Thursday, September 25, 2008

sunup to sundown

This is what I planted back in May (Hopi Blue Corn):
And this is what I got:
Obviously there has been a cross with some kind of sweet corn. The kernels are soft and large, and there are new colors-- yellow, white, orange, that don't really belong in Hopi Blue Corn.
One of the most productive stalks made a patriotic show:
Here are the ears from the stunted stalks-- these look close to Hopi Blue, but they are of poor quality. I will still try to grind them into flour.
I put them in the greenhouse to dry (with a tarp over them):
The trees are starting to turn spectacular colors. The 3 sisters garden is beyond this field in the right part of the photo... just sad stalks now.
The sun rose.
The cover crops are greening the whole farm up.
Clover sprouting amidst the rye.
My amaranth is dry. I stomped it, shredded it, kneaded it, and then sifted it through a window screen.
I have grain now. Mixed with lots of flower "chaff"... I will winnow it sometime when it's windy. The seed looks about 50/50 black and golden.
Yum. Now I sleep.

Oh, did I mention that four of us harvested 300 turnips, 300 beets, 100 pounds of green beans, and loads and loads and loads of potatoes and tomatoes?
And after work, I harvested almost all of my dry beans-- Cherokee Trail of Tears mostly, but some scarlet runners & limas! I will dry these in the greenhouse now, and process them later.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

celeriac, beans, and greenhouses

Today we harvested celeriac, or celery root. A relative of celery, instead of making succulent stems, it puts it's flavor into a big bulbous root that grows halfway in the soil, halfway out. The tops look like parsley, but are really tough. The bottoms have hairy roots that we chop off. Washing them was a process, because we had to spray each one with the hose to get the dirt out from those tangled roots. This crop has been in the ground a long, long time-- it is a slow grower. It also will keep for 6 months in a cool place like the root cellar. Yum. Warm autumn soup!
I might buy this greenhouse for my own farming ventures next year. It is the same size as Dave's. I just have to take it apart. Then truck it across the state. Oh, and find a place for it to live. And set it up again. Oi. But isn't it a beauty?
I harvested most of the corn from the 3 Sisters Garden tonight. Pictures to come soon! I'm a little worried about the beans. They are dry beans, which means they have to completely harden on the vine-- the plant will turn brown and crispy when it's ready to harvest them. Right now, the leaves are still very green, and the pods are red, and still soft. The beans look near-ripe, but I know they are not yet totally mature.
It's like a race: beans vs. winter. If a frost comes, I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe turn on irrigation to save them from being damaged. We'll cross our fingers.

cold fingers

Well, fall is here officially. And it sure is cold at 7am now. Last week we had a frost, but luckily just in isolated areas. In a low part behind the back barn, we found ice crystals on the lawn. We had decided not to protect any of the crops, because it was going to be "on the edge" and Dave made the call. Nothing was damaged, luckily. But the basil looked a little worse for the wear and tear.
Most mornings now mean harvesting greens at 7am. We walk out into the field and take a look at what is ready, and then we dig in.
The rows of lettuce, arugula, tat soi, turnips, radishes, spinach, and herbs, absolutely glow as the sun rises over the hill. We urge it to warm us faster.
Harvesting Tat Soi:
This crop can be harvested small to put in a salad mix or as "baby greens", but we thin it out and then harvest "heads" of it. The stems are crunchy and refreshing, and the greens are succulent like spinach.
We harvested Daikon Radish, a long spicy asian vegetable. We often snack on slices of this-- it clears your sinuses (and warms you up?)!
And one of my favorite foods-- Watermelon Radishes. This variety "Red Meat" is bright red inside and a sweet-spicy combination that looks like mini-watermelon slices when you cut it up right. These are supposed to get green on the outside (to complete the watermelon rind look), but looks like they chose to stay pink/white this time.
My "baby chicks" are now very grown up now. This rooster was the first to start crowing, and has claimed the older hens as his "harem"... he proudly proclaims this many times a morning.
And I may not be posting so regularly any more. I have started the serious search for land to farm next year, and all the complications of starting a farm business next year in Rochester. If anyone has leads, please let me know-- anything! I need to aquire access to 2-3 acres of good soil in the eastern parts of Rochester, as well as tractors, tools, a greenhouse, a walk-in cooler, and probably a delivery van or truck. Wow. I'm pretty overwhelmed. But very excited.

