Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Farm in Winter

It looks like we've hit winter around here.  The ground is frozen and our work now moves indoors, although I just got garlic planted extremely late this week.  I had to ask our garlic suppliers about what to do and they suggested planting right into soil mix on top of the ground.  This way, the plants will come up in the spring and we can replant like green onions once they ground thaws...if we didn't do this, the garlic would be bust next year, especially the hardneck varieties.  

Anyway, unless something really interesting happens this winter, I'm signing off for the season.  I won't update this blog regularly until spring again.  Enjoy hibernating.  -Ryan.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

End of the Season

We are at the end of the season.  Reflecting on things, I think we’ve really turned a corner.  This is our fifth season vegetable farming on our own, and up to this point each season seemed like a huge battle.  I typically get all anxious and stressed by July and completely burnt out by mid-September, but not this year.  I think this has happened because we’ve let past seasons get ahead of us, so we’ve played a lot of catch up, which is very frustrating because in vegetable farming you never catch up.  We have gotten into the catch-up game because we’ve not had the equipment, set-up, or general organization to stay on top of things in the past.  One example is cultivation, where you mechanically kill weeds by tilling the soil.  In past seasons, we ended up doing a lot of hand weeding or cultivation with a wheel hoe because the weeds got too tall or we simply didn’t have the cultivation equipment set up in time or on-hand.  This year, we cultivated most plantings twice at the right time, so we had a lot more time to spend on other things which needed attention.  Add this to all the other little improvements we’ve been making over the years, and that’s why I say we’ve really turned a corner from a farm start-up with all the problems that entails, to a somewhat established farm, where, as long as you keep up with a routine day-in and day-out, the season works out. 

Other accomplishments have been building and starting up the farm stand and getting into a few new crops like dried flowers, a new mix of winter squash, and some oddities like broom corn, daikon, and some new heirlooms.  A lot of the fun of what we do is trying new things.  Some are good, and some are terrible, so we keep the best for next season and drop the rest.  We also try new techniques to improve how we do things.  Like this year I rigged up a new way of trellising where I use a big spool of twine set in a school backpack to make the task go quicker and with less frustration.  We also used some remay cover cloths more to keep out bugs and get a crop to grow better, which made a real difference.  Also this is the first year we’ve successfully used a cover crop of rye and vetch, so we’ll see what difference that makes on the fertility of field next year.  Like vegetable varieties, we keep what works and keep fine-tuning production.      

Lastly, thank you so much for being members this season!  We cannot do what we do without you.  Certainly the fee you pay keeps us in business, but the support we hear and receive from you means a lot.  It’s extremely helpful to know that we are part of a community.  

Harvest Party at Lida Farm

We’ve had a couple of events recently at the farm, which is out of the ordinary for Maree and me.  Typically it’s rare for us to have visitors besides our families, so it was great to have the harvest party last Sunday and equally cool to host the early childhood kids tonight (Thursday).  We had a good number of people out for the harvest party—if you were unable to make it, please stop by and I’ll re-give the tour and you can pick a pumpkin.  Too often farming is such a solitary existence where you grow something for people you will never meet.  I had such a good feeling to see “our” community gathered together in our machine shed, just eating good food and enjoying others company.   Special thanks to member Ruth Sollie for the picture! 

 Tonight was a different, although equally rewarding experience.  We hosted the early childhood classes in Pelican Rapids, which annually do a “pumpkin patch” outing for 1-5 year olds and their parents.  I had been working like a dog since 8 am trying to pull in as much produce as possible since I expect a frost tomorrow morning and I was a bit in a daze when I watched car after car after car pull into our driveway.  This thing was bigger than I expected.  And, with about 40 little kids running around, it was a real whirlwind event.  I took everybody on a hayride to the pumpkin patch in the front field and there were so many that I had to take two trips.  On the hayride it was a lot of fun to stop and quiz the kids about the different vegetables.  Going with my theme about connection, like the harvest party, I found the event really rewarding.  I figured this may be one of those few times when kids can really get on a farm and learn about where their food comes from.  We need kids to connect with farms if we expect younger generations to know of anything other than Taco Bell, Cheetos, or Coke.  

