Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blah, blah, blog

Stayman Winesaps

It seems that I don't have enough time or interest in blogging very often, especially lately. I do a better job posting the CSA delivery or what's at the farm stand, using the blog as communication tool for the farm. This main page though limps along in a boring fashion. Perhaps that will change in the winter when I have a bit more time or when I recover my energy. Somehow the past 2 months have been pretty draining. Way too busy. Too busy to think well or plan well, just going along day by day.

I have also been negligent about taking pictures of the farm in the past two months. I definitely want to photograph the last share of the season on Friday and it would be great to get back into the weekly photo record of the farm. Especially this first year of winter gardening. No promises here though. I just do what I can do.

So what HAVE I been doing? It feels like picking and picking and freezing and canning. There was a long stretch when I felt chained to the kitchen, either chopping vegetables or pureeing apples or washing containers. Sort of spinning around in the same place doing the same chores over and over and never reaching the end. LOTS and lots of apples this year. They are still coming in. In fact the Baldwin has just started and it looks like there are many bushels up in that tree! Plus I just picked a Stayman Winesap the other day and at last they are ripe and so juicy and tasty. Now I know why I bought that tree. Strangely, as I have been picking samples over the last month or so, they have been hard and greenish inside and sort of tasteless. Now however, juice is pouring out of them when you cut the apple and the taste is sweet. Interesting process.

The other thing(s) I have been doing is some of the other responsibilities in my life that, once again, have been neglected during the growing season. Like household accounts, and mail, etc. I STILL need to get cracking on my Fuel Assistance application and need to find out if I messed up on the conservation restriction for the land. I haven't done anything on that for months so I hope I didn't miss out on that. I must get brave and call the lawyer, keeping in mind that it will be free and lawyers are good. I've done an amazing job of procrastinating on that call, at least 3 months.

Oh yes, and cleaning up the house.

Ten million things to do. No wonder I feel tired and caught a cold.

Off to rest.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

September Farm Week - Thursday-Friday-Saturday

Well obviously, I have not been posting every day. Mostly I got too busy but also there were connection difficulties some of the time.

Anyway, here goes what I can remember:

garden inspection
organized seeds and thought about fall planting and my current seed order
planted in hoop house to be:
Napoli carrots - extra hardy for winter harvest
Kossack kolrabi - ditto
Watermelon radish - ditto
Cauliflower - All the Year Round
Cauliflower - Early Pearl
Cauliflower - Violetta Italia
Cabbage - Savoy Perfection
Cabbage - Early Jersey Wakefield
Cabbage - Savoy Ace
Broccoli - Gypsy
Broccoli - De Cicco
Broccoli - Early Purple Sprouting
The brassicas are confusing to me, in fact the whole winter planting thing is so new I find myself shuffling seed packets and making lists but not actually DOIING anything. So I decided to just go ahead and plant. Then I will just see what happens. Some of the varieties are meant to carry through the winter for next spring, (all the year round cauliflower and the sprouting brocoli for sure. I am a bit late planting them though. And it's a bit late for some of the fall brassicas but I planted anyway.
I made a trip to town mid day and bought chicken food, etc so I didn't do as much at the farm.
Picked for the Friday shares - flowers, carrots, beets

Picked for the shares.
See the CSA blog for the specifics of what was in the share this week.
It was fun to pick in a relaxed fashion but there was so much food it took a long time.
Each full share had 2 pounds of soybeans, 2 quarts of crabapples, several pounds of cukes, and more.
Stocked the stand and sent out the farm email.
Delivered the shares.
Karen worked on making a sign for the stand.
Bought 30 pounds of peaches from Spatcher's Farm.
Posted at the blog.
Washed dishes and cleaned up the harvest mess.
Picked about 2 -3 gallons of blackberries at Karen's house with Karen and Robin. - yum
Picked several pounds of Swiss chard and made spanikopita with chard. - more yum

Washed the harvest dishes some more.
Posted a sign for the stand on Greenfield Rd. with Karen.
While walking home I saw a hawk diving toward the free running chickens.
Froze peaches! 4 hours to process 30 # - yielding 5 pints, 1 1 1/2 pint, 7 quarts
Rested and looked at the cook book Fresh & Fast - looks great, I feel too tired to make any of the tasty sounding recipes.
Transplanted some Red Chidori Kale to fill out a row.
Rob sorted the blackberries and I froze most of them. 2 big bags full.
Will make blackberry cake tomorrow.
And to bed with the sink and counter full of harvesting containers again!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

