This year and the next are experimental. We’ll probably always experiment with different stuff, but for the time being we’re trying to establish how well (or not) different plants handle the conditions out at the farm, what can tolerate less than ideal maintenance because often we can only work out there every 3-7 days, and then for only limited amounts of time. We’re learning as we go along, just as everyone does. Anyway, here’s what we need to seriously investigate for the upcoming season.
1) Semi-permanent raised beds with walkways between the beds big enough to permit us to get the little tractor and wagon through.
2) Irrigation options. While this was an exceptionally dry year and hopefully it won’t be this bad in the future, you never know, so we really need to look into irrigation options. The farm has an extremely shallow well. We can’t risk pumping it dry because we have people living in the house, so we’re going to have to look into other options. One is a rain harvesting system we’ve been considering, implemented by putting gutters on the farm buildings and routing it into storage tanks. Ideally, tanks would be mounted more or less permanently on their own wagons and allow us to drag them out into the fields. We’re also considering using the spring down in the woods across the road, using a small gasoline powered pump to fill the tanks.
3) Soil needs to be improved, especially the addition of organic matter.
4) We know we can grow the stuff. The thing now is trying to sell it. The problem right now is that everyone involved has full time jobs, meaning the only time we have to actually get the work done is on weekends, when most of the farmers’ markets are running. So we’re looking into ways of marketing the stuff in ways that don’t involve someone having to sit in a parking lot for an entire day.
5) Out of season income: How to extend sales through the non-growing season. That means looking into processing options, which opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms that involves licensing, inspections, equipment, etc.
Weather: Ah, Wisconsin! gotta love the weather here. We go literally for months with no rain at all, now we’re getting pounded on. Been getting an absolutely hammering down rain for the last hour now. Backyard is underwater at the moment. May take the dog out for a swim. Sump pumps have been running non-stop pretty much all the time. We got new, oversized rain gutters and downspouts a few weeks ago and even they can’t keep up!