Half way gone!

I can hardly believe it is already half way through September! That means I am half done with my internship here in Lockeford. Its super sad to think about because I am really enjoying my time here. We have a very small staff at the PMC and so we work really closely together every day. I especially work with one other person, Shirley and so we have quickly become friends as well as coworkers. We share an office as well so we end up spending a lot of time together. So needless to say when my time here comes to an end I shall be very sad to leave this place. I also was super fortunate to find a great place to live while I’m here! I’m renting a room in a big house just 2 miles down the road from the PMC and it is super convenient! Plus I have a great landlord who loves me and said I should stay forever! LOL Its all good for me though and now I’m trying to stay in California for School or another job once I finish up my internship. I’m really happy here, and despite the long distance I am from home and my family I really have loved the experience and want to make a life out here.
As far as work goes we are trying to prep for the busy fall planting season. The fields need to be water and sprayed and plowed and prepped, while in the green house we are planting seeds to grow into plugs for spring planting, and we are working on several acquisitions we were able to make so I’m also doing some business dealings. I have really gained a great idea of how diverse a work place the Plant Materials Center can be, and appreciate the work NRCS and the USDA is doing. We also have several seed mixes that need to be made for our fall cover-crops. I am writing up a special Study Plan to propose and design an experimental study on a new technology for boosting the germination rate of some native seeds that currently are a big problem because they have such low germination rates. I’m really excited about it because I get to stretch my scientific legs as it were a little bit more then I have been lately. But I am now quite the expert at weed control (i.e. pulling, shoveling, and hoeing weeds). I enjoy all the sweaty work though. Its nice to work hard out in the California sunshine. I also did just finish a Plant Guide for the USDA PLANTS database, so if you want to know more about California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum) stay tuned and you will soon see my guide published by the USDA!! I also became a little bit more of an authority and was able to identify some of the herbarium specimens they had at UC Davis to subspecies when I went out there a couple weeks ago.

Otherwise right now its been mostly prepping fields, doing some tractor work, removing weeds and deciding what can be done before the main planting season goes into full swing.

Here my coworker Shirley was using one of our John Deer Tractors to roller crimp the Sudan Grass we used as a summer cover crop along with Cow Peas in our organic field. The grass was a lot of work to get established because of all the times we had to move the lateral lines to water it, but it was amazing to watch it reach 8 feet or more tall in about a month.

In about a month we have to put in the second year of our soil health plots as well, and before that there are a lot of soil health indicators we need to measure and get some initial 2nd year data prior to planting. Its gonna be a lot of work but should be interesting. We were doing a lot of soil coring the last week so we can see what fields are where for nutrient and moisture levels and decide if any soil amendments need to be added or any changes done otherwise.

Using this really large soil corer to pull out soil samples to get analyzed for nutrients. I know you all are especially amazed because of my awesome farmers tan there LOL rolled up the sleeves so we could even it out a bit.

We are also planning on recovering a few areas from Himalayan Blackberry that has taken over, which will be horrible painful work but needs to be done. Besides that there are a ton of other weed issues, but we are doing out best to get that under control and once all our fields have cover crops on them the weeds should be vastly diminished as they are outcompeted by the weeds. I also watched this amazing video by the NRCS called Under Cover Farmers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWXCLVCJWTU) which has some really interesting information on the benefits of keeping soil covered and treating it like a living organism rather then just as what you plant in. It inspired me to use some of the techniques in my own garden! And I think as we apply more and more of them here we will see some amazing improvements in out soil health across the soils there are on the property.

Thats all for now! Talk to you all again soon!



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