Last weekend I was out there looking at one possibility. There could be a lot of vegetables here next year:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

turtles and turnips

We harvested all morning for Tuesday's distribution. I personally pulled 500 radishes, yanked 100 giant turnips, cut 50 heads of lettuce, and decapitated 120 heads of broccoli. And all of this before 11am, when we started packing share boxes. A funny scene ensued--- the produce we had picked for this week's share (including 8 pounds of tomatoes, 4 peppers, scallions, 2 heads of tat soi, 1 head of lettuce, 1 zucchini, 1 bunch of radishes, 1 bunch turnips, 4 onions, 3 pounds of potatoes, 2 delicata squash, 1 head of garlic, 1 pound of yellow beans, did I forget anything? Oh, we didn't have room for the arugula.) would just barely fit in the boxes. It was insane. The distribution here at the farm went smoother, with folks helping themselves to 2 bulbs of fennel from the fields in addition to all the usual u-pick items. People often had to make 2 trips back to the car.
Hauling the turnips in from the field, I couldn't help but start humming the Mario Brothers theme song. One turnip was actually the size of a large grapefruit. No, a pummelo.
And the snapping turtles have hatched! Remember those round white eggs we dug up a few weeks ago in the potato field? Well, they've been safe inside a bucket of dirt in the barn and now there are 34 little crawling creatures.
They are so cute. We released them at the edge of the swamp.

Monday, September 15, 2008


The other day we brought in 1700 pounds of tomatoes. And there were still more on the vines.

Mostly we have these delicious red "slicers" but we also grow paste-type "romas" and of course a variety of big yellow, orange, pink, purple, & green heirlooms.
The red peppers continue to amaze me.
And we dug up the row of Adirondack Blue potatoes! They look like rocks in this picture (and in the soil-- it was difficult to tell them apart form stones actually), but cut open they are a bright purple color. I really want to grow these next year, they are so cool.
And fall greens-- crisp and spicy. Top left is red mustard, top right is arugula, bottom left is tat soi, bottom right is golden frill mustard.
Peppers and leeks complimenting eachother beautifully,
gigantic turnips,
sweet yellow wax beans,
the first fall radishes,
your choice of kale (red russian) or chard,
some tiny yellow squash,
one head of garlic a week as usual,
awesome heads of romaine,
sweet dumpling squash,
Oh yes, did I mention tomatoes?
We have tomatoes.
Take 8 pounds of them. Please.
Last Saturday was Community Day-- Nick drove the John Deere right through town on highway 82 as crowds of people stood by and watched. We had 2 bees on the haywagon, 1 ear of corn, 1 pea pod, and another (smaller) John Deere tractor, as well as an arsenal of tomatoes to hand out to innocent bystanders.
We were preceded by the local high school marching band, and followed by the fire trucks. It was really great. The best part was tossing tomatoes to people and cheering when they caught them. (A few of them missed.) The looks on peoples faces, and the kids running after the wagon with their arms out.
In a rushed continuation of my heirloom tomato project, I collected one of every variety I planted, to save the seeds for next year. What you do is squeeze out the liquid "ooze" from the tomatoes (I made sauce with the rest of the tomato) into a jar, add an equal amount of water & stir it up. The ooze contains the seeds, of course. Then you leave the jars out to ferment. (Yay fermentation!) After a few days they get all moldy and gross. But this is good, it breaks down the barrier on the seeds that prevents them from germinating. Then you pour off all the nasty stuff, and rinse with water a few times until you just have the seeds.
Then you spread them out on trays to dry.
I am a little concerned that I left the seeds in the jars for too long (almost a week). I was so busy with other things, I just kept putting it off one more day. What has happened I think to most of them is they started to germinate, putting out little tiny sprouts. Now the drying will probably kill them. I will test a few when they are completely dry, to see if they are still viable. If not, back out to the field to collect some more!