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2 and a half weeks of steady work

posted May 2, 2011, 2:16 PM by Caroline Swansey   [ updated May 2, 2011, 4:40 PM by Admin at Yacolt Mountain Farm and Nursery ]
The combination of many pieces to the puzzle arriving to the farm and some very nice weather has kept us very busy outside and away from the blog.
We've added an orchard to the farm, we put our young chickens and turkeys out on pasture, we've limed the field and tilled the soil, we've built our greenhouse, planted some rows of vegetables outside and in the greenhouse, seeded more trays, and kept our animals healthy and well :o). It has been so fun especially because we've gotten help from many good friends.

The Orchard
We bought 50 bare root trees to add fruity diversity to our farm and planted them all in our now designated orchard. We have several pear varieties 
including 20th century asian, flemish beauty, bosc, hood and red d'anjou, we have several apple varieties including jonagold, pink lady, red jonathon, gravenstein, roxbury russet and summer rambo, we also have two almond trees (all-in-one and NE Plus ultra) and several plum varieties including brooks, blue damson, green gage, beauty, shiro, and santo rosa. Of course it will take a while to get them to full production, but we've taken the first step to producing a large diversity of fruit for our future CSA members.

Bringing the young chickens and turkeys outside
Though we still need to bring them in by catching the every evening, the chickens and turkeys are enjoying the great outdoors and seem to be doing quite well. We've already moved their mobile coops once since they seem to make a mess of the place very quickly.

Liming and tilling the field
After we received our soil test results back, we knew we would have to put some work and amendments in our soil to get good fertility out of the soil. The first thing, which we expected as most soils west of the Cascades have this characteristic due to the high rainfall we get, is that our soil was slightly too acidic. It would have been fine if we wanted to just grow potatoes, and actually would not have been acidic enough for blueberries, but it ranged between 5.6 and 5.7 which is just too low for most row crop vegetables. We also are lacking some nitrogen and a little phosphorus, which we are addressing differently than the need for liming. We were lucky to find a great local source of lime in Woodland at the Columbia Gorge Carbonates facility and brought 5 ton of lime to our farm just for our 4 acre plot which we are cultivating this year. We ended up spreading it all by hand which as you can imagine took quite a bit of energy out of us. The field looked white and when the snow came on one of the mornings we couldn't tell the difference. 
Our friend Lester came with his rototiller shortly after we spread the lime and tilled the plowed and limed field into a nice soft manageable soil. The thick mat of grass sod which had never been tilled before (we assume) require multiple rounds of tilling and plowing. We would finally be able to plant into the soil.

Greenhouse Building Slideshow

The Greenhouse
Though we were ready to plant, the last day of tilling the greenhouse materials arrived and we did not wait to get started. After carefully measuring out where the 22 post would need to be, Lester helped us dig the post holes with a tractor agar. Charlie Silvas was nice enough to come and stop by with his transit and help us shoot where level was so, we could set out posts in concrete. We would spend the whole next week building the large greenhouse and had some great help from a few friends, Chris, John, and Kyle . Thanks guys!!! We couldn't of done it without you! The process required setting posts into concrete in straight lines and at even height, but the tricky part was making sure they were level with the posts on the other side of the greenhouse.

Turning point

After only being here for a quick 2 months, we finally feel like we have reached a turning point. What a great feeling to of been direct seeding into the ground, planting our starts out in the field, having the greenhouse built, having built a new barn enclosure, and a newly planted orchard. We have a lot of work ahead of us but what keeps us motivated is that we will provide fresh food for this community. We'll get there one step at a time.