September Farm Week - Wednesday

1 - posted at the blog
2 - dishes
3 - froze Green Annellino beans - about 5 pints.
4 - made freezer pickles (see recipe blog)
5 - thought some more about maybe working this afternoon. I decided to stick to my plan of staying on the farm, even though it was sort of hard to choose my needs over my clients'. I ended up doing a bunch of philosophizing while digging. It's always so challenging to decide on the correct course of action and to interpret my own needs and feelings. ie Does that slight unhappy feeling in my gut mean I should go clean their house or does mean it's hard for me to choose me? If I feel uneasy, should I just do what feels easier or push through and do the hard thing? I actually like thinking about this sort of dilemma but I hate the undecided, unclear feeling.
6 - set up the Squeezo for Rob to use to make applesauce. (Thanks Rob!)
7 - turned over soil in the west garden and marked the beds. Now the west garden is all weeded. (!)
8 - lopped down more sumac around the chicken coop.
9 - lunch
10 - more lopping, especially the south end of the west garden and the raspberry patch
11 - picked squashes and cucumbers. (lots) (I realized that it would be useful to keep track of how many of each variety of squash are picked. A bit late for this year...2009)
12 - email
13 - dishes
14 - started weeding the sandraberries - driven off by bugs
15 - started weeding the flowers - driven off by bugs!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

September Farm Week - Tuesday

I decided to experiment with a new way of using the blog. Kind of more of a log of activities for the farm. I often get behind on my record keeping for planting and so forth. Perhaps this will help.
Of course I have no idea if anyone actually reads this blog. If so, the details of planting, variety names, cultivation practices, ideas, planning, etc. may or may not be of interest to you.

Anyway for the rest of this farm week at least I will try out this new thing.

Farm Log
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sent out the weekly CSA email.
Posted at the CSA blog, the farm stand blog and the recipe blog.
Weeded the west garden - almost finished.
Cut sumac in the old chicken yard.
Canceled my cleaning job for Wednesday. (What was I thinking when I offered to do that?)
Weeded the greenhouse. (much improved!)
Let the chickens run loose!

My faith in the chickens was well founded. They barely wandered from their pen in the garage, were much happier pecking around in the grass and eating worms and such and they very naturally returned to their pen before dark.

Next year: Do not let anything interrupt my farm weeks; no rearranging my work schedule to suit my clients.

All that is left to weed in the west garden is the space between the pole beans and the Asian onions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

gone walkabout in the garden


Romanesco zucchini

I just finished my weekly tour and photo catalog of the garden. Once again the dominant theme is WEEDS! Everything is so lush and it includes many vegetables gone to seed and giant weeds such as lambs quarters and yellow dock. There's always something to do out there.

The lushness from all the rain we've been having includes summer squashes that need picking every day, many annual flowers coming into bloom such as Eustoma and Dahlias, and - big excitement - a Night Blooming Cereus (also known as Queen of the Night) that has a giant exotic looking bud. I think it may bloom tonight! I have had the plant for about 7 years and this is the first time it has bloomed. My understanding is that the flower will only last for one night and smells wonderful. Maybe I will be posting a picture of its flower soon. Anyway, it's a thrill even to see the bud.

Night Blooming Cereus bud

On the down side, one of my apply trees has listed over. It's a Stayman Winesap that is loaded with fruit this year, probably the most fruit it has ever had. It was fine this morning but I am guessing that the weight of the fruit combined with the heavy rain we have been having, made it so top heavy that it just kind of pulled out of the soil. The roots are actually still underground so maybe it can be pushed upright again. I sure hope so. It's big enough that it would probably require a tractor and chains to do it and then some clever engineering to keep it up. Ummmmmm......

Stayman Wiinesap Apple Tree

In any case, I think I will head out soon to prop up the young peach tree that is leaning a bit. Yikes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

442 Farm

View from the orchard

Along with gardening, singing is one of the things I love best in the world. Last night I went the Tuesday singing in Northampton for the first time in at least 4 weeks. Phew. Usually I am there every week, at least for the first half. Perhaps this is a sign that the garden is slightly in hand. Next year I want to make sure that planting season does not mean missing singing.

By singing I mean shape note singing, of course. I love all music and listen and sing other kinds of things but my singing home is Sacred Harp. And that is also where my family of friends reside. It was good to be home.

