Week of June 13th – CSA Newsletter

Well folks, we made it. The start to another CSA season! As the TC3 Farm embarks on its third season, I find myself thinking a lot about the farm (I’m sure all farmers are constantly thinking about their farms). I think about where we started and how far that we’ve come in such a short … Read more

Potting On Our Tomatoes at the TC3 Farm

This week at the TC3 Farm – Potting On Our Tomatoes – Student Post By Hannah D.

Transplanting TomatoesThis week on the TC3 farm our big project was transplanting, or “potting on” our tomatoes. While the weekly tasks of seeding, weeding and harvesting did not cease this week, potting on our tomatoes was a major project that had all hands on deck. The reason for potting on at this time is because our tomato seedlings were beginning to outgrow their trays. In order to keep them happy and growing at a healthy rate and avoiding getting root bound it was necessary to transplant them to larger cells with more room to grow.

Of course with so many varieties of tomatoes that all look the same at this stage of growth, we had to be vary careful to transplant everything correctly with the proper tags. This is important so that whether we sell these plants to customers or plant them for our own, we are not expecting one thing and getting another. If a customer were to buy a plant expecting one type and got another, not only would that look bad on the farm but they may not be a returning customer.

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Composting and Strawberries at the Farm

Composting, Growing Strawberries, and Potting On Tomatoes – This Week at the TC3 Farm – Student Post By Candice

TC3 Farm Compost
TC3 Farm Compost Pile

This week at the TC3 farm we learned about composting. Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into rich soil humus. There are many benefits of composting food and other matter. Compost energizes the soil food web, which is made up of microscopic bacteria and fungi, along with earthworms, crickets and many other life forms. Compost enhances the ability of tomatoes and other vegetables to stand up to diseases and may improve their flavor and nutrition. Compost also helps the soil retain as much moisture as possible. You can get compost from a number of different commercial suppliers, but the best compost is homemade! The TC3 farm gets the raw material for making compost from the leftover food served at Coltivare Restaurant, in Ithaca, NY.

Uncovering Strawberries
Uncovering Strawberries

We also uncovered the strawberry patch which was under several layers of row cover for the winter, in order to let the sun get to them to enhance their nutrients. Although rained hard we were still able to get the whole patch weeded, mulched with wood chips, and we even replanted some of the plants we grew from runners in the greenhouse over the winter. Strawberry plants are known to have runners – which are stolons that the plants use to vegetatively propagate themselves. Most students offered to take the runners home and replant them last fall, while the rest were planted in the greenhouse to fill in gaps in the strawberry patch at the farm. Clipping the runners from the mother plant allows the mother plant to focus on fruit production rather than multiplying. The runners are doing great, they have blossomed and are now ready for this year’s season!

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Hardening Off and Potting On at the TC3 Farm

This week on the TC3 Farm: Hardening Off and Potting On by Hannah W.

hardening off seedlings
Seedlings Hardening Off

Now that the days have been getting warmer, if you walk up to the greenhouse on the TC3 farm, you’ll see a full table of seedlings outside, getting used to the wind and cooler temperatures. After a while, they’ll be brought back inside for the night. This process of “hardening off” helps tiny seedlings prepare for life in the farm field. As they grow, trays of seedlings are gradually moved farther from the greenhouse heater, then eventually placed on the ground, where it’s cooler still. 

seedlings ready to plantThe final steps in hardening off involve moving the seedlings outside. Even though the plastic on the greenhouse seems thin, it does offer a bit of protection from the sun, so plants also have to get used to the brighter sunlight as they transition outdoors. Seedlings may be brought outside for just a couple hours at first, then graduate to spending the whole day outdoors.

potting on tomatoes
Potting On Tomatoes

This week, the laboratory portion of class featured a tomato potting-on extravaganza. “Potting on,” refers to transferring a plant into a larger container with more soil. As the seedling grows, its roots spread out through the soil in the container, absorbing nutrients. After a while, the seedling will eventually run out of nutrients in the small area of soil it has to work with. 

Tomato seedlings also compete for light, which is another reason to pot them on. Tomatoes, as warm-weather crops, spend a long time in the greenhouse and need space to spread out their leaves. For plants like bok choi, which are cold-hardy and can be planted out in the field soon, there’s no need to move them to larger pots.

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Farm Preparation and Planning – Spring at the TC3 Farm

Farm Preparation and Planning at TC3 Farm – Student Post by Murray

Farm preparation and planning Planting seeds properly is the most important job on the farm. The start of a new plant is so crucial and if attention to detail is ignored, a huge failure in the season would be possible. Seeding is not as simple as one might think; it involves many hours of preparation and planning. Also, plant data and growing knowledge is key for success. Understanding how the particular seed grows, what temperature it needs, the best way to transplant/direct seed or what nutrients the soil needs, the grower must understand these basics.

Seeding is very important, in fact, one of the most important in determining the whole season’s success. First, using seedling trays is necessary if the seedlings have to be transplanted. Seedling StartsThis gives the control of their environment and also proves to be easier when transplanting. It is also important to know how many seeds per cell are needed as the germination rate may be high or low and compensation is needed for the differences in crops. A great company where TC3 Farm buys its seeds is called High Mowing Seeds.

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