May Was for Planting

The PVF Team

That’s what happens in May. In February we plan and goof off in the greenhouse. In March we’re serious in the greenhouse and a few things meet the earth. By April, we’re masters in the greenhouse and green things are meeting the soil with some regularity. But then there is May, and in May plants are swiped out of the greenhouse, plopped outside to harden off for a couple of days, and then thrust into the dirt with a good drink of water and the order to GROW. And grow they do.

I think you remember that it was a wet Spring this year. PVF East fared pretty well. We kept on schedule. But PVF West… PVF West was doused. Soaked. Soppy. Muddy. Wet. Every time East got a half inch of rain, West got three. It was a little bit of a scary out there, with the greenhouse bursting at the seams and no way to get a tractor into the waterlogged fields to even begin the planting process.

In fact, it wasn’t until the week of May 9 that Stacey and Casey were able to gather their workers, get out there and really start spading, spreading compost, making beds, laying plastic mulch, and then, finally, planting. They went full tilt, catching up on the planting season in that one week. It was an amazing sight: the transition from empty fields to beds of lettuce, chard, herbs, bok choi, onions and potatoes in such a short time. They may be new to PVF, but they are no newbies. They got it done!

The onions and potatoes were poised to be an overwhelming task, so Stacey and Casey did what any smart managers do: they called for reinforcements.

Onion Beds
Two Beds of Freshly Planted Onions

Hana, David, Carrie and Becky piled into a van and headed out to help. It was May 12. When we arrived we had one day, 12 workers, seven 350-foot beds, 5,000 onions, untold numbers of potatoes, and a whole lot of determination. We got to work.

Onions were the first task. Two beds and two varieties. Carrie started us off with the super high-tech PVF East hole poking method–a piece of rebar poked through the plastic and into the soil repeatedly to make 4 rows of holes 6ish inches apart–while the rest of us grabbed flats of onions and started planting. Stacey started contemplating a potato planting strategy, and Casey and Clem drove slowly back and forth next to us planting tomatoes on the transplanter.

The potato strategy proved tricky. Two rows of holes needed to be poked in each bed of plastic mulch. They needed to be four to six inches deep in order to get the seed potato far enough underground. The dirt was hard and a bit compacted from being wet for so long. After much trial and error it was decided that dibblers and sheer brute force would be the most effective and efficient method of getting those holes poked. So that’s what we did.

Planting Potatoes
Planting Potatoes

Now, if ever any of you doubted that Hana is a machine, doubt no more. I witnessed this with my own eyes, and she was a sight to behold. She poked holes nonstop, two rows of holes in each of five 350-foot beds, until that last hole was done. While the rest of us switched off to plant and rest our backs and arms, Hana kept going. Racing people. Sweating and laughing. She IS a machine.

Stacey and Casey cut the and distributed the seed potatoes along the beds. The rest of us spread out and planted, piggybacking when we caught up with each other, until all the potatoes were in. The task was complete at about 3:30pm. We were tired, sweaty, and utterly triumphant. PVF may have two farms, but we are one team.

And two weeks later PVF West returned the favor, and Clem and Vidal came East to help us weed carrots. Thank goodness, because we have a LOT of weeds.

3 thoughts on “May Was for Planting

  1. Thanks for all of the effort getting the potatoes going. The first time I tasted a PVF potato, I realized what a potato was supposed to taste like. Of all the veggies we get from the CSA, we go nuts when we get potatoes…usually making home fries for dinner. It’s nice to know how much love and hard work goes into them – that must be why they’re so amazing.

  2. You are all inspiring! Sending love from Foggy Hollow, where the organic comfrey roots I brought in from the other side of the country have sprouted leaves.

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