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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 4 April 23-28

If I said anything about last week being easy, I meant it. This week was go, go, go. We got a lot of good work done and distributed our first week of CSA boxes for the season. Our schedule now: Monday is Farm Work (planting, maintenance, whatever needs to be done). Tuesday is harvest, prep and pack CSA boxes and deliver some to Covington and Conyers. Wednesday is farm work and deliver CSA Boxes to Atlanta. Thursday is Farm Work. Friday is Harvest prep and pack for Market. Saturday a couple people get up at 5 and go to the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market, a couple people do farm work and one person gets the weekend off. This week I did farm work with Kathy and work we did. 

Eating seasonally, and growing food for that matter, is full of new romance and sad parting. Just as we are getting ready to say goodbye to the Asparagus and Strawberries we are greeted by something equally beautiful, new and exciting. 
We harvested a few new things this week including Zucchini and Zephyr Squash. The big green ones are the Zucchini and the two tone guys are the Zephyrs. The lettuce is also coming into its own. We got a lot of red and romaine this week and I ate some delicious salads. 
Zucchini and Zephyr Squash
Turnips and lettuce in the bath.
That being said our Asparagus seemed to get a second wind the last half of the this week. Production jumped after we had a few cold days and nights followed by a few warm days. Perhaps it got a little rest and went slightly dormant which gave it a boost. Hopefully this trend will last a bit longer before it gives up for the year. Strawberries are slowly but steadily declining it seems. 
This week's harvest included: Asparagus, Strawberries, Radishes, Hakurei Turnips, Scarlet Queen Turnips, Red Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Beets, Kale, Mint, Catmint, Sage, Onions, Green Garlic, Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas, Zucchini, and Zephyr Squash.

Production and Distribution
3/4 pound bags of Kale x 80
Big doings in distribution this week. It was our first week for filling CSA boxes (Community Supported Agriculture). We filled and delivered 10 boxes on Tuesday to nearby towns then filled another 70 which we delivered to Atlanta on Wednesday. This was more produce than us apprentices had yet harvested and packed all at once, by about 5x. It was pretty intense and amazing to see how much food we could move and how many people we could help feed.
I drove 20 boxes to Farmer D's and Shield's Meat Market in east Atlanta. I hung out at Shield's during the pick up time to meet the members and explain how pick ups would work. Many of them were returning customers and were happy to be getting their boxes again. Some were new. I even got to drop off the boxes for a few friends.

CSA Assembly Line to end
CSA Assembly Line Beginning
CSA Boxes

In the CSA Box this week
-1 Bunch Onions
-1 Bunch Green Garlic
-1 Bunch mixed Turnips
-1 bag Kale
-1 Herb Bundle with Mint, Catmint and Sage
-1 Head Red Lettuce
-1 Head Romaine Lettuce
-1 Bunch Asparagus
-1 Pint Strawberries

We also filled an order for 240 onions and 20 heads of lettuce for Farmer's Fresh along with the eggs they get from us every week. Peeling 240 onions is quite a task. We remove the outside layer of skin so that it goes from clay colored to glossy white (or red).  This task leaves me with black hands and a little teary-eyed.
Onions freshly picked- this was taken a few weeks ago,
they are bigger now
Peeling Onions
At the end of the week we still had some produce left for the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market. However, we sold out in the first 2 hours. It will be exciting when all the things we have been planting for the past month start producing and we have enough to last a whole market. 

We got a lot done this week, all the while working to keep things watered and weeded. Cory's dad came to help out for the week and he and Daniel got one of our new hoop houses prepped so that it's ready to put the plastic on. We did a lot of work in the other hoop houses cleaning and prepping more beds for planting. 
We pulled up some more plastic mulch in the Main House field from a winter crop. Lots of tractor work was done tilling and ploughing fields and laying plastic mulch for more planting.  Cory also used the tractor to disk one field of potatoes. This is where you pull two disks on either side of the potato plants and they push soil up into a mound around the base of the plant. This keeps more of the plant underground and makes more room for the potatoes to grow.
Between the wind early in the week and the heat later on we spent a lot of time moving and turning on and off irrigation and watering the greenhouses. This will be an ongoing task. We aren't forecast to get any rain next week either. 
Tomato Trellising
Some plants need a little extra support. Here are two examples of trellising on the farm. The tomatoes are wrapped with line that is wrapped around T-Postes every 6'. We tie them in pretty tightly because they will need that support once they are loaded down with pounds of fruit. 
Sugar Snap Peas

These peas are a vine so they attach themselves to this plastic netting with tendrils. They do most of the work themselves and look great doing it!

