Wonder how we grow and harvest all these vegetables? Take scroll through and see just exactly how we do everything

One of the benefits from shopping from a local farm like us, we are willing to show exactly how everything gets done, now you can know not only where it comes from, but how we work from first ground break in spring, until the snow covers the ground.

Starting with the basics

Two of the what we consider to be some of the most crucial pieces to the farm are the tractors. A 1967 Massey Ferguson 165, this does all of the field work like ploughing, cultivating, and manure spreading. We also use this to harvest those delicious potatoes, garlic, and onions. New to the farm in 2019 is a 1950 Farmall Super A, originally owned by Jordan's Great Grandfather, this tractor shines with pride and history, and is used to maintain weed pressure in the rows and pathways, and also hills and cultivates the potatoes.

The soil prep.

Here's a pretty criticizing discussion for farmers, how do we work the land? That's an easy one for us, the same way our ancestors did it, but with a little twist. While still using a traditional plow to break new land, once the sod is turned over we run a subsoiler through our raised beds, and on the same centers the potatoes will be planted. This implement uses a single bar, about 24" in length to slice down through the ground much deeper than any other tool can. doing this helps to break up any hardpans that have been created to ensure our roots can get down deep to the beneficial nutrients, while maintaining good soil health. 

Wait, I thought you used traditional soil preparations?

Here's that twist we spoke of. This is our rotovator, a 64" Howard which gets used to form new raised beds, and in the potato fields to provide a nice light fluffy soil to plant in. The rotovator is powered by a tractor, and much like your average garden rototiller it has horizontal teeth that rotate to break up the soil. The benefit of this machine doesn't come from its size and efficiency, it comes from the ability to change the rate at which it rotates by swapping gears in the machine itself. Being able to adjust this speed gives us the ability to create a light fluffy seed bed, while being able to reduce the soil damage as compared to a traditional rototiller. 


While this machine gets the job down well, a rotary harrow is in the near future to replace it,

The day to day seeding

Here's a tool that may top the tractors for efficiency. A push type seeder that we use to plant every seed, except the potatoes and corn. With interchangeable plates to accommodate seeds from carrots to peas. This is a tool that is sometimes overlooked as an important piece to the puzzle. It's simple, select the plate for the seed you are planting, install it onto the gear as simply as twisting it to lock it in, add seed, and push. The adjustable shoes allows for different planting depths while a chain drags behind to cover the trench dug by the planter. 

Did someone say potatoes? 

The potato, such a simple crop, but it's one of Jordan's favorite thing to grow. Though for us it isn't just putting spuds in the ground. The work start's in the fall with spreading composted manure onto the field. In the spring as soon as the soil can be worked we subsoil and rotovate. Once the soil temperatures are at 45°f we start to plant. Each potato is cut into halves or thirds with a machine that dictates the cuts based on size. Cut potatoes are left a few days to form a skin over the cut and help protect them from rotting in the ground. Once "cured" they are loaded into the hopper of the planter, where two workers sit and place the potatoes in a rotating disk that drops in a trench dug by the planter, and are then covered up using 2 disks that form a hill for them to grow through. 

Potato Hilling & Cultivating

This is an important step in our potato production, cultivating and hilling. For this we use the 1950 Farmall Super A and custom built cultivators that are mounted in the center of the tractor, and concave discs that are mounted on the rear. As we travel down the rows the cultivators are digging in the ground, accomplishing two things. The first is obvious, loosening the soil for the discs to move the soil onto the hills, the second is removing weeds by pulling them out so they don't have nutrients or a water intake. This method of cultivation increases the hill size, allowing the potato plant to send off more of what are called "tubers" which grows the potato. The bigger the hill they grow in, the more potatoes you can harvest! Though in the 2020 season we will be experimenting with mulching the hills after planting with straw, hopefully steering the potato production away from extra disturbance of the earth.

Weeding

This is the part no one likes to talk about, while in commercial crops such as field corn, and soybeans producers are able to use chemicals due to the treatments of seeds, nothing we grow is "round-up ready". Since our crops are not tolerant to chemicals, we have a few other approaches to keeping crops weed free. The first is everyone's least favorite, hoeing.  That's right, we do have hand tools, and they get used more than anything, from a traditional garden hoe, to custom built tools that are designed to gently lift the soil and remove the weeds with one swift push of the hand. 

Fighting weeds with fire!

That's right, it isn't a typo, we use fire! But no, we don't light the field on fire, its a much more concentrated method. First we prepare the raised bed which we will direct seed, Typically with the subsoiler and a rake to form it. Next we will directly seed the crop into the bed, and water it. After a certain interval of days, depending on what the crop is, we will walk the bed with a "flame weeder" fueled by propane, In our case, this is just what is referred to as a "tiger torch". Walking a steady pace, moving the powerful flame over the bed burns off all the weeds that have started to sprout through the soils surface, creating a stale bed for the crop to grow through with little to no competition from weeds. We will also mention, we always water around the target area, and always have the water pump ready to go should anything unplanned ever happen. 

But wait, isn't plastic bad? 

One of the newest methods for weed control on our farm is becoming a favorite. Plasticulture is becoming a huge part of farming, this method eliminates the need any intercrop weeding all together. But don't worry, what we use isn't really plastic at all! This is a 100% biodegradable product made from corn! That's right, at the end of the year, we just leave it and allow it to break down. In the spring we shape the beds, stretch the material over the bed, and bury the edges. We use this in any crop that has a large growing time, or a long harvest window such as tomatoes and peppers. 

It's harvest time! 

As we continue to grow, so do our methods! However, harvesting is one area where it is still logical to harvest by hand. Everything, with the exception of the potatoes are harvested by hand, allowing us to pick the ideal crop to sell our customers. As for the potatoes, well we typically harvest between 6000-10,000lbs, with an increase in the near future, so digging by hand is just not feasible. For this we use a potato digger. This tractor powered implement doesn't take all the work out of it, but it does look after the hardest portion. As we drive down the row, it scoops the potatoes onto a set of shaking sieves which let the dirt fall through, as the potatoes are laid out into a row on top of the ground, to picked up and put in bins by hand.