Happy May Everyone! Our to-do list is beginning to grow with each passing week. We are in the midst of our seedling sale (thank you to everyone who pre-ordered and came to shop in person this past weekend!), planting things in the field almost every day, preparing the greenhouse for tomatoes, and cleaning up the PYO flower garden. The fields are crawling with eager birds hungry for worms and bugs and the flowers are buzzing with many pollinators.

Once the chance of a frost has passed, we will plant our peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash into plastic mulch. Plastic mulch does a few important things: it helps to warm up the soil by attracting heat, it suppresses weeds, and it makes irrigating especially efficient since it is under the plastic and water has no chance to evaporate while in use. We have a tractor implement that rolls out the drip irrigation and plastic mulch at the same time and buries the edges just right to tuck it in. 

One challenge we always face with the plastic beds is finding an efficient way to measure out the proper spacing of each plant. We want to be sure not to tear the plastic in the wrong place, so we can’t use our usual dibbler that we use on bare ground since it doesn’t have the right spacing we need. Tomatoes are planted in one row at 24 inches, peppers are two rows at 12 inches, eggplant are two rows at 24 inches, summer squash are in one row at 24 inches, and cucumbers are in one row at 12 inches. There are tools made to roll over the bed and pierce the plastic at the right spacing, but it seemed a little expensive for us.

This inspired us to ask one of our amazing volunteers, Peter Tordo, to design and build us something we could use. He visited the farm to get a description of what we had in mind and then he took it from there. He delivered our new plastic dibbler the other week and we couldn’t be happier with the final result! We have the ability to dibble one or two rows at a time and we can change the spacing by attaching the spikes at the right places. Take a look at the picture to get an idea of how it works. We will place the dibbler over the plastic bed and then pull it behind us as we walk down the bed. I’ll be sure to make a video for another newsletter so you can see it in action! 

Until next time,