer in the last couple of years when they insist on spraying those toxic chemicals that kill all the insects good and bad. This killed off the large populations of pollinators that we had so carefully encouraged and cultivated on our farm.
So the really sad thing is that even if we had had male vines we would have had no fruit without me because there are no bees to pollinate them
There are a number of vegetables farms around us and they must all be having the same problem. No bees so fruits no peppers, peas, beans no anything much except salad greens.
Save the bees and save our food.