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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week 8 May 21-27

It's getting hotter out there. This week we moved our start time from 8 to 7am. The idea is to start earlier and end later but take a longer break during the hottest part of the day. That didn't really happen this week. Mostly we just started earlier and worked longer. Everything is taking off and there is so much work to be done. 


Harvest Bins drying after Tuesday's CSA Harvest and wash.
This week we harvested Zephyr Squash, 2 types of Zucchini (almost 200lbs of Squash in one day!!!), 2 types of Cucumbers, Sunflowers, Beets, Carrots, Asian Salad mix, Radishes, Turnips, Kale, Chard, Basil, white and purple Potatoes, a small amount of Strawberries, the first for the Blackberries (only 2 pints but they are coming on strong), a small handful of Blueberries (most of them still need a few weeks), a few Plums (but the trees are still too young to produce a real harvest), and a small handful of raspberries (only enough for those who can grab them).

We did not harvest any Asparagus this week.

Strawberries are on their way out but here are the earliest fruits of what's next.
3 Kinds of Basil.

Our first new potato harvest in Newborn Field
We harvested potatoes from the Newborn field for the first time. They are not completely mature but Cory couldn't resist bringing some new potatoes to market. New potatoes are the same as potatoes, they are just immature. They have a thin skin and if left alone would get bigger and their skins would thicken. New potatoes are valued for having more flavor and a smoother texture. They are delicious.
Because we were only harvesting a small amount we did it by hand. Two people went through with pitch forks and broke out the plants that were starting to yellow (a sign that production has moved from green leaves down to underground storage). The rest of us followed behind and dug the potatoes out by hand. We filled 4 boxes at about 30lbs each, some white and some purple.
The first watermelons are forming in the lower field.

Coming Soon: Watermelon!!!!
Production and Distribution

CSA Week 6

In the Box
-1 Bunch Spring Onions
-1 Bunch Mixed Beets
-1 Bad Salad Mix
-1 Bunch Kale
-1.5lb Summer Squash/Zucchini
-1 Bunch Radishes or Turnips
-1 Bunch Chard
-1lb Cucumbers or 1 Bunch Carrots
-1 Sunflower
-1 Basil Bouquet 
CSA Delivery. 70 boxes headed for Atlanta.

It was my week to make deliveries. On Tuesday I delivered 6 CSA boxes to Covington and Conyers. Wednesday I took 70 boxes to 5 different drop offs in Atlanta. I saw my friend Kate at one location. It still feels awesome to feed people, especially when they are your friends.
Basil Bouquets wrapped in wet towels. 

All that pinting and bunching has to be done by someone. To keep the herbs fresh we pick them last and wrap the stems in wet paper towels. They don't go into the cooler until this happens and they go into the wax boxes (which help contain moisture). This particular job is probably the most pleasant one on the farm. The aroma of the fresh basil, the soft texture of the leaves, along with the attention to the aesthetics of the bunch and comfortable repetition make it almost zen like. 
The first Harvest of Potatoes at Market
Japanese Cucumbers- These are AMAZING.

I got to go to market again this week. Take a look at the beautiful new potatoes and 2 types of Zucchini. The gorgeous stripped one is an Italian Heirloom Variety called San Pasquale.

These funky curly cucumbers are a Japanese variety and are incredible crisp and refreshing.

The radishes were looking particularly sexy this week.
This week was abundant and we also sold to Noring Farms on Floyd, Farmer's Fresh, a Chef at a Hyatt Hotel and a few restaurants.


Kale gone to Seed
The fields are constantly changing as crops grow, mature and finish their productive lives. This week we retired the Kale and Cabbage from Gus' field. We stopped harvesting this Kale weeks ago and let it go to seed. On Wednesday we cut the tops off the plants and brought them back to the barn to dry out the seed pods and save seeds for next year.
Once the pods are dry they can be opened easily. Seeds are encased in a chaff, a dry protective casing. When storing seeds you want to separate the chaff from the seed and save only the seed itself. The process of separating the two is called winnowing. This can be done by dropping the seeds in front a fan into a bucket. The chaff is very light and flaky and will blow away, while the seeds are solid and heavier and should fall straight into the bucket. 
Drying Kale Seeds
Once we collected all the Kale seeds Daniel mowed them down with the bush hog. Then we pulled up the plastic mulch. Next he turned the kale and cabbage back into the soil, adding back in all of that organic material. 
Tobacco Hornworm-Crazy looking bug!

More new bugs this week. Meet the Tobacco Hornworm. He is, by far, the weirdest looking bug yet. Manduca Sexta is a moth of the Sphingidae family. The caterpillar of this moth is what we have found crawling on our tomatoes. They can be found on either tomatoes or tobacco. There is a separate bug called the tomato hornworm which is very similar looking but has a different colored horn and different markings. Because these caterpillars are so big they can eat a lot of foliage causing lots of damage. Luckily, because they are so big they are easy to find and pick off. The don't like direct sunlight so are easier to find at dawn and dusk when they venture out from the center of the plant.

