Thursday, March 17, 2011

Evening At The Beach Farm

I raced off to the beach farm after five to plant broccoli and leek starts, and further to protect the tender broccoli from the wind. I am glad that Larry had opened up the nursery this past weekend, so that I could pick up some seafood compost and cow manure (surf and turf) before leaving for the day. I'm a shopping thinker -this is where one finds solutions to problems on the store's shelf, and made short order of the wind problem at J&L.  Short bamboo stakes (gawdawfal green) save the day.

The winds we were expecting never materialized, yet there was a light breeze that wafted the agribon fabric, a spun polypropylene, like spider's silk. I purchased this fabric from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, who also sells the fabric clips, but they were too expensive for small plastic disks (a widget if I ever saw one), so I searched further, and found these not so bad replacements at Memphis Net and Twine for less than a third of the price. Why not so bad? The PVFS clip doesn't poke through the fabric, and are probably of higher quality, but for my purposes, MN&T 'plastic grommets' work.

As you can see, the clips have two ports for connecting -the central circle if you wish to tear the fabric and the side hoop. I used the side hoop, slid over the bamboo stake, and supported rather lazily by a horizontal stake tied to the vertical. The fabric can then be lowered or raised along the vertical stake if needed. A better system of supporting the fabric is one or two thoughts away, although likely to be unnecessary. As soon as the broccoli toughens up, the plants will be able to support the fabric on their own. As the broccoli grows taller, the fabric will ascend the stakes.

The agribon fabric is intended to keep off Small Whites -moths that lay eggs which in turn become cabbage worms. In my case, it's doing double duty as a wind break, so I have attached extra clips at the base and used my metal plant tags to anchor the fabric to the soil. Who ever has what they need on hand, but then who stops because they don't?

The little guys under their tent.

The utility of this fabric far outweighs its major flaw -it's unattractive. With row covers, you can also add a couple of degrees to the coldest night, and of course, it allows water, air, and 85% of sunlight through. I really like the idea of row covers, but this is my first attempt at using them. Ideally you have hoops and the row cover lays over those hoops, pinned to the ground. However, I hope my system holds up and keeps the small whites out, because I really like the idea of the row cover lifting on the stakes as the plants grow taller. But then, I suppose I shouldn't get too attached to any one idea.

I also planted two thirds of the leek starts in two trenches. I have about 2/3rds of the broccoli left not planted as well. I will have to go back on Saturday morning before my flight to plant those in another bed. All the mental designing isn't worth very much when you have an hour of light to get it all done, and by dark you can barely see the leeks. Quick decisions must be made, function is king in the race against time. 

Lastly, I planted the spring greens seeds, which should have made way into their spring bed a couple of weeks ago. Only the basics -arugula, and heirloom mesclun mix, and an asian greens mix and very happy about those because I have been eating a lot more salads lately.


  1. Very nice. I already lost at least one broccoli seedling...looks like yours will do better. They look nice and cozy.

  2. I love the photo from inside the tent.

  3. That fabric is an excellent idea!!
    BTW, do you know when you are supposed to start watering the garlic beds? I haven't been since the ground is damp.

  4. Thanks guys.

    Meems, my water isn't on yet. As long as the soil isn't dried out, I don't see why you couldn't leave it. If it rains once a week a good amount, you should be fine.

  5. Hey, just found your blog and I think it is great.

    Do you think you can list my shop in your map? Were not so big but we stock tons of organic gardening supplies along with hard to find plants, some grown right in our greenhouse out back.

    Kimberly Sevilla
    Rose Red & Lavender.
    653 Metropolitan Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11211


If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...