Each season brings about a new stage and phase in the calendar at any farm, and spring is no exception. Typically considered to be the start of the growing season in the Northern Hemisphere, spring represents fresh beginnings for life on the farm. To dive into this topic, we’ve had the pleasure of speaking directly with three inspiring farmers to learn exactly what happens on an organic farm during the spring.
All farms operate on some sort of traditional farming calendar, depending on the region where they are located. This takes into account the shifts in season that impact growing and harvesting cycles. Regions with four seasons typically follow a general plan of:
- Summer: managing and maintaining crops
- Fall: harvesting crops and ploughing fields
- Winter: planning and keeping up with farm maintenance
- Spring: fertilizing fields and planting crops
It is important to note that no season is especially quiet on the farm. There is always some level of clean up, management and planning happening, keeping farmers exceptionally busy. With organic farming, this planning is especially important as companion planting and composting is crucial for healthy crops, requiring a detailed process for success. We interviewed Budainé Erika and Budai János, the amazing farmers who keep the Eminence Certified Organic Farm running year round, as well as our dear friend, Naty King from Hazelmere Farms in British Columbia, Canada about what they do to prepare for the year ahead.
Budainé Erika and Budai János, Eminence Certified Organic Farm | Fülöpjakab, Hungary
What is your job on the farm?
Our work on the farm is quite diverse. We take care of the plants, the maintenance of the buildings and traditional wooden structures as well as all the paperwork for certifying authorities [like Biokontroll].
What happens on a typical day at the Eminence Certified Organic Farm?
There is no set day-to-day routine on the farm; as we say: “The eyes of a good farmer see what is important today.”
What are you planting and preparing in the spring?
Usually in April, nature is awakening in the garden. Our work depends a lot on the weather, and in April it can still be freezing and sometimes snowing as well. If everything looks good, we prepare the plants and remove the compost that covered any plants through the winter – like the grapes or the roses. Then, we do spring cuts, or pruning, for all the plants, including fruit trees and bushes, lavender, sage, roses, grape vines and raspberry bushes as well as preparing the beautiful green grass (a big task!).
Around this time, the irrigation system needs to be reinstalled, and we will complete our annual spring maintenance of the lily pond. We will also clean up any of the annual plants by removing last year’s frozen plants, cleaning the planters and filling them with compost which will be mixed with the soil.
By this time, we can tell which plants have survived the winter and which ones will need to be replaced and can plan for that process. As long as we do not expect any more mornings with severe freezing temperatures (typically from mid-April onwards), we will begin to plant the sunflowers, corn, oats etc.
How long until plants begin to bloom?
The full splendor of the garden is typically on display in early June to mid-June (of course, weather can interfere). Some plants, such as flax and fruit trees, start flowering even sooner.
What don’t most people realize about farming during the spring?
That patience is a virtue. Just because it’s sunny during the day, it doesn’t mean that the plants will survive the cold nights.
What does your day look like in the spring?
Of course, it all depends on Mother Nature. Here in British Columbia, “springlike weather” can be very deceiving as the night temperatures are still cold. Late March and early April here at Hazelmere Organic Farm is cleanup time. We clean our asparagus beds and berry fields, tie up this year’s fruit-bearing canes and weed and feed the plants with manure.
What else are you planning for this time of year?
We are starting to sort out our seeds and prepare them to be seeded in trays in our greenhouse. Some of the crops include:
- Summer and winter squashes
- Specialty veggies for the restaurants
How long until these plants start blooming?
The seedlings will be poking out of the soil trays in about two to three weeks.
Is there anything that happens at an organic farm in the spring that differs from a conventional farm in the spring?
We do a lot of soil preparation. It is crucial to make the soil healthy in order to provide nutrients to the seeds and plants that will be sowed.
Do you have a farm or garden that you’re preparing as the ground defrosts? What do you have to do to get ready for the growing season? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.