Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CSA & Farm Shares Sold Out for 2012!

Our CSA Shares & Farm Shares are sold out for 2012--thank you for all your inquiries and interest.

We will be selling shares in 2013--if you are interested in getting on a waiting list for 2013 please shoot us an email.

It's going to be a GREAT season!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Orchard Update

The apple trees are blooming!
Oh the trials and tribulations of a first year orchardist! As I am sure you have all seen or heard on the news, fruit growers are hurting this spring. After an extremely warm March, most of the trees at the orchard were in the pink bud, or blooming stage, very early. The problem with the early bloom is the potential for freezing nights, which can really set back or kill the delicate flower buds. Lo and behold we have had plenty of freezing nights since blooms have occurred--7 nights below or at 32°F to date, 1 night as low as 26°. Along with the cold nights we have had cold, cloudy or rainy days, which keep our friendly pollinators housed up and not able to go out and collect nectar. So this spring has been what I would call a triple negative (1) early, warm  temps have allowed the tent caterpillars to flourish, (2) warm temps stimulated early blooms making them susceptible to frost, (3) pollinators are not out doing their business during cold, rainy days, influencing adequate pollination for fruit production. On the positive the orchard is not only pollinated by our friendly bees, wind can pollinate as well!

John and the Orchard 4.21.12
At this point we could either think of the situation as a glass half empty or half full...I like to look at this year as the glass half full. Yes, there will definitely be far fewer apples, but the potential for larger apples is higher. So for the fortunate apple eaters this year that should be a treat! After all the work that has been done on the orchard this year (restorative pruning--pruning hadn't been done in years; mowing--also not done in years; general tidying up) the harsh realities of this less-than-ideal spring weather become a great learning experience, and all the work out orcharding has just been delightful. The orchard is just looking beautiful this time of year!   --John

Mason bee house in the orchard

Close up of blooms. Damaged buds may look okay, but
will be browned inside when cut open.

Brooke in the orchard.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Growing 4.20.12

Here's some sneak peeks around the farm!!

Garlic in the field.
Mammoth Red Rock cabbage transplants.

Cabbage and brussels sprouts transplants.
Tomatoes, just potted on to bigger blocks this week.
Looking great!
Giant Pascal Celery--did you ever think celery would look so pretty
and dainty when it's young?
Peppers, peppers, peppers...and some Bachelor's Buttons and
heirloom Zinnia's.
It's not growing--yet--but we uncovered the stone foundation
for the chicken coop, we can get started as soon as freezing temps
are gone.  Lucky chickens will have grass in the coop when
they get to move in!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Farm Share Designs

2012 Farm Share Certificates are hot of the press!!  Purchase your Farm Share and use it like cash all season--a great way to make a commitment to healthy eating, the farm, and no need to carry cash at the market.  More info here.  Farm Shares are still available, in limited quantity.

2012 Farm Share designs
Artwork by John

Cover Crops & Grains

Oats in the broadcast spreader.

More than half of our cover crops/grains are planted now.  The wheat was planted first.  The oats under-seeded with alfalfa went in over the weekend--perfect timing with the rain.
If you look close you can see the oats being broadcast.
This Even-Broadcast Spreader device has been super handy--perfect for our small, tractor-less scale!  John spread the oats first, then went back and did the alfalfa separately.

John looks like he is having way too much fun!
We've had a few people ask what we are going to do with oats and wheat.  Well it will be feed, for the chickens and us!  I am looking forward to baking a fresh loaf of bread, from freshly harvested wheat, from my own backyard!  As well as happy chickens, and delicious eggs and meat.

On the approximately 1.8 acres of cropland we have only a 1/4 acre will be in vegetables this year.  The rest is in cover to rest the land, from it's history of intensive conventional ag; add organic matter; alfalfa and red clover have great root systems to break up compaction, improve drainage and porosity; and suppress weed pressure.  Still to be planted are the red clover and buckwheat--and so many yummy veggies!

Monday, April 9, 2012

In The News :: A.R.F. & CSA

The New Ulm Journal did a nice article on Community Supported Agriculture, and featured Alternative Roots Farm in the article.  Check it out!

Community Supported Agriculture April 8, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Seed Starting Station

These are photos from last, I'll get some updated ones up, but I wanted to throw up a post with our lovely plants growing! We are planting in soil blocks, instead of using pots.  You can see the little blocks below. Going this route we have less waste, and less use of plastic made with fossil fuels.  The blocks have positive growing benefits for the plants as well, such as decreased transplant shock and not getting pot bound.  Since these pics have been taken these tiny blocks have been placed into larger ones  and are taking off!

On the left garlic chives & thyme are seeded. In the next row two
types of brussels sprouts. Then some cabbage and celery in the top
right, with some flowers below that.
We have lights set up in the basement, hung to be adjustable
over the seedlings, which sit on a heating blanket
(covered with a shower curtain liner). That's my fancy
mister on the right.
Around the station plastic is hung to help maintain
 the more humid environment and control the temperature.