Spring at the Orchard: High Tunnels and Fun in the Mud

Mud, glorious mud! We are surrounded by a late spring thaw that leaves our boots covered in the rich red stuff that boys like to roll in. Life is clipping along at a very hectic pace here on the orchard. We’ve received our shipment of blueberry mulch several weeks ago and it’s waiting in big heaps to be spread on the plants– in the meantime, providing loads of entertainment for our kids who like to kick the frosty clumps apart.

climing the mulch pile waiting to be piled on the blueberry plants

Climbing the mulch pile waiting to be piled on the blueberry plants

muddy boys

Muddy boys

My husband has been disappearing at the crack of dawn and we see his shadow as he zooms in for lunch then disappears again until dinner time. Last week as soon as the ground dried out he and the crew went to dig holes for trees. We aim to plant around 4,000 trees. Every year we make a huge investment in our future fruit.

IMG_2251

Our children have suddenly come alive as well. Cabin fever is a distant and vague memory as they have also begun disappearing for hours on end into the great outdoors. One of our favorite Saturday pastimes, as a family, is riding around on the golf cart “helping” daddy get his work done. Occasionally we run into unforeseen problems, like getting the golf cart stranded on a boulder we thought we could pass over, or getting it stuck in the mud.

A series of unfortunate events landed us stranded in a giant mud puddle

A series of unfortunate events landed us stranded in a giant mud puddle

When daddy yells, “jump off!” the kids, down to our two-year-old, know just how to respond! These “mishaps” are what adventures are made of!

chasing after the golf cart

Chasing after the golf cart

This time of year we have to keep a close eye on the High Tunnels. As the daytime temperatures rise outside gradually, they skyrocket inside the tunnels, reaching up to 100°F if not tended properly. This can create a problem as we don’t want fried raspberry plants.

Checking on the strawberries with daddy (three little helpers)

Checking on the strawberries with daddy (three little helpers)

For this reason, we open the ends of the tunnels during warm days this time of year to keep the temperatures cooler inside.

our oldest helping our youngest take some first steps in teh raspberry tunnel  tunnels were made for racing

It never ceases to amaze me how much tunnels speed up the production of our fruit. The plastic covering not only provides warmth but diffuses the light to distribute the sun’s rays more efficiently. The plants inside run about two weeks ahead of the exact same varieties planted outdoors. This means fruit, faster! Something that thrills our kids just as much as us!

This future farmer loves the warmth of the tunnel on a cool spring day

This future farmer loves the warmth of the tunnel on a cool spring day

 

These baby shoes have seen their share of outdoor fun

These baby shoes have seen their share of outdoor fun

The outdoors can make anyone smile!

The outdoors can make anyone smile!

I’ve taken a few pictures to demonstrate their progress. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are already asking “when can we pick raspberries/ strawberries/ peaches/ pears?” The answer is always, “Soon, they’re coming, soon.” Until then I’ll pop some frozen blueberries in my mouth and dream of our upcoming summertime harvest! Hope to see you in June for the strawberries!

A raspberry bud on March 28, inside the high tunnel

A raspberry bud on March 28, inside the high tunnel

And here's a high tunnel raspberry bud two weeks later, on April 11!

And here’s a high tunnel raspberry bud two weeks later, on April 11!

Meanwhile, outside the tunnel... there's not much to see on these raspberry buds, which is why we have tunnels!

Meanwhile, outside the tunnel… there’s not much to see on these raspberry buds, which is why we have tunnels!

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply