Today was the last day of our official apprenticeship shifts. It was a crisp morning, and we began with a field walk on farmers’ lives during the winter. We talked about how farmers plan during the winter, scheduling when and where they will plant certain crops, how they will talk about changes for the coming season. Farmers may continue growing through the winter in greenhouses, generally crops like salad greens or microgreens. Some farmers will go to conferences to improve their knowledge in fields like cover-cropping and tool maintenance. Winter is also the time when farmers will do maintenance on farm equipment since the equipment won’t be in much use during the winter.
After the field walk, we prepared some of the beds inside the new high tunnel using ground forks, to loosen the clay-like soil. We then transplanted some parsley and lettuce using measuring tape and hand trowels. Then we were tasked with killing carrots (since the carrot seedlings needed to have more space to grow, about 1″ at least between each sprout). To finish the shift we hulahoed some beds and laid irrigation tape.
In the afternoon we started the shift by moving a tarp into the greenhouse and re-organizing some of the materials that were inside the greenhouse. We did some more hulahoe-ing, then had a field walk on microgreens. Microgreens are like sprouts except they are larger, usually about 3 inches long–and grow in trays instead of in jars. Earth Dance supplies microgreens to several local restaurants–mainly from pea, broccoli, and beet seeds. We planted trays of pea microgreens, using about 1 cm. of soil and then lightly covering them with more dirt.
We then finished the day by having a field walk in the garden to review the lessons we had learned throughout the apprenticeship. We talked about guilds–groups of plants grown together because of the beneficial effects they have on each other, tip-layering–expanding the area covered by a plant by burying its new growth shoots, cover-cropping with Daikon radishes–to improve the nutrients in the soil, and composting. We talked about the herb spiral, permaculture planning, and building terraces–so much I had never known about before coming to Earth Dance! It has definitely been an interesting and rewarding season.