Planting progress

Planting progress

It has been a busy few weeks of planting. There always seems to be a rush to beat Mother Nature knowing that unpredictable changes will come. This past week, we received several inches of rain with some hail. We are not complaining. Rather, we are thankful that we did not receive downpours of rain, tornadoes and many weather challenges others experienced.

Keith tilling

We were able to get into the field on May 4. This included a variety of field work including tilling in the cover crop to provide nutrients into the soil and preparing the seed bed for planting.

Sam dragging

After tilling, we drag the fields to make sure we have a nice seed bed to plant in.


Before planting potatoes, Steve used an attachment on the tiller to provide trenches for the potatoes to be planted in.

Planting potatoes

Several varieties, which include over 300 potatoes, were planted. A few more varieties will be planted once the ground has dried out.


Between May 5 and May 12, the majority of our crops were planted. It is a good thing, as several inches of rain and cold weather occurred this past week.

5-10-17 mulch and irrigation

Before planting our tomatoes, we installed drip irrigation under our mulch. The intent is to provide consistent watering and moisture at the right amount at the right time for the tomatoes to grow properly.

dirty hands (2)

We transplanted nearly 140 plants including tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. While the evening got tiring, the ability to find something fun about the job at hand did not waver. The photo isn’t the best because it was taken as the sun was setting and as you can see part of the fun involved mud.


Last week’s storms included hail. Some of it was larger than a nickel. We were thankful that the crop was not larger, and that the hail lasted for a short period of time with minimal wind in the storm.

A glimpse in time

A glimpse in time

It has been a busy last few months preparing for the growing season and for 4-H projects at the county fair. Spring is in full swing. Below is a glimpse of some of the activity.


At the beginning of March, the chicks that the boys will show at the fair arrived in the mail from the hatchery. They are now about 2 1/2 months old and at the growth stage they boys’ refer to as “high schoolers.” They will be full grown at about 5 months of age when they will be shown at the county fair.


Recently, the hens are laying eggs of all sizes. The chicks that Sam’s class hatched this fall are starting to lay eggs. Hens are about 4-5 months old when they are full grown and ready to naturally start laying an egg about every 24-26 hours. The small size that the young hens are laying is a pee-wee egg. The larger eggs pictured are from our older hens that are about 1 1/2 yearss old.


At the end of April, the boys bought 3 pigs which they plan to show at the county fair this summer when the pigs have reached their market weight. Pigs are full grown in about 5-6 months when they will weigh approximately 260-280 pounds. After the boys pigs arrived, the local veterinarian visited to check on pig health and discuss the pig’s healthcare with the boys. Farmers work hand in hand with their local veterinarians to provide the best quality care for their animals.

We collected soil samples from each of our field areas. Steve made a soil probe collector which would dig down a couple of inches into the field to collect a sample of the soil. We collected 5-6 soil samples from different areas of each field. Labeled the bag and brought the soil samples to our local farm co-op to be tested to evaluate soil health and help us to know what nutrients we should apply to the soil to help grow healthier plants.

The rhubarb is growing like crazy. Our rhubarb was transplanted from the farm my dad grew up on. The Harner Brothers are the 5th generation to raise this rhubarb originally planted on the family farm near Tracy by their great-great grandparents after immigrating from Norway and transplanted to our home near Northfield.

Last fall, we planted rye grass as a cover crop to provide “green manure” and “feed” our soil with good nutrients. As soon as it warmed up the rye grass began to grow again – just like grass in many lawns. The cover crop has grown well. We are interested in how it will improve soil health and in turn, once tilled into the fields it is currently growing in – how it will help improve soil health which will grow healthy plants and vegetables.

During the boys’ spring break, we spent a day doing agriculture in the classroom visits with students in St. Paul. It was a great day, and we are grateful for coworkers and the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom for their help.