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of 2008

As we approach the end of the season, we start playing the good/bad crop game. When you’re cleaning up a bed of one crop at the end of the year, you can’t help but judge how the year went. So, kind of like the Oscars for vegetables, we have the good, the bad, and the ugly for the year.

The Good:
• Peppers: Hey I was just in the entryway where we have a few bushels of peppers and I can still smell them…great. Now that a number are turning colors, these clearly go into the good category. Not only did we have a lot, but they were a good size too…last year the Italias looked like big jalapelos or something.
• Salad mix: I’m finally getting the hand of growing this stuff well. We should have had a second planting for mid-season, but the stuff we put in the box looked great.
• Spring brassicas: this is the cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and cauliflower at the beginning of the season. The cool wet spring worked well for these crops. What was most impressive is how long the spring bassica season lasted…you probably got sick of broccoli or cabbage at some point there!
• Tomatoes: a surprise here. Although it has taken forever for them to ripen, the plants set a lot of fruit and they look in good shape.

The Bad:
• Garlic: A real disappointment because I just go crazy for a good garlic crop. These plants do not grow well in a mud puddle like they had to this season.
• Green onions: This is in the bad category because it was the crop that never happened…do you ever remember getting green onions? They got planted first thing in the spring but that entire patch got overrun with weeds and I never got another succession planted—you can also put cilantro in this camp too.
• Head lettuce: After last season when we had a bumper crop, the lettuce was worthless. The window of lettuce was short and a lot bolted before it came of size.

The Ugly:
• Melons: There’s been a whole lot of ugliness here. The main factor is all of those cucumber beetles, who attack the plants and kill them off mid-season and then chew up the fruit if it starts to grow. Ugly.
• Second set of cucumbers: in part due to those pesky cucumber beetles and the new ground, this second planting put on nothing but deformed cukes. The timing was right to take over when the first planting pettered out, but they were too ugly to use.

All told, I can’t complain too much about the season. The weather was funny, but things still got produced and I know we improved on last year overall even if some crops did worse. Since you have to be optimistic in this line of work, what we do is ask ourselves how we can improve for next year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farm Stand Open for Business

It’s been a great growing week over the last five days or so. I always worry about those things which are planted, but just need some more heat and light to ripen and get ready for the box. Although a lot of those melons are still not ripe, at least the late corn seems to be coming along and you’ll see some this week. Also there are those “fall crops” which we plant in July or so which I’m always worried about…fall lettuce, spinach, carrots, turnips, broccoli, and cabbage. I get worried because the fall can be so fickle; it can be so cold and wet that a lot of those crops just don’t finish in time and that just drives me crazy! We did all the work to bring the crop along, but mother nature just didn’t get the memo about our plan. This weather sure helps, so I expect some of those greens to make it next week, namely salad mix and arugula.

The other news I’m really excited about is the completion of the farm stand. It turned into one of those summer projects which had so many details that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it off. Kind of like an afghan or something you started…”boy, this is going to be nice, but I know I’m going to have to put in another 40 hours to finish it.” Kind of kills your motivation, especially if a bunch of other things are consuming your time.

Still, it was a bunch of work. My father-in-law and I had it all framed in late July, but I still had to level out a place to sit it on as well as put on the tin roof and back wall. You see, since we have one of those raised driveways, I had to dig in a retaining wall and fill in an area to make it somewhat level…otherwise the stand would have sat at a 45% angle—not good. Mar and I spend a couple nights this week collecting big rocks from our pasture and our neighbor’s land. Along the way we even had a medical emergency since Will got carried away with throwing rocks out of the wagon and beaned his sister with a rock the size of my fist…not cool! Anyway, at the end of the rock-hauling project, it was just me, a diesel tractor, a 700-pound farm stand on skids, and a few chains. When I get into these “farm engineering” projects, I just can’t help dreaming up scenarios where the farm stand is completely destroyed, the tractor starts on fire, or I’m fatally wounded. I had similar visions when we were moving the walk in cooler in the machine shed. Luckily, I dodged another bullet to tell you all about it.

