Saturday, June 20, 2009

Unwelcome neighbors

These 3 young woodchucks have been around for awhile. Here they are just outside the window by my computer. Up until recently they have been most into eating Groutweed, also known as Bishop's Cap, and that has been FINE with me. Now they seem to be considering the garden. Accckkkkkkk!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009



Recently some friends were visiting who were eager to help plant some seeds. Fortunately the weather was fine, the ground was basically prepared and some easy to plant items needed planting. Here they are, planting pumpkins and cucumbers. As the season progresses I will add to this post so my helpers can see how their plants are coming along.


Planting - May 31, 2009

Planting - May 31, 2009

Planting - May 31, 2009

The planting crew and me.

A newly sprouted pumpkin plant - June 8, 2009

A barely visible cucumber plant - June 8, 2009

Pumpkin plant - June 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Busy times

I love to garden. And I like to write. But I'd rather garden than write about it. Hence there has been very little posting the past few months but LOTS OF GARDENING! Amazingly, we are pretty much on target with our planting schedule. There are 3 plantings of mesclun, head lettuce and leaf lettuce, 2 plantings of arugula, spinach, summer roots, chard and kale and lots of peas, pole beans, onions and leeks up and growing. Plus we have made a bunch of new space for squash, tomatoes, corn and cukes. Lots more digging and planting to go. This weekend we'll planting more beans, the squashes, more kale, annual flowers and more. Then it will be digging, weeding and fertilizing time for a couple of weeks so we can plant eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. Then more digging, then more planting, then lots of rototilling, then planting, etc. etc. etc. We have big plans and we are having fun.

One of the mainstays of the garden is lettuce. Here is variety that is new to me but it sure looks pretty.


Most of the flowers are a bit early this year with the early melt off and some warmer weather. This particular lemon colored lilac is a real beauty and it's perfume is filling the air by the chicken coop.


Making the teepees and planting them was a recent project at the farm. It's so fun to have some 'instant' structure to the garden. And I look forward to those beans. Some old favorites: Green Annellino, Kentucky Wonder Wax beans, Rattlesnake Some new varieties this year: Colorado River, Christmas Limas, Speckled Annellino, Jack and the Beanstalk


I can't believe that I never ate arugula until 2007. I have a lot of years to make up for!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

teeny plants at a teeny farm

I keep on planting. The seeds keep on sprouting. The Sweet William started sprouting but it's so tiny that I can't even show you a picture. It's amazing that they will eventually be bright, colorful, big flowers. At least that's the plan.

Here's a picture of some of the Copra onions, a Green Zebra tomato and a Four Seasons head lettuce that were planted a few weeks ago.

Today I planted:
Winner kolrabi - 16
Head lettuce - 4 each of Forellenschluss, Webb's Wonderful, Yugoslavian Red Butterhead and Reine Des Glaces
8 Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage
4 Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli
4 Violetta Italia cauliflower
These are all for transplanting to the greenhouse in a month or so.

Got to stop. I just saw a large possum walking in the front yard. Must investigate!

Later: I tracked the possum around the house and into the woodshed but I didn't feel like going in there with it. I guess I better shovel and close up the woodshed. It's nice to have the natural light in there though. Hmmmm....
No pictures to show you. Somehow the track photos didn't come out right.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ordering seeds or chaining myself to the computer for the day

Today I have been determined to get through the seed ordering. This really should have been done a month ago but well...that's life. Fortunately, part of my distraction from my task has been the pleasure of playing with very young friends, greeting new babies and families, spending time with friends and family, etc. But I have been negligent on the seed thing, for sure. SO today I have spent hours and hours. The weird thing is that the orders were ready to go. It just takes time to finalize and actually place them, either on line or on the phone.

I seem to be buying every seed variety in sight. If it sounds tasty, I buy it. If it's a bean, I buy it. Ditto for lettuce. Everybody's got to have a system, right?

One minor goal of mine is to list all the varieties of stuff I grow each year and all the names of perennials I plant, all merged in one giant list. Maybe in a few days I will list what's coming here this year, for anyone who might be interested. For now, here are some of the items I am most happy about.

