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Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Flowers and Strawberries are in!!!!

This picture is a week and a half old and already the farm looks different. Things are really starting to GROW!!!
Roses are in bloom

Blackberry flowers

Blackberries in bloom


Teeny Tiny Little Grapes!


In the harvest bins this week: STRAWBERRIES!!!! Kale, Broccoli Raabe, Lettuce, Arugula, Sage,  Mint, Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Radishes, Asparagus,  Pea Shoots, Baby Mustard Greens, Lavender, Catnip, Choi and Grape Leaves.

Strawberries are in. Don't they look cute?
Until you are drowning in them....

45# in ONE DAY!

Broccoli Raab, Kale and Radishes

Asparagus is starting to slow down

DeCiccio Heirloom Broccoli

Production and Cultivation

First big delivery to The Pig!!! Rhubarb, Radishes, Grape Leaves, Strawberries, Pea Shoots, Arugula, Asparagus and more!!! 

I have been collecting pint containers from the restaurants with the intention of using them for the strawberries. However, after the first delivery of Strawberries I have abandoned them. There are just too many to pack when I end up delivering them by the pound. 

Washing Kale

Our new field is a bit out of whack nutrient-wise. The phosphorous is off the charts high which makes it difficult for plants to take up the nutrients they need. This is probably a result of years in tobacco production and will take several years to correct. In the meantime I am working to get the plants what they need through fertigation and foliar feeding. Fertigation is just what it sounds like, Fertilizing through Irrigation. I am mostly providing the plants with compost tea, kelp and fish fertilizer. 

Straining compost tea so as not to block the irrigation

Fertigator, this contraption injects the liquid plant food through the irrigation

I finally got around to hanging a fan in the greenhouse. It helps to have it up so high since heat rises. Since I hung it and put it on a timer the greenhouse has not gone above 100.

Our fig tree did not make it through the winter. Or so I thought. But now it looks like the root system is still alive... it is sending up new shoots!

Fig, everything above ground died
The roots are sending up new growth!

I started the leaning and lowering tomato support system in the hoop house... more on this in the next blog post but here's a preview.

We got some good weeding done, thanks Gayle!

And, more rain! 2.5" in one day

Here you can see the floating row covers being held down by old onion bags from Commissary filled with rocks. 

And here is the Kale that the row covers are protecting from all the bugs who love to eat it...

I had a few aphids on my Choi but the Lady Bugs found them and stepped up their game. These two will lay eggs who will hatch into lady bug larvae who DEVOUR aphids... 

Spring is in the air

Here is a not so welcome bug, the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB). He loves to eat potatoes and anything in the potato family. That includes tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, also known as the night shades. 
Colorado Potato Beetle


We got a new Chestnut tree in the mail from Raintree Nursery and planted it. I have transplanted all of the tomatoes out and seeded more fennel, chard and brussel sprouts. 
How do you ship a chestnut tree? 

Eating Well

Fried Green Tomatoes with Asparagus Spears at The Pig

EatWell attended the Chef's Best event again this year benefiting Food and Friends. Chef Tate at The Heights featured our kale in his dish.

Chef's Best

What are the restaurants even doing with all those Strawberries? I had to find out. I met some friends on the patio at The Heights and enjoyed a strawberry drink special.
Kentucky Buck 

Strawberry Salad at Logan Tavern

Tasting menu at The Pig featuring our Grape Leaves, Radishes, Arugula, Broccoli Raabe, herbs and more!

Strawberry Tres Leches at Grillfish

Puddy Time

Sunday, May 11, 2014

April Showers bring May

4.5 Inches of Rain in one day
We got quite a bit of rain the other day. 4.5 inches actually. And another inch or so in the days before and after. The farm held up pretty well; we had some standing water in the lower field and around the bottom edge of the hoop house. Still, with all the April showers we should be seeing some pretty May flowers, and hopefully produce too. The weather is certainly warming up and everything is starting to take off.

Lost Generation Book Club at The Heights

Keith, one of the managers at The Heights, runs a group called The Lost Generation Book Club. It is based out of the restaurant and meets monthly to discuss a book, usually a fictional one. However, we collaborated in April and the club members read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I re-read the book and attended the discussion. It was the biggest turn out yet for the club and we had a very insightful and engaging talk about the issues in the book from industrial food processing to corn subsidies to the merits/morals of vegetarianism (all sides). It was so neat to see the effect that this book had on other people after it sparked my own life/career change. The discussion in itself was amazing but they took it one step further and came out to the farm for a tour and even did some work while they were there. If I'm lucky Keith will let us do this again next year.
For Keith's perspective on the collaboration check out his book club blog here. 