So, 442? That's the number of a song in The Sacred Harp, I just had to look up its word name. We call the songs by their numbers and even their numbers become imbued with meaning and memory.

At some point in time, the right name for my farm will reveal itself to me. For now I brainstorm along and keep a running list of possibilities. Because I love singing so much, I am drawn to using a name that reflects that love. 442/New Jordan has many phrases that are appealing: "living green", "generous fruits", "sweet fields". My recent little joke is to call the farm "442 Farm" until the right name comes along. More on names some other time.

This morning I will be taking pictures around the farm (Thanks again Leslie for loaning me a camera!) and will post some here. We had 1 inch of rain earlier in the week and everything has been growing like mad, including the weeds.

Champion Collards

New iris

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dig Dig Dig

This is so much work!

Okay that's it for complaints(?)/appreciations(?) Actually I love working hard and using and strengthening my body. For the past month Karen and I have been spending a large part of our gardening time digging. We are reclaiming old parts of the garden that have been neglected for years and creating new areas any place we can. I am even planning on digging up the old chicken yard as it is fenced with 7 foot fencing that should keep the deer away from the kale and brussel sprouts come fall. This week UMass Soil Testing Lab sent me the results of two soil samples I sent to them for new areas. Hurray! The area near the house is free of heavy metals and okay for growing vegetables, except for the fact that it needs lots of compost. (more digging!)

Once in a while the idea of using the rototiller comes up. I may very well use one at some point but for now this is a hand tools only operation. Very green farming. I love that the sounds I hear while working are the birds and the wind in the trees. Yesterday I saw a raven fly overhead and heard its call. That was the first time in my life that I was positive I saw a raven, not a crow. I would have missed it if I had been tilling, I am sure. Lately the wind has been rattling the leaves on the freshly cut pole bean poles. That's a fun tune. And I have been learning the call of my resident Red Bellied Woodpecker.

I also like the fact that the hand tools don't use any fuel or need any engine maintenance.

Lastly, digging kind of ties in with my style of gardening. I use my own foot to measure the beds and the rows. I use my hand to pat the seeds into the ground. I like that the garden is closely tied to me. I like touching the earth.

All right, back to digging.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May Flowers

Note: This post is really on May 25. (A little learning to blog blip.)

Everything is is full swing here at the farm. It's the first day of my second "Farm Week" where I get to stay home and farm full time. It's bliss. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the work is happening, and the flowers are blooming. These pictures were taken 1 week ago and already there are more kinds of flowers coming into bloom. The tree peony buds were fatter and pinker this afternoon than they were in the morning! Dianthus and Centaurea will be flowering soon. Last year the first CSA delivery bouquet included some of these stunning tulips. This year they will be all done before the first delivery so here are some pictures to enjoy. I definitely want to plant more tulips this fall.

Amazing Parrot Tulips

This bouquet was made on May 16. Even this early, it's possible to make something pretty. Now the lilacs are in full swing. I have light and dark purple, white and cream. Plus an old bush I am trying to revive that has dark ruby flowers. I am a sucker for lilacs. I want more!

An early bouquet

I love species daffodils, especially the scented varieties. This one is a sweetie.

Sweet daffodils: I think the variety is Sun Disc

By now (May 25) the apple blossoms are nearly done but the trees were loaded this year. Plus we had a bunch of sunny weather while they were blooming so maybe we will get a good crop of apples in the fall. Apple trees in my garden: Baldwin, Gravenstein, Pippen, Bramley, Red Astrachan, Stayman Winesap

Apple Blossoms: Baldwin

There's lots and lots of planting going on. Yesterday I finished planting 16 teepees of pole beans and 20 feet of head lettuce. Today I put in 8 hills of summer squashes and 14 feet of slicing cucumbers. Plus I dug more space in the flower garden and took soil samples for the new tomato area and next year's cutting garden. Rob mowed the grass and set up the frame for the greenhouse and yesterday Karen dug up another 6 feet of overgrown garden space. Phew! We are all working hard and it's starting to show.

The first delivery bouquet

Fruits of the Earth

Lately I have been enjoying the many wild foods the earth gives us in the springtime. I've had nettles, Jerusalem artichokes, violet greens, wild peppermint, violet blossoms and fiddleheads in various forms. Last night Rob and I had a delicious combination of many of those items, mostly as part of tabouli made with quinoa. So good. But I didn't want to leave out the vegetable garden so we also had the first MESCLUN of the season!

