09.17.11

Lucky

Posted in Pigs, Production Gap, Production Note, Vacation Cabin Rental, Veggies, Winter Stash at 7:24 am by Farmer

WE FEEL BLESSED! We are still delivering CSA Shares packed full of veggies and are harvesting plenty of greens right now. We have great help on the farm and even though we have had a hot summer, it hasn’t been too awfully hot for the crops, and the creek continues to flow enough for irrigating our fields. Those farmers’ in Texas and other drought stricken areas have no water to irrigate with and in extremely warm places it has been much to warm for fruit to set on crops. WE ARE LUCKY…. We have been harvesting a wide selection of produce and all of it pretty tasty.  In addition, we just had our pigs processed so have a good selection of pork for sale.
Our crop loss this season has been mounting up: (1) potato crop failure, (2) mice eating pepper, eggplant, summer squash and melon sprouts resulting in low yields (3) Tomatoes dying exceptionally early in the season after succumbing to leaf mold, (3) Onions being overtaken by nut sedge resulting in crop loss and low yields, (4) Loosing half our sweet corn crop to raccoons. (5) Loosing a good portion of our garlic and peppers to Fusarium. (6) Cucumbers have not produced in the greenhouse nor field.  In the past, we grew a great crop of cucumbers in the greenhouse, but have not had success the last couple of years which is probably due to the heat.  Probably the most accumulated crop loss we have experienced in years, but nothing compared to what others around the USA and world are experiencing, so for that we are thankful.  Winter might be a little financially tight, but it has been for the past couple years, mostly since when we had winter employment.  We are mentally prepared, and feel fortunate to have a roof over our head, all the food that we need, plus wood heat to keep us warm.
Read what these farmers’ in Vermont have experienced this past season and they still want to farm!  We feel so LUCKY for not having to endure what they have this season.   Perhaps they should also consider a Farm Vacation Rental Cabin (a.k.a. Crop Insurance) in with their production mix.
What have we been doing these past few weeks since our last journal entry? In between weeding and hoeing the fall crops, transplanting more fall crops, direct seeding even more fall crops, and harvesting and packing produce for both the CSA and markets.  We are extremely happy to report that we have also been preparing our fields for seeding our cover crops. Finally – after removing irrigation pipes, black plastic landscape fabric, drip tame, flail mowing, then disking the fields – we were able to seed our first bit of cover crops.  Cover cropping is a very important aspect of any farming operation. Thanks to the farm crew for the photographs.
Preparing to smoke our hog side meat by first starting a fire in the smokehouse.  We are using hickory and apple for flavor.

Preparing to smoke our hog side meat by first starting a fire in the smokehouse. We are using hickory and apple for flavor.

Our hog side meat inside the smokehouse.  We can’t leave the door open too awfully much or we loose a lot of heat.  Notice the smoke surrounding the side meat producing such a wonderful aroma as the meat is smoked.  The side meat is from Peter, Paul and Mary.

Our hog side meat inside the smokehouse. We can’t leave the door open too awfully much or we loose a lot of heat. Notice the smoke surrounding the side meat producing such a wonderful aroma as the meat is smoked. The side meat is from Peter, Paul and Mary.

Smoked side meat, also known as bacon, looking and smelling so DELICIOUS!

Smoked side meat, also known as bacon, looking and smelling so DELICIOUS!

Thermometer used for monitoring our smokehouse temperature and the internal temperature of our meat.  It is very difficult keeping a steady temperature in the smokehouse with a wood fire.  The temperature in the smokehouse constantly fluctuates.

Thermometer used for monitoring our smokehouse temperature and the internal temperature of our meat. It is very difficult keeping a steady temperature in the smokehouse with a wood fire. The temperature in the smokehouse constantly fluctuates.

Cooking the bacon that we made using the smoker.

Cooking the bacon that we made using the smoker.

Our first BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich in a very long time – I would say probably in 40 years – and it was just as delicious as what is instilled in my memory.

Our first BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich in a very long time – I would say probably in 40 years – and it was just as delicious as what is instilled in my memory.

Carl studying for the plumbing test so that we will be able to do all our own plumbing on the Farm Vacation Rental Cabin saving us some of our hard earned money.

Carl studying for the plumbing test so that we will be able to do all our own plumbing on the Farm Vacation Rental Cabin saving us some of our hard earned money.

Tractor and Disk used for preparing our ground for seeding cover crops.  We first flailed mowed our spent crops creating mulch.  Then we used the disk to loosen the soil so that the cover crop seed has a better chance of coming into contact with the soil.  On some of our farmland, that which we sow before early October, is seeded with a tri-culture of hairy vetch, winter rye and crimson clover.

