Appalachian weather is temperamental. Our soil is thick and heavy. My biggest "macro" (you know aside from a never ending parade of pests and self-inflicted stress) this year was learning how to make beds in this soil with our weather conditions. April was too wet to effectively make beds using our equipment without producing "clods" (clay chunks in the soil caused by working land before it is fully dry). In fact, it was too wet to work the soil well until July, at which point I was so desperate that we made all of the beds for the rest of the year in one fell swoop. Then, I spent the rest of the season maintaining those beds (weeding the pathways and protecting the plastic) only, in some cases, to change plans and decide not to use the bed at all...
So, long and short, I don't want to play that game again next year. This fall we're doing things differently. I got a new toy! Check out this beautiful bed-shaper from Buckeye Tractor company. It has large discs that can pull heavy soil together in to a rough raised bed. These raised beds can then be amended with compost and planted with a light cover crop. With this set up, after over-wintering, the tilth of the top three inches of the raised beds should be such that we will be able to work them in the spring even in wet conditions.
I am so excited about this new bed system. It feels like we are building toward a land management system that will be good for the soil and good for the business.
This giant step forward would never have happened without my father. He helped me think through the necessary equipment. He did the research to find the best place to purchase the bed-shaper. He worked the land on Thursday afternoon while I was at market. He made it possible to get the land worked in time for cover cropping and before the cold damp ground becomes yet again intractable. I really can't even begin to express how lucky and grateful I am to have his support and partnership in this business endeavor. Thanks dad!