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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 10 June 4-8

I only worked four days this week but it felt like the longest yet. Tuesday I took off for a minor medical procedure which left me drained and pained the rest of the week. Don't you worry, this budding farmer is A-O-K. Farming is hard work though and a whole lot harder when you're not feeling tip top. None of this stopped me (or us) from working in the rain most of Monday and 12 very physical hours on both Wednesday and Thursday in the sun and heat. By Friday we were all beat and called it quits an hour earlier than normal. Saturday was my scheduled day off and thank goodness for that. I was ready for a respite.Here's what this week had in store:

Zephyr Squash, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Tomatoes- Cherry and big ones, lots of Blackberries, a few Blueberries, Green Beans, Basil, Potatoes, Radishes (on their way out for the season), Broccoli, Broccolini, Kale, Chard, Zinnia, Sunflowers, Cauliflower, Pac Choi, Garlic, and a handful of mushy Strawberries.
New this week: Okra, Tongue of Fire Beans.
Spooning Zephyr Squash

Stop! In the name of Cherry Tomato love.

Cherry Tomato Harvest. They taste as amazing as they look.
It's like a rainbow in your mouth!

Tongue of Fire Beans

Tongue of Fire Beans

Crazy Asian Cucmber

New Kid on the Block



Production and Distribution

CSA, Market, Farms on Floyd and probably some restaurant hawking. I'm not sure though because I was OFF on Saturday! Jason did all our deliveries this week. Some times we donate extra produce. Last week I forgot to mention that we donated 60lbs of Squash to a local food bank.

In the CSA Box this week:

3/4 pint Blackberries
1 pint Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
1# Mixed Squash/Zucchini
1# Cucumber
1# New Potatoes
1 head Burge Heirloom Garlic
1 head Pac Choi
1 bunch mixed Italian and Thai Basil
1 bunch Radishes OR 1/2# Green Beans

This week's Market offering with adorable artwork by Jason

So Delicious Blackberries



Much weeding happened in and around the Hoop Houses this week. Kathy and I spent some more time weeding the onions. 5 rows down, 4 to go. It only gets worse the longer it takes us. The trouble is, it already takes too long! 
We also thinned out the bean planting that I did two weeks ago in Hoop House 3. I did such a good job that they all came up and Jason had to go through and thin them down to 1'. Luckily he had his lovely lady Jane in town to help. 
Kathy and I also prepped a few more beds in the Hoop Houses for new plantings. It's time to start planning and planting for fall.
This is the current cover crop in Main House field next to the Asparagus bed. Cory and I walked out into it on Thursday and the whole thing was fuzzy and buzzy with different species of bees, wasps and all manner of pollinators. It's fascinating to watch them work. I had never looked closely at a bee (without fear) before coming to Burge. Now I know that if you look at their legs when they are out collecting they are covered in pollen. Cory was excited to see all the activity. Lots of active pollinators is one sign that you're doing it right. This is why we don't use broad spectrum pesticides. These are literally (literally) the worker bees of the farm. Without them we would have no Squash, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Corn, you name it. These little guys make it happen. This field is also a quick flight from our beehives which is bound boost honey production. Standing in this field you feel like you're floating because the flowers and bees are in a constant liquid motion and the buzzing sounds are intoxicating. This may have been the best moment of the week.

Suzi the truck Hauls Bamboo

Bamboo. Jason and Daniel harvested it from a neighbor who grows tons and lets us have it for free. Bamboo is a member of the true grass family, Poaceae. It is also one of the fastest growing plants in the world. We saw a lot of it in Ghana used as building material. Anything that doesn't need to support too much weight can be made of bamboo. We used it this week to trellis peppers.
Daniel and I pounded the bamboo pieces into the ground while Kathy tied the plants loosely to them. We had a little extra help this week from Lovett High School. They brought a field trip of a dozen kids who helped us finish two long rows of peppers.