Bonus Baby Corn - last year I tried a different variety and it wasn't half as delicious.
Zephyr Summer Squash - recommended by a friend as tasty.
Green Annelino Pole Beans - I just like this one.
Stortino Di Trento Pole Bean - a speckled version of annelino.
Queensland Blue Squash - a big, sweet, dry, yummy sounding winter squash.
Cherry Brandy Rudbeckia - I never grew rudbeckia from seed before and this one looks pretty.
Amish Snap Peas
Jack in the Beanstalk Pole Bean - well, obviously. Plus it's Polish!
Gardener's Delight Tomato - an old favorite of mine.
PA Dutch Crookneck Winter Squash - a big, curly, butternut type.
And I like that I am growing lots of shell beans and fresh soybeans.
Soybeans: Black Pearl, Butterbeans, Sayamusume, Envy,
Shell Beans: Christmas Limas, Taylor Dwarf Horticultural, Coco Bianco, Cannellini, Red Cranberry, Limelight, Papa de Rola

And she's not done yet, folks!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Planting outside, sort of.

Today I continued with the early spring planting. First I sowed some Sweet William in the house and then I planted in the greenhouse!

It's so odd to think about using the greenhouse. I only know bits and pieces of what can happen there but I figure I'll learn by doing. So today I turned over the soil, as much as possible. There were areas that were too frozen to dig, mostly at the ends of the beds near the doorways. Since I failed to tighten up the greenhouse last fall, it has slowly been sagging between the support posts from the weight of the snow and the cover is not lined up on the frame properly. The result: airways, wind moving through the greenhouse and cooler temperatures and frozen ground. Live and learn, at least I hope so. I am looking forward to snugging things up come spring.

The categories I am planting now are:
1-Really hardy items, the type that you are supposed to plant "as soon as the soil can be worked".
--peas, spinach, arugula, other hardy greens
2-Vegetables and herbs and flowers that self sow.
--cilantro, parsley, mustard greens, kale, cosmos, etc.
3-Trials of mesclun and lettuce, just to see what happens.

I worked out a basic plan for the greenhouse, allowing for the fact that I can't plant it all now since the ground is still frozen in places. Later I will be setting out some kale, collards, endive and head lettuce plants that are currently in the house.

Another fun farm thing today was that I spoke with my farm intern, Heather, and we signed her up officially to make her school happy and talked about our expectations in terms of time and work. Heather will be working for experience and knowledge, as well as for a half-share for her family. The internship will fulfill part of her requirement for her Bachelor in Culinary Arts degree at The New England Culinary Institute. It will great for me to have company and help with the planting, harvesting, weeding, and ETC. Heather is an excellent cook and one way she will be helping the farm will be to share some of her cooking ideas using fresh vegetables. Yum. Be sure to check out the recipe blog as the season progresses.

The chickens have not laid as many eggs the last few days as they had been. They seem perky and bright eyed so I think all is well, but it is a bit worrying. So far the top egg count has been 9 per day from 10 hens. A few days ago I broke down and ordered 3 more hens from Murray McMurray's Hatchery. I just want some of those blue and green eggs so I am getting some Araucana/Americanas. (More about the new chicks in a later post, I am sure.)

I am just about done with the seed order. It would have been better to have done it earlier so I would have some of the seeds I need on hand but at least it will be done soon.

Most of the CSA shares have been sold already. There is still 1 full share or 2 half shares and 1-2 mini shares. It makes me feel secure knowing that the farm has members already. And it's exciting that there are new people involved this year. Also great that folks are returning from previous years.

Now I can just concentrate on doing the best I can growing things!

Time to shut up the chicken coop...

Varieties planted February 14:
Coral peas
Big Stem Mustard
Tainong Mustard
Yukina Savoy
Arugula Sylvetta
Osaka Purple Mustard
Perpetual Chard
Rapa Turnip
Cutting Chicory
Winterbor Kale
Red Russian Kale
Cracoviensis Lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
Corn Salad - Vit
Wrinkled Crinkled Cress
Endive Frisee

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More planting

I am trying to use this blog as more of a record or diary of what's happening here at the garden farm and less of a record of the meanderings of my mind. This might be of interest to friends, family, farm members and fellow tiny farm farmers. I hope so. If not, feel free to move on to something else.

