Over the last couple of weeks, our Firestone Farm team began plowing, harrowing and planting in our cornfield, which is adjacent to William Ford Barn.
At Firestone Farm, we use a spring- tooth and spike-tooth harrow after plowing. Plowing is the first step in the process and turns over the dirt, bringing new soil to the ground’s surface; however, it also leaves the ground very uneven, almost like waves on a choppy lake. Harrowing breaks up clods of dirt, knocks down high ridges and fills in troughs (called furrows) until the ground is smooth enough to start planting.
Next came the planting. We planted a very old variety of corn, called Reid’s Yellow Dent, which was used by farmers all over the United States in the late 1800s. The corn is planted by hand using a tool called a corn jabber.
A piece of twine with knots every three feet is stretched across the field. Two farmers work their way towards the middle of the field, planting corn wherever there is a knot in the twine.
When they meet in the middle, Firestone farmers give each other a friendly handshake—a Greenfield Village tradition and a sign of camaraderie in hopes of a good crop yield.
Spacing the corn three feet apart will allow Firestone farmers to take a horse with a special tool called a cultivator in between each row to remove weeds. Later, farmers will plant pumpkins alongside their corn; the pumpkin vines will spread all over the ground and help keep weeds under control.
Be sure to stop by and watch the corn’s progress each week!