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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Week 7 May 14-19

This week I helped take care of business in the office by going through Cory's "filing" system. We back-filed old papers and organized and filed papers from this year. Most of it is expense tracking. There are so many tools, supplies, infrastructure and inputs. It's good to get an idea of what it really costs to run a farm. There are also other little details to keep up with like, oh, vehicle registrations. I found a past due notice on one of the vans and showed it to Cory. It had expired in January and slipped through the cracks. This was Monday. Wednesday Cory got pulled over and got a ticket for driving an unregistered vehicle. Add another expense to the column!
Kathy and I also got to help Cory fill out some of the Organic Certification forms. Apparently you can start farming on a field and then apply. If the field passes before harvest then those veggies are certified organic. We had to describe the field in detail, it's physical attributes, all bordering land and it's uses, 3 years of history for the field, what is planted there now and what inputs you have used or plan to use. Then it will have to pass an on sight inspection. This field will bring us from 16 up to 19 acres certified organic. 3 years ago it was pasture and Cory has had it in cover crop for 2 years. Now we have over an acre of potatoes planted on it.
I also got the chance this week to follow Cory around on a Farm Tour. Eventually we will all need to be able to lead one of these. This group won a chef demo with Burge's Chef Andrew and a short farm tour was part of the package. They were 8 older ladies who were more interested in socializing and cooking than farming so the tour was brief and did not go into much depth.
This week we harvested a tiny bit of Asparagus, Strawberries (which seem to be rebounding once again, not in quantity, but they are firming up. The mystery bug was identified as a false chinch and true to the extension agent's word it didn't stick around long), Onions, Solo Garlic, lots of Summer Squash (Zephyr and Zucchini), Arugula, Peas (English [last harvest] and Sugar Snaps), Red Romaine Lettuce, Turnips, Sunflowers, Zinnias,  Pac Choi, Broccolini, Cucumbers, Radishes, Asian Salad Mix, Kale, Chard, Carrots, and Beets.

Our Sunflowers are really stunning, aren't they?

Solo Garlic- a variety of Elephant Garlic

Solo Garlic. These were mixed in amongst the Elephant Garlic. They look like and onion but are actually one solid round Garlic clove. Supposedly they are really good roasted. I can't wait to try.

Asparagus Forest

This is what our Asparagus looks like these days. We got one bin twice this week. That's not a lot. At peak we were harvesting 5 bins a day. They are also really hard to find. It's a case of not seeing the trees for the forrest.

Production and Distribution
CSA box Week 4
In the CSA Box this week:
-Pac Choi
-Red and Green Lettuce
-Straberries (or Sugar Snap Peas)
-Sunflower or Garlic Flowers

Now that's a salad spinner!

This is a 5 gallon salad spinner. I used it this week to wash and dry our Asian Salad mix for market.

Squash Bugs are a big problem here. We haven't seen any in the Hoop House yet but the 2nd planting of squash in Jeff Cook Field is CRAWLING with them. While harvesting this week Kathy and I killed dozens of them. It's amazing how in 7 weeks I've gone from slightly bug squeemish to being able to squish them between my fingers (with gloves on). We also collected all of the leaves on which they had laid their eggs. We sealed them up in a bag and took them back to the barn to burn them.
Apparently, the reason we plant squash every 2 weeks is because the plants can produce well under high bug pressure for about 2 weeks. Then once the plants succumb to the pressure a new planting is ready.
Squash Me!

Squash Bug Eggs
Infanticide- Burning Squash Bug Eggs

Imported Cabbage Worm Adult=White Butterfly

Squash Bugs weren't the only things we killed this week. We also have a lot of imported cabbage worms in Jeff Cook Field. They really like the Broccolini. We had to submerge it in water for a while after harvesting and then pick off the little green caterpillars. And squish them. Ew. 
Imported Cabbage Worm

Indigo Cherry Tomatoes

The tomatoes are growing tall and strong and fast after the rains. We headed down to the lower field Monday and added another row of trellising. Check out these beauties! Indigo Cherry Tomatoes. They are supposed to have some super cancer fighting goodness. I can't wait to try them!
The more mature the tomato plants get the itchier they make your arms. We learned that from now on they will be better handled with long sleeves.

Blackberries, pre-weeding
3 hours later (it's a long row)

Weeds, weeds, weeds. With all that rain last week the weeds have taken off. The Blackberries are turning from green to red but they were hard to find amongst all the Johnson Grass. We all spent a few hours before lunch one day, and then an hour after, weeding them.
Other weeding this week: All new plantings in Main House field, Carrots, Strawberries, Tomatoes.