Now that the stand is at the end of our driveway, we just need to put on some finishing touches like a sign and a lock box as well as get the word out (which may not be too hard since we had our first customer come by looking for produce 90 minutes after pulling it in place). But this is the easy and fun part and we’re sure to have things up and running by Sunday. Our plan is to have the stand open Friday-Sunday for sure.


The big news on the farm this week was the patchy frost which came in Tuesday morning. I was outside watching it make its way across the grass when I got up early to do some things before work. It’s tough to watch for me, of course, because I’m deluding myself in thinking it’s still summer…which it’s not. It was only a matter of time till it came, but it always gets me mad anyway. The great saving grace was that it had rained the day before, so plants and veggies were wet enough that the damage was minimal. What happened is that the cold temperatures put a very thin protective coating of ice on the fruit instead of the frost directly, which leaves the fruit undamaged. It’s a curious thing…why wouldn’t the ice damage the fruit? I don’t know, but I’m glad it happened that way. Basically we lost the tops of some eggplant plants which sat in the lowest part of our fields, which is no big deal at all.

Otherwise, the other big news is that Sylvia went to her first day of school ever on Wednesday. Granted it’s only preschool, which lasts 3 hours of something, but it’s still a big step…maybe more so for the parents than Sylvie herself. Just another sign that summer is over. Oh well...

The Alternative Local Economy

Last week, after a very good market day in Detroit Lakes, all of us went down to St. Paul to stay with Maree’s relatives. We had tickets to a concert on Harriet Island on Monday and we had plans to check out the state fair as well as attend our nephew’s second birthday in Red Wing.

The problem with a farmers market is that you have to wake up early, harvest like crazy people for four hours, and then race off to the farmers market to frantically set up and sell produce for another four hours. Last Saturday was so busy we had a line up of a dozen people or so even before we had things on the table…pretty nuts and it kept up that way for a good three hours. Needless to say we were a bit tired, so much so that we bagged the idea of going to the Fair on Sunday. Fighting crowds and walking for miles on end didn’t sound like a real relaxing time to a family with no energy, and, although we really like fair food, it’s not really good food.

So, instead, we decided to check out a place in South Minneapolis called Common Roots Café for lunch. I’ve heard about the place through a sustainable ag listserve since they host a monthly local foods happy hour there for interested foodie-types. I’ve found this one of the best examples of what I call the “alternative local economy” based on local production, connecting people to growers and each other, and fair trade. The restaurant currently source 87% of their food from local sources and pays their entire staff a living wage (which start at $11/hour in MPLS), and, beyond that, they have created a comfortable place where the quality of the food comes before quantity and speed (fast food). It’s a place where people are expected to slow down, talk to their neighbors, and celebrate good food…more of this is needed in this world! This experience, of course, got me thinking about what is possible in our own region of the state.

When I first started as a farm apprentice at Foxtail Farm by Taylors Falls in 2000, there were only a handful of CSAs in Minnesota and pretty much all of them were in the vegetable belt around the twin cities. Even there we pretty much felt like the fringe of society since it seemed like only those crunchy people who hung out a local food coops were talking about local foods and organics. But now the tide has really turned. Many people are searching out farms like our because they not only want fresh produce, but they are pulled to this local alternative economy where people are people and not just consumers, where you can get to know the person who grows your food, where your dollars can stick around and support your community…connections you will not find at your nearest Walmart. So, when I see how the twin cities local foods community has matured in eight years, I imagine where we will be in eight years ourselves… Will there be common roots café in our neck of the woods? Will local cut flowers be available down the street? How about local grains? Local beer? I don’t know about you, but I’m optimistic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sliding into Fall

Well, I was pretty happy with the rain we got earlier in the week. It should have given crops the last push they need to fill out for the season. Even if we don’t get another solid rain and the temperatures are normal, plants are well assured of producing a crop. Before the rain plants were looking a bit stressed and I was running all over the place trying to get the last short-term crops of the year to germinate like fall salad mix.

