Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In the Field: Planting Onions

Most of the onions that were planted yesterday in the field were seeded in February. The onion transplants were then dug out of their seed bed by Lee and Kara the evening prior to planting. After being transported to the farm fields, the onions need sorting and preparing for the actual planting. Only the largest and most likely to survive onion transplants were selected to go into the ground. The roots are trimmed when planting onions, sometimes the tops too. When working with hundreds of onion transplants, this task can become a full day's work. Kara diligently took on this task to assist the guys in the field at getting in as many onions as possible yesterday.

Meanwhile, I was lucky to get to assist in transplanting celery into the field that I'd started from seed weeks back and then planting a few rows of potatoes in the afternoon. The more help, the more you are able to do...

These onions will harvest in the late summer to fall and are intended to extend the onion supplies as late into fall and winter as possible. This is when varieties that are supposed to be "long keepers" are especially useful. Last fall Tierra Vegetables had the giant sweet yellow onions that many of you and us became quite dependent upon for our cooking needs. A few varieties have been planted in order to ensure diversity, an extended harvest, and just in case some onions store longer than others. Diversity is key to be sure you have what people might want and to have back-ups in case of crop failures. This is one of the keys to success for diversified small farming.
Pablo, Jose and Diego worked most of the day on this project. The field work in farming tends to stick you in one spot for a while as you toil to complete a single project or priority. Once started, the project really ought to get completed for various concerns such as the state of the transplants, watering considerations for the entire field, and everything else that must happen the next day. The hard work of these men contributes greatly to the well being of the farm. The place is beautiful right now, weeds are under control, plants look healthy and Tierra Vegetables seems to be off to a great start this season. The field manager, Pablo, has really whipped the place into shape since he returned this spring.

Kara's work space nestled between the irrigation lines and boxes full of onion transplants. This is a nice example of the satisfying, tedious and meditative work of farming.

Plenty more planting coming up this week! It is hard to catch up after losing an entire week to late spring rains.

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