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Monday, April 1, 2013

EatWell Natural Farm Week 2

Hello blog readers! Thank you so much to those of you who have been with me from the beginning of this venture. My first post was on March 18th, 2012 and my first day working on a farm was March 29th. I've been at this for a year now and have learned SO much. I have a lot left to learn but I'm loving every second.

A special welcome this week to all of the EatWell DC fans who joined me last week. I'm so glad you're back for more. One of the reasons I write this blog is to help people connect to their food source. Those of you who know and love the EatWell DC restaurants can come here anytime to see exactly where your food comes from and what goes in to getting it to you.

This week started out much like last week. Monday morning I woke up to a snow covered farm.

Come on Spring! Get it together. 

This week was all about the long term. We planted and cared for some of our perennials and did some final planning and purchases for the future orchard.

Strawberry Leaf Scorch

I fertilized all of our berries and prepped ground for the new ones. The strawberries got a thorough weeding and I removed some leaves that had a little bit of leaf scorch. This is a fungus that over winters on the plants and weakens them resulting in less vigorous growth. Hopefully by thinning them out, which will allow better airflow, and removing affected leaves the problem will not spread. Healthy plants are less prone to disease so my goal now is to help them grow up strong.

Rhubarb! I am from the south and my only experience with Rhubarb has been in the freezer section of the grocery store and my dad's amazing Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (which I have been known to request for my birthday). So, when David told me we were growing Rhubarb and he wanted to add more this year I had some studying to do. So far I have learned that Rhubarb is a perennial that prefers cool weather and so is grown in the northern US and Canada. It can produce for 8-15 years. The leaves have high levels of oxalic acid which is toxic and even deadly if you ingest a lot. It's the stalks that you eat. I also learned that Rhubarb will flower but that you should remove flower stems to keep the plants' energy focussed on growing more leaf stalks. So, I went out to our Rhubarb and sure enough I found some flower stalks and cut them out at the base of the stem. I also made sure each plant got lots of compost and gave them a foliar spray of some fish emulsion fertilizer.

Our Rhubarb with a flower stalk

When you peel away the skin it looks like a little cauliflower

Asparagus Crowns

Another perennial we have here is Asparagus. Tony planted two rows last year and we got a shipment of 125 more crowns this year which David and I planted Saturday. We now have 5 rows of Asparagus. We can harvest a little bit from last year's planting this year but you can not make a full harvest for 2 years. So, next year we will have 2 rows online for harvesting and in 2015 all 5 rows should be good to go.

Planting Asparagus in a trench

In other long term planning news... we are building an orchard. There is a beautiful slope next to the old tobacco barn where we will eventually have 15 fruit trees. This week we selected and purchased 2 Pears, 2 Apples, 2 Cherries and 2 Plums for the orchard. We also got a Fig, a Persimmon, a Pecan and a Chestnut for other spots on the farm. All of the trees will be delivered this week so I'll be busy busy planting fruit trees. Have I ever planted a fruit tree before? No. Thank goodness for the internet (and books). I found a lot of helpful video tutorials this week including this one on planting trees

In addition to the trees we also bought more Blue, Black and Raspberries, a couple of Tea berries and several Grape vines. We found everything at Heaven's Garden in La Plata, MD which is the retail outlet for Shelby's Wholesale Plants

Shitake Farm
On Easter Sunday Jillian came back out and we finished inoculating our Oak logs with Shitake spores. Now they will sit in the woods for 6-8 months. Once we see mycelial growth on the ends of the logs we will soak them in the pond for 24 hours. After we fish them out they should start producing Shitake Mushrooms and can produce for a couple of years. 

I did get one other big task done this week. I had to wait until Friday for the ground to dry up enough but I got the main field tilled and even got a few beds planted. Peas and Spinach went into the ground and we should be enjoying them soon. I planted some Shelling Peas, Sugar Snaps and Snow Peas along with two varieties of Spinach.

Tilled and ready to plant

Strawberries up close and you can just see the pea trellis in the middle
Easter Spinach

Eating Well
Kale and Acorn Squash Couscous with Almonds

Well, there isn't much to harvest right now. I did get the last little bit of Kale before turning it in. I added it to some roasted acorn squash and couscous and have been eating on that all week.

I still have some tomatoes, marinara sauce and tomato paste from the tomato seconds from Burge last summer. It's nice to be able to enjoy the flavors of summer while waiting for spring to warm up. Preserving foods while they are in season and abundant is a great way to make the most of local and seasonal eating. It also tastes way better than any pasta sauce you can buy at the store and you know exactly what is in each jar. 

Spaghetti with preserved tomatoes from last summer 

Puddy Time

Mocha-Kita came to visit this week! Puddy had fun showing her around the farm while Abby (Mocha's person and my good friend) and I took a little tour. 

Puddy keeps me in her sights while I check the mail

It's a hard life on the farm

1 comment:

  1. Hi! It's me Erica. Please leave comments! I would love to hear from you. What would you like to read about on the blog?


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