By Robbie Long, Earthbound Farm
We think that happy plants come from happy dirt. Thatâ€™s why as soon as a crop gets harvested, we go right to work getting the ground ready to plant again. Itâ€™s important to get the soil loose, and to get some air down into the places that have been compacted. Once we have fresh new beds, we work hard to get the dirt to â€śmellow out.â€ť We want a fine soil, without any big clods. Right before planting, a final pass with our mulcher gives a nice, smooth bed to drop seed into. This is the first important step in growing a uniform, quality crop.
Depending on what crops weâ€™re planting, we can dial in exactly how much seed we want to plant using a precision seeder. We also make sure the seed is dropped at just the right depth for it to pop right out of the ground.
The cultivator-man spends much of his day about 2 inches away from delicate young plants. The cultivator bar, with its numerous small discs and specialized knives, is our main tool for fighting weeds once a good â€śstandâ€ť of seedlings has been established. It also loosens up the soil and gets air down to the plant rootsâ€¦all crucial for healthy plants. With some fine-tuning, and the cultivator-manâ€™s steady hand at the wheel, we can eliminate the majority of unwanted weeds in a field. It takes years of experience, and a lot of patience, to achieve the level of precision seen here.
We go to great lengths to keep our fields weed free, and the ability to cultivate a crop like romaine, or broccoli, is a huge advantage in terms of time, money, and quality, because there is enough space between the plants for us to weed mechanically. In contrast, our spring mix fields, like baby lettuce, or baby spinach, are planted with very little space in between each line of seed; the rows are so narrow, that cultivating becomes nearly impossible. Remember, with organic farming we do not use chemicals to get rid of weeds. So for these crops, we must rely on hand weeding to remove any unwanted pests. It is important to choose our â€ścleanestâ€ť ground for these types of crops, and fortunately (or maybe more accurately, diligently), over the years, we have been able to reduce weed pressure on many of our ranches, leaving us plenty of options for planting the baby greens.
Farming is a lot of hard work, but itâ€™s fun, and coming out to the ranch every day and seeing the crop grow makes it all worth it. We love it when it all comes together and we can harvest 100% of a beautiful organic crop. Itâ€™s a team effort, and we put our hearts and souls into producing the freshest, highest quality organic produce for our customers to enjoy.