Tractor and Disk used for preparing our ground for seeding cover crops. We first flailed mowed our spent crops creating mulch. Then we used the disk to loosen the soil so that the cover crop seed has a better chance of coming into contact with the soil. On some of our farmland, that which we sow before early October, is seeded with a tri-culture of hairy vetch, winter rye and crimson clover.

Getting ready to load our winter rye cover crop seed into the baltic spreader which is the implement used to broadcast the seed onto our fields.

Getting ready to load our winter rye cover crop seed into the baltic spreader which is the implement used to broadcast the seed onto our fields.

We purchase organic cover crop seed.  Organic cover crop seed is much more expensive than non organic seed but we use it so that we are in compliance with the NOP (National Organic Program) standards.

We purchase organic cover crop seed. Organic cover crop seed is much more expensive than non organic seed but we use it so that we are in compliance with the NOP (National Organic Program) standards.

Winter Rye loaded in the spreader.

Winter Rye loaded in the spreader.

Carl broadcasting winter rye onto the field.  We are seeding about 2 and 1/2 acres this go around.  We have about 6 additional acres to seed in cover crop within the next month.

Carl broadcasting winter rye onto the field. We are seeding about 2 and 1/2 acres this go around. We have about 6 additional acres to seed in cover crop within the next month.

Hairy Vetch in spreader with an inoculant dusted over the top.  The inoculant, a rhizobium bacteria, will infect roots forming nodules, to help the vetch fix nitrogen in our soil.  This is broadcast in the fields.

Hairy Vetch in spreader with an inoculant dusted over the top. The inoculant, a rhizobium bacteria, will infect roots forming nodules, to help the vetch fix nitrogen in our soil. This is broadcast in the fields.

Once the rye and vetch are broadcasted, we then lightly disk in the cover crop seed, hoping that it makes good contact with the soil, which aids in germination.

Once the rye and vetch are broadcasted, we then lightly disk in the seeded cover crop seed, hoping that it makes good contact with the soil, which aids in germination.

Carl spreading crimson clover with a hand spreader.  Danielle is walking along to get a feel of the speed one must walk to have the clover spread evenly across the field. We seed clover last using a hand seeder, because the seed is so small, we don’t bury it with the disk and prefer a good rainfall to set the clover seed into the soil for contact with the earth and hopefully good germination.

Carl spreading crimson clover with a hand spreader. Danielle is walking along to get a feel of the speed one must walk to have the clover spread evenly across the field. We seed clover last using a hand seeder, because the seed is so small, we don’t bury it with the disk and prefer a good rainfall to set the clover seed into the soil for contact with the earth and hopefully good germination.

Danielle seeding Crimson Clover.

Danielle seeding Crimson Clover.

Tony seeding Crimson Clover.

Tony seeding Crimson Clover.

Justin seeding Crimson Clover.

Justin seeding Crimson Clover.

Friend or foe?  Harmon and Kaiser.

Friend or foe? Harmon and Kaiser.

Production Note To Self: (1) Add field cucumbers back into our planting with each succession of squash because our greenhouse crop has not been successful. (2) Add a late fall succession of cucumbers for greenhouse production.

08.12.11

Such wonderful sleeping weather these past couple nights

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Projects, Winter Stash at 9:03 pm by Farmer

This journal entry is for Trace!!!! Yes, finally I am taking the time to write in our journal and let me tell you why… Because here in the mountains we are having cooler weather, with finally the nighttime temperatures dropping, making for some fabulous sleeping. This helps motivate me in completing my nightly chores such as journal entries and freezing pesto for our winter stash.  Otherwise our trailer is just too hot to deal with being indoors and I find myself sitting outside.  (The past few nights we have seen low temperatures around 62 and highs between 85 and 90)
This past Tuesday our neighbor Joe brought over his coon dog because the raccoons wiped out about 50 percent of our sweet corn crop. The coons also ate all the peaches from the peach tree. His dogs didn’t pick up any scent so he will try again Friday or Saturday night. We are hopeful to soon be eating stewed racoons!
The first week of August we transplanted our first succession of fall crops to the field. The plants didn’t look so good because they were being devoured by the cabbage looper so we are praying they survive. Crops transplanted include kale, boc choi, cabbage and lettuce.
After transplanting we covered with floating row cover to keep the flea beetles and harlequin bugs off the crops until they have an established root system. Danielle, Townes, Tony and Justin hauled literally tons of rocks and rolled out a lot of row cover to protect these plants. I got out of the hard work, mostly because I was busy spraying the crops to kill the cabbage loopers, and feel bad that they had to do it all!!! Carl was busy helping our neighbor put up hay.  It is strange having the crops covered because you can’t just look at them to see how they are doing.  Crops underneath row cover are ignored until over a week after they have been transplanted, then they are uncovered and hoed, then recovered for a couple more weeks.  Whereas, crops without row cover can be examined every couple days, and if we visually notice pests or disease, we can be very proactive about dealing with issues as they arise. So who knows what is going on underneath that row cover right now.  Hopefullly not an “All You Can Eat Buffet” for the  cabbage loopers.
Tony and Carl happy about row cover.  Carl just loves floating row cover! Ask him about it one day.