This is an interesting time of year because you’re really in transition from summer to fall. Just the other day, somebody at the market was asking if things were winding down for the season and I looked at him like he was out of his mind “There’s still 1400 tomato plants with tons of green tomatoes…don’t you dare mention winding down!” For him, it was a fairly cool morning and the leaves had started to rustle a bit with autumn in the air; for me, I still in the trenches battling weeds and harvesting like mad. It shows how the perspectives of two people can really diverge when talking about the same thing. Still, even I feel things slow down a bit. July truly is the nightmare month, and it is about this time in August when I “let it ride” for the rest of the season. What I mean isn’t that I stop working, but I let go of the idea of tending the garden with the same intensity necessary earlier to keep up on the weeds and bugs and such. Just the shortened days alone cause growth to slow down. A weed which germinates this week probably won’t even go to seed before the frost, so why worry. And this is really helpful to us, because it may be a surprise to know that the real challenge about farming isn’t the physical work, but the psychological stress. A season really is a wild ride that you just have to keep on all the way to October. It’s filled with too many tasks to list and too many risks to think about and the stress of that can really grate on a person as the season wears on. That’s why I too celebrate hitting this time of year. Although there are many more things to do, we do start to slow down with the days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Farm Stand Almost Done

I’m feeling pretty good about where things are at this week after last week’s aggravations. Seems like our electric fence is keeping out raccoons and those high-season crops are actually ripening (thanks to 85+ degree heat). It’s tough when you keep slogging through all that work and the plants don’t holding up their end of the bargain; I’ve cultivated, weeded, and trellised tomatoes, but the tomato plants are just giving me green fruit.

One project we’ve made significant progress on is the farm stand which we plan on setting up later this year at the end of our driveway. My father-in-law is a carpenter and he helped me do the framing this past weekend. Our concept is to make it an honest-to-goodness farm stand which makes for a good customer experience. Sometimes people just set up a card table with a couple of coolers or a Menards-built utility shed and try to pawn that off as a farm stand; it just doesn’t do it for me. What we’re building is a 10x6-foot lean-to structure made of recycled barn wood…something that really looks like a farm stand. I keep picturing it spilling over with fall crops this September, so much produce that extra bushel baskets overflow onto the grass…nice sight, eh?. It’s one of those projects you dream up without any sense that you’d ever get to it, but I’m excited it’s actually becoming reality!

The garden work is also in a good place or going according to schedule. We’ve just planted the last seeds for the year like salad mix and radishes. This should give them enough time to get into the boxes by the end of the season as long as we get some germination in this heat. Last night we set the kids up in the van to play (they really like playing in cars) while Mar and I pulled all the garlic out of the ground til nightfall—it’s always a good feeling to be heading to the house at dusk after finishing a job. Also we almost have all the mulch down in between the tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.

It feels good to be mostly “on schedule” at this point because we’ll be hitting the high harvest period as the tomatoes, peppers, corn, and such come in. We end up in a blurry non-stop picking routine from now until mid-September, which makes it tough to get to anything else. Still, other big project await, like pulling all the onions to cure and putting tilling ground for this fall’s cover crops.

Racoon War '08

I was going to write about the ins and outs of organic certification for you’all, but I’ve got coons on my mind right now and I can’t shake them.

A neighbor of mine says that coons are never a problem until the corn gets just right, then they will show up two days before you want to pick it. Well, I’d have to say that his thinking is right. They completely decimated the planting that I was going to pick on Friday…two days before, right on time! Yesterday I noticed that some plants were stripped of their cobs here and there, which was surprising because I’d never had any problems with coons before. I knew that once they had my number that they weren’t going to go away—kind of like zombies in an old horror movie…they just won’t stop. The major outcome
is that the good looking bi-color sweet corn which SHOULD have been in the box today didn’t make it.