Loofah, Luffa, Lufah

Loofah Seeds

We save lots of seeds at the farm. This week we got the seeds out of last year's Loofah. Each Loofah had dozens of seeds. We have some started in the greenhouse. When we plant them we have to find something that they can climb. They are a tall vine and can grow 30-40 feet up! I can't wait to see these in action. 

Pear Tree Graft

Only one of the 4 grafts has survived but it's looking healthy and strong. It's not a huge surprise that we had such low success. We were on the late side of grafting season and everything is earlier this year because of the mild winter. It's probably a little bit amazing that this one made it. 

Lots of Compost

Compost. This is how much compost we generated on CSA Harvest day. It's mostly the outer leaves of greens and Broccolini. 
It actually is pleasant to use

The deer are out in force and have started nibbling on our veggies. We have electric fences and are about to hook them up. We also have this product which we spray directly on the crops they like the best. Check out the first active ingredient:
First active ingredient: Putrescent Egg Solids. Yum.

Trellis for Cucumbers

Cucumbers are coming up strong. We harvested some this week and should have enough for the CSA next week. These babies are AMAZING. They are so crisp and refreshing. If you have only ever had supermarket cucumbers then you don't know what you're missing. Go get some real cucumbers this summer. Go! Now!
They grow on a vine and when left on the ground grow in crazy curly shapes. When allowed to climb they hang down and grow straight and long.

We transplanted winter squash and melons with the transplanter. While we were in the lower fields we ran out of water/fertilizer. I got to run back to the barn and get 2 gallons of fish guts/fertilizer. It comes in a 50 gallon barrel. Ideally we would have a pump to get the liquid out. However, what we have instead is 2 hoses. One points down to the bucket an the other points up. We blow into one to build up pressure so that the liquid comes out the other. That means you get to put your mouth over a hose with 50 gallons of fish guts at the other end. Yes, it is pretty gross and a good workout for your lungs. Somehow I pushed through and brought the liquid gold back to the lower field for the winter squash.
On Saturday I spent 4 hours hand transplanting over 400 lettuce plants while listening to Radio Lab and This American Life podcasts. It was actually kind of a nice day.
I started a few seeds in the greenhouse for my garden at home in Decatur. I'm going to do a 3 sisters garden with Corn, Beans and Squash. I started them on Monday and by Saturday afternoon they started to emerge! So exciting! I chose this garden because it should be relatively low maintenance and I will only be able to see it once a week.

Farm Life
Red Fox. Not my picture, these guys move fast. 
We saw one of these this week. It's a red fox and we're pretty sure he's eating our Strawberries. Cory was kind enough to identify his poo for us and dig through it with a stick. We saw lots of nuts and seeds along with some small bones. Puddy has also found some fox scat and it's her new favorite thing to roll in. Oh yeah, that happened again this week. Puddy is getting a lot of baths on the farm.

Zinnias and a Teddy Bear Sunflower
Not sure who this belongs to....

I found this egg under the back steps at our house. I'm not sure who it belongs to but it's pretty big.

Horse snacks

We spent some time weeding and thinning carrots this week. That means we ended up with a huge bag of tiny carrots. Kathy and I brought them home where we sorted them. The bigger ones we kept to eat and the tiny ones we are sharing with our 4 legged neighbors.

White Beauty at Pasture Field

Carrot Party!
Fatty Fatty McCarrot Stealer!

Puddy Time with Special Guests
Puddy guards the greenhouse while I work inside

Checking up on the grafts

Is it time to eat yet? (Sprocket has lost 2 pounds!!!!)

Finding his favorite spots
Surprise! Visitor.

This little guys nearly scared the daylights out of me. We were harvesting onions in Jeff Cook Field on our hands and knees. I didn't see or hear him coming and he snuck up behind me and stuck his head up under my arm nuzzling into my ribs. Sweetest sneak cuddle attack ever! He really slowed down progress with his lovable disposition.

On a final note, thank you for reading! I continue to get some really great feedback and I love it. I'm writing this blog for many reasons but perhaps the most important is to share with people the benefits of eating local, sustainable food. Feel free to email any time, or leave a comment. Some of you have asked how. Just below this post is a link for comments. Click on it, type in your comment and your name. Then select anonymous so that you don't have to sign into anything in order to leave your comment. Thanks again and I'll see you here next week!


  1. Sounds like a great week at the farm, Erica!

  2. I thoroughly enjoy reading your weekly blog. Some of my favorites are when I see veggies I never knew existed (like those Indigo Cherry tomatoes). Make sure you recap on the tasting of the local goodness! Puddy and Sprocket are adorable as always. Kisses and hugs from me!


I love feedback! Let me know what you liked about this entry or what you want to hear more about. Tell me what you're growing in your garden and which veggies you love the most. Anything goes!