June 11: This Week On The Farm
After a full season of chaos, funny moments, and a whole lot of problem solving we decided that starting a weekly blog would be the best way to not only share, but also remember the special moments. We want to have a place we can go to look back and see all that we have accomplished and pushed through. At some point we will probably write a long blog about our first year as hemp farmers, but for now we are going to start right where we are!
This morning we woke up to the *amazing* sound of raindrops hitting the the windows. I say amazing because we have been doing rain dances for days with no results. We seem to be experiencing another drought this year, very similar to last years only considerably hotter. The forecast estimated we would get two really hot (and I mean high 90's) days. We ended up getting about two weeks. In this time we had one 2o minute rain shower one morning, which totally evaporated by 10:00am. Sadly the light drizzle this morning was also brief, only lasting about 5 minutes. The next two weeks are looking like mid 80's with zero rain predicted.... So, we move forward with caution, knowing that our irrigation pond is very close to empty and our tiny little field sprouts are very much in need of water and in danger of roasting in the heat.
All of our seeds were securely in the ground by June 8th. We had planned all along to plant early in the year. May 15 was what we were shooting for. As far as prep goes we were ready, but the weather decided it was not. We had extremely cold nights in the 20's all the way up till Memorial Day. So we made the hard decision to wait till June 1st to start planting, since having our hemp sprouts exposed to close to freezing temps would be a recipe for disaster. The hemp plants are getting a bit of a late start, but at least they are still alive!
Keeping the seeds moist in their greenhouse starter pots proved to be easier said than done. We have over 4,000 peat pots in there, each hand filled by the four of us with our own compost blend. With the extreme heat and the greenhouse effect it was a real challenge to keep moisture in the pots, which is needed for them to sprout. We took shifts throughly watering them every few hours. On top of that we had to be always monitoring the greenhouse temp. Even with the side walls rolled up and exhaust fans on it still got incredibly hot.
The weather again proved to not be on our side. We had a much lower germination rate this year versus last year, which is most likely due to the insane heat and cloudless days. A few seedlings show signs of stress and sunburn, and likely won't make it. While we don't have as many plants as we hoped, we are happy that most of them survived and are thriving. Luckily we had enough extra seeds that we were able to go back and reseed the ones that did not germinate.
As we were dealing with re-seeding we noticed that another issue we faced last year was indeed present again. Dampening off. It is caused by a fungus that attacks the bottom of the plants stem, causing it to fall over, wilt, and then die. Luckily we were already somewhat expecting it, so we attacked the problem head on before it became overwhelming.
On top of all the greenhouse crazy we were also dealing with the field. The field that was bone dry and hot enough to burn my bare feet finally got all of its drip lines set up and working smoothly. We planted another 3,000 or so Auto flower seeds directly out in the field. These seeds mature on an internal timer versus a light cycle, so the hope is that they will mature way before the others and we will have an early first harvest that won't need to be jumping through hoops with frost (cough cough, last year). To plant these, we all walked the rows with cups of seeds, planting one seed on the drip emitters wet patch every 4 feet. Again, planting in the upper 80's was not ideal. Especially with direct sun, hardly any wind, a million mosquitos, and about 15 massive horse flies on your body at any given time. But we made it through! I will say this was in a weird way easier than planting in the greenhouse pots. It was satisfying to cover ground and to know there wasn't a second step of transplanting later.
We don't have many field pics but here is a fun video of our geese (Michael and Pichael) "helping" us in the field.
Now that all the seeds are in and sprouts are showing up/growing bigger the biggest task is to keep them all watered. As the drought continues we are very aware of our evaporating irrigation pond situation. It's not a very big pond and it is going down a foot or so every day, mostly to evaporation. We just need to get all the field seeds happily rooted before we run out. As far as the greenhouse goes it is doing pretty good now as long as it gets constant watering. We are dancing around in the grey area of not wanting the baby plants to be too wet but wanting the pots with new seeds to be wet enough to germinate.
On top of all the direct plant work we are also working on a lot of things behind the scenes. We just launched our collaboration with Elements Botanical Wellness where we created the perfect combination of our hand grown CBG and Element's botanical blends to help you experience the amazing power of plants. On top of that we are working on finalizing our massage oil (it seriously feels so good), creating a CBG tea blend, finding events to educate and sell at, and working to expand and stay connected with the shops we are currently in. So far you can find our products in FOUR shops.
If you are ever in the area, check out Legacy Glassworks in Duluth & Minneapolis, Hideaway in Coon Rapids, and Love Is An Ingredient in Columbia Heights!
SO with that I would like to leave you with a bit of advice. A lot of things will not go as planned in life. The ability to move past the challenges and just keep pushing on is that will set you apart. It is what will make you grow. It is also the most rewarding thing when everything is said and done. When that happy ending comes, and it will eventually, all that struggle will make it so much more worth it.