Roll Up Side on HH1
We got the last of our Hoop Houses up and running this week. When I arrived 2 of them were just metal skeletons. At the beginning of this week the last one, number 7, had plastic on it but still needed the roll up sides. This is actually a photo of Hoop House 1 but it shows the roll up sides well. The idea behind a Hoop House is that it is warmed by the sun and cooled by the wind. So, using the roll up sides and doors you can control the temperature inside. Because it's so hot out now we keep the sides and doors rolled up all the time. However, when it's cool out you can close these and effectively warm the soil inside to one agricultural zone south, thereby extending the season in either direction.
Wednesday after making deliveries I helped Daniel get the roll up sides on number 7 started until we ran out of hardware. Thursday he prepped the beds with the tractor and we all laid plastic for tomato transplants. (Yes, more tomatoes. That makes 2 Hoop Houses and one huge field FULL of tomatoes :)

We transplanted more tomatoes into the lower field which also involved adding T-Posts and trellising. While we were there we weeded between all the rows. While in writing this looks like only 3 tasks it took ALL day on Monday. And it was hot. I emptied my water bottle 3 times, earned calluses and blisters on both hands and the next day the muscles in my hands were so sore it was hard to hold on to anything.
We also did a lot of planting in Hoop House beds this week including: Tomato and Cucumber transplants, Arugula and Beans were direct seeded.
I got to plant a bed all by myself with no supervision for the first time using the multi-row seeder. Arugula seeds are very small so I adjusted the openings down to their smallest setting. As you push the seeder along the ground the back wheel drives the piston which spins and distributes the seeds that you load into those 6 compartments. I can't wait to see this bed come up to know if I did it right!

Multi-Row Seeder

Planting Arugula
Kathy and Cory planted Sweet Potatoes in Lower Field 2 this week. Unlike Irish Potatoes where you plant the sprouted potato, with Sweet Potatoes you plant the sprout itself (called a slip). One Sweet Potato can produce upto 50 slips. We ordered some from a supplier but we also found several amongst the Strawberries. Both Strawberry fields were planted in Sweet Potatoes last year and the potatoes that were missed at harvest had sprouted. Here's one:

Sweet Potato Slips

Farm Life

Tuesday of this week we actually quit at 5pm. It was a hot day and Kathy and I knew just what to do. We picked up Puddy and went to the pool! This was the first day we'd had a chance to go since it opened. It's not a big pool but it's wet and cold and that's about all you need after working in the Georgia heat. The pool is also right next to the Main House of the Plantation. Neither one of us had been inside so we checked it out. 

Main House, a dining room

This is the smaller of the dining rooms. They were set up for a dinner and scotch tasting that night. Chef Andrew was gracious enough to show us around. We also noticed this Renoir in the sitting room.

Renoir in the Main House
For Real

In the Attic is a Museum of old artifacts from the plantation and family. It looked like a perfect location for a ghost hunters episode.  There were old clothes, dishes, books, furniture, dolls, you name it. 

Main House Attic Museum

Museum Clothing

Shoes, hat, gloves

Vintage Nurse uniforms

Kathy couldn't resist

Fred is the former owner of the house that Kathy and I live in now. He died shortly after he carried the 1996 Olympic torch in his 90s.

Fred carrying the 1996 Olympic Torch
We also had some more tiny carrot parties this week with the neighboring horses. 
Horses Lined up waiting for carrots


This hot weather is perfect for cold salad. This is what my lunch looked like most of the week. All the produce is from the farm. The bread is home made and the strawberry jam is last year's strawberries preserved.

Dead Snake at our house

I found this guy by our mail box. The only skin that's left is on his head. He looks non-venemous to me so I was a little sad to see him in this condition.

As you can imagine, farming is hard work. After 6 weeks of thinking it would get easier as I got stronger I was still groaning every morning the first few times I had to bend down or squat. I was always surprised by this involuntary, pathetic sound when it came up from my knees and out of my mouth. I realized it was time to stop thinking about Yoga and start doing it. For the past 2 weeks I have set out each night to do 20 minutes of gentle, stretching Yoga. I listen to my body. It tells me where it's stiff and sore and I do whatever it wants me to do to make it feel better. I've only missed one night and each time I go beyond 40 minutes. I quit when I'm done and sleep like a rock. It paid off almost immediately and keeps on getting better. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and listen to your body. This time it has worked out quite well. Namaste indeed.


  1. I loved the beekeeping section this week - I've always wondered why the honey isn't full of baby bees but I guess the bees organize their home very sensibly. What are you going to do with the wax?

  2. Thanks! The Beekeeping was awesome. It's not as neat as you think though. Some of the frames have a mixture of cells. We only harvest the ones that are majority honey but you saw that some of the cells were pollen.
    We don't do much productive with the wax, mostly because we barely have time to keep up with the projects we already have going. However, we don't want the bees to re-use it because they also store their toxins and waste in it. In nature they do not re-use wax for this reason, they move on.


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