Today I decided to plant some kale and collards for the greenhouse, in case the soil is too cold out there for seeds to germinate soon. Tomorrow I will plant some in the greenhouse itself as well and see how the two ways work out.

I also figured out that for some items it makes sense to plant one per half share and per mini share plus one for me. That works out to 16 plants of whatever it is, like head lettuce for instance. I will continue to think about this. For instance, how many kale plants should I plant for each half share in order to have enough???

Of course after I decided to plant in units of 16, I found that my starter pots fit in the flats in groups of 12. Hmmph.

Today's planting - 12 each:

Kale - White Russian and Winter Red
Collards - Champion
Tainong Heading Mustard
(This is part of my ongoing campaign to successfully grow some of this heading mustard. I decided to plant some frequently and see what works out the best. It sure looks nice in the Baker Creek catalog.)

Germinating onions almost too small to see:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let the season begin


I learned that the color of a chicken's ear lobe relates to the color of egg it lays. Red ear lobe = brown eggs White ear lobe = white or tinted eggs. This is not strictly true but is generally the case.

The largest egg ever recorded was laid by a Black Minorca in 1896. It weighed 12 oz., had a circumference of 9 in., and contained 5 yolks. Wow. These facts came from the book Keeping Chickens by Jeremy Hobson and Celia Lewis.

I have been planting and planning, at least a bit. It seems like I work in slow motion sometimes. It makes me wonder how in the world I'll get the work done when the planting season comes on for real. I guess I won't be hauling wood, laying fires, emptying ashes, shoveling, etc. when spring gets here. Phew.

January 22 I planted leeks, onions, Asian onions, parsley and lisianthus. They are just starting to come up. I planted the seed really thickly to use it up. I want to plant more Asian onions later on. Today I planted some really early start eggplant and peppers - 6 each of King of the North and New Ace peppers and 6 each of Ping Tung and Thai Long Green eggplant.

For the greenhouse I planted head lettuce, escarole, broccoli, cauliflower, zinnias and tomatoes. Yesterday I had a revelation about the greenhouse. It doesn't snow in there! What I mean is, when I am planning what to plant there and when, I don't have to think about whether or not the snow will be melted or the soil too damp to work. I just need to think about temperature and frost free dates. This may not mean much to anyone who may be reading this, but for me it was a very useful realization. From there I could work backwards to think about when to plant seeds in the house for the greenhouse. I am taking a guess that the greenhouse lets me plant a month earlier than planting outside. This really is just a guess though. The result? I planted some brassicas and lettuce that should be ready for the greenhouse in 4 to 6 weeks (March 5 -17) when I am certain there will be snow on the ground outside but feel confident the greenhouse will be warm enough for the plants. Kind of like mid April with no snow.

Oh I haven't a clue if this is correct or even if I am making sense.

Here are today's plantings:

(You may want to skip this next bit if you are not a gardener or cook.)

Planted 2-5-9:
Head Lettuce - 4 each - Winter Marvel, Crisp Mint, Four Seasons, Winter Wonderland
Tomatoes - 1 each - Green Zebra, Black From Tula, Sun Gold, Sweet Million, Beaverlodge, Abrason, Red Sun, Early Cascade
Brassicas - 8 each - Early Pearl Cauliflower, De Cicco Broccoli; 4 each - All the Year Round Cauliflower
Escarole - Giant - 4
Zinnia - Giants of California - 4
Peppers - 6 each - King of the North, New Ace
Eggplant - 6 each - Ping Tung, Thai Long Green

I continue to really enjoy the chickens. Yesterday and today I got 8 eggs, a new record. I think only the 2 Silver Spangled Hamburgs haven't started laying yet. The rooster is mighty protective of his hens. He makes a point of getting between me and the hens no matter where I go. So if I spread grain outside he stands in the doorway.

If I am giving them water inside he stands by the inside door.

If I check for eggs, he hops up on the roost. Then as I walk back to the house, he crows proudly. He protected his hens from the 'human.' So far this is workable but may get dicey as the snow melts if he starts chasing me. We may need to have some serious talks.