Tony and Carl happy about row cover. Carl just loves floating row cover! Ask him about it one day.

Danielle and Towns unfolding floating row cover.  We were fortunate to have a calm afternoon for covering our plants.  This job is difficult in high winds.

Danielle and Towns unfolding floating row cover. We were fortunate to have a calm afternoon for covering our plants. This job is difficult in high winds.

Danielle and Towns pulling the row cover along the bed of plants that will be covered.

Danielle and Towns pulling the row cover along the bed of plants that will be covered.

Fall plants covered for protection against flea beetles and harlequin bugs.

Fall plants covered for protection against flea beetles and harlequin bugs. Justin took the photographs of row covering. I must leave the camera in the car more often because he did a great job documenting the process.

I love Zinnias and miss making bouquets!  Perhaps we will add these back to our schedule next year.  Hard to believe haven’t sold any bouquets this year.

I love Zinnias and miss making bouquets! Perhaps we will add these back to our schedule next year. Hard to believe we haven’t made or sold any bouquets this year.

I love these two…. Carl and Harmon

I love these two…. Carl and Harmon

Our annual, “Post Peak Season”  picnic celebration at the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Even though we live in the most beautiful place it is still nice to get away from the farm leaving all the undone jobs behind.

Our annual, “Post Peak Season” picnic celebration on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even though we live in the most beautiful place it is still nice to get away from the farm leaving all the undone jobs behind.

Interesting article about world wide food security.
If Mark Bittman were President, I would probably making a living at growing food, he would probably subsidize my farm a bit; however, I don’t think our country has the money for subsidies!
This American Life has a great radio show about hydrofracking.
PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: For the past several years I have been meaning to plant another succession of swiss chard that we would have for sale in the summer. Our existing crop has petered out in growth and flavor. We need to seed it around 5/15. I must say the bugs like the flavor of swiss chard right now. In addition, we need a back-up crop should we loose our corn.  We have had “trellis field peppers” on our task list for several years but never have gotten around to that.  NEXT YEAR is a farmers’ famous saying.  Our tomatoes are not producing which is a first for us.  We are going to try a more leaf mold resistant variety next year and also a later crop.  Need to seed the tomato 4/11 for harvest around August.

07.16.11

Count our blessings we have water and an approved site plan!

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Vacation Cabin Rental, Veggies at 5:03 pm by Farmer

We live here in the Appalachians and have plenty of water for irrigating our crops, processing/packing our crops after harvest and for our daily use such as bathing, drinking and washing our clothes. Interesting article of others worries which makes ours seem ridiculous. We worry sometimes that we might have a production gap for our CSA (especially with the mice eating seedlings) but at least we are able to irrigate and are still harvesting a nice diversity of crops.
A couple weeks ago Douglas McVey, our Environmental Health Specialist, visited the farm helping us finalize our “Site Plan” for the Farm Vacation Cabin. THE BEST NEWS is that, for our farm vacation cabin rental, we now have an approved Site Plan complete with a design for our septic system. Our next steps with the Farm Vacation Cabin project is to have Alvin grade the site. Currently his track-hoe is broken so we may have to wait a bit for him to find time to have his equipment fixed. In between having Alvin grade the site, Carl will be studying the code books required for passing tests in becoming both our plumbing and electrical contractors. Taking these tests will allow Carl to oversee all phases of the building project thus saving us our hard earned money by not having to outsource much of the work. When living off a farming income, one can’t justify paying for services that charge hourly rates from $50 – $75, mostly because we are only earning about $6 an hour.
As far as the crop production side of the farming enterprise, we have been harvesting a lot of beans and squash, so are spending hours bent over harvesting these crops that are near to the earth. In addition, we continue to seed our fall crops and are looking forward to an abundance of greens upon falls arrival. These past several weeks we have also harvested our garlic and most of the onions. Every couple weeks we continue to transplant lettuce and are trialing new cultivars, because of what we think is global warming, our hot summers are no longer suited for production of the the lettuce cultivars we have been growing for the past 8 years.
The Farm Crew getting ready to assist Douglas McVey, our Environmental Health Specialist, in evaluating our Farm Vacation Site plan so that Douglas would be able to provide us with a design for our septic system. From left to right: Townes Mozer, Toney Randolf, Danielle Keeter, Justin Massey,  and Carl Evans.

