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Sunday, April 28, 2013

EatWell Natural Farm Week 6

What an awesome week at the farm! The weather was incredible, we had volunteers out to help plant, and got a facelift with a beautiful new flower bed. Also, the field across the street looks like this every evening which is just lovely....

A Plum!


Much like last week this week's harvest included Asparagus (which we won't be harvesting again until next spring), Rhubarb and herbs. While I was harvesting the mint I was pleasantly surprised by these little critters...  

See the little blue crocodiles with the orange spots? What are they?

Any guesses on what they are and why I was happy to see them? Leave your guess in the comments at the end. 

Production and Distribution
Eventually I will be able to supply more than one restaurant a week but this week I went to The Pig
Chef Cain was excited to get the delivery and show me around. He asked if I wouldn't mind hanging some pork pieces in the barn to cure. I was hesitant at first (vegetarian) but then I read the tag.  These pigs are from Polyface! As in Joel Salatin. As in outspoken proponent of local, responsible, sustainable agriculture. These pigs lived a happy life and died a dignified death if Joel had anything to do with it. They were also part of a whole system that works with narture in a mutually beneficial cycle of life and production. I would be honored to hang a Polyface ham in my barn.  
Chef Cain and company
Polyface Pig

It's the real deal!

Cultivation and Maintenance

Monday morning I made a strange discovery. The night before I brought in the seedling trays and set them in front of a window. This is my seed starting process for now until we build our greenhouse. When I went to move the trays back outside Monday morning I noticed that the soil was disturbed and some of the seeds were visible. When I looked closer I saw that some had actually been chewed on. I thought birds must have gotten to them the day before and I hadn't noticed. I grabbed my boots to put them on and heard a strange rattling, like a rainstick. Inside my boots were dozens of dirty seeds!

All Dug Up!

Squirreled (moused?) away seeds


So, I replanted them all. The only trouble is there were 5 different varieties neatly labeled and now they are all mixed up. The next day I wore a different pair of boots and only at the end of the day when I took them off did I see these....

No worries though, all of the seeds I replanted are sprouting. I am hoping I will be able to tell them apart when they get a little bigger. I only lost about 10% which I think were actually eaten.

Take that mice! 

Coming soon! Spinach and Radishes!

D'Avignon Radish 

There were lots of these guys flying around early in the week. I would be able to appreciate their beauty if I didn't know they were laying eggs which will hatch and become little destructive, voracious, vegetable eating caterpillars. Farming really ruins butterflies for you. 
Flutter-by butterfly. Don't land here.


Our seedlings arrived Friday. Due to our lack of greenhouse and the fact that this guy really knows what he is doing, we ordered seedlings from Selected Plants.  We received and planted 15 varieties of tomatoes and 17 varieties of peppers. They came in the mail and were ingeniously packed. They survived the 700 mile shipment even though the "This Side Up" labeled clearly meant nothing to the people who were handling them. 

Seedling Shipment


Easily the best part of planting the tomatoes and peppers was the fact that I got to hang out with some great volunteers who worked hard in the bright sun with smiles and laughter. Thank you so much to Chef Felipe of Grillfish, Aida of Logan's Tavern, Patrick of Commissary, Tony, Josh, Adam and of course David who puts in time almost every week at the farm. 

Volunteers planting peppers. 160 plants.
Pretty peppers

Part of planting tomatoes in planning for their eventual growth and need to be trellised. So, we went ahead and sunk 95% of the T-posts that we will need once these babies grow up. Here's Aida showing us how it's done.

Well, they're almost straight. Everything is harder on a hill

Our Main field. It's really coming along. I can't wait until it is covered in green. 

Here's that facelift I mentioned earlier. Eric headed up the farm beautification project and with a little help planted this gorgeous bed at the front of the farm house. 

David and Eric making it happen

Finished product

The neighbors clearly approve

Eating Well

Not only did Josh come by to plant and sink T-posts, he also turned our Asparagus into a refreshing summer salad. 

Chorizo Hash left and Daily Omelet Right. So. Tasty.
To finish off the week right I enjoyed my favorite meal so far in DC, Sunday Brunch at The Pig. I had the daily omelet with candied tomatoes and ramps. It was pretty spectacular.  My friend Abby had the Chorizo and Smoked Shrimp Hash and can't wait to come back with her hubby. We also sampled the chickpea hash which was like a super delicious fancy hummus but with more substance. 
I can't wait to see what they do with the farm veggies. 

And here is what happened to the Asparagus that I delivered to The Pig. Chef Cain transformed it into Parmesan Brined Asparagus. Grilled Asparagus with a preserved lemon and olive sauce with shredded sarvecchio and parmesan.

Puddy Time

Puddy loved having all the visitors at the farm this weekend. Here she is helping sort out the transplants. 

We also made a new friend. Introducing Maddie, the adorable. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

EatWell Natural Farm Week 5

Look Kate C., I'm already sweating in my new hat. Yay! Gross. 

