Thursday, May 30, 2013

Muddy Beans, Muddy Boots

So I was planting beans Tuesday...

...which gave me muddy boots, muddy fingers, muddy knees and a muddy butt. At least I didn't really have to grab the individual beans, as one (or three) would simply stick to the end of my finger! 

The bean trellis will support our 10' pole bean varieties--Hidatsa Shield Figure (dry bean) and Rattlesnake (snap bean). You can see the dark color of the soil...

...however, I was able to get the second round of beans in the ground--finally! The soil is more wet than we are comfortable for transplanting our tomatoes, peppers, ground cherries, melons and squash that are outside, but a day will arrive--just around the corner. I did manage to pop 128 basil plants in the ground. So... the field there is rhubarb, asparagus, kale, strawberries, leeks, onions, basil, hubbard squash, early/mid/late season potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, muskmelon, broccoli, carrots, peas, radishes, cabbage, marigolds, parsley, snap/dry beans, bunching onions, swiss chard, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, sweet corn, parsnips, dill, buttercup squash, zucchini, shallots, garlic, beets, kohlrabi. So, not to shabby. Back to the beans...

Beans coated with innoculant prior to planting.
Our beans (and peas) are planted with innoculant. This stimulates the rhizobacterial relationship that these legumes have with the soil. This not only benefits the health of the plant (robust root system; increased uptake of nutrients), but also benefits the soil by increasing organic matter, soil aeration and stabilization. Have you heard of 'nitrogen fixing'? Legumes fix nitrogen from the surrounding soil through this relationship, changing it to a usable form, rather than  leaving it locked in the soil. Pretty cool.

Farming is way more than just sticking plants in the ground, it's also understanding, respecting, and working with the vibrant, natural systems that are in place. Like the rain! The rain is good, it's making me a little crazy, but it's good! The 'Abnormally Dry' spot on the drought map is creeping every closer to our corner of the county, which is still in 'Moderate' drought status.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

These Rainy Days

Middle section of the field, mid-May.
So, it has been raining a bit. Like every time we want to get in the field (I suppose that is every day). We prefer to stay off the field when it is really wet, as it causes compaction. Although, when it's as consistently wet asit has been, and we have people to feed, we have no choice, and we end up popping out into the field for chores that need doing. We installed our large wooden bean trellises--for the 10' pole beans and I will go out in the muck and plant those today, along with our bush beans.

Brooke direct seeding.
I was out seeding beets, radishes, spinach and carrots the other day, when the neighbors came to plant soybeans. So there is me with my one-row direct seeder, with the contrast of their many, many row seeder. Go small farmers!!

So what do we do on these rainy days? The rain gave us time to work on other tasks to get ready for the CSA delivery season. Hazel helped John pick out recipes for our newsletters (below). A new book we have been checking out is From Asparagus to Zucchini

John (and Hazel) perusing the recipe books.
We spent half the day Monday in the packing shed, stocking, painting and doing work to get it ready for harvesting. The packing shed is where we store our produce, and pack our orders and CSA boxes. We store boxes, bags and such packaging items in here, and we also have a space for drying/curing onions, garlic and potatoes.

Getting the packing shed ready for the season.
Stocking the cupboard with Minnesota Grown labels and twistie-ties, as well as rubber bands, apple bags, mesh bags and towels.
Stocking the shelves.
John installed the flooring for the walk-in cooler. This flooring will be easier to clean, and provide a little extra insulation.

John installing the walk-in cooler flooring.
I put two layers of paint on the outside of the cooler, and painted a shelf.

Brooke painting the outside of the walk-in cooler.
 The moisture has been great for everything that is planted in the field--plants are germinating and growing great! Those darn weeds are too--when all this rain subsides we may just having a weeding party!!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Orchard in Bloom

The orchard is in full bloom! It's a beautiful sight to behold. It's a delightful aroma to smell.

Tent catipillar monitoring shall begin shortly, in June we'll start monitoring for other pests as well as beginning pickup up fruit from the 'June drop'.

Photo Update 5.22.13

It's raining here this morning, so I am in the office right now working on non-field work, and later some potting in the basement--those nasturtiums are fast growers! It has been raining off and on for quite a few days, and we pop out there and do what I generally refer to as speed-farming, getting as much done as possible when the soil isn't too wet. While most things are on track, there are a few plantings we are still  patiently waiting to get done, which sounds like the story with most of our farmer friends and mentors.

All the tomato and pepper transplants were move outside to start hardening off for planting in the field--it's exciting to be at that point in the season. A point in the season that is less than a month until we start deliveries! We had a great Preseason Member Meeting on May 15th; with a third of our membership in attendance we were very happy with the turnout.

