Thursday, May 26, 2011

Still very spring like

It continues to be cool and wet and our irrigation duties continue to be put off a while longer. We did throw in some tomatoes and basil today that really needed to get out of the greenhouse and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it won't get too cold for them at this point. These went into beds where overwintered kale, and cover crop had been. Pulling out those very tall crops to plant the relatively short tomatoes made a big difference in the way the farm looks right now.

Today's share has some of the spring standards: lettuce, radishes, arugula and green garlic. I cut three varieties of lettuce today and they're getting bigger all the time. I selectively thin larger heads leaving room for the small ones to get bigger for the next week. Not all of the varieties mature completely evenly, especially in this weather. The radishes are French Breakfast, and they do have some damage, but are completely edible, and probably pretty tasty, both roots and greens. I've been quick pickling my roots lately, just slicing them thinly, salting them and letting that stand for 15 minutes are so. Then I rinse off the salt and toss them with a little white vinegar. It's a nice condiment. The arugula is beautiful, even though the stand was a little thin we got some size which made up for the quantity. Green garlic this time of year is an easy one, and it's starting to get to the point where we might have scapes in a few weeks as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here comes the sun

And I hope this signals a bit of warm weather to go with it. It did mean that we started irrigating, a little, today, and that's a bit of extra work. But, it'll make preparing the rest of the beds for planting a lot easier, and we have a lot of beds to prepare right now. In the share today we have a small head of lettuce. I harvested Pirat, Blushed Icy Oak, and Flashy Lightning so you'll have to look in your bag to see which one you got. There are a couple of French Breakfast radishes. The greens are edible on these, but are best cooked. The radishes, unfortunately, have seen a little slug damage so just eat around that or ignore it, it shouldn't really effect anything except for how they look. We also pulled the last of the Hakurei turnips (did I say that last week?) Finally, there were some leftover cippolini onion starts from the planting last week. They looked so big and nice that we pulled them out of the potting mix, cleaned 'em up and stuck them in the shares. These will work just like green onions and should hold up to cooking very nicely. Use the whole thing, greens, through roots (but clean them a bit more before you use the roots). Oh, I almost forgot the spinach. This is more Tyee from our second outside planting. The first seems like it might have suffered from the cold early on, but this planting is beautiful and there's a nice little handful in each bag.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Planting Season

From SHF 2011

It is oh so slowly warming up, and we're getting to the point where we're getting behind. This almost always happens, and it nearly always works out in the end. Yesterday we decided that it was warm enough that we could move most of the starts outside. We now have two tables outside, one inside and the heat table still has a few items, like eggplant and peppers on it. We borrow the space from Yianni, so the inside beds are being planted for him for use by his Wild Goose Farm project.

We finally got the huge cippolini onion starts in the ground yesterday, along with the shallots and seedings of Arugula and Cosmic Purple carrots, a new one for us by request. The ground is still incredibly wet, and that makes it really challenging to prepare decent beds. It makes it even harder to direct seed things like carrots, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. We got 3/4 of an inch of rain over the weekend. It does look like things are about to start warming up and drying out. This will mean we'll have to set up the irrigation soon. It also means we're going to try putting in the tomatoes as soon as we can get the beds prepared.

From SHF 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Great Greens

That was interesting, blogger offline for the good part of a day. Here's the details on the above photo. You're looking at a share with spinach, arugula, lettuce and turnips. The Hakurei turnips are getting rave reviews as always. If you haven't had them before you really need to try eating the roots raw, so sweet. The greens are great too, but they can be a just a little stringy so I recommend chopping them up before cooking to make chewing easier.

This is the last spinach out of the greenhouse. We split our early spinach planting between the greenhouse and outside covered with row cover. I'm not sure we'll be able to harvest anything off of the outside as it looks like there might have been a little cold damage early on. The second outside planting looks much better fortunately.

The Lettuce this week comes in two forms. Some folks are getting more of the Jester, which, like Frank said, is a great crisp, with lots of character. I also cut a bunch of early Pirat red butter lettuce so some folks got that instead. There'll be more of both of these in the future.

Finally, the arugula was our second outside seeding. The first failed, although I'm not exactly sure why, probably the cold wet, but you never know.

I just stuck a second photo into the post below. Following a hot tip from Karl Grobl on his blog I decided to download the Pano App in the morning and this three shot panorama of the farm is my first attempt at using it. Pretty amazing and simple to use. I don't know Karl, but I've been following his blog for a few months now and he takes beautiful photos, mostly of people, that tell stories about other parts of the world. He's also very generous with sharing details of how he works and I appreciate that transparency.

From SHF 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's Going On

From SHF 2011

The bees are going crazy for the blooming brassicas on the farm. Yianni and his friend Timothy both have hives on the farm and the remnants of our gold ball turnips, pictured above, were buzzing loudly yesterday. We only clear beds when we have another crop going in, leaving the soil growing plants as for as much time as possible. Sometimes this increases our weed pressure. We're pretty good at dealing with most weeds in crops, so I'd rather leave crops in, and have them contributing to the soil, adding organic matter, and protecting the soil from the elements for as much time as possible.

From SHF 2011

It's still unseasonably cold, and the soil is warming very slowly. We've got tomatoes in the greenhouse which are ready to go out, and probably will as soon as we can get beds dug for them. Many of the crops we have out in the field are covered with floating row cover - the spun polyester you see in the foreground. This adds a bit of moderation to the climate under the fabric. Actually, most of the crops under row cover right now are using as much for warmth as they are for insect protection. Row cover is our main pest control on the farm and it helps keep flea beetle off of brassicas and rust fly off of carrots. Unfortunately it does nothing against slugs. We're hoping our new found love of mowing the paths short will help a little with slugs and other larger pests.

From SHF 2011

We have been managing to get some beds planting and we're headed into the heavy planting time of year for the next month or so. This is a leek bed, without the leeks, but with some lettuce planted on the shoulders. We ran out of time to get the leeks in, maybe on Thursday. Behind that bed is a bed of 5 Color Silverbeet (chard), and behind that some very strong looking garlic. The garlic is looking good despite there being a few more weeds than I'd like to see. We were good about keeping the weeds down until a few weeks ago, and really there aren't that many in there. Did I say we're good about dealing with weeds? Well, maybe sometimes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Grass fed vegetables

I was actually afraid it was going to be sunny today, and was happy that it drizzled and then was overcast. Strange. We got a lot of mowing done in the afternoon, and didn't have to worry about setting up irrigation yet. The mowing made me think about what a great grass growing climate we have, and how most of our compost is fed by grass in one form or another. In turn the compost feeds the crops, thus, grass fed vegetables.

In the share today we harvested some beautiful, very sweet little Hakurei turnips out of the greenhouse (while it was drizzling). If you haven't had these before, they're great raw and the greens are good cooked. You can also cook, or pickle, the roots. I also thinned more of our garlic planting for some green garlic. Frank Morton was raving about his new variety of lettuce Jester, and he gave me some seed to try, so that's what's in the share today, a little Jester. It seems to be super quick, much faster than any of the other lettuce we have out in the field. It's still early for full sized lettuce, but with a little sun we'll get there.