Friday, May 15, 2009

Chile Planting Time!

From the greenhouse to the field, the chiles are currently amidst a major transition in their annual lifetime. Let us follow them from their cushy home in the greenhouse (note the cleared out spaces of chile trays in the image to the left) where they may be running out of root space in their little pots to the field where plenty of root space and soil nutrition is available in abundance, but the outdoor environment could offer new challenges for survival (including wind, temperature fluctuations, water variability, pest exposure, etc...)

An important component of this operation that occurs during transportation is keeping track of all the varieties. Tierra grows so many types peppers and chiles that the subcategories bewilder me each time I go hunting for a particular variety. There are sweet peppers, pimientos, chipotle types, drying chiles, New Mexicos, frying chiles and peppers, the really hot Chinenese types and so many more. I'd have to consult the lists to recite them all. So this is another place in the system where record-keeping is a key element. With careful records, we are able to easily consult the inventory without having to hunt through tray after tray of plants. Unfotunately, some of this data was missing as the chiles were organized for their places in the field, causing a bit of wasted time and extra work. I'm sure we will get it perfect next season.

Row after row is planted into the windy weather we are currently having. This is not great on the freshly transplanted chiles, but that is why you spend days in the greenhouse insuring strong and healthy plants with thick stems. Similar varieties are placed together for convenience of harvest or cultivation, whatever takes priority. Chiles and peppers always get a front row spot in the vicinity of the farm stand when possible for the enjoyment of all you who take the time to visit and tour the fields.

Similar to other transplanting methods throughout the farm, Kara and Lee follow Wayne in the tractor as they place the chiles in the soil by hand in the furrow the tractor has created as they progress down the row. Timing and spacing are the considerations that keep one focused during this task. This is not difficult if all goes smoothly, but occasionally big clods of dirt stop everyone or a few plants that are root bound to one another can disturb the operation.

The chile planting is currently in progress. It is best to do this work in waves so you don't break your back over too much transplanting. Also, running a business, getting to market, harvesting a specialty spring bounty, and going home and resting at the end of the day tend to interfere with getting hundreds of chiles all in the ground at once. This is an ideal time to come out and see the farm fields. I highly recommend a visit once again.

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