Friday, May 29, 2009

"Big" Plantings

Digging Beds - From SHF CSA

Last week, this week and next week are the biggest planting weeks of the year for us, about 15 beds over that period. We're finding ways to consolidate a little and sections of previous beds are starting to open up so we can plant back to those. Normally it's a push for us to prep and plant two beds in a day, especially with harvest. We've been fortunate enough to have a consistent Volunteer helping take some of the pressure off (thank you, Adam), and Danny and I have been putting in a few extra hours to get through this busy time of year. Last week we were able to plant four beds and we planted one more yesterday and have three more ready to go.  At this point we've hand dug 2200 square feet of garden beds and we're expecting that number to double by the end of the summer. 

The photo above is yesterday's share. We were so busy on the farm that I forgot to take a photo there, so this is once the share got home in my kitchen (and sat in the fridge overnight). There are three types of lettuce this week: thinnings from Pirat, a red butter lettuce, and Plato II, a green romaine. We also cleared the first planting of Flashy Butter Lightning. Our spinach planting got thinned out and is very sweet Bloomsdale - all of our lettuce and spinach seed comes from a friend of ours, Frank Morton, who breeds, and maintains, great varieties down in Philomath, OR. Gathering Together Farm grows the seed for him organically, and we buy it through his seed company, Wild Garden Seeds.  Frank is an amazing seedsman and advocate for reviving regional, and market farm appropriate seed production - something that has been mostly lost in agriculture with the advent of long distance refrigerated shipping, and subsequent consolidation in the industry.  Back to the share, there's also the last of the spring raab, and radishes.  

One more note - we had our first CSA member come tour the farm yesterday with a few friends, very fun to get to show folks around. We're out on the farm every Thursday from at least 7:30am to 4:00pm. We're happy to have visitors see what we're doing in person, and if you want to get your hands dirty we can put you to work. Just let us know you in advance and we'll give you directions to the farm.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We're ok, g-mail. Really.

Danny packing shares - From SHF CSA

Well, the third times a charm. I maybe should have put two and two together after the first report of g-mail sending my e-mail to the CSA about the first pick up in her spam folder. The second report came in last night and then this morning I heard from Danny that three members he knows didn't get the message either - all g-mail accounts. So, if you have a g-mail account and you're signed up for the CSA I'll be trying to reach you and you should see if you can set your account up to accept e-mail from me.

By the way, we love to get good feedback and I for one was really happy to get early appreciation on the shares last night. We're having a lot of fun growing the vegetables and are as excited about harvest as you all are. We're also putting a lot of effort into growing a share that people want to eat so it's great to hear back when people (that means you) are enjoying the fruits (or more appropriately vegetables) of our labor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Share

Here's a photo of the first share. We've thinned out four lettuce varieties which makes a nice mix of mini heads. You'll find flashy lightning, emerald oak, blush butter and blushed icy oak. There's also a few French breakfast radishes, whose greens are also edible cooked, and a small handful of broccoli raab leaves. The broccoli raab is more similar to a mild mustard than broccoli, and is usually lightly cooked before eating. We're looking forward to seeing you all tonight.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Photo Update

I was out for another brief visit to the farm and greenhouse today. I did a little weeding - bind weed (morning glory), grass, and thistle seem to be our primary weeds right now. These are all classic weeds for ground coming out of neglected pasture. They're also slightly more difficult to deal with than annual weeds but with time and repeated working of the beds they go away. I also weeded the peppers and tomatoes in the greenhouse since we planted them into compost that had lots of weed seed in it. Those are ready to go in the ground as soon as we can get it prepped.


Here's that photo of the unhappy arugula. I'm not really sure what happened here. We have two plantings and they both look the same, unhappy in the middle and good on the edges. Another site I'm working on has the same problem and I'm guessing it's temperature swing related - reports are that friends who covered their plantings with floating row cover haven't had the same issue.