The Farm Crew getting ready to assist Douglas McVey, our Environmental Health Specialist, in evaluating our Farm Vacation Site plan so that Douglas would be able to provide us with a design for our septic system. From left to right: Townes Mozer, Tony Randolf, Danielle Keeter, Justin Massey, and Carl Evans.

Danielle Keeter digging the first of our test holes for Douglas to determine the suitability of our soil for a subsurface private sewage disposal system (Septic Tank).  The soil test is known as a “percolation test” or “perk test”.

Danielle Keeter digging the first of our test holes for Douglas to determine the suitability of our soil for a subsurface private sewage disposal system (Septic Tank). The soil test is known as a “percolation test” or “perk test”.

Justin Massey digging another of our test holes for Douglas to perform the required perk test for our Farm Vacation Cabin Site.

Justin Massey digging another of our test holes for Douglas to perform the required perk test for our Farm Vacation Cabin Site.

Tony Randolph digging another of our test holes for Douglas to perform the required perk test for our Farm Vacation Cabin Site.

Tony Randolph digging another of our test holes for Douglas to perform the required perk test for our Farm Vacation Cabin Site.

Douglas McVey directing us as to the location for the flags that will identify our septic site.

Douglas McVey directing us as to the location for the flags that will identify our septic site.

Douglas McVey directing us on the location for the holes required for performing a perk test on our Farm Vacation Cabin Site.

Douglas McVey directing us on the location for the holes required for performing a perk test on our Farm Vacation Cabin Site.

Alice McVey, Douglas’ wife, looking on as we describe the cabin that might reside on this site one day.  We love sharing our dreams with others and have them dreaming along with us!

Alice McVey, Douglas’ wife, looking on as we describe the cabin that might reside on this site one day. We love sharing our dreams with others and have them dreaming along with us!

In less than a week turnaround, Douglas has provided us with an approved Site Plan for our Farm Vacation Cabin Rental. HOW EXCITING!

In less than a week turnaround, Douglas has provided us with an approved Site Plan for our Farm Vacation Cabin Rental. HOW EXCITING!

We have been grilling a lot of veggies this past month.  Grilled veggies are simply amazing.  In this photo are cipollini onions and sweet red peppers.

We have been grilling a lot of veggies this past month. Grilled veggies are simply amazing. In this photo are cipollini onions and sweet red peppers.

We LOVE GRILLED SQUASH!  Tastes like chicken.  In this photo, in addition to cipollini onions and sweet red peppers, are zucchini and yellow squash.

We LOVE GRILLED SQUASH! Tastes like chicken. In this photo, in addition to cipollini onions and sweet red peppers, are zucchini and yellow squash.

PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: (1) Next year dig both garlic and onions a week earlier should we have a rainy period during harvest. This year we pulled the garlic the week of 7/11/2011 and onions were harvested the week of 7/24/2011. (2) Strawberry plants were propagated Monday 7/4/2011. (3) I’m missing cilantro as we have normally harvested it a few times already this season. Need to figure out why it is not germinating well. (4) As far as lettuce cultivars we are trialing, we like the flavor of Navada but it must be harvested a little smaller. Victoria, a summer butterhead, has a good flavor but bolts quickly and has a little rot on the bottom. Plato II continues to turn bitter during the hot summer temperatures.  We will trial a couple more successions then make a decision as to whether we will continue growing these cultivars.  (5) Seed red cabbage and cauliflower with our first succession of broccoli (6) We aren’t moving as much lettuce nor broccoli as in years past so evaluate new crops to replace this income.  Most likely due to additional competition at market.

06.12.11

Another 3 little pigs have arrived at the farm from Warren Wilson!

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Projects at 9:16 pm by Farmer

We love our Warren Wilson piggies because they are so social, mostly because they spend the first few weeks of their life on campus with a lot of loving students, thus receiving all kinds of attention from the time they are born. Some folks ask why we always raise 3 pigs together. The answer is because we are such a small scale operation, and pigs being the social creatures they are, just need one another for companionship. I do feel sorry for these new babies because they are not getting the attention from us as Huey, Dewey and Louie because we are at the “peak” of our season so are spending most of our time out in the fields.
Cute Warren Wilson piggy!

