This week marked an exciting first of the season - the first round of transplants going into the field. On Monday and Tuesday we planted kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, and head lettuce. Almost all crops we grow fall into two categories: direct seeded or transplanted. There are many reasons we choose to transplant some crops - transplanting allows us to raise crops into their adolescence in a more controlled environment, the greenhouse, giving them a head start in the field. Additionally, it allows us to start growing very long season crops (like onions) well before the fields are ready so we are able to plant them the moment the beds are prepared.
Although transplanting can be done by hand, we use a specialized tractor implement called a water wheel transplanter to make the process faster and more efficient. The water wheel takes three crew members to operate. One person drives the tractor pulling the water wheel down the beds going slowly and a straight as possible. At the back of the implement, large metal wheels press divots into the ground and fill them with water. Two planters ride behind these wheels and hurriedly plop plants into the divots.
When all goes according to plan, a team of three can put a huge number of plants in the ground in a short day. In a single day this week, we planted over half a mile worth of brassicas!
Want to stay updated on transplanting this spring? Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates from the field.