It's a little hard to see in this photo, but the peas look great right now. These are bush shelling peas. They'll grow up in a big mass and set peas all at once, more or less. There's lettuce off on the side there which we'll probably be giving out in the next week or two.


We'll probably be giving out thinnings from the broccoli raab, and then the raab itself when it's a little bigger.


The radishes are also ready to go. We planted them with last Thursday as the harvest date. These were the only thing that was actually "on schedule" so we'll start harvesting this coming week and hope that they'll hold. Radishes grow fast so we might loose a few in this hot weather, but we'll just have to wait and see.

As it stands it looks like we're still shooting for this Thursday to be the first harvest. In classic CSA style, the first harvest will likely be one of the smallest with things slowly ramping up over the season. The point of this CSA is small shares, which we're still trying to get our heads around after growing large shares at other CSA's for many years. In fact, I've never actually seen, or heard of, a CSA this small so it's a bit of an experiment for us and we're hoping you'll all like it, we're excited to be doing it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Back in Town

Well, the good news is I'm back in town. The bad news is that even though I visted the farm today, and our tomato and pepper starts at the Sauvie Island Organics greenhouse, and Danny up at Skyline Farm, I totally failed to take any photos. Instead, here's a photo of peas germinating.

"Peas Germinating" From SHF CSA

I probably shouldn't have posted that. The peas are looking absolutely beautiful right now, I'll try to take a photo of them soon. Unfortunately the last time I posted a photo of a germinating crop - the arugula - it was also looking beautiful. Apparently some of the recent temperature swings have been unkind to the arugula and it's not looking nearly as happy any more. It's a long way to ripe peas from here so I hope they continue to do well. Part of the point of this CSA, and this blog, is to keep you connected to what's happening on the farm, and I'm going to try let in a little of the not so great here as well as the great. I'll see if I can get a photo of the Arugula too.

We've been hoping to harvest the first share next week. I'm going to head out tomorrow, do a little more thorough assessment of where the crops are at - we definitely have radishes, the lettuce, chard, and kale are a little small but possible additions. We'll see what all of this sun brings us as well.

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up for the CSA. I'm still getting the final tally but we're up in the 30 member neighborhood and feeling pretty good about that. I've really enjoyed getting all the little notes in the mail from all of you and we're looking forward to slowly paying off in veggies this season.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What's the trench for?

You may have noticed there's a trench in the bed on the right. Down at the bottom of the trench we seeded leeks. Those grow pretty slowly so we also seeded some lettuce (if I remember correctly) up on the shoulders. The idea is that the lettuce will be harvested and then we'll start filling the trench back in. By filling in the trench we'll get nice, long, white leeks. This works, at least the filling in the trench part. I haven't actually grown lettuce on the shoulders before but I'm pretty confident that will work as well.

In the bed on the left Danny is carting off the sod before forking the soil to open it up and then raking it flat. Our beds are 100 square feet and it takes us at least three hours to prep a bed for planting, depending on the soil condition and moisture. With all of that time into preparing a bed we have a lot of incentive to maximize our use of the space.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Long Distance Farming

Modern technology is amazing. You're reading a blog post that I wrote on a little phone in the middle of the Pacific while camped out in a spot with no power, gravity fed water catchment, and only a big tarp to keep me dry. Unfortuately it's a little harder to dig beds and plant seeds with the phone so I'm leaving that part up to Danny, who isn't on the shoulder of a volcano in the Pacific right now. The technology that we use for growing vegetables isn't quite as impressive as my little phone's but plants don't need too much to help them grow. Water, air, good soil, and light, that's about it. We use simple steel hand tools to open up spaces for the plants to grow and to keep competetive weeds at bay. In honesty, we do use quite a bit of technology on the farm to help with production. The irrigation system consists of an electric well pump hooked into plastic drip lines. We'd be working a lot harder if it weren't for the internal combustion vehicles that haul us, our tools, and the produce. So, this is no Luddite farm. We're just trying to grow in a way that produces great food and limits our ecological footprint.