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Farm Glance: Four Season Farm, part two

August 27, 2010


For Eliot, choosing the right farming equipment and tools is key to running an efficient and successful small farm. A tool connoisseur himself, Eliot designs, collects and helps make farming tools available to the farming community. He draws his inspiration from his daily work, his travels, as well as what he refers to as his “grand-parents”- an extensive library of old agricultural books.

One of the system we particularly liked is Four Season’s soil blocking and seeding method. Investing in soil block makers allows to move away from using plastic containers and makes the process more time efficient. To see what we are talking about, check out this slide show of Eliot’s technique using soil block makers.

Notice the smalls transplants are inserted into the bigger soil blocks.

This pro grow thermostat maintains the ideal soil temperature.

We had been at Four Season Farm for about a day when we noticed something was missing. The nagging feeling finally disappeared once we came across a pile of sand filled bags: Row cover! Where was the row cover? Often held in place by sand bags, row cover helps “shield” plants from insect damage and cold temperatures.

But there is a trade-off inherent to using row cover in the warmer months of the growing season: the higher temperature created by row cover can make plants such as brassicas bolt prematurely. Plus, row cover is expensive, it easily blows off in the wind, is fairly fragile and degrades rather quickly. Yet, we use row cover virtually year round as we do not know of other organic growing methods to manage pests as effectively. Anyhow, in August, row cover was nowhere to be found at Four Season Farm, and here’s why:

These sand bags are retired for part of the season.

According to Eliot, a healthy pant cannot be properly digested by insects, which are therefore less attracted to it. For Eliot’s scientific explanation, check out this link to his book “Four Season Harvest”. While we still do not fully grasp the science behind this phenomenon, Four Season’s plants are free of both row cover and insect damage. However, row cover is still widely used in the shoulder season to extend the harvest.

Displayed below are a few of Four Season’s greenhouse features and techniques.

Four Season's washing and packing shed is built within a greenhouse-an interesting alternative to erecting a separate building.

We liked these trellising spools that keep the twine untangled and allow to adjust its length.

Trellised peppers

Another option for salad spinning: the electric Dynamic Salad Spinner.

Post by Virginie


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