April Field Notes

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From Riverdog Farm, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop

It’s getting close to tomato transplanting time. The plants, all 80,000 (about 9 acres) of the first seeding, have been ready to go from the tray into the fields for about 2 weeks but the rainfall has delayed the transplanting. That’s ok – we need the rain! If it isn’t too cold this week, we will transplant the tomatoes on Thursday or Friday. Our original target date for transplanting was March 15, 2012 based on the seeding time of early February. By next week, many thousands of tomatoes should be in the ground.

The full moon in April brought very cold temperatures. Wed, Thurs, and Fri nights were in the high 20s. The old timers in Capay Valley say that the full moon in April is when the latest frost can come because on a clear night, without the cloud cover, the nighttime temperatures can become very cold. After the full moon in April, the chance of frost decreases. But this year there will be a full moon in early May so it may be cold again since the full moon is early in the month. We plan to plant the tomatoes next week so keep your fingers crossed for mild nighttime temperatures.

After a month of almost continuous rain and the hard frosts on April 5th and 6th, we are ready to launch into full tilt boogie spring mode this week. We will transplant our first round of toms this week and mow lush cover-crop like there is no tomorrow so that we have ground to plant in the coming weeks. The water has been great but we are grateful for the sunshine too. The frosts heavily thinned our almond and nectarine crops and eliminated our apricot crop. But fear not, Good Humus, 15 miles down the road, still has a great apricot set – so we will not be without apricots this year. We will be transplanting something summery from now until July when we start transplanting fall”¦ Next winter’s parsnips go in the ground this week as well. So nice to be planting again. Enjoy spring!

Brilliant warm days, reaching into the 90’s accompanied by warm nights, 70’s at midnight, and relatively warm sunrises around in the high 50’s are pushing plants along at an amazing clip and we are along for the ride, planting, cultivating, hoeing and harvesting as fast as we can. The first tomatoes are in with August harvest onions going in this week followed by melons, peppers and eggplant. This past week we direct seeded everything from summer squash and cukes to spinach and beets. It has been an amazing swing from hail two Fridays ago to 90’s this past Friday, we just hope it doesn’t swing to far back to the cold side before it stabilizes. It is an amazing time in our valley, just a hint of drying in the hills, water still running in the seasonal creeks and life pulsing everywhere. The irrigators have put away their harvest knives for the summer and are shouldering pipe and pulling drip lines again.


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