Patchwork Green is a hillside and ridgetop farm overlooking the beautiful Canoe Creek Valley several miles north of Decorah, Iowa. Our family grows five acres of vegetables on a farm near Decorah, Iowa. We grow a wide variety of high quality, chemical-free vegetables using sustainable techniques.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Planting/Music Lessons

My 9-year-old daughter and I planted some of the first crops in the garden a few weeks ago.  It was one of the sunny, mild days, and we were quickly forgetting about the 12” of snow that had fallen a week earlier.  The soil was cool, but dry enough to till, so I cleaned up the tiller and made a few passes in the half-acre designated for ‘first-early’ crops.

Our priority was sugar snap peas, a family favorite and a crop that loves cool weather.  I dragged a triangle hoe through the tilled soil and opened a 5# bag of pea seed.  Mairi found the wrinkled, green seeds ‘cute’ and soon found a few off-types that looked more like soybeans.  Peas and beans seeds are very kid-friendly because they are big and easy to handle.

Their germination rate isn’t always stellar, however, so I wanted to get quite a few seeds per row foot.  Mairi has been studying piano for several years now, so I told her to space the peas about a half-step apart, meaning the short distance between two fingers when they are touching.  I showed her how to grab a whole handful of pea seeds out of the bag and then drop them out slowly, but not too slowly in the row as you walk at a steady pace.  After making six, 140-foot rows, I followed Mairi with the hoe, now pulling soil over the seeds and tamping it down.  

Continuing with the music theme, I had Mairi plant some spinach at a distance of a major third apart, and radishes at 12 per octave.  I think she did pretty well!  A few days later, we covered all of the seed beds with floating row cover, to keep them a little warmer and to ward off hungry crows whose favorite spring treat is pea shoots.

Since they were seeded, we have had more snow, lots of good rain, some warm, sunny days and some cold, cloudy days.  Because the soil temperature is so cool, germination this time of year is much slower than in the summer, so the seeds are just now starting to emerge.  Patience, patience.  The peas will be ready in mid-June, I’m sure, just as they always are, but the radishes may be ready to pull by late May.  Mid-spring is all about transition and hope and milestones and not getting ahead of yourself.  Everything will speed up soon enough.

Because we are in planting mode, it is important to know how many CSA members we are growing food for.  If you have not signed up for the Patchwork Green Farm 2015 CSA yet, and would like to, please do so in the next two weeks, if at all possible.  Go to our website, for ordering details.