We had a pretty warm week with light rains about every other day. Then Friday night we had a few windy thunderstorms and were under a tornado warning. The barn took a little damage but we fared well compared to the many downed trees I saw driving around. I got a lot mulched and planted this week and even made my first delivery. Things are really starting to take shape here so I have decided to start breaking the blog up into sections again. As always, I save the best for last. So, those of you who are in it for the cute dog pictures can scroll right on down to the end. ;)


Harvested this week:
Asparagus, Rhubarb, Assorted Mint and Sage

I harvested about this much Asparagus twice a day all week. At the end of the week it added up to 5 lbs and went to Grillfish.

Production and Distribution

Chef Milanes of Grilfish
This weeks harvest was small but it is a start. I will be letting all of the chefs know early in the week what I expect to harvest so that they can make their requests and come up with delicious dishes to feature the farm fresh food. This week Grillfish swooped in for the win and took it all. I can't wait to see what Chef Felipe Milanes comes up with. 

Mint and Sage

Delivery to Grillfish: Asparagus, Rhubarb, Mint and Sage

Cultivation and Maintenance

Ugh! Caterpillars! These tiny green caterpillars are on everything! I mean everything, not just the plants but the buildings, the fences, me... They are blowing around on their little silks and when they land on something they like they start to munch. I first noticed them on the baby apple trees. Thursday I spent about an hour picking them off by hand. What a pain. 
Caterpillar damage

Can you see them? There are 2, they are tiny. Look on
the right most leaf.
This one is brown and blue, possibly the same guy in another stage?

I put the new truck to good use this week. There is a lumber mill nearby that sells double shredded hardwood mulch and will load your truck up for a reasonable fee. I used the entire load in two days on the orchard, grapes, berries, asparagus, rhubarb and herb garden. I may go back for seconds. The hope is that time and effort spreading mulch now will help eliminate those things dealing with weeds later. It will also help hold moisture and stabilized the soil temperature. All good things.

Under the mulch in places I also put cardboard or newspaper. This is an additional weed barrier and like the mulch it will eventually break down, get eaten by earthworms and add organic matter to the soil. 

Watering in cardboard around the Muscadines

All the grapes mulched

Orchard Mulched
Raspberries Mulched

I ran out of cardboard and switched to 3 sheets of newspaper

Blackberries mulched
Here are some moments from the farm this week.

Strawberry blossom

Teeny Tiny Mushroom

Grape Leaf

Grape vine growing beautifuly

My friends the earthworms

Love them. 


Direct seeded into the fields this week:
Broccoli, Lettuce (several varieties), Cauliflower, Beets, Mustard Greens, Kale, Choi, Radishes (round 2), and Carrots

I also transplanted all of the perennial herbs from a row in the field to the new herb garden. Then I direct seeded a bunch of new herbs. Here is the beginning of the herb garden. You are seeing Sage (upper left), Oregano (upper right), Thyme (lower right), and Lavender (front and center). All of the sticks are where other herb were seeded. 

If you are ever asked to do farm work and you have a choice of tasks and transplanting herbs is one of the options, pick it. It was such pleasant work because everything just smelled wonderful, even the seeds. I think I'm going to like this herb garden. 

We had a whole lot of Thyme on our hands and I had this problem drop-off between two rows of Rhubarb. The whole field is on a hill but this particular spot was just a tiny cliff. It was covered in grass and I left some of that in place on purpose to help with erosion. However, I would rather a delicious herb than grass so I transplanted a few of the Thyme plants onto the tiny cliff. I am hoping they will like it there and help to hold the soil in place with their roots. I think the plants themselves may also help to slow down the flow of water. It's all one big experiment. I'll let you know how it turns out. 

Thyme for erosion control?

My farming friend Kathy came to visit and help out on Saturday. Among other things she started some Cucumber, Squash and Zucchini seeds for us. Puddy helped. 

Just the like the good ol' days

Eating Well

When I transplanted the herbs I realized that the sage was growing really well and needed a good trimming back. I took off over a pound of the savory herb and took some home where I simmered it in butter and mixed it into my mashed potatoes. That was really yum. 

Sage Butter

The coffee was awesome.

Saturday morning after I made my delivery I had the chance to eat at one of the EatWell Restaurants for the first time. I can't believe I didn't order any vegetables but Blueberry Pancakes just sounded so good, and they were. My friend Kathy joined me and had the Veggie Burger which was recently ranked #4 in the city. That is quite an impressive rank in such a foodie town.

Really, really good pancakes.

Posted in the Commissary Restroom and
around the EatWell Restaurants

First on the list. This is at Logan Tavern.

We also took a stroll down the block to peek in at Logan Tavern.

Puddy Time

The new truck is Puddy approved. Thanks Katie for the fancy African blanket!
(Sorry I'm using it for my dirty farm dog :-/  )