Tuesday, May 20, 2008

food glorious food

Today we pulled back the Reemay cover from field W1 to find a forest of food that has grown in the last month or so since we planted those first seeds.   We decided to harvest arugula & tat soi because they are quickly "bolting" (putting energy into flowering, not leafing, due to hot weather)... and radishes because they are growing so fast they'll be splitting soon (their insides are growing faster than their skin can hold them!)  We put all these veggies in the cooler until the first CSA distribution.  The chard & kale & lettuce sure look good, but we can wait until next week to harvest them.  We took off the Reemay from the lettuce & spinach so it would actually slow down it's growing... we can't have all the greens ready at once!

With all this abundant growth comes weeds of course.  Buckwheat sprouts are everywhere from a former cover crop that went to seed.  Also, there are tiny little weed sprouts, that are easily brushed with your hand.  We also went through with the Cub tractor Basket-Weeder, wheel hoes, and oscillating hoes.  Can you find the tiny weeds in this picture (not the big buckwheat sprouts in the back)?
You can hardly see them at first, but after a few hours on my knees brushing my hand in between broccoli plants, I could spot their tiny pairs of seed leaves.  This is what Farmer Dave calls "white thread stage"... describing the tiny roots that turn up with cultivation.  You get the weeds at this stage before you have to pull anything or hardly even see anything!  The secret of weed-free farms.
The baby chicks are looking less like babies now, and more like miniature chickens.  They still follow mama hen everywhere, but hardly fit underneath her at night.  They mostly all have yellowish heads & brown speckled bodies, looking a little like bald eagles.
The next batch of chicks is going to hatch on Memorial Day!  Then there will be two mamas & loads of peeping going on.  
I plowed up a section of land next to our new Field F, for some experimental plantings.  I'm thinking of doing a "three-sisters" experiment, you know: Corn, Beans, Squash.  This is an old Native American tradition where three different plants work together in a kind of "guild" to help eachother out & provide more food overall.  The corn stalk provides a trellis for the beans, the nitrogen produced by the rhizobia on the bean roots fertilizes the corn, and the squash provide a weed-suppressing ground cover for around the corn & beans.  I want to try lots of different species, so if anyone has any suggestions or experience with this, let me know!
This is a Peruvian Dent Corn I got at a seed swap in California:
This is Hopi Blue Corn also from seed saved in California:
And a totally unrelated experiment:  Cotton!  Colored varieties I grew last year in California.  We'll see how they grow in New York.  I'm going to start them in the greenhouse until I figure out where on the farm they can go!  They make this beautiful green, white, or brown fluff, which I suppose you could make into a shirt.  Somehow.

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