Blooming Glen Farm | On The Farm
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On The Farm

Farmers at BGF got to try their hand at some plant “surgery” this week as our young tomato plants were lined up to go through the delicate grafting process. Grafting of woody plants, like fruit trees, has been popular for centuries but the cultivation of grafted vegetable plants is a fairly new practice, originating in the late 1920’s in Japan and Korea where they began grafting watermelon plants onto squash rootstock. (In case you are wondering, this is not genetic modification!)

Basically, we are selecting two kinds of tomato plants–one for its delicious fruits (the heirloom variety), the other for its vigor and resistance to root-born disease (the “rootstock”)–and then fusing them together through the grafting process, so that we have a plant that possesses the favorable qualities of both plants.

The top of the rootstock is cut-off, leaving only the stem and the roots. It is then grafted onto the “scion” (the plant we want to fruit).

It looks a little something like this…

The Setup

The Incision

The Graft

After this process, the plants get to hang out and heal for a week in a warm humid environment before the final incision is made and the scion’s roots are completely pulled out and the “exchange” is made.

Studies have shown that grafted tomato plants have a 50% higher yield than non-grafted tomato plants. Not a bad way to increase production, without having to put up more greenhouses.

If you want to learn more about tomato grafting and see some live action footage, check out this technical video from a Vermont tomato grower. (Warning: If caught watching this video, you will be labeled a serious farm nerd!)

The fields at Blooming Glen are teeming with new life this week, as the crew has been feverishly transplanting the greenhouse starts between the spurts of wind and rain.

To avoid compacting the soil in particularly wet and muddy areas, we take to planting by hand (seen below).

Crew planting some radicchio and escarole by hand

However, when it is dry enough for the tractor to make it into the field, we are happy to give our tired backs a break and hop on the Transplanter! This also allows us to plant a lot faster and more efficiently.

Beet transplants going in the ground…on their way to big beautiful beets!!

Transplanting Kohlrabi…from two angles.

A band of ladies from the crew broke off from the action to plant some sugar snap peas by hand just as some rain came. The beginnings of a tasty U-pick field!!

The ladies planting some sweet sugar snap peas for the u-pick field

And we can’t forget the help of all the CSA volunteers who came out on a beautiful Saturday morning to plant over 11,000 spring onion sets, by hand!

Spring Onion Sets

What else is in the ground? Swiss chard, fennel, broccoli, radishes, lettuce and hakurei turnips. Coming soon….potatoes!!

The coldframe and greenhouse are filling up with seedlings.

And the new crew of interns is ready to plant!

Spring is a waiting game, and now we wait for the fields to dry out. The plants are backing up in the greenhouse, and as soon as we have a window of opportunity it will be a mad dash here at the farm to get everything that’s ready into the ground! Meanwhile, thanks to some great CSA volunteers, the onions are all potted up in trays. They’ll be ready to plant in the field in 4 weeks, and will show up on your dinner plate mid-summer!

Potting up Onions

Other jobs are keeping us busy. Farmer Tom tinkers with the new (old) Farmall Cub, with tractor mounted seeders.

New Toy for Farmer Tom!

Farmer Chris puts the finishing touches on a bee hive he built. The bees will be taking up residence this weekend.

Bee Hive Construction

Meanwhile, we all think of Spring and salivate at the thought of fresh produce!

Can you taste the pesto?

As author Leo Tolstoy once said of the season, “spring is the time of plans and projects.”  It seems this last week we have been riding the line between the seasons–winter and spring–and are now comfortably able to put many of the winter plans for the farm into fruition with the arrival of longer, sunny days. We are thrilled to have completed some maintenance projects such as digging out and re-graveling the “pack-out” where we wash the veggies, improving walkways and entrances, and doing alot of cleanup around the defrosting farm grounds.

Farmers Chris and Brian digging out a new path for pick-ups!

But we weren’t the only ones who took notice of the season transition! Dandelions are popping up, the garlic is emerging from its winter bed, and the killdeer are at their old antics again.

Mama killdeer and first hatching

GARLIC!!!

 

The greenhouse is also looking quite spring-like with the rows of fledgling plant life in all shades of green, pink and purple.

 

Local bird expert and conservationist, Augus Mirabella, came out to the farm to put down woodchips to ready the bird box for a special type of regional bird–the American Kestrel. American Kestrels do not build nests, they lay in open cavities, hence why we have a kestrel box to encourage them. Their numbers have declined over the years in this area, possibly due to conventional farming practices whose chemicals have found their way thru the food chain to these birds of prey. (Another reason never to use rat poisoning) Here’s hoping BGF can be a sanctuary for them!

Well, that is all for now. We wish you all a wonderful day on this Vernal Spring Equinox! I’ll leave you with another quote about the season from Tolstoy, which was found in a lovely letter he wrote to his grandmother….

“Babushka! It’s spring! It is so good to be alive on this earth, for all good people and even for such as I. Nature, the air, everything is drenched in hope, future, a wonderful future. … When I think about it more soberly, I know perfectly well I am nothing but an old frozen potato, rotten, cooked and served up with a tasteless sauce full of lumps, but the springtime has such a powerful effect on me that I sometimes catch myself imagining I am a plant that has just opened and spread its leaves among all the other plants and is going to grow up simply, peacefully and joyfully on the good earth. … Make way for this wonderful plant that is filling out its buds and growing in the spring.”

 

The past few weeks have been busy for the early crew at Blooming Glen! Between the rounds of seeding in the greenhouse and trying to take advantage of sunny days to do some construction projects, we are all getting a chance to warm up our winter bones with some farm work.

To think ALL those tomatoes come from these little guys…

Flats and flats of seeded onions

The crew getting busy on repairing a greenhouse

“Organic Pest Control”

Kale is coming up! So exciting!

Spring is coming, folks! To catch a glimpse of our own version of “March Madness”, stay tuned! New interns are on their way, plants are germinating left and right, and those days are gettin’ longer!

This year we are excited to have launched a new blog for Blooming Glen Farm titled “The Blooming Glen Beet” (in lieu of the Newsletter with the same title).  In addition to the website, please look to the blog for farm updates, event announcements, and weekly recipes.

We hope to keep you engaged with what’s going on here at the farm in these weekly posts, so please check in often!