Thursday, April 28, 2011

Still Wet and Cold

But we're managing to get a few transplants in the ground and pull a few vegetables out as well. In todays share we're finishing up the first outside seeding of Pink Beauty radishes. There's a bit of slug damage, but not so bad. We finished up the first, very small, heads of Flashy Lightning lettuce. We're still going on the collard, brussels and kale raab, even though I thought two weeks ago was going to be the end of it. Today we also introduce the green garlic. This is Chesnook Red, if you're keeping score. We actually are thinning a planting that was planted closer together than we intended. I'm actually hoping this works out nicely because it gives us a little excuse to weed at the same time. In the future we might intentionally do it this way.

It is still wet and cold, and it's making seeding in the fields nearly impossible. It's also making transplanting very messy, and the plants are just stalled in the ground. I think we'll be ok for the spring and early summer, especially if it warms up in May, but it would be a lot nicer, and a bit less work, if we could get a little warm, dry weather.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


From SHF 2011

We've been using used wax produce boxes for harvest and for bringing the shares to town for the past two seasons. They're free when you can find them at the local coops and they last for a few months if treated well. When they fall apart they can't be recycled, although I understand that Portland food business that are using commercial composting can now put them in the compost. Even though they're free, there are some definitely annoyances with them. They're a bit flimsy, especially after a few uses. They have gaps and have to be folded and unfolded to store well. They're not standard sizes so we spend time finding the right ones, and then figuring out how to stack them. My partner (in life, not on the farm) complains about the way they look sitting on our porch, and I admit they're not beautiful. I've been telling her for two years that I was going to build wooden boxes. It turns out that these Ikea boxes were almost as cheap as buying the wood I needed to build the boxes and they were pre cut so they saved quite a bit of labor.

From SHF 2011

I made a linoleum cut to print our name on the boxes (in hopes that we don't loose them, or at least if we do it'll be some advertising in some random spot). Yesterday while it was pouring rain Kji and I printed up the boxes and put them together. We'll use these to hold the bags at the drop sites so look for them there. After it poured rain all morning we did head out to the farm to check on the greenhouse, which was just fine, and to look at, of all things, some tweaks to our irrigation system. This week, believe it or not, is usually the first week of irrigation season - not this year, but soon maybe.

From SHF 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Share Three

A few new items in the share this week, and we start to move away from the all brassica share. There are two brassicas: radishes and a mix of raab from collards, brussels sprouts, spring raab and kale. The radishes are a new variety for us, pink beauty, and they do look quite nice. The seed is from our friend Frank at Wild Garden Seed. In the non-brassica category we've broken out the lettuce and hope to have a steady supply for the rest of the spring. These are the first, very small, heads. They're mostly flashy lightning, but a few off types are in there as well. We've got a bit of baby Tyee spinach as well. We've grown Bloomsdale in the past, which is an older variety with a lot of history. The Tyee is straight up commercial organic F1 hybrid seed and it is way, way more productive for us. I hate to have to say that, but this is the first really good germination we've gotten in almost two years, and the plants are looking good, even in the cold. It also has an organic coating on the seeds which is supposed to improve germination, and that certainly hasn't hurt. We hope to have more spinach in a couple of weeks if all goes well outside.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beautiful Brassicas

From SHF 2011

Once again, a brassica filled share. Today we have (from left to right) mizuna, kale raab, gold frill mustard, and arugula. Some of the arugula and gold frill are a little spicy in the mustard way as they're getting very close to bolting (and actually a few already have). If you don't like that flavor, cooked is better than raw. The mizuna is very mild raw, and can also be cooked. The kale raab, which is probably the last of the year, is very sweet and is great cooked by also makes a good snack raw.

From SHF 2011

In other news, we're finally considering a power tool for the farm (other than the numerous construction tools we've used to build benches and shelves). Yianni borrowed a Neuton electric mower from his parents (who are great CSA members). It doesn't have a lot of power, but it's super light weight, very easy manuver and to adjust, and quiet and it may be the perfect thing for our sod pathways. We're appreciating the sod in the rain, although it might be better if we just got rid of it all together as we have on half of the beds on the farm.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Raab

First spring harvest of 2011 and we have three different raabs in the share, along with a small bunch of radishes. Some of the radishes are a bit oversized, but they're still tasty (at least the ones I sampled were). The raabs are from our overwintered rainbow lacinato kale, a bit of mizuna from the greenhouse (those are the ones with the yellow flowers), and some actual "spring raab" broccoli raab, also from the greenhouse. None of the items in the share will keep well so cook them up soon (or eat them raw!). I love raab as a side, sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt. It's also great on pasta or in soup, especially the heartier kale raab. The radish greens are also edible and can be prepared the same way. The roots are fantastic with butter and salt on a baguette.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Break Is Over

From SHF 2011

We take three breaks from harvest during the year - Thanksgiving, winter and spring. The winter break conveniently coincides with Christmas and New Years, a time of year that lots of folks travel. We take a spring break to give ourselves a little breather, and because this time of year happens to be one of the most difficult to get produce out of the ground, especially without plastic tunnels. At the end of winter most storage crops have rotted or are starting to produce spring growth. This is a time of year when the first greens and roots are just starting to get going, and in a cold, wet year like this one if they're outside, they're struggling.

From SHF 2011

We do have some space under plastic, and that's where a good part of our share is going to come from for the first week or two of April. It's also where we've been hiding out, seeding flats of vegetable starts, and hoping it'll dry out outside in time for us to shove them in the ground.

From SHF 2011

I spent my spring break this year visiting friends and farms in Southern Oregon and Northern California, putting almost 2000 miles on a rental car. Everyone I talked to, from California's Central Valley, all the way up Portland (and even friends in BC) were super excited about the little bit of sun we got last week. I sure hope some of that sun and warmth comes back soon, for all of our sakes.