Thursday, April 26, 2012

Week Four of Spring Harvests

I’m still harvesting a bit off of the overwintered plantings. Today’s share has two good sized green garlics and the very last of the raab from the collards. The kale and brussels were finished off last week, and today Kji started pulling out all of the plants to make way for some of his late spring plantings. Also in the share today are the last of the early greenhouse planting of Hakurei turnips, and a teeny head of green butter lettuce. The lettuces are still sizing up, at what seems like a very slow pace. At some point they’ll surely get ahead of me, but for now I’m trying to give them a bit of space and time to grow.
I seeded a flat of melons in the greenhouse today. Melons haven’t been a good crop for me the past two years, but I love them so I keep trying. I also continued to strip the existing plants off of the bed where shallots and onions were supposed to be planted. That will have to wait for next week at this point as I’m out of time this week. I’ll hope for good bed prep conditions next week, and I’ll try to get in the onions and shallots, as well as the leeks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cart Appreciation

Yesterday, with all of the sun, I started to feel really behind.  This is a relatively big planting week, with all of the onions and shallots needing to get into the ground, and next week is big with the leeks going in. I had a slightly abbreviated day yesterday due to some meetings in the morning, so I headed back out to the farm today. Today was actually a more conducive work day with overcast skies, and not the intense sun we had yesterday.  I'm not complaining about the sun, not even a little, but it is easier to work without it pounding down on my neck. I managed to get fennel and parsley planted, and to reseed earlier carrot and arugula seedings that had failed in the cold wet of late March (probably due to slugs).

I've got to mention this cart, once again. I still haven't made time to make a decent deck for it, but even with just a piece of plywood sitting on the rails, it's incredibly useful, and super ergonomic. It's kind of like it was made just for me. That's a joke, actually it was made just for me, and designed by me, and that's why it works the way I want it to. It definitely made me think that more small farmers should be designing their own tools, and sharing those designs that work.

Among the things I appreciate about this cart are being able to easily haul every last tool I have out to the field, being able to roll over the beds easily, the plywood deck being at a comfortable height for loading and unloading, and even better it makes a great bench for sitting in the field at lunch time (although I need to work on the canopy for sunny days). The photo above is me moving a compost pile. That load is a little more than I could fit into a large wheel barrow, and with the big cart wheels it's much easier to move. With the flat bed is was also much easier to load and unload where I wanted it. If I had taken the time to make a simple deck for the cart I think I could have hauled three times that amount. It's such a joy to work with good tools.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Holding off on irrigation

The farm is getting a nice soaking today. Fortunately I had some work to do in the greenhouse. Harvest wasn't actually all that bad. I wore my rain gear which kept me dry and cozy, except for my hands, but that was miles better than the wet feet I sloshed around with on Tuesday. I potted up tomatoes today, as well as peppers. The peppers I seeded didn't actually germinate for some reason (old seed?) but fortunately Sauvie Island Organics had an extra flat after they potted up theirs. I'm very grateful to have a good network of farmer friends who can help me out when problems come up.

In the share today is the first of the lettuce. Teeny heads of emerald oak and flashy lightning are cut from what the slugs left behind in the first planting. The slugs have been worse this spring than I remember, it's probably just selective memory though. The raab continues, although this is probably its last week. You'll notice that it's a bit thinner and more open than it's been in the past two weeks, the plants are getting desperate to make flowers since I keep stealing all of the buds. To round out this week's share is a bunch of Hakurei turnips with the greens.

All this rain is good for the short term. I need to order irrigation supplies for this season and I haven't done that yet. I should probably get that done before it stops raining.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not So Lucky

My good weather luck ran out today, and I made the mistake of walking through the wet grass first thing this morning before I had put on my rain boots. Yes, I had wet feet all day, oh well. I also checked on some of the very early brassica seedings, most of which have been decimated by slugs, ouch. I'll have to think through a little reseeding.

I did manage to prep a few beds and get some beet and arugula seed in the ground, despite a bit of drizzle this afternoon. Another round of lettuce went into the ground, and another round went into the greenhouse as well. I guess I wasn't that unlucky after all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bike Delivery Raw Data

Here are the numbers from yesterday's ride. 

Total trip distance - 35 miles
Total riding time - 3 hours and 15 minutes
Load - 120lbs, 8 boxes of CSA shares, plus a pannier with a bit of farm gear

The full load was carried for less than half the route, although that comprised the part of the route with the most elevation gain and a very serious headwind yesterday. I had to be conservative with the electric assist and save it for the worst of the wind and hills. By the time I dropped the final shares at Near East Yoga I was down to no bars on the battery monitor, although there was still a little left for the 8 mile ride home. For the first 27 miles I was working hard to keep to a schedule. The eight mile ride home I took it easy (relatively), although it was so much easier with a load of just two empty boxes.

By way of comparison, when I do the route with a car it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes, and I pay for about 30 minutes of parking at delivery spots. I also eat a lot less, man was I hungry when I got home last night.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More Raab

Another beautiful and slightly bigger than expected share today. I shrunk the CSA this year by 1/3 in order to give Kji at Edible Horizons a bit more space for his project. One of the consequences is that I'm harvesting from a few overwintered crops that are in planting sizes for a larger CSA, which is temporarily beefing up the shares. Kind of nice.

