Saturday, May 26, 2012

{Preserving the Harvest} Rhubarb

We LOVE rhubarb.  We don't have any on the farm this year, so we have been getting as much as we can from friends--attempting to freeze enough to last us the whole year.  So far we have made a few fresh rhubarb dishes, and frozen 7 gallon vacuum sealed freezer bags full.  I think we are sitting pretty good!

Check out a favorite rhubarb recipe of ours for Rhubarb Crumble, on our recipe blog.

We will be starting some rhubarb from seed this spring, and growing it all season long to get ready to transplant in the fall.  We should have a small harvest in 2013 for CSA boxes, but we will definitely have a rhubarb crop for 2014--can't wait!

Hands On::Night Monitoring for Cutworms

Organic farming is a hands on job.  We don't use any chemical sprays, so we monitor for pests and other problems.  Right now we are watching for caterpillars and cutworms in the garden.  Last night we went out and looked for cutworms in the dark--it's best to check for them at dusk and during the night, when they are active.

Hooray for new batteries in my headlamp!!

As you can see we are very excited about night farming!  It was a beautiful night and cool to hear the bugs and birds.

Hehe, I had to add that just for fun.

We found a good number of cutworms, it was worth going out there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tomatoes and Rain

Today was a tomato day.  I was speed farming this morning, attempting to get tomatoes in before the supposed rain, which was  mere trickle.  But this evening, well we're getting some good rain now!  All the tomatoes and the ground cherries are in the ground and loving the moisture.

John planting tomatoes.

Some happy tomatoes in cans (for wind protection and mini
climate control while establishing).
We were able to get all the tomatoes in just in time for the storm to blow in and send us chasing after a couple pots and cans, but all is well.

A pretty little ground cherry transplant (in a 2"
block) with a healthy root system.  See the little flower?!

The clouds were crazy on the front that came through, so, we sat and enjoyed a nice Schell's dark and watched the clouds, sorry I didn't get a pic!  I didn't want to run back through the pouring rain for the camera :)

Now, we are getting some great moisture that we have been waiting for.  This will be great for all the transplants and everything in the field.  The potatoes are mounded up and looking happy, snap bean are really growing, and the second flush of peas are coming in strong!  Stay dry!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Three Sisters Gardening

The three sisters garden is a traditional native American method of growing corn, pole beans and squash together.  The individual crops benefit each other in multiple ways, make beneficial use of growing space, and together they provided a healthy, balanced diet.

The pole beans climb the corn, the corn utilizes the nitrogen the beans fix in the soil and the prickly squash leaves keep critters and pests away and act as a living mulch--keeping the soil cool and moist.  Nutritionally, protein is supplied by the beans, while carbs & fiber are provided by corn; squash supplies important vitamins (including C) and antioxidants.

I have always wanted to try the three sisters method, and am using a modified version this year--why not grow some corn and beans amidst the bed of squash?  

Soaking the beans before planting helps ensure moisture
and speeds germination.  Left: peas. Right: Hidatsa Shield Figure beans.
In the foreground is a bed prepared for squash, with several mounds running down the middle of the bed (where the flags are).  The mounds are meant to provide adequate drainage, while allowing the soil to warm.  I have planted 6 mounds, with two more to go for a second succession, with corn and beans, then I will plant my row of squash down the middle of the 46' bed.

Foreground: squash bed with three sisters mounds.
Background: pole bean trellises. 
The beans we are growing in the three sisters method are different varieties of dried beans we want to try out, so we'll have a little of each to eat at the end of the year--Cherokee Trail of Tears, Kentucky Wonder and Hidatsa Shield Figure.  The Cherokee and Hidatsa varieties are traditional Native American varieties, and are also both listed in Slow Food USAs Ark of Taste.  Kentucky Wonder is an excellent snap bean, which can also be used as a dry bean--we are growing then as snap bean this year as well.

As for the corn varieties we have Bloody Butcher and Bear Island Flint corn.  Bloody Butcher can be harvest young, for sweet corn, or used at maturity for decorative purposes, meal or flour, and has excellent drought tolerance.  Alternative corn varieties!!  But we have sweet corn coming up too!!

A simple diagram of a three sisters mound.
[Photo from:]

What one mound might look like into maturity.
[Photo: AIHDP]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fruit Photo Update 5.10

Tomatoes, yes, we have tomatoes!
62 tomato plants to be exact. A little bit of diversity--some beefy fresh slicers,
pears, juicers, and varieties good for preserving, romas and purple ones! 

Remember, tomatoes are a fruit!

But you were probably think about apples, right?  Well they're starting to grow!

You can see the tiny apples starting to form.   The trees are done blooming,
it's time to set fruit!
A view of the orchard on May 10.

Photo Update 5.10 ~ Transplants!

Downstairs, under the growing lights and on the heating blanket we are maxed to the gills with transplants!  We made room by removing the tomatoes, which are all potted up and beginning to get hardened off; the broccoli is beginning it's transition outside too!  Now there's room for cucumbers and melons and squashes down there!!

A menagerie of seeds starting--more cabbage, chard, kale, lettuce,
spinach.  Each tucked in their own little 3/4" block of yummy organic soil & peat.

The pepper are growing great!

Broccoli, which is now living outside/garage getting hardened off--one
of the most laid back, easy transplants this year I would say.

Pesto anyone?  The basil is abundant and coming along nicely!

Aunt Molly's ground cherry--I just think these little guys are cute!

A gorgeous tomato getting ready to be potted up.

Potting up the tomatoes--getting a little boost before transplanting outside.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Foraging: WIld Leeks (ramps)

Wild Ramps (wild leeks).

Part of our sustainability, as a family, is providing food for ourselves--aside from the farm this includes foraging.  We harvest ramps sustainably--only taking a small fraction of whatever we find.  We have been tossing these alliums (the onion family) in salads, soups and eggs--very versatile and a nice subtle flavor.

Wild ramps, leaves separated for storage.

Photo Update 5.1-2

TUESDAY:  Busy week on the farm!  Seeds need to be started inside for some tender crops--melons, cucumbers--and some flowers for companion planting.  Many transplants are waiting to get planted out--once we get past the rainy weather, and predicted high winds the next couple days.

Peas! If you look close there are radishes growing between
the stakes--they are companions with peas.

Potato trench--this will get filled in some as the plants grow.
The plants get mounded to promote good production and shield
the tubers from the sun.
Hazel, enjoying the sun.
Two varieties of potatoes are in the groud--John is a trenching machine!  The All Blue variety is last to be planted this week...when it dries up...

Wheat and oats are coming up in the field, and we're watching for the alfalfa and red clover.

Potato onions growing in the herb garden--I am excited to try these little guys.
Someone was nice enough to give us a little cluster!

WEDNESDAY:  This rain was crazy tonight!  Definitely over 2 inches poured down, with some hail 1/4"-1/2".  The rows are looking muddy in the field!  Seeds that are germinating will hopefully be happy.  We can't see any apparent damage out there, so that is good!

This morning--a beautiful foggy morning, the field
was already a little moist.

This evening, after the 2+ inches of rain--looking pretty wet!
The cans were put out just to protect the little transplants from the hail.
The cans do a great job protecting the little plants from wind, and help to
keep the soil a little cool and moist while they are establishing.
A view of the field this morning.


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