Sinking Bamboo poles
Stringing them up
Finished product-Bell Pepper

Half of our Strawberry plants were retired this week. We pulled up the plastic mulch and turned them into the ground making way for what's next. We'll miss those beautiful berries but luckily the Blackberries have taken hold and Blueberries are coming into their own quickly too. The other Strawberry planting we are leaving in place while it sends out runner and builds the next generation of Burge Strawberries. Maybe in July we will pot up the little clones and then turn in those plants too.

More of our Squash and Zucchini are succumbing to bug pressure. We just keep planting new rows of it to try and keep up. This week we put floating row covers over the newest planting. This will give them a chance to grow unmolested by the wicked Squash Bug and Cucumber Beetle. When they start to flower we will have to remove the row covers so that the pollinators can come in and do their work. Sadly, the bad bugs will arrive just as quickly.


Kathy planted a bed of Arugula in Hoop House 4 with the multi-row seeder. 

We planted several fields in cover crop this week. Cover crops are organic farming's way of giving back to the soil. Every time we harvest a crop we take nutrients from the soil and give them to our bodies as food. There are lots of nutrients and micro nutrients but one that is most heavily stripped by vegetables is Nitrogen. It is also required by vegetables. That means once we take it out we have to put it back. There is one family of plant that has a special relationship with Nitrogen. Legumes actually pull Nitrogen out of the air and put it back in the soil with the help of a symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobia within the nodules of their root system. This process is called Nitrogen Fixation. Fun Fact: Nitrogen Fixation occurs naturally in the air in the form of Lightening!
In addition to fixing nitrogen, cover crops are turned back into the soil which adds green manure or organic matter to the soil. More organic matter is better. It helps keep all of the nutrients, micro-nutrients and underground eco-system in balance. Organic Matter is one of the best indicators of soil health in organic farming. 
Dried Sunflower

One of the cover crops we planted this week consisted of Sunflowers and two kinds of peas. The peas are our legumes for nitrogen fixation. The Sunflowers we can harvest and sell and the stalks will add a lot of organic matter when they get turned in. 
The Sunflower seeds came from last years dried sunflowers. We removed the seeds by hand but with them comes a lot of other matter and chaff (dry protective casing of the seeds). In order to separate the seeds from the rest of the material we use a process called winnowing. This is an ancient and effective process that is even referenced in the bible. Because the seeds are heavier than everything else if you drop them in front of a fan they will fall straight down and everything else will blow away. What you're left with is just the plantable seed. 


Farm Life

There is a house next to the field in Newborn where we are growing lots of potatoes. At the house they have chickens. This coop butts up to our field and houses 2 roosters, 2 geese and 2 ducks. It's Noah's Ark-ish but I think they are confused if they think these two chickens are going to keep the species going. 

Chef Andrew took delivery or our Tomato and Cucmber seconds this week and look what he did! This is a delicious gazpacho with, wait for it, TOMATO SORBET. No kidding. he told us that he made it with our tomato seconds and inverted sugar. Well sure, you have to invert the bag to get the sugar out, right? Turns out there is a lot I don't know about cooking.
Anyway, it was delicious and refreshing.

Puddy Time

Dogs really are man's best friend. This week Puddy got me through a rough day just by cuddling with me on the couch for 8 hours. She also enjoyed a trip to the Decatur Farmer's Market (we just can't get enough) on Saturday morning with my awesome neighbors. We saw Lauren there of former Burge Organic Farm Apprenticeship fame. She now has her own LLC and farms at Le Tre Lune Farm. We compared notes on the apprenticeship. It was encouraging to talk to someone who had been through it and is now farming successfully.
Rainy Day Puddy


  1. Okay, I read it more thoroughly this time! In my defense all the awesome pictures distracted me (it was morningtime!) I love the lightening fact and of course...Puddy time.

  2. I looked through here again looking for a pic of you to put in the article and just wanted to say, I love the cow poop diagram!


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