It's difficult to believe it is already the 17th week of the year. It's also my favorite time of the year. Seeing everything wake up from winters rest is always an amazing sight. The animals seemingly grow inches overnight. The calves are almost ready to turn out to pasture, and the chickens which were born in February are already roosting.
I began chitting the potatoes earlier this week. Chitting is a practice more common in Europe than America, primarily due to the decline of American families farming together and passing on decades of wisdom to younger generations. Conventional wisdom will have you plant your potatoes on Good Friday, and harvest in about 110 days or so. However, when you plant that early the ground is much too cold to stimulate new growth which forces the tubers to sit in the soil for about 3 weeks before beginning to sprout. This method causes poor and sporadic germination primarily due to rot.
When you chit the potatoes, you basically begin the growing process indoors, and transplant outdoors around early May. While potatoes will tolerate a very light frost, a freeze would kill them, so we don't mind the wait for the elimination of the threat of crop failure. With the potatoes in a warm location with bright light, they quickly begin growing their "eyes". Once they are rapidly growing, and about an inch or more in length, they should be set out into warm soil. By starting the growing process before planting, the time to harvest is greatly decreased to around 70 days. This method has very good germination, and often yields are higher, with plants that are stronger allowing for increased pest resistance.
We managed to get 464 brassicas transplanted on Saturday. It didn't really make a dent in the amount of trays that we still have left. These plants should have been in the ground 3 weeks ago, so that the harvest date would soon be approaching. However, the cold, and very wet spring of 2013, has made planting season a nightmare, and nearly everything is a month behind at this point. I try to remember that everyone around the country is having this same problem as well. Even the asparagus crowns that we ordered from New Jersey were nearly 2 weeks late being delivered due to wet fields keeping them from harvesting. Now they are sitting in a box in our kitchen because now we have wet fields. It has simply been horrible farming weather, and I am ready for some more favorable weather.
The forecast shows sunny weather all week. That means we now have the daunting task of attempting to get everything transplanted, and all of our seeds sown...in only 4 days. Wish us luck, and check back next week to see how far we get.