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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Week 13 June 25-29

What a Week!

This week was HOT and Busy. There were ups and downs but mostly ups on the thermometer.
This week I got to welcome a beautiful new baby girl to the world, congratulations to L&A!!! I got to welcome Lane home for a few weeks, congratulations to me! I also felt the loss of a great man. He was a teacher whose wisdom and knowledge stretched far beyond the subject the matter on his syllabus.
And now I am busy packing for vacation. Subsequently, this week's blog entry is going to be more of a photos essay (and not a very good or inspired one). Next week there will be no entry as I will be in the UK!

Make no mistake, we are drowning in tomatoes. You will not see a tomato picture here as I am taking a vacation from them as well. 

Blueberry picking at a neighboring Farm

Helpful instructions

Tie it around your waist to pick with 2 hands

Hard Labor Creek Blueberry Farm

Okra Flower!

Carrot Party


Tomato Sprawling Experiment

Corn roots look like feet

If you build it

They will come

Seuss-Muppet Corn Silk

Hoop House 2 facelift


Irrigation almost complete

Plastic Mulch Laid by hand

Those Beans I planted a few weeks back look Great!

Okinawa Spinach is Purple

Nodules on Green Beans (Legumes) that fix Nitrogen

Awesome Spider who likes tomato plants

Wild Turkey- I swear he was in the frame when I took the picture

So Pretty

Southern Peas

Tongue of Fire Beans

Sweet Corn needs an ice bath after harvest to stay sweet
It was Hot this week

And this happened.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week 12 June 18-23

It was a long week. I didn't get to bed on time but once this week and now on Sunday I am feeling it. I tried sleeping in today but 7:15 was all that my internal clock/hungry pets would allow. I think I see a nap in my future.


Potato Digger
Potatoes! Monday afternoon we had our first BIG potato harvest. No, the potatoes aren't that big but we harvested over half of our Newborn field leaving only the big varieties to grow a bit more. Cory ran the potato digger with the tractor first. The potato digger is a tractor implement that digs underneath the potatoes and pulls all of the soil, potatoes and debris up onto a mesh conveyor belt. The belt bounces and the dirt falls away. The potatoes roll off the back and are left lying on top of the soil. From there we collect them. We still have to pick them up from ground level but it's easier and faster than pitchforks and digging them out by hand. Still it took about 4 hours. Here's what we ended up with:

Monday's Potato Harvest
Other crops harvest this week include: Carrots, Blackberries, Leeks, Green Onions, Fennel, Okra, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Arugula, Eggplant, Jalapenos, Shishitos, Poblanos, Pepperocinis, Kale, Chard, Sweet Corn, and Flowers.
Carrots for CSA and Market
SWEET Corn- Eat it Raw!


OMG so many Tomatoes

And more Cherry Tomatoes
Pretty, pretty Eggplant

Nigella or "Love-in-a-mist"

Globe Amaranth

Arugula and Cucumbers
Green Beans

Production and Distribution

In the CSA Box

-1.5# Heirloom Tomatoes
-1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
-1 bag Baby Arugula
-1# Summer Squash/Zucchini OR 1# Cucumbers
-1 bunch Carrots
-1 bunch Baby Fennel
-1# Green Beans OR 1 pint Blackberries
-1 bunch Baby Leeks
-1 bunch herbs (parsley, tarragon, thyme, rosemary)

Canning Catsup

More canning this week. This time Jason and Daniel went in Wednesday and did the prep work. They blanched and peeled 4 huge bins full of bruised and damaged tomatoes, cutting out the core and the bad spots. Kathy and I went in Thursday when Chef Andrew and Penny cooked up some Spicy Catsup and we helped can it. 

First we sterilized the jars and lids by putting them in boiling water. We pulled them out with tongs and let them dry. 

Drying Jars and Lids

Chef Andrew and Penny Cooking

Chef Andrew and Penny are a hoot. They did all the heavy cooking and were so much fun to hang out with. People kept saying how hot it was in the kitchen but Kathy and I agreed it was easier than working outside and neither of us noticed the heat. 

Spicy Catsup!
And I helped!
Next we carefully ladled the mixture into the cans, wiped the rims, placed the lids and screwed on the bands. Then all the jars went into a hot water bath for 10 minutes. 

Careful not to get any on the rim

10 minutes in the hot water bath to seal and kill any bacteria
Finished product!

Thyme, Rosemary, Tarragon, Parsley, Bunch

I did the CSA Delivery this week. I also took restaurant deliveries to Farm Burger, The Spence, and the Hyatt. 