Today's share has two beautiful green garlics (tinged with red), a small bunch of Hakurei turnips, a small bunch of very large Pink Beauty radishes, and raab from kale and brussels sprouts. The green garlic can be used like green onions, but be warned, it's powerful stuff. It also goes nicely just about anywhere you'd use garlic cloves, and you can use the entire plant. You can also use the entire turnip plant.  The roots are incredibly sweet and tender, great raw in salad, or you can cook them. The greens are best cooked.  The same goes for the radish, although those roots have a bit of a bite to them, a mild bite, but it's noticeable.  With last week's radish greens and raab I sautéed each lightly until their own juices were pretty much gone, and then baked them in a phyllo pie, all mixed up. I didn't even use any cheese, although that could have been nice. Phyllo might sound intimidating but you buy it in the freezer section of the grocery and follow the directions, which are very simple. I also had raab chopped up and sautéed and then mixed into pasta with tomato sauce. A little green garlic in there would be great too, maybe even a green garlic pesto.

Today is the day I run the shares to town by bike. I've actually completed almost half of the 37 miles at this point (and the electric assist battery is half discharged after some nasty headwinds and the hill up the St. John's bridge).  As I write I'm dropping the shares on my porch in St. Johns before making the final run into town. I left the farm early to make sure I have enough time. I did manage to hoe the garlic and onions before I took off though.  I'll give a longer review of the bike soon - I'm super excited about it and getting to test it out for a week has been incredibly educational.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beautiful Sunny Ride

For those of you who haven't been following the Facebook page, I've been test riding a Bullitt that Joel at Splendid Cycles has been lending me. Yesterday I rode it out to the farm on a beautiful sunny day with a pretty full load of 8 boxes, plus an extra bulb crate I had at home. The boxes were empty back hauls, and Thursday I'll try it loaded and give an update. I'll also write a more complete review on my other site.

The ride was notable, but so was the beautiful sunny day, which we need more of. Soil is starting to dry out and make bed preparation easier. The grass is growing like crazy and I need to get on top of that, but for now it's actually a good cover crop (or so I'm telling myself).  I prepared beds for kale, spinach and beet plantings yesterday, removing lots of grass roots and rhizomes in the process. Celery and basil got seeded in the greenhouse, and several new yellow jacket nests were removed with the jet of a hose (they really like those warm, dry spots). I'm basically all caught up on planting right now, which is incredible. I need to spend a little time getting the irrigation system in order, and doing a few more maintenance projects leftover from the winter. What I really want to be doing right now is preparing more beds for future plantings, and that'll happen too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Super Big Spring Share

This is perhaps the biggest spring share I can every remember giving out, much bigger than I originally intended.  I don't want to intimidate anyone with an excess of vegetables, or set unrealistic expectations for future shares, but there was so much good stuff in the field that wasn't going to hold that I felt like I should share the bounty.  Most of it will hold well in the refrigerator, so if it doesn't get used right away, that's fine.

There are two kinds of raab, kale and collards. These are the flower buds of the overwintered plants, along with some stem and small leaves.  It's all super tasty, super nutritious and only available for a short window of time in the spring.  I like it chopped coarsely, sauteed with a bit of olive oil and salt (I like most things that way). There's a huge head of frisee, which is really the thing that makes the share super big.  These are leftover from winter, and are from the same planting that I've been harvesting since late last fall.  They've changed a bit over time and are very dense and well blanched. I'm still enjoying these heads as a raw salad. It needs a bit of extra washing because they're so tight that they're holding a bit of extra soil in the creases.  Another great salad "green" is Ruby Streaks mustard.  This is very mild and delicate, and very red. A small bunch of chives could spice up your dressing, or a bit of yogurt or butter, or maybe flavor some biscuits.  Finally, a good number of Pink Beauty radishes would also go well in salad, or maybe even better on a butter and radish sandwich.  The greens are good cooked as well, not that you need any more greens, but they are good.

It was rainy in the field this afternoon, on and off, even a bit of hail. I did manage to get some sod stripped from beds that will be planted next week, weather permitting. Those beds are destined for kale and beets, and maybe a bit more spinach. I'm hoping for some nice, warm, dry days next week.  Might be wishful thinking.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More on the bags

Before every harvest day I have to remember to turn the bags inside out and wash them. Turning them inside out makes sure that nothing is hiding I the bag, and I suspect that it helps clean the inside better. I always notice the bags that CSA friend Sarah D. Spent time stitching up. The bags are cheap and come with raw edges on the fabric which frays in the wash. The extra stitching really helps prevent that so it makes me happy every time I see it, and reminds me of Sarah and all of the rest if the CSA community that contributes in small ways, which also makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


An incredible sunny day yesterday made me feel very lucky.  I was away last week and the grass seemed like it jumped out of the ground in that week.  The greenhouse plants are huge as well.

It's been so wet and cold so far this spring but I've been relatively lucky with the weather on my few work days and yesterday's weather was perfect.  More lettuce got planted, spinach, some fill in peas, radishes were seeded and so were mustard greens. It looks like there will be lots of raab and even radishes for Thursday's share, maybe even a few other items.