This is sage advice from a bygone era of time. Yet, like most advice that has stood the test of time, it is timeless. Essentially it means don’t start what you can’t finish. Anybody relate to that???? As a farmer in the Stillaguamish Valley who is blessed with “heavy” (more clay and less sand) soils, you learn a lot about patience. If you happen to be travelling through the valley, you will notice that the farmers are busy as anyone can be. Often, they work around the clock or use two or three tractors at a time in the same field. Of course, most are still using humans to drive the tractors, but many are using GPS systems to steer them. It is only a matter of time before driver-less farming takes hold on the mega operations.
But I digress. You might notice on your trip to the valley that the farmers sure spend a lot of time working the soil before they plant. Soil preparation is pretty foundational to what we do. But, if you were to drive by that same field a few days later, you might take a double take. You might even say, “Didn’t they just work all that soil a few days ago?” And you would be right. Because our soil is so heavy, the farmers in this valley work the top 6 inches and get it ready to plant. Then they plow it over and repeat the process. This gives them about 12 inches of deeply worked soil. Then they plant the potatoes or carrots or cabbage.
The only wrinkle in the operation is the weather. If it rains too much, we get to start all over again. And this year, we have had lots of “practice” working our soils and even replanting a few times. The other reason many farmers use multiple tractors is that if you plow too much ground up and let it sit for a couple days, the clods that are plowed up become as hard as rocks and you will spend a lot more time trying to bust up those clods. So, when a farmer plows a field, most of the time we start discing the soil immediately. Better to do a little well than a lot poorly.
Of course, if you have light (sandy) soil, none of this matters. Instead, you will spend a whole lot of time moving your irrigation. 🙂
Good Food Farm Tours
Our first farm tour is this weekend. Tours start on the hour at 10am and 11am. On this tour, we will be focusing on the orchard (apples, pears, plums) and the berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwi berries). Please register for a tour time here, for planning purposes. Every tour this summer will be different and will reflect the changing seasons. Looking forward to seeing you on the farm!
Tristan Klesick, Farmer and Health Advocate