All the leaves in this special mix were less than one inch long but they were packed with deliciousness! Really juicy and GREEN tasting. The mix included:
arugula, Osaka purple mustard, Green Wave mustard, Heading mustard, Zen, Golden Frilled mustard, Ruby Streaks mustard, New Red Fire lettuce, spinach, Johnny Jump Up flowers, turnip greens, mizuna, purple mizuna, Galactic lettuce. It took awhile to pick but it was worth it.

For all you CSA members and farm stand visitors, soon there will be enough mesclun for all of us! Yum.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Marking the Rows

Still working on a blog routine. Eventually I hope to post at regular intervals and to include postings of what is in each week's CSA share and what is at the stand. Since my farm is so small, these things probably vary more than other farms. In the same way that I need to be extra careful about how much I plant. Not too much, or the garden will be filled, with no space for other things, and not too little, or there won't be enough harvest for all of us. I am aiming for "just right".

I have been busy in many ways. Digging the flower garden so I can plant all the new perennials and annual cutting flowers I have. I went to Walker Farm in Putney looking for onion plants and came home with 4 new peonies, 54 Eustoma plants, a flowering onion, a few herbs, including Pineapple Sage, one of my yearly favorites. I like buying herb plants at Walkers because they come from Sal Gilberties in Connecticut. Many years ago my mom worked at Gilberties making herbal wreaths. She also used to collect Sweet Gum burrs and Sycamore burrs to sell to Sal for fall decorations. I don't know if Mr. Gilbertie is still living but I know my mom enjoyed her connection with his nursery. It was right up her alley.

Plus my orders of perennials came from Bluestone Perennials and Territorial Seeds. I have about 36 plants in all from them including Coconut Lime Echinachea, Arp Rosemary, (which just might be hardy here), Coronation Gold Achillea, Coreopsis Heaven's Gate, Gloriosa Irish Eyes, and more. Generally busy digging and planting flowers and day dreaming about bouquets. I am about to pick and prepare some bouquets/centerpieces for the Council on Aging lunch today.

Plus there are few stray flowers to move from the old flower garden so I can use that space for my potato frames. You get the picture? Back to digging...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Dreams

I woke up happy this morning, fresh from a garden dream.  In it I was in Greenfields Market with some extra vegetables and the clerk there suggested I try selling them there.  So we put them out.  For some reason they were placed at the checkout.  (This may be related to the fact that I impulse buy vegetables all the time.)  There were only about 3 bunches of something or other, perhaps thick stemmed mustard was one, that part is vague.  Then as usual in the market, I got to talking with a friend.  A bit later we looked up and everything had sold!  I was so excited.  The two of us (sorry pal I can't remember who was with me for this historic moment) walked out laughing and talking about the book we could write about all this.  Then I suddenly remembered, oh right, they give me money for this too.  So we turned around and walked back to the market, grinning all over.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's a garden; it's a farm? It's a blog!

Well, here I am.  Starting a blog for the farm.  I hope that this will help build connections with my farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members and friends and family.  (ooh, I just made an interesting typo: "farmily")  My goal is to keep a record of what's happening on my little farm and to share pictures and news with interested people.  I plan on posting about once a week, unless inspired to do more.

This week is the first of my Farm Weeks, time that I have carved out of my usual working life so I can stay home and farm full time.  Each month from April through September I get a week to just farm.  Bliss.  Last Saturday my most excellent working member, Karen, came over to help out.  That was lovely and we had a great time visiting, digging, planting and patting the earth. 

Much progress is happening.  I planted spinach, red summer onions, mesclun, kale, endive, leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, New Zealand spinach, beets, turnips, radishes, Asian onions, turnip greens, mizuna, 3 kinds of mustard, the new mystery green called "Zen", early carrots... You get the picture.  Plus I planted cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, and centaurea.  Amazingly, many things are already coming up just a few days later.  It's been pretty warm so I guess that's why.  There are 5 kinds of mustard coming up: Golden Frilled, Red Streaks, Big Stem, Tainong Emperor Heading, and Osaka Purple.  For beets there are Touchstone Gold, Chioggia, Merlin, and Red Ace.  I won't fill in all the varieties of everything for now but that gives you a taste.

Hopefully I will now figure out how to post this and a few pictures.  Then I am going out to prune sumac and other brush.