Thursday, April 29, 2010


A few days ago there was this beautiful blizzard in the morning. Big wintry snowflakes. You can see our garlic here is quite tall already. Tomorrow it might get close to 80 degrees again. Weird spring... who knows what the summer will be like!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Planting success!

Wednesday we planted hundreds of spring greens, broccoli, cabbages, and more. We had over 20 people come out & help throughout the day! We got 13 beds planted-- nearly 1/2 an acre!
Thanks to all who came out to lend a hand-- we really, really appreciated it, and your efforts will be rewarded in a month or so when we get to come back & harvest the abundant crop of veggies! Right now, though, the baby plants need all the love they can get.
We gave them all a big drink with our lines of drip irrigation.
Then we covered everything up with row cover-- it might frost the next two nights, and this blanket will keep them warm, as well as keep the flea beetles off them (they eat little holes in the leaves). "Rockbags" hold down the row cover.
Our rolling greenhouse tables are a big hit-- when plants in the greenhouse get ready to go out in the field, we put them on these tables which "harden them off" during the day, and we roll the tables back in at night.
Here's our onion plants, which just went in the ground yesterday!
Thanks to the crew of dedicated folks who came out on Sunday to put these onions in the ground, along with leeks, & scallions! The rain is watering them in nicely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

planting time!

The soil is just about ready for some planting-- and we're trying to hustle before the rain comes (Thursday?)...
If anyone is available to come out & help in the next 2 days, we'd love an extra hand or two! Not too much transplanting yet, but there are still a few prep jobs.
There will be future opportunities that are more planned-out, like the onion-transplanting party-- I'll try to get dry soil & sun for a weekend :)
Potentially next weekend, the 24th/25th... or if we don't get much rain, it could be this weekend! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dirt! The Movie

Just saw a great new film: "Dirt! The Movie" ... I highly suggest checking it out.

It will be aired on WXXI-TV at 10pm, April 20th.

Maybe someday we can made "Mud! the Movie" :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

weird weather & other exciting events

First it was the abrupt change from muck boots & flannels, to crocs & tank tops-- now it's snowing again! Just yesterday, Beth & I were sweating as we hauled buckets of gravel, the humidity at that just-before-a-storm point, sweltering August-like heat. For the past week or so, I had been watering the greenhouse several times a day just to keep the temperature down for the germinating seedlings. Lettuce seeds don't germinate over 75 degrees. Today, the wind blew at 15-20 miles an hour, and we took refuge in the greenhouse to eat our lunch. The poor pepper plants that we just potted up (over 1,000 of them!) are looking forward to those 80 degree days again!
Beth & I have been working a lot on our washing station-- digging trenches & filling them in with gravel to help drain off the excess spray water when we clean vegetables. Kind of boring farmwork if you ask me, but important for our operation, if we want nice clean beautiful produce!
Sunflower stalks from last year still surviving... a reminder in the field of the magnificent potential of summer.
We tilled the first acre, before the last rains came.
And plowed up a second acre...
Luke & I plowed on Easter Sunday, running off mid-day to put on dress clothes for our family dinner.
The rye & triticale that I planted last fall as a cover crop for fields we're not using this spring are greening up really fast! Makes me think about mowing soon...
One of the challenges we face on this land is the really tough grasses that exist here, in this field that hasn't been cultivated for over 10 years. Canary Reed Grass, Quackgrass, and a few other vicious rhizome-forming creatures are what we're battling. Just plowing doesn't kill them. Many old farmers told me that the only way to kill the grass is to spray herbicide.
Because that's not an option for us, we have to be creative-- using the tools available to us-- tiller, disc-harrow, spring-tooth harrow, etc. And timing things right.

We have put off planting for a week or two to see if we could try to get rid of the grass a bit more. Planting into a field you know will grow right back into grass is a pretty foolish thing-- we'll be hand weeding that grass out for hours! Because of this cold, wet weather, we may not have much of a chance of killing the grass before planting. So we'll be faced with the challenges spring throws us-- and make do with it. All this said, we'll be planting soon!

Peas, carrots, spinach, onions, cabbages, and more.

These brave plants, leaving the protected greenhouse environment, will throw down their roots into uninsured territory. I put my faith (& my entire livelihood) into their resilience against the whims of climate change... helping them along with my hands, my back, my brain, & my heart.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April First Photos...

The greenhouse is my morning & evening chore, every day the sun comes out-- I have to open up the doors & vents, check the trays of plants to see if they need watering, and then close up at night before it gets cold.
It's a satisfying thing to see the tiny seedlings hold themselves proudly up, just a week ago they were still seeds. Now they're on a journey...
We put buckets of water in the sun to soak up the day's heat-- at night they radiate out that heat to warm the plants, so we need to use our propane heater less.
Celeriac seedlings... these little ones have almost the longest lifespan on the farm-- we won't pull them out of the field until October! And they are one of the first to get seeded in the greenhouse.
The cotyledons (first 2 seed leaves) of the brassica family always look like little butterflies to me. Brassicas include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, bok choi, and many others.
These are the artichokes, already they have several "true leaves"... they are in fact thistles, so they kind of grow like weeds.
Yum, Red Russian kale!
Onions growing inches every day!
Colorful Swiss Chard:
Here's the greenhouse with the curtain down for the night-- we heat only 1/3 of the space right now. Soon though, we'll be moving the curtain to include more tables!
I've been doing lots of organizing of tools & supplies-- here's some of our hoes:
The walk-in cooler not only has a new shed around it (with a used billboard for a tarp on top), but now has the potential for hanging tools off it.
The fields still have stalks from last fall-- I left sunflower stalks for a windbreak & bird perch... soon though, I will till them under & plant a spring cover crop on this ground.
The garlic has come up really well! (Weeds too!)
I covered it up when it got down to 17 degrees... but now it should be in the clear.
It's refreshing to see dew in the morning instead of frost.
Lots of projects...
The spring peepers are making noise in the pond up front. The blackbirds are squawking, the hawks are circling, the bees are exploring, the whole world seems to be awakening.