Days at the farm are finally warming up. We’ve been spending a lot of time in the greenhouse getting plants ready for the fields and for our seedling sale. Last week, we seeded peas and carrots and planted kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, chard, collards, and scallions before the rain at the end of the week. After planting, we made sure to cover our crops with row cover to not only protect them from cold nights, but to also keep pests out. It will deter larger pests like deer as well as prevent adult months from landing on plants and laying eggs. 

Another important project we’re taking on this spring is developing our new well. Our well is shallow, only reaching 27 feet; however, there is a lot of sand and silt at that depth. As a result, the design of our well includes a screen towards the bottom 7 feet, which allows water to get through but should help prevent additional soil particles from coming through. Since the makeup of the soil at Stearns is so fine, a lot of sand and silt have gotten into the pipe and reduced our overall flow rate. 

This problem can be solved by developing the well and removing the smaller particles from the well casting and leaving larger gravel pieces behind. The remaining gravel will be too big to move through the screen and into the well but will still allow water to get through. Developing the well can be done mechanically as well as manually. We began with an electric pump that quickly oscillates a tube we insert in the well vertically in a plunging motion. This works to agitate any fine material in the water and brings the water to the surface and out of the well. The water comes out cloudy and dirty for a while and then begins to run clean. 

After running the electric pump for several days, we discovered that the bottom 7 ft of our well still has a significant amount of sand in it. This is a problem because the flow rate isn’t as good the higher you try to pump in a well. We hope that by removing this sand, our flow will increase significantly and improve our irrigation potential, as we can reach a deeper place in the water table. 

This week, we plan to flush most of it out and then continue to manually develop the well. This will require a few people to manually move tubing up and down creating a plunging effect to bring the finer material that might remain to the surface and out of the well. It will take a full day or two but the work will pay off if we are able to reach a deeper place in the well. At the moment, our flow rate is 9 gpm (gallons per minute), but we hope to reach 12-20 gpm by the end. We know this is a slow, tedious process that takes patience and time, but the reward in the end makes it all worth it. Successfully developing the well will improve the its overall performance for many years to come!