On Saturday I got to go to market again. We took tons of tomatoes and sold almost everything. After I made the rounds to restaurants on my own to try and sell what was left. First stop was Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch.  I was not the first farmer there and another showed up right after me. These two restaurants are devoted to supporting local farms and bought everything they could from all of us. Chef Noah also gave me a tour of Holeman & Finch and showed me all of the preserving they had been doing lately. They also specialize in Pork and he said they buy happy pigs and don't waste any of it. I think my buddy Nicholas the Boxer Chef would like this place. Next stop was The Spence who bought half of the Cherry Tomatoes and then Avalon Catering who bought the rest along with most of the corn and a few other things. Between Market and Restaurants it was another record breaking day in Burge History!


Did you know that plants have culture? Well, they do. There are certain conditions and requirements for each plant and learning what they need and then providing it is part of cultivating. In the summer heat we are providing the correct culture for these summer crisp lettuce by growing them under a shade cloth. Look at how well they are doing!

Happy, Healthy lettuce under the shade. 
Looking through the shade cloth

Here is what happens if you ignore a plant's culture. We planted this romaine lettuce too late and the heat triggered it to bolt. That's where it goes from delicious edible lettuce to bitter leaves more concerned with making seeds than tasting good.
Romain Lettuce bolting. I think we'll save the seeds.
Cover Crops coming up in Main House Field.

There is always work to do in the Hoop Houses. We turned over more beds and pulled out the Cucumbers in HH 4 as they had given over to bug pressure. We also did a major overhaul of Hoop House 2. This is where we had 2 rows of Strawberries and have rotated in and out few other crops since I've been here. The soil in this Hoop House and the one next to it have a serious hardpan. That's a layer of soil just under the topsoil that is too dense and becomes impervious to water. It's not good for us because it stunts root growth and prevents good drainage. So, before planting anything new we needed to address this issue. Daniel drove the tractor through with a deep chisel plow. The good thing about a chisel plow is that it reaches deep to break up the hardpan layer but does not invert the soil so it does minimal damage to the soil ecosystem. Next we added 4 truckloads full of compost. I drove because I'm the only apprentice with enough control over first gear to move slowly and smoothly while 2 people flung compost out of the bed. (No offense Kathy and Jason, you're getting there!) Then Daniel spread fertilizer and disced it with the tractor to mix in the compost and level out the trenches. 

Daniel and Jason flinging Compost

Kathy takes over. 


While watering the Greenhouse this week I noticed several trays whose tomato plants looked like they had been trimmed. The tops of all the plants were missing. It looked like rabbit damage. I looked closer and found 6 Tomato Horn Worms. These guys are too big to squish without feeling guilty. So, I collected them and threw them into the woods across the street.
Tomato hornworm
Bug Damage.


We transplanted Leeks in Hoop House 6, started Sunflowers, Leeks and Summer Crisp Lettuce in the Greenhouse and direct seeded pumpkins in Gus' Field. 

Summer Crisp Lettuce Seeds are TINY!

Farm Life

Wild Plum Vodka
As if the food we grow wasn't enough bounty, I got a dozen eggs from Chef Andrew's flock this week. We are going to meet the chickens on Tuesday so look for that next week. Another perk of working with a Chef is that he likes to show off his mad skills. Thursday after canning we got to sample his Wild Plum Vodka from last year as well as some home made Raspberry Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream.
Show Off

Raspberry Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream

Friday Fiesta!

It was my week to make Friday Lunch. I made farm pizza with my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day dough, home made pizza sauce from our tomatoes and topped it off with corn, squash, more tomatoes, green beans and bell pepper from the farm then mozzarella cheese. I also made a desert pizza by adding sugar and cinnamon to the dough. The topping was blackberries and peaches. It was a winner. We also enjoyed some salad of arugula, leeks, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers that were marinated in rice vinegar, sugar and sweet thai basil. Yum!

Pizza Pie

The Great Tomato Cook Off


Cory challenged us to a cook off using our tomatoes. He made a salsa, Jason made a sauce out of sungolds, Kathy made blackberry salsa and I entered my pizza sauce since I was already making it and am still trying to perfect it. Chef Andrew, Merry and Penny judged the competition on Friday. Kathy won with her sweet and spicy combo and as a prize gets an extra day off! Woo Hoo!

The panel of judges and Sarah.


Old friends

Cynthia stopped by on her way from Florida to New York. It was a very brief visit but it's always wonderful to see old friends. It was so quick in fact that I didn't even remember to take a picture :(. So, here's one from our 10 year High School Reunion. 

Collard Greens and Mashed Potatoes, 
Hell Yeah we're Gladiators!

You too could be featured in my blog. Just come out to the farm for a visit. Remind me to take a picture though!

High Tech Farmers

For some reason this scene over breakfast cracked Cynthia up and she had to take a picture of us High Tech Farmers.

Puddy Time

Puddy stays close while I nap in the hammock on lunch break

One of our buddies at Jeff Cook Field