Cute Warren Wilson piggy!

Piggy drinking from the water nipple.  Using this nipple keeps their water clean!

Piggy drinking from the water nipple. Using this nipple keeps their water clean!

Last week was spent trying to save a few crops from the weeds and FINALLY (in our crops opinion, I think) have set up irrigation and are now irrigating our spring and summer fields for most of the crops planted in our fenced area. Carl also set up drip irrigation for our winter squash and we are giving them the much needed water. Next priority is to set up irrigation in the onion and potato field. THESE CROPS are DRY and needing a drink. (We accomplished this on 6/6)
I have learned this season that mice LOVE sprouts. It seems as though they are taking over our propagation greenhouse, digging little sprouts out of the cells of dirt in our flats, and so far have eaten pepper sprouts (early in the season – costing us about $100 loss in seed costs), then indulging in melons (both watermelon and cantaloupe – costing us about $50 loss in seed costs) and finally eating summer squash (costing us probably another $50 loss in seed costs). I guess they didn’t read the news from Germany that sprouts are tainted with E.coli. Just so you know, we are working at ridding the mice from our greenhouse and have grand plans for continuing to seed, transplant and harvest food for the CSA and markets regardless of what the mice have done to set us back a little!
Not such a great picture, but if one examines our flats closely, you will notice the mice have been digging in them devouring the seeds and sprouts from our summer squash.  What a hassle these mice can be.

Not such a great picture, but if one examines our flats closely, you will notice the mice have been digging in them devouring the seeds and sprouts from our summer squash. What a hassle these mice can be.

Interesting articles I’ve read the past couple weeks. Not sure if you readers can access these since the NY Times started selling subscriptions, I sure hope so, mostly because I find these articles interesting and related to food production!
How small farms such as ours making a living off the farm through agri-tourism. Where, I hope, we are headed. Vegetable sales haven’t been so great so far this season so we are excited about the possibility of “Farm Vacations”.
This article indicates that we may be facing a “food shortage” due to climate change and the increasing population.
This article indicates that our ground water is depleting. THANK GOODNESS WE LIVE IN THE APPALACHIANS!
Alvin always is telling us, “They blame everything on the farmer”. Just another example although it just might be the farmers’ fault. I am wondering if consumers would pay more for ecologically produced food? I don’t see it happening based on our sales so far this season.
PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: (1) We cut back on the greenhouse eggplant but need an extra bed. We only have one bed planted in G2 because the mice ate a lot of our seeds. (2) Cover eggplant once transplanted to the field. We have done this for the past several years with hoops but couldn’t find our hoops. I think floating row cover would be perfect. (3) Carl and I aren’t able to do the workload as in years past so need to decrease production. (4) Be more proactive about ridding the mice from the greenhouse.

04.22.11

Dryer weather makes for some huge accomplishments!

Posted in Pigs, Production Gap, Production Note, Projects, Veggies at 7:27 pm by Farmer

The weather has been cooperating with us and in between rain showers we were able to transplant around 3/4 acre of onions and about 1/2 acre of potatoes.   We even transplanted another succession of broccoli.  Now we need to plow our summer growing area and are once again praying for dry weather so we can plow that field.

Thanks to a very conscientious and dedicated crew, we worked around the weather, putting in an extra hour or so and starting a little earlier than we have been, allowing us to complete transplanting to the field all the onions that were ready to be out of the greenhouse, after which they received a nice rain fall last Friday and Saturday to help them transition through their transplant shock.

Something WONDERFUL about our crew is that Danielle, Townes and Nern have offered to do evening chores 3 times each weeknight giving Carl and I those nights off. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?
The pigs decided they were ready for pasture this week after they escaped out of their play pen (a.k.a. The Livestock barn) and began hanging out with the goats, free ranging around the farm, so we herded them into their summer home and now they are eating a lot of clover, vetch and rye. The pigs seem very content on their pasture with the “all you can eat buffet” of cover crops. (NOTE: It is interesting the similarity between the kale, onions and pigs. The onions and kale were outgrowing their little cells of dirt – similar to the pigs outgrowing their play pen in the livestock barn – all of these wanting and needing more space/nutrients to grow and flourish!)
We are in the process of potting up plants that we will be selling over the next few weeks and are excited about supplying folks in our area with both vegetable and herb cultivars adapted to our mountain climate. If you need some plants for your garden visit us at the North Asheville Tailgate Market or the The Whole Bloomin’ Thing in Waynesville.
Interesting article about sheep farmers’ should you have time to read about another type of farming
This is a photo of our empty flats of onions. We transplanted roughly 14,000 onions of various cultivars such as cipollini’s, red/yellow/white bulb onions and scallions.  In another couple weeks we still have more to transplant!

