Tunnel Talk 9/22/23

Tunnel Talk 9/22/23

Posted by Mandy + Steve O'Shea on

Hideee ho neighborinos,

  It’s more of the same out here.  Busy with lots and lots of dahlias and prep work for spring.  We’re also polishing up the place bit by bit in anticipation of the big dinner we’re hosting for The Plate Sale October 14th.  9 acres gets unruly pretty fast and cleaning up the yard for guests takes on a whole new meaning at that scale.   If you missed the prior announcement and aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out the link for tickets to Dinner in the Dahlias here!

  The first ranunculus and anemone corms are sprouting fresh roots and are ready to be planted…but the tunnels are not ready just yet.  To prep the tunnels, we had to take off the old weather beaten, ripped up plastic inch by inch around the whole perimeter (it’s locked in place with zigzag wires that you wiggle into a metal channel).  We’re actually replacing the plastic on two tunnels, likely as you are reading this, so we’re currently “team building.”  Everyone takes a turn trying to cowgirl a rope over an 18’ peak and 35’ across.  It’s a lot of laughs and sore arms.  They then pull 4 different ropes tied to a huge sheet of greenhouse plastic while I dart around like squirrel with my 16’ broom, trying to push the plastic up and over whatever it gets stuck on, so that when they pull, it doesn’t tear.   Then we climb on the top of moving trucks and orchard ladders and straighten it out, pull it tight, and begin to wiggle that wire into those channels to lock the plastic into place for the next 5 years of crops.  

  In preparation for preparation, last week we took soil samples and once we’re done with the plastic, we will amend the beds with whatever organic nutrients the lab says we need.  We already spread a bunch of compost all throughout the tunnels after raking out any un-decomposed detritus left over from our summer cover crops.  We then have to take a bunch of unexpected showers as our dumb dumb sprinkler gives us all sorts of problems while we try to dampen the soil prior to tilling and bed shaping.  You never want to till dry soil if you can avoid it.  It pulverizes the soil structure, making it less hospitable to your plants for a variety of reasons.  You don’t want to till soggy soil either.  It makes the soil clumpy and is also bad for your plants.  Anyways, after tilling the perfectly wet soil, we’ll make beds with shovels, rakes, and occasionally the tractor.   We’ll then steam any areas that had strong disease pressure last spring ( this is the largest pain in the ass of all the steps), then we run irrigation lines evenly throughout all the beds and plant all the babies in very organized groupings and spacings.  I know that sounds like a lot. It is.  Mandy and I are constantly trying to find 30 minutes here and there to address all of these things in between picking, packing, fixing, emailing, prepping the store, fertigating the dahlias, watering the mums, weedwhacking, fencing, customer service, admin stuff, and everything else.   It always seems manageable enough as we approach fall, but inevitably seems to stretch out to the very last minute as we squeeze the last seconds out of the decreasing daylight.

  The Farm store is so lovely right now.  We decided to put a little bench under the bamboo archway for anyone who wanted to sit and take it all in for a few minutes.  We hope you enjoy your weekend!