With the next planting of corn ripening in another week, I’m guessing what I’ve now dubbed “Coon War ’08” does not end there. My mind is consumed with plotting the next round with these critters. I’ve already told my wife that the dog and I will be sleeping in the machine shed to shoo the racoons away—typically a dog will chase anything most garden-attacking critters, but ours is used to sleeping inside each night. I’m sure if we left him out on his own, he’d just sleep on the deck by the house, so he need a little encouragement. Also, following another neighbor’s technique, I’m looking to set up a polywire fence. Polywire is a tape that carries an electric charge. The trick is to set a single strand just a few inches off the ground. Since raccoons walk with the head down and low, the single strand keeps them out. I like this approach since it is in the organic production mold…pest prevention instead of pest eradication, which needs some form of poison. I’ll stand guard over the next week, and, if all goes well, deliver a slug of corn in your box next Friday—let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What makes a farm nowadays?

What makes a farm nowadays? The word farm has a split personality in our day and age between its “popular” and “modern” meanings. “Modern” farms produce a large amount of today’s output. Large scale operations which produce only a few crops, they are not what many think about when you say farm, but then again, today few of us have a direct connection to these operations. The “popular” notion of a farm invokes a diversified 160 acre farm with an old red barn, International H tractor, and a big old garden out of which grandma canned all the food for the family. My “modern” farm friends say that this is just an relic of the past…people have this nostalgic version of a farm stuck in their heads from the last century, but I say “not so fast.”
Sure, this popular vision of a working farm may be somewhat nostalgic, but we celebrate the diversified farm for good reason. One, these farms have NOT fully disappeared from the landscape. Many are still functioning over a century after they were begun and new ones are sprouting up daily like our own—take a look at the modern organic movement and the number of new growers who operate small farms across the country for proof. Two, there are real positive benefits which diversified farms bring to both the landscape and the local economy. Instead of simply pumping out one or two crops, a diversified farm balances animal husbandry with multiple crops, pastures, and gardens. This supplies not only cash crops for export outside the community and possibly overseas, but food for the family and the local community. The diversified farm is not only a big importer of outside inputs like fertilizer, herbicides, and seeds, but supplies its own fertilizer and compost by caring for animals as well as crops. Just having animals causes the grower to purchase local inputs in ways a number of large cash-grain farms simply don’t. You always need feed, supplies, and possibly vet services to keep a diversified farm going. I often think this is part of the reason many of those communities which relied on the agricultural economy just aren’t doing so well. These modern operations just don’t need what the community has to sell anymore; inputs are gotten in big quantities elsewhere, and modern farms just don’t need people when the only thing you’re caring for is one big tractor.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Farming with Children

People are used to seeing us spend most of our time running after our kids: Sylvia, 3; and Willem, 1. At this age, all you are doing is damage control, especially with the boy, stopping them from doing things like running in the street and destroying property. So, when people learn that we farm produce besides my day job, the usual reaction is “How do you do it?” We wonder this ourselves sometimes too, but, really, it comes down to some serious time management.

One thing we’ve learned is that we have to specialize our labor. We’ve tried working at the same time, hoping that the kids will just stick around, but it typically ends up a disaster. Something like digging potatoes or picking weeds holds a kid’s attention an average of 1-2 minutes; after that, they move onto bigger and better things. So, when we try this, one of us is always chasing after kids and we end up arguing over whose turn it is to catch them before they get hurt or trample a whole crop. Now we trade off a lot. One watches the kids and the other concentrates on farm work. Yesterday I took the kids for a 2-hour bike ride to the lake and Mar did some serious bean picking.

