Whew. This is a question I get a lot, and it’s a hard one to answer. We do a lot of very diverse work. Planting and harvesting are often the least of it, though they’re the most obvious answers (and what directly pays the bills).
Right now, Ben and Patricia are planning for the spring and summer. We’re cultivating crops that have already been planted for spring against weeds (carrots, turnips, spinach, and strawberries, chard, tatsoi and bok choi, beets) and making sure they’re given good consistent temperatures via row covers/high tunnels/low tunnels.
There’s a fairly consistent rhythm to the weeks, though. Monday and Tuesday we harvest for the Tuesday and Wednesday CSA crops, and other work (hand-weeding spinach, setting up irrigation in the new greenhouse, more planning, a run to the dump, laundry, cooking) happens around that main task.
Harvesting sounds much neater and simpler than the process tends to actually be. It’s not difficult, but it is detailed. We wash the produce bins used over the weekend at market, then figure out how much of each crop needs harvested and how many bins to take with us to the field. Then we cut or pick—and everything is treated differently, so knowing how to handle lettuce or tatsoi versus arugula is necessary—and some items are bunched as they’re picked (herbs, turnips, radishes).
When we’ve cut everything from one field, it goes back to the wash station and we repeat the process of determining items and numbers of bins. For example, all of our brassicas (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli) and kale are in the far field, so we tend to do them after the crops in the field closer to the barn.
Once both fields have been harvested, we sort, weigh, bunch, wash, and count—again, every crop is different, and we cut 11 different crops yesterday. There’s usually at least one item we’ve miscounted as we cut, or found some kind of blemish we didn’t notice in the field, and we have to go back and make up the difference.
Ben says harvest and washing for Tuesday and Wednesday market, by himself, took him throughout Monday and Tuesday to accomplish. Between the two of us, though, we got it all done by Monday afternoon. Yay!
So now it’s Tuesday morning, and we’re waking up slowly. I’m planning my flowers and herbs, blogging, and browsing the internet, and Ben is cleaning off the desk to begin the big year-long farm plan (which requires going back over data from the previous year and making giant calendars).
The short answer? We do a lot. It’s never boring or exactly predictable.