Preseason Member Meeting @ German Park
 Many transplants are headed out to the field these days--like these vigorous cucumbers Brooke planted this week.

This is the first seeding of beets, the second was planted this week. There are two varieties--as visible by the difference in color. Once they get a little larger they will get thinned out. Multiple successions of plantings allows us to provide consistent product during the delivery season.

Detroit Dark Red and Bull's Blood beets.

Early season potatoes.
(Above) The potatoes all emerged this week--thank you rain! It was interesting to see the early season variety come up first, then the mid, followed a few days later by the late season varieties. The yellow onion and parsnip bed (below). When the parsnips begin to germinate the mulch will be pulled back to weed these sensitive crops.

Spring cabbages (above) with drip irrigation. The leaves that look a little rough (yellowed) were impacted by sunscald--it's amazing how tough plants are that they can loose so many leaves and just keep on plugging on. The rain gave the beans (below) and corn a good push--all bean varieties planted are now germinating, as is the sweet corn!

Two 75' rows of peas, complimented by their friends the radishes :)

Our oldest, and only home orchard tree this large is blooming this year! Thanks to a much needed pruning job, and new apple trees we may have a few Honeycrisp to enjoy at home this year. Apple trees will not produce unless there is at least two, and this was the lone one that came with the property.

Mason bee houses and lilac bush.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Photo Update 5.15.13

What a windy and hot day yesterday! All the sweet corn was planted and the first variety of beans is now planted too. Lettuce, spinach, beets, kohlrabi and peas are all germinating and things are coming along nicely. Tonight we have our Preseason Member Meeting--we are so excited to get together and meet some of our new members. This also means the start of the season is not that far away!

King Richard leeks
The leeks transplants came in the mail--this is how they arrived. Then just poke, poke, poke--500 leeks in the ground. They are planted in a shallow trench, so we may "blanch" them as they grow--this increases the size of the white, usable portion.

Tomatoes! Looking full and vigorous they are now being potted up from blocks to individual containers--their last step before going into the ground.

The last squash seeds and planted and getting ready to germinate. Large seeds go right into the 2" soil blocks, and then right into the ground.

All varieties of peas are now germinating! We are growing Snap, snow and shell this year. In these pictures you can see that our drip irrigation is now set up, which was essential in that heat yesterday, and is much more efficient than overhead irrigation.

Rhubarb bed
The rhubarb, in it's first full season, got a little TLC the other day--a nice feeding of compost and a new dressing of mulch.

Strawberry beds
At our perennial end of the field we have our rhubarb and asparagus (also in it's first full season), to which we have just added a nice big strawberry bed (109 plants). We received the bare-root plants in the mail and planted them this weekend. We are looking forward to our heirloom "Sparkle" strawberries next year!

Every year we try new things! This year one of those items is Blue Jade heirloom sweet corn--it's really blue! We are also trying a new tomato, a couple new cucumbers and some new beans and peas.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Photo Update 5.6.13

Woot! So much planting. So many veggies put in the ground. It's great to finally have the farming season started and off to a good pace. Now the field holds rhubarb, asparagus, onions, shallots, potatoes, beets, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach and peas! The broccoli, cabbage and celery is sitting on the sidelines to be planted tomorrow.

Dark Red Nordlund ready for planting.
The potatoes had had quite the adventure this year. The Friday they were supposed to be delivered we had that snowstorm, so they spent the weekend in the post office. Then they were held up in the basement as we waited to get in the field, so we inadvertently "chitted" them this year! Storing them in a warmer location, in the dark allowed them to wake up, so to speak, and they began sprouting. We were very happy to get them in the ground--finally.

John filling the first trench.
Trenches are dug for potatoes, about 6 inches deep. This year we placed a little straw in the bottoms of the trenches, then the seed potatoes, then just cover them with soil. Now the 80 pounds of potatoes are planted, and the dreaded trenching--300 feet this year--is complete!

Pigs loving the spring grass!
The pigs pen was expanded again. They do not hesitate to (literally) dig into that new grass! Actually, they look around and dig the dandelions first. Next we will move the entire pen to a new area.

Lilac ready to leaf out, and mason bee houses.
 The mason bee houses are hung up and ready to welcome our little friends. I can't wait for that lilac to begin blooming--ahhh the smells of spring!
Brooke seeding beets.
This year we purchased a direct seeder. Boy it makes quick work of planting a row!! We planted beets and kohlrabi with it yesterday and it worked like a charm. Very excited to have that this year--thank you members for helping us make these needed investments!