The great part of farming with children is watching them grow up with the farm. Sylvia knew the word “kohlrabi” at a very young age and Will THINKS he’s ready to drive a tractor. I read an article recently by an author named Gene Logsdon in Farming magazine about all the toys farm kids enjoy that you can’t buy in stores: everything from ponds to rocks and bugs. It made me think about the kids’ favorite toy of late: corn. For the past couple of weeks they keep asking us to go ‘play corn’ where they run up and down the corn rows screaming and trying to surprise one another and me. It’s pretty cool that we have four corn patches, so when they get bored with one area, they can move onto another. For me, as a parent, I just love it and I often think about the memories we make for our children. I have great memories of gardening at our plot near the sugar plant in East Grand Forks, wondering off looking for fox along the rail lines or harvesting corn with my family up by Warren, MN. And I grow concerned for those who will only have memories of Playstation, TV, and chatrooms...I’m concerned for their person and I’m concerned for a world where we have no real connection to land and family and community.

Soil Matters

I’m sure as I write you that each one of you have a slightly different soil in your backyard. Yours may be a bit sandy, good black loam, or a yellow clay. A grower has drastically different experiences depending on that soil type. At the farm, our soil is a pretty heavy clay. This has its advantages and its disadvantages. The major advantage is that it seriously retains moisture. For
example, last year when it was extremely dry after June, we didn’t have to set up irrigation until the end of July. Places with sandy soils like near Erhard and Dent had crops simply burn up. The couple disadvantages are compaction and soil
temperature. Both of these issues have been challenges this year since we’ve had the “monsoon season” most of the summer. As I’m sure your own plants did, many crops just sat in the mud not growing at all because of the low soil temperature as well as the retention of moisture. With so much water, plants were turning yellow because they simply weren’t getting oxygen due to saturated ground and not functioning to their best abilities because of the low temperatures. Compaction is the other issue which I think we’ve been skirting to the best of our abilities. The trick here with a clay soil is to use machinery only when the ground is pretty dry, if not, you’ll have cement where the tire tracks are and mud chunk cement pieces where you tilled—not good. This, of course, messes with when you can cultivate to take out the weeds. Basically I’ve been working on being more patient this season, so I should be a better person for it.

With our clay soil, we constantly do a bit each year to amend the soil both to increase fertility as well as change its texture. We want a fertile soil obviously, but we also want one which is more porous and loamy instead of dense yellow clay. In an organic system, this means adding compost and planting cover crops. For example this year we have a cover crop of vetch and rye planted as a cover crop on ground we’re bringing into production next year. Vetch is a legume which looks like a bushy vine with purple flowers; it both fixes a good amount of nitrogen in the ground and adds a lot a biomass when incorporated. By biomass, I mean, a lot a plant material which will decompose into the soil and improve its texture.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Organic Strawberry Production

Strawberrries certainly have their season. They’re so good, all of us at the farm get extremely excited when they first come in. Between jobs, I saunter down to the patch to steal a few berries, and, of course, the kids kind of attack the strawberries in an all-out assult whenever near the garden. The strawberries are like a kid magnet of sorts. Still, after all this excitement, we’ve now hit the point where we can barely look at another one, so it’s good that the season is coming to a close.


Organic strawberries are a real challenge. If you visited, you’d find some towering thistle plants amidst the strawberries. It’s tough because the main crop of berries comes the year after I plant them. But, unlike many other crops, you can’t “clean” the field of weeds in the spring using cultivation. You can weed by hand, but the window to do this is extremely small because strawberry plants will start putting flowers and small berries on early in the season and you don’t want to walk through the patch crushing your potential harvest.

Another trick of the trade is to plant a mix of varieties which have a mix of maturity dates. Right now we are picking from three varieties: Sparkle, Cabot, and Cavendish. I always forget which is which, but one is early season, one is mid-season, and another is late season. In this way we have strawberries longer than if we simply had one variety planted. Having three varieties does make life more complex, however. Picking each of these varieties takes major sampling because each has their own indicators of ripeness. Sparkle can be a dark pink and be ripe, whereas Cabot isn’t ripe until dark red. So, when first picking, I typically eat a few, then pick