Thanks to Sam Bosco for the photos! Got pictures or stories to share? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
"When any lagged behind, the cry of "blueberries" was most effectual to bring them up."
- Henry David Thoreau
It's been a wet spring- really. Record rainfall for April (more than double the average) has left many Ithaca farms behind schedule or simply unable to plant anything yet (check out the Ithaca Journal for an article on this subject). Wet soil compacts easily, so even walking on it, let alone driving machinery on it, is risky. All the water and humidity can breed disease too. Thankfully, we're experiencing some sunny, dry days now in the beginning/middle of May.
At Kestrel Perch Berry Farm on West Hill in Ithaca, things were wet (just-dug holes filling up with water, low-lying parts an utter mudslide), but plantable for the most part. It's times like these that give many of us in the crop mob purpose- the feeling that we're delivering some emergency help to a farm in need. On April 30th, the Crop Mob came together to give some love and planting help to Katie Creeger of Kestrel Perch Berry Farm.
Katie Creeger says: There are 8 steps to a blueberry bush. Weed, Mark, Gypsum, Dig, Gel, Plant, and Mulch.
1. Weed. First we tackled the competition--wintercress, bedstraw, purple dead nettle-- in the blueberry rows.
Kestrel Perch has some clay in its soil, and blueberries dig a well-drained spot. Gypsum's main purpose is to penetrate clay particles in heavy soil or the layer of hard subsoil and create spaces for air and moisture, which loosens the soil structure*.
7. Plant in the marked holes. This is the fun part! We grabbed our Jersey, Reka, and Liberty variety blueberries and plugged them in- not too deep, not too shallow; soil tamped around the roots; drip irrigation tubes on top. Diversity yields a longer season and a safeguard against catastrophe!
Getting the job done:
After getting in all the blueberries (as many as the drier beds could hold!), we sat down for a lovingly farmer-prepared meal of hearty soup, a microgreens/tahini salad, baguette, and a berry dessert- raspberries, strawberries, and currants from last year, with whipped cream on top... yum.
We've been having some big mobs this year- 40-some people helped out for this one! Thanks to all who came out. Join us this Saturday, May 15th, for our next mob in Cayutaville- a 100% working member-CSA, or, as they call themselves, an "Agriculture-Supported Community." Email email@example.com for more info and to get on our email listserv!
See you at the next mob!
Kate, Sam and Rachel
* A quick guide to gypsum's agricultural uses
** A short, readable guide to growing blueberries for the beginner