This is a photo of our empty flats of onions. We transplanted roughly 14,000 onions of various cultivars such as cipollini’s, red/yellow/white bulb onions and scallions. In another couple weeks we still have more to transplant!

This photo is about 3/4 acre of onions, from the flats in the photo above, which were transplanted to the field.  I need to take another photo once they begin growing because they are such babies one can barely see them!

This photo is about 3/4 acre of onions, from the flats in the photo above, which were transplanted to the field. I need to take another photo once they begin growing because they are such babies one can barely see them!

Lilac Blooming.  I love these flowers and need to plant more perennial flowering shrubs around the farm.

Lilac Blooming. I love these flowers and need to plant more perennial flowering shrubs around the farm.

Lewie on pasture.

Lewie on pasture.

Huey on pasture.

Huey on pasture.

Dewie on pasture.  Look closely and you can see she has a mouth full of clover/vetch/rye grass.  These pigs love their pasture!

Dewie on pasture. Look closely and you can see she has a mouth full of clover/vetch/rye grass. These pigs love their pasture!

PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: The mice have eaten a couple successions of our peppers. Soon after the peppers sprout, the mice eat the sprouts, so far causing us $100 in seed money not to mention our crop will be transplanted into the field several weeks late. For our greenhouse crop next year we need to seed 200 Red, 150 Yellow and 150 Orange bell peppers. Also need to seed 150 eggplant. We had poor germination so need to bump up this number for insurance purposes. I was hoping we would have had time this past week to weed our greenhouse crops in preparation for a tour scheduled for next Monday. Oh well…. I do want to invest in black plastic mulch just for weed prevention in our greenhouses. This would save labor in having to weed the houses all the time.

09.20.10

It is cover cropping time but a lot of work is needed to make it happen!

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Veggies at 7:31 pm by Farmer

I love this time of the season when we are mowing down spent crops, pulling up black plastic and disking the soil in preparation for cover crops. The farm looks so neat when we can no longer see a field of weeds that took over our spent crops. We had BIG plans for seeding buckwheat in our spring field. We also had big plans to keep our fields mowed. Both never happened. The farmers’ famous saying is, “There is always next year”. With a new year and a new season brings new hopes and new dreams.

In order for us to prep the soil and seed cover crops we must do the following:
- Pull up black plastic landscape fabric. We use this for keeping the soil warm and the weeds at bay in our strawberry patch. This job takes a lot of physical strength and I WAS SO TIRED one Thursday after this job that I fell asleep around 8 PM. Carl did chores for me THANK THE LORD.
- Roll up drip tape and pull up our overhead irrigation pipe
- Disk the soil to remove any weeds, or for that matter any plant material, this is so that our cover crop seed comes into contact with the soil once seeded enabling it to better germinate.
So that is what we are in the process of doing this week …. So far, we have a couple acres seeded and the night after seeding we received a very nice rainfall! Normally we don’t get that lucky with our timing.
We have 2 acres of cover crop germinating and it feels GREAT!  Our cover crop adds biomass to our fields in the spring once plowed under.  Seeded in this photo is a tri-culture of crimson clover, vetch and rye.  For the record - seeded 9/16.

We have 2 acres of cover crop germinating and it feels GREAT! Our cover crop adds biomass to our fields in the spring once plowed under. Seeded in this photo is a tri-culture of crimson clover, vetch and rye. For the record - seeded 9/16.

Thank the LORD that the strawberries have been transplanted!  We sterilized the plastic, prepared beds, buried the plastic, hand transplanted the strawberries, and finally gave them a boost of fish water. (Like the strawberries ate a power bar.)

Thank the LORD that the strawberries have been transplanted! We sterilized the plastic, prepared beds, buried the plastic, hand transplanted the strawberries, and finally gave them a boost of fish water. (Like the strawberries ate a power bar.)

PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: Need baby boc choi or some other green for the beginning of September. Be sure to seed start this on the first week of July. It was on the schedule but I didn’t follow-up to be sure the task was completed! In addition, seed arugula, radishes and turnips (hakurei) the last week of July. This was also on the schedule but we axed it due to the hot weather. I want to try growing it with row cover regardless of the temperatures.