The Mini Truck!
Apart from maintaing the crops and the land there is also the equipment to be considered. We had two vehicles down at the beginning of the week. One was this Mini Truck which hasn't run as long as I've been here. Luckily, Cory's dad is a military trained mechanic and Daniel was a mechanic for GM. Together they got it going and I got to drive it on Saturday.  Mini Truck is fun! It must be European because the driver sits on the right. It's a manual transmission and the gear shift is on your left so you have to shift with your left hand. That took a little getting used to. 
The stick is on the left and the speedometer is in KM

It's an off road vehicle and drives surprisingly smooth. On Saturday Kathy and I used it to spray fertilizer on the onions in Jeff Cook Field. I drove because Kathy isn't proficient with stick shift yet. She sat on the back and sprayed a water/seaweed mix onto the plants as I drove through the rows. 

Plans to put out transplants on Monday were thwarted by the serious winds. Some transplants made it out later in the week including: Komatsuna, 2 varieties of Broccoli, Sweet Corn, many many peppers and watermelon. In the Hoop Houses we transplanted several varieties of flowers to sell at market as well as fennel and a perennial Spinach. 
Radishes were directed seeded into the Hoop Houses this week.
We also started a ton of winter squash seeds in Greenhouse. 

Farm Life
The weather this week was all over the place. Monday and Tuesday it was cool and we were being whipped around by the wind. I started the days with 2 shirts, a hoodie and a raincoat as a windbreaker. Most of the layers made it most of the day. By Saturday it was 87 degrees, sunny and still. While the wind is tiring and takes a lot out of you it keeps you cool and keep the bugs away.
On Saturday Kathy and I were left to our own devices since Daniel had the weekend off and Cory and Jason went to Market. Puddy got to be a farm hand for half a day. She rode with us to all the fields and generally stuck close, listened well and stayed out of the way. I think she enjoyed smelling in person all the scents I come home with each day. By 1pm she was getting pretty hot and hiding under the van while Kathy and I set up Irrigation. I decided to leave her at home to keep cool after lunch. All in all though she was a real trooper and great for moral.
Pea P

I found this leaf while harvesting Sugar Snap Peas. I could not make this up if I tried. The "P" is a scar from a bug. Seriously. A bug wrote "P" on a pea leaf. Was he labeling it for his friends? Is he literate? Was he watching us ogle this amazing feat while writing his 8th great novel? We may never know.

Beautiful Weeds

While the weeds in the Asparagus bed may have added to the slowed production and are in fact a bane to our existence as market farmers, I couldn't keep from being awestruck by their beauty this week.
Fluffy Purple Weeds in the Asparagus

At one point while I was supposed to be harvesting Asparagus I just sort of zoned out and stared at these beautiful purple bottle brush blooms.
Elephant Garlic. All those tear drops at the top are the flowers

Another bloom I fell in love with this week is the one at the top of the Elephant Garlic. It starts out inside a bulb that looks and feels like thick onion skin. At this point in time it is becoming translucent and you can see the white/purple flower inside. Some of them are just starting to break out of their skin. Once they emerge they are a round, puffy, pom pom looking flower and are absolutely gorgeous.

Elephant Garlic Flower

Elephant Garlic Flower breaking out/

Perhaps my favorite thing this week was the feedback from my friends who signed up for our CSA and got their first boxes. Here is is:

Abby enjoying a Burge Strawberry from her CSA Box

This is my friend Brianna's daughter, Abby. She lovers her fruits and veggies and apparently got into the strawberries before they even made it into the house.

This Feels Good.

Here is a text from my friend Kate. The best part "Thanks for growing our dinner!" I could get used to this.

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather used to grow elephant garlic- so neat to see pics of it again! Congrats on all your hard work.


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