August 29, 2016

Fall Planting


We have a crew devoted to transplanting fall crops. When I was a kid, we spent many weekends transplanting plants into fields. Back then, it was all done by hand. Ricardo would run the tractor over the beds, dragging a piece of metal in the dirt that would open up a small ditch. One set of people would then walk down the row plucking the little plants out of the tray and dropping them at the correct spacing.
Behind that person would be someone on their knees with a trowel picking up the little plant and burying it into the ground.

We now have a machine that assists with the task of getting the plants from the tray into the soil. The machine is attached to the back of the tractor and has six seats for planters. The person sitting on the seat takes the plants out of the tray and places the plant into a mechanical hand that grabs the plant and inserts it into the ground. The machine works pretty well, but there are always a few plants that get completely buried or not buried at all. For this reason, there are two people walking behind to right the wrongs of the machine.

Six people on the machine behind the tractor, two people walking behind the tractor and one person driving the tractor – nine in total. This crew can transplant three acres of kale, chards, lettuces, cabbages and fennel in one day. With these crops, we are planting 26,000 plants per acre, which is equal to two lines of plants on a bed that is 60 inches wide with eight inches between each plant. If mom could see us now!

The transplanting crew has a solid two weeks of work ahead of them. Right now they are just finishing with plantings. Next week, they will do the fennel and the week after that the chard and kale field will start. By the time they are done with the chard and kale, the next planting of other crops will be ready.