Wednesday, May 2, 2012

While the Boss is Away...

Now that the Boss is gone for more than half a day on Wednesdays managing the new mid-week Market in Staunton, there is a whole new logistical game to figure out around here.  With him in town, we no longer have one of our big teamwork days, so it’s up to me to figure out how to manage alone.

Greeted at the back door by hungry cats and dogs, I don’t even get out of the house before the sheep are informing me that they too are HUNGRY!  The hens come flying, tumbling , running, clucking out of the henhouse to start their day.  Once all the critters are fed, I head back to the house for my own breakfast and try to figure out just what to do with all this “free” time.

Last week, there was ice in the water tub out back and ice crystals on the potato plants when I fed the animals.  I must say, I spent part of the day worrying/checking on the potato plants.  Mercifully, they made it through the cold with minimal damage. There were rolls and rolls of row cover and a lot of ree-bar to pick up, but the strawberries and other plants seemed none the worse for the continued cold.

The big job for the day was to get all the tomato plants “potted up”.  That means exactly what it sounds like it means.  We start the tomatoes from seed in the small cells of flats and move each up to a larger pot sometime prior to planting out.  This allows the plant to develop a good root mass and causes it to be bigger, healthier and hopefully more productive out in the garden. It generally means a good day’s work in the greenhouse, enjoying the sun and warmth. All the pots are numbered…this allows us to keep track of the different varieties.  I keep telling myself to put the pots away in numerical order, I always forget and have to spend some time reviewing my counting skills.

Prior to doing the potting up, I needed to move all the transplants from the warmth of the greenhouse to the somewhat unpredictable climate of the hoophouse.  This would allow those going into the garden to “harden off” or develop some strength and resistance to weather change.  There were bunches of flats to move, so rather than trudge back and forth many times, carrying two flats at a time, I decided to use the little garden tractor and trailer. By using the tractor and trailer, and balancing a flat in my lap as I drive, I can haul five flats at once, greatly reducing the transport time.  

The Gravely and I have this tense relationship. It doesn’t always start, sometimes stalls out unexpectedly, and generally acts as if it is falling apart.  For my part, I tend to mutter rude things to it under my breath, mostly about its running ability.  This day proved no different.  After a great number of tries I got it started, and for once it stayed running.  I spent the next little while hauling flats to the hoophouse.  When I finished, I was astounded at how many I had…and how big THAT job would be.  Ah well…back to the tomatoes!

When I went in the house for a drink, I noticed the weeds overtaking the flowerbed by the door.  While I didn’t really mean to…I found myself weeding furiously.  Pulling weeds is rather like eating potato chips…you just can’t stop at one.  I got hold of myself, re-focused and went back to potting.  But, that flower garden…

By the time the Boss got back, the tomatoes were mostly done, no horrible crisis had occurred, and I even had his favorite lunch ready!  Grilled cheese on sourdough with arugula…yum.

This week, the job du jour is planting out all those transplants in flats I hauled last week.  
                                                           Better get at it!

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