The biggest purchase we have made up to this point is a bed shaper. While we were trying to get this farm up and running as frugally as we possibly could, after a lot of discussion we decided to spend some extra money on this piece of equipment. In order to give our plants the best chance possible, we wanted to keep their roots elevated, and the best way to do this was to plant in mounds.
(This is what we had pictured in our heads)
The field was first tilled several times by Jerry and Jim to get the soil as loose as possible, and to work in the manure and lime. They then had to pull the attachment behind the tractor and it pushes the loosened soil into mounds. We had purchased our shaper with 12" plates, which is the height our mounds should have come out.
After going down the first row with the shaper, we ended up with a small pile, but nothing like the 12" mound we were envisioning at all. The pile was much wider and kind of indented at the top, and also not packed down. It turned out that the rototiller we used did not dig down far enough to bring up enough loose dirt to completely fill the bed shaper. The plates are not height adjustable, so we had to work with the 12" that we had. We will either have to replace these plates with 8" ones in the future, or have the 12" ones cut down.
At this point in preparations we were struggling. The weather had NOT been cooperating. It rained almost every day for a week at the time we were supposed to be getting the manure and lime spread, so we were already about a week behind.We simply did not have time to do anything about this. Our plants were on the way, and we needed to be ready to get them in the ground when they arrived. The guys went ahead and did the whole field, and we decided we would do the best we could while planting to mound up and pack the dirt.
This is a pic of our first field, ready to go. Not quite like the picture above, but it's a start!