Watch as Farmers Grow

Second Year Element Focus Introduction – Planting

March 23rd, 2017 | Posted by miker in Planting

Dan DeLago – Second Year Focus Introduction – Planting

Dan Delago – 2016

Element Focus Introduction; Planting

When taking responsibility for an element focus this year, several considerations were taken into account. The size and experience of the next year’s crew, the priority of said element to the farm, the time of season the element takes precedent and the personal appeal of each element were a few. In the end, the element of planting was chosen. The main motivations are; to influence a strong start to next season, to prepare for planting throughout the season with attentiveness, the personal appeal of seeds and their stories, and last and most important, to promote the philosophy of earth care in one of the most integral elements of farm existence.

If the farm is a machine, the seeds are the sparkplug. The importance of seeing seedlings push out each new stage of growth is vital for a beginning and/or experienced crew. Ensuring these seedlings have strong roots by planting time provides crop security. The early spring months are when the pace of the farm season is set and having a smooth transition from startup to planting seemed to be a logical area to focus my attention.  Appealing to the 6 P’s of success (proper preparation prevents piss poor performance), I surmised that planting would be the one element which invariably leads to some measure of success with proper preparation. In winter, said planning manifests itself in the form of next season’s seed order. Determining the amount of seed for each crop was done by examining the previous year’s planting records. With this information, I compiled the total foot of row to be planted in each crop, the amount of seed required (direct seeding requires more seed than transplanting) and the approximate time at which planting is to occur. During the season, land must be prepped weeks ahead of planting. It was my observation that the manager often had too many things on the farm plate to be prepared for each planting date (based upon moon cycles). As an element focus, I will actively advocate for crew hours and attempt to adhere to planting schedules as much as possible.

Innately, the ethno-botanical significance of plants and their seeds appeals to me. Considering the dubious nature of our current food systems, it is more important than ever for people to reconnect to food. In my opinion, nothing prevents over-consumption and waste more effectively than having an intimate relationship with the plants, fungi and animals that sustain us. As farmers, we provide clean, local food which inherently reduces the consumers’ ecological footprint, but most importantly, we provide a story which instills a sense of reverence for the foodstuffs consumed. As a grower, I enjoy the story of the seeds whose domestication can be traced tens of thousands of years and often holds a profound cultural importance beyond which our consumer culture can understand.

As I stated previously, the philosophy of earth care was a major consideration in deciding to manage planting. In the one year I have been exposed to diversified organic farming, I have observed the importance of soil ecology. In my opinion the success of annuals and perennials (and our planet) is merely a derivative of the health of the soil. Cover crops provide numerous benefits to ecology; provide pollen for insects, sequester several tons of carbon dioxide per acre, reduce water requirements of annuals and perennials when inter-cropped successfully, and provide fertilizer in biomass thereby building a healthier soil so plants don’t require fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides which currently pollute rivers and estuaries. In an industry which uses ungodly amounts of freshwater, fuel, fertilizer, chemicals and plastic, surely cover crops are to be of enormous importance in the future of agriculture and horticulture. A holistic understanding of inter-cropping cover crops will be garnered through the season and a balance between regenerating nature and harvesting a yield will hopefully arise.

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