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Planning ahead crops like veggies and cannabis in 2015
Planning ahead crops like veggies and cannabis in 2015

Farming year-round is no joke, even in sunny Northern California. It takes careful preparation, planning and an understanding of balance that we’re still working to achieve. As diversified farmers, the many bounties we are blessed with require careful tending; a tightly choreographed dance that has the potential to leave us harried and breathless but often yields a soul-filling poetry in motion.

In our fast-paced world, proper planning and preparation is how presence and balance can be maintained. If we know more or less what we’re going to be doing, we don’t have to worry about it. Instead, we can focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand. More focus yields more effective manifestation, allowing us to accomplish more. First set the feet; then face the current.

Data You Can Collect to Improve Future Crops

As we enter our fifth year as CSA farmers at HappyDays Farm, we have finally accrued the aggregate data to be able to plan our coming year. Last year, we started recording and keeping all of the weekly job lists and planting schedules.

We are mining the data to create an overall production matrix that covers the process from seed to sack for multiple crops including cannabis. Since we collected that data, now we know when last year we:

  • Started seeds
  • Planted crops
  • Transplanted
  • Prepped
  • Weeded
  • Fertilized
  • Harvested

Gathering the raw data gives us the ability to work forwards and backwards with our scheduling. We lay out planting dates and begin to have enough data/experience to approximate harvest dates for each crop accounting for variables of season. Knowing the approximate beginning and end allows the planner to approximate the middle steps, creating a weekly job list that shifts with the crops as we move through the seasons.

Informed Planting All Year Round at HappyDays Farms

Because we farm year-round and maintain such a diversified crop portfolio, we start seeds 44 weeks out of the year. We take two weeks off before the summer solstice and six weeks off during December and early January — light levels are too low to promote effective germination and growth in this period.

This pattern of seed starting is the hub that governs the revolutions radiating outward. Each batch of seeds will receive a light liquid kelp as they progress in their six-packs 48/tray. They will either go straight into the ground or be up-planted and tended so as to go out larger and healthier.

Tender younglings need constant watching, watering, and shuffling as they grow and are moved outside to harden off before planting. We are constantly working to create new space for new batches of seeds and expansions from up-planting. Each set is planted out; depended on the season and hardiness of the starts they may receive mulch or hoop covers. We will weed and fertilize each of the crops at least once, and more often for heavier feeders. We fertilize generally with liquid kelp, compost tea, Nutririch 4-3-2 organic chicken pellets and Cold Creek Organic Compost.

Effective scheduling and training are crucial; the raw data from this year gives us the ability to plan for next year so that the cannabis harvest doesn’t put so much stress on the other facets of the farm. There is always a pressing crop to be harvested, beds to be prepped, seeds to be sown and weeds to be pulled. There are always more tasks that need doing, and without appropriate scheduling, there can be grinding of gears and overwork.

We are learning to prioritize and communicate. Our full potential is the elegance of choreography, infinite cycles of life revolving, rotating, spinning on their own course and velocity within the whole.

Want to read more? Check out Part 2 of the Primer.

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