Gathering for the tour on a gorgeous day

Transplanting Summer Squash

Weeding Asparagus 

Greenhouse gossip

Prepping beds in the lower field

Keith, Fearless Leader of the Lost Generation

This group is welcome back Any Time

The Lost Generation Book Club (with some Running Clubbers thrown in for good measure)


Harvests are still pretty meager but at least they are starting to happen. The earliest crops are beginning to come in: Asparagus and Rhubarb are the first perennials of the year. We also have the beginnings of our Kale, radishes and herbs. 
Baby Red Russian Kale and D'Avignon Radishes


Production and Distribution

So far the small amounts of produce have been used for special events since we don't have quite enough to put in menus yet. Here are the deliveries for the book club and one that went to The Pig to fill out some specials.  

Book Club Salad harvest

Asparagus, Sage, Mint, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Savory, Garlic Chives, Organo, Mint, Rhubarb

Cultivation and Maintenance

Asparagus beetles, floating...

The war on Asparagus Beetles Continues. I have been keeping a tub of water by the rows and occasionally walk though and knock them into it. 

Gayle found this gorgeous earthworm while weeding and mulching the Rhubarb

Baby Peppers in the greenhouse

This week in the greenhouse... we potted up more tomatoes and peppers and are generally just working to keep it from getting too hot and dry in there. 80 degrees and sunny can mean way too hot in there. In addition to opening all the doors and windows and watering the floor down we had to add a fan this week.

We have a neighbor with a handsome bamboo stand. I finally got the okay from them to cut some down. This bamboo is now hanging in the Hoop House where it will be used in our tomato trellising system. We are super excited to try this leaning and lowering technique which should help us keep the plants healthy and productive.

I check on these guys every few days. They are still sizing up.

The grapes are looking great!

Our Walking Onions are getting ready to take their first steps! They form this top set which looks like it will be a flower but in fact it is more onions. When it gets too heavy for the plant to support it will fall over and re-seed itself, hence the name 'walking' onion. You can harvest the greens to eat as chives, eat the topset or the bulb. The bulbs also divide in the ground so this is a very prolific plant. Read more about them here.

Open topset in the center. The two on the sides are still closed
Our garlic is also looking really good. I gave it a foliar feed with some aggrand fish emulsion fertilizer to help create strong bulbs. If the garlic is successful (so far so good!) then I will save it all for seed for next year. Garlic seed is the actual cloves and organic heirloom seed is expensive so if I can grow my own seed stock I'll be ahead of the game. So far it seems very happy.

Elephant Garlic


New Rosemary in its warm micro-climate
We had to buy new Rosemary plants this year because the old ones did not make it through the winter. So, in the hopes of keeping them going for a few years, I planted them in the warmest spot on the farm. The front of the stables is south facing and the red color soaks up the sun. On a cold day this is the best place to stand to warm up. Here's hoping it keeps the new rosemary safe and warm come next January. 

Heirloom Tomatoes are in the ground! This is a big deal. This week we planted our heirloom tomatoes in the hoop house. I laid the black landscape fabric about a week in advance to warm up the soil. On Thursday I had a volunteer, Luz (who came back for more after her book club visit) and she and I cut holes in the fabric every 18" and carefully transplanted the beauties.

Can't be contained! 

These seeds were started March 7th in the greenhouse in a mix of 50 cell trays and medium soil blocks. We potted them up into 3" Peat Pots mid April and 3 weeks later their roots were busting through.

We soaked them in compost tea and also top watered them with it before transplanting. I decided to cut the peat pot off completely because I was able to do it without disturbing the root ball. I think this will make for less shock and better contact with the soil.
Soaking in Compost Tea

Peat Pot removed

Each bed holds almost 50 plants spaced at 18". We were able to put them so close because of the intensive trellising system we are going to use. Check out the link above. It's gonna be cool. This is perhaps the crop I am most excited about. We also have hybrid slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes which are almost ready to go out in the field. I just want them to get a little bigger in the greenhouse.

2 beds ready to plant, drip irrigation is run under the fabric

Heirloom Tomatoes in the ground! 

Eating Well

Book Club Salad of Baby Kale, Asparagus, D'Avignon Radishes

Puddy Time

Running through Puddles after the rain

Doggy hair dryer

I think that's a smirk

And a contented grin

Sprocket is not amused.