Planting time has finally arrived! There is so much prep work and anticipation that leads up to planting. Seed selection, organic nutrient plans, irrigation design and installation, seed starting in the grow house, field work and bed preparation, all have to occur before the outdoor transplant day.
The seeds were sown in the grow house the third week of May. We used an organic soil and compost mix to give the seeds a happy medium to grow in. Plenty of water, warmth and light help them to sprout up quickly! We planned to get them growing and transplant within 3-4 weeks.
The soil has to warm up and dry out a little before fieldwork can begin. Our spring snow and rains make this a challenging task! By mid-May we were able to complete a primary tillage, which goes deep into the soil to break up any roots or compaction that occurred during the last growing season. This allows for air and water to flow through the soil for the hemp roots. A secondary tillage is then completed to make the top layer of soil fine and fluffy. This creates a smooth surface for bed shaping and planting. The bed shaper is an implement that creates a slightly raised bed, while also laying down drip irrigation lines and plastic mulch. This saves a lot of time and energy to do all three things at once!
After the bed shaper lays the drip irrigation line, we are able to hook up the entire irrigation system. This is one of the most challenging and rewarding processes! The drip irrigation lines hook into a header line at the top of the field. A main water line splits off into each of these header lines to create irrigation zones. We have a timer set up for the pump and each zone, to control when and how much water each zone receives. This allows us to keep the plants happy with just the right amount of water!
Growing in the mountains of Utah provides additional challenges with high elevation weather changes. We have to wait until the time is right, so the delicate transplants will survive the cold nights. June kept bringing more cold snaps to our farm. We delayed planting outside for a couple weeks, to wait until the nightly temperatures were above 40 degrees. We did not want to put all of the baby plants out in the cold air and soil!
Finally, by June 20th, the forecast looked warm enough to plant. The seedlings went into the soil and we packed organic compost around them to give them the nutrients they need while growing. The irrigation is up and running and the plants can start growing, like weeds! 😉