After two very unseasonably cold weeks, our peas, flax, wheat, and barley have popped up! Through freezing nights and a mid-april snowstorm, the little buggers still knew it was spring. I'm a little concerned that neither type of garbanzo is showing its face yet...but keeping my fingers crossed for my favorite crop!
My farming buddy and I continued with another variety of barley and wheat, some "what-the-hell" green lentils from the Co-op bulk food bin, favas (since my overwintering favas were blasted by last November's sudden drop down to the 20s), and four more varieties of potatoes. Dusty has finally been able to do some proper field prep around the farm, running his harrow all over the place, so things are shaping up at last!
We decided to do some of our bean trials, corn, and winter squash in the lower field where it is wetter and holds soil moisture better. That'll allow us more separation for different varieties (especially corn) and give us a better chance with the dry-farming of the squash. The squash, by the way, fits into our expanded storage crop philosophy of focusing some of our energy upon experiments with growing other storage crops with less inputs.
Oh, and by the way, if any of you haven't grown garbanzo beans before, get a good variety adapted to our climate, and plant a few in a pot, just to see how adorable the little leaves are when they first come out! You'll love them.
It's mid-April already and we have half our crops in the ground! Last week we planted the barley, wheat, flax, black garbanzo, popping garbanzo, around 10 types of dry soup peas and a new one: camelina.
Camelina is an oilseed crop in the mustard family that has been largely ignored because it was never developed for large-scale, industrial farming. We were given some seed by Diana from Scratch n' Peck, our local organic chicken feed mill, and asked to try growing it. She is trying to source more of the feed ingredients locally and camelina is an important highly nutritious ingredient. Camelina should grow similarly to flax and thus should do well here. We are excited to see how it goes.
Yesterday we planted several hundred row feet of 12 potato varieties in an attempt to not lose sight of perhaps the most important and reliable calorie crop for our climate. We started out the afternoon by struggling with the various attachments for grandpa's 75 year-old high-wheel hoe, then abandoning the idea when the plow part didn't appear to belong to that particular contraption! The backup plan was the shovel, but I must admit that I was eternally relieved when our humble and generous farming landlord stepped up and went for the walk-behind rototiller with potato-trench-digging attachment.
Lesson being, the more I grow, the more I appreciate the labor-saving devices. There will be plenty of hand-hoeing and foot-threshing to come. 10 minutes with a small machine for 300 feet of potatoes seems well worth it, much more worth it than an equivalent amount of gasoline in my car!
Krista is a life-long resident of Whatcom County, Washington State. She has been gardening and farming in the area for over 15 years.