08.22.10

Great Winter Squash yield, new chicks and roasted Peppers!

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Veggies at 6:28 am by Farmer

The past couple weeks have been spent harvesting winter squash. Many of the plants just up and died due to the high humidity and rain. Our squash probably died of powdery mildew. Although we haven’t had much rain, only a few sporadic showers totaling 1/200 of an inch which is enough to increase our humidity levels creating the perfect conditions for mildews to thrive. We work extremely hard right after our last frost around mid May in an effort to get our winter squash transplanted to the field so that it has time to grow and sweeten up before the various strains of mildews migrate to our area. In years past our squash has been extremely sweet; however, we had some at lunch the other day and it wasn’t nearly as sweet as in years past. We did eat one of those that we “CULLED” out so we must try one that is “PRIME” quality for the CSA and market customers. We are almost certain that those graded as “PRIME” will have a much better flavor. The farmer hates to eat “Prime” sellable produce which is why we have “culls”, but in the case of winter squash, we will be eating some “PRIME” quality because we deserve it after all this hard work!
We are starting to roast peppers. We normally roast for the entire month of September but the fruit set of our peppers is a little earlier but not nearly as high as in years past. OOOHHH the smell of roasting peppers at market!
Carl roasting a batch of Krimzen Lee peppers.  These are among our favorite roasted pepper with a little sweet and spicy flavors going on. Photo taken by Sabrina.

Carl roasting a batch of Krimzen Lee peppers. These are among our favorite roasted pepper with a little sweet and spicy flavors going on. Photo taken by Sabrina.

We are brooding new laying chicks just for ourselves. Our existing flock of layers are only giving us about a dozen eggs per week so they will become broilers in a few months once our chicks begin laying. We have done eggs for production but here on our farm we have too many predators who eat our chickens. Bobcats, coyottees, possum, raccoon, etc. We are trying to train a new guard dog but he has taken to hanging out with us rather than the animals. Our plan is this winter to build him a dog house.
Our little baby layers.  These chicks are so CUTE but they won't be laying eggs for a few months.  Noah mentioned that we should just buy pullets because it is cheaper and he is probably right.

Our little baby layers. These chicks are so CUTE but they won't be laying eggs for a few months. Noah mentioned that we should just buy pullets because it is cheaper and he is probably right.

THIS IS COOL…. ‘Prescription Veggies’ to familes so that they are encouraged to buy fresh food at the farmers’ market.

Our Market Display after selling out of summer squash and cherry tomatoes!  The lettuce has a great flavor considering all this summer heat.  We need some leafy greens such as Swiss Chard which we harvested all last summer but this year it has a blight (probably from the heat).  Photo taken by Sabrina.

Our Market Display after selling out of summer squash and cherry tomatoes! The lettuce has a great flavor considering all this summer heat. We need some leafy greens such as Swiss Chard which we harvested all last summer but this year it has a blight (probably from the heat). Photo taken by Sabrina.

PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: Plant extra melons. (We cut back our melon and winter squash planting because the size of our field was smaller than that used in last years rotation. Plant only red and yellow sweet bells out in the field. Plant 300 feet of Red Bells, 75 feet of yellow bells, 225 feet of Italians, 50 feet of Anaheim peppers, 50 feet of poblano peppers, 100 feet of krimzen peppers. Seed a later crop of swiss chard that can be transplanted the end of June because we are lacking leafy greens at market.

06.24.10

Of course, it rained an inch once we drip irrigated our crops!

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Projects at 7:21 am by Farmer

Carl is back home (THANK GOODNESS) and last week he was able to connect our drip irrigation, and then after drip irrigating our crops for a few hours (these crops being peppers, basil, eggplant, winter squash and melons), it rained almost an inch that evening! In addition, he figured out why our irrigation was not watering all our runs while he was gone. I left an end cap off one of the irrigation runs so the system wasn’t building up enough pressure. We figured this out because I stayed by the tractor while he walked the lines and it was a big learning lesson for me because I just assumed we had too many lines/sprinkler heads connected to our irrigation system. We are pushing water approximately 75 feet in elevation for a distance of 600 feet in 4 inch pipe for our “mainline”. Then, connected to our mainline, we have 5 runs of 3 inch pipe for our distribution runs – all approximately 300 feet long – with approximately 7 sprinkler heads spitting out water on each run. It is simply a miracle to see the tractor/pump push that much water up into the fields.
Now it has been over a week since we last had rain and thankfully our sweet corn got the much needed precipitation for it to flourish. We are not yet sure if our corn will form tasty ears for our CSA and market customers because it is teaseling a little early. We hope and pray that in a couple weeks we can provide our CSA with sweet corn.
I am thankful that Carl is back because that allowed us to dig our garlic so it can begin curing. Most of our garlic looks pretty good this year and I think we will have plenty of good quality garlic for market sales and for the CSA! In addition we dug our first bed of red potatoes, the variety being “Red Gold”, and they are lovely and delicious.
It is unusually hot here in the mountains and being in our little singlewide trailer is probably similar to being in a sweat lodge. So last night we grilled out rather than heating our house up further with a little oven/stove action and let me tell you we had a fabulous dinner! We grilled bulb fennel, yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini, a foil package of beets and new potatoes, and Italian sausage from Spring House Meats. We marinated the fennel/squash/eggplant in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, white wine, fresh garlic, salt and pepper.
Summer just doesn’t get any better than grilling out!
Our house the "sweat lodge" during the summer.   We decided to farm rather than have a nice house.  Not sure why.  Someday we are gong to build us a nice house.

Our house the "sweat lodge" during the summer. We decided to farm rather than have a nice house. Not sure why. Someday we are gong to build us a nice house.

PRODUCTION NOTE TO SELF: Need some “fluff” in our CSA Boxes for the end of June/July. Our boxes were valued a $29 this past week but they didn’t look full without greens. Ideas are fennel, more beets, swiss chard. Our swiss chard is not growing in this heat. To harvest enough for everyone we would need a “Summer Succession”. Seed beans earlier.

09.07.09

Green Envy!

Posted in Production Gap, Production Note, Veggies, Winter Stash at 6:16 am by Farmer

Sweet Corn for Winter!

Sweet Corn for Winter!

Saturday at Market Vanessa and Alex at Full Sun Farm had the most BEAUTIFUL arugula, radishes, kale and baby boc choi. The last couple years at this time we had kale and baby boc choi but the flea beetles and harlequin bugs have been so tenacious this season that our kale is stunted and our first succession of tatsoi and baby boc choi were completely devoured by the flea beetles. (We can’t even find reminiscent of these plants in the field.) Vanessa thinks perhaps we are simply building up our bug and disease population over the years. She is probably right so we just need to adjust some of our growing practices and keep on trying.

Sunday we were able to freeze 21 quarts of sweet corn so we have one quart each week during the winter! Several years ago we used to can corn but because it is such a low acid food one must pressure can it for so long that it ruined the flavor of our corn. Now we simply cut the kernels off the ear, put it in a pot with a little water, heat the corn through, then remove it from the pot and bag it in quart bags then finally place in ice water for quick cooling so that the corn retains its flavor and texture.

Production NOTE to myself: Cover our end of July direct seeded arugula and radishes. In addition, cover our first succession of kale, tatsoi and baby boc choi. We never considered covering it in summer because it is so hot; however it is just another thing to consider because it certainly works for Full Sun Farm! Consider planting our swiss chard on paper mulch to keep the weeds down. This might mean amending with fish emulsion a few times throughout the season but beats having weeds take over. (We should have reclaimed the bed a month ago.)

08.27.07

Little to Harvest…..

Posted in Production Gap, Veggies at 11:40 pm by Farmer

It seems that we are at that point in the season, between summer and fall, where our production level is at an all time low for the season.  We worry about having enough diversity in our CSA boxes over the next few weeks because we don’t want our CSA members to go hungry! 

Our plan was to harvest cilantro, beets, melons and beans these next couple weeks.  Some critter (probably a groundhog) ate all the melons in the field.  The drought has caused our beans to be small and the beans have been severely damaged by the bean beetles.  The cilantro and beets were overtaken by weeds and are also suffering from not having enough water for them to grow and flourish. We are irrigating every night but our only working pump does not have enough hp or head lift to run a multiple  irrigation lines each night, so we are rotating the areas we irrigate but none of the growing areas are getting the water they would like to flourish. 

We are not irrigating our cut flowers and they are looking very sad with small flower heads and wilted leaves.  We don’t have an extra day of the week for irrigating the flowers because after all we, nor the CSA, can eat flowers!   It is sad that we are unable to give our flowers any water but we are certainly praying for rain every night! 

ON the bright side…. Because of the deer fence, we harvested over 1000 butternut and acorn squash for the CSA. 

Some ideas we have tossed around for next year include trying to transplant beets for this period to prevent the overtaking of weeds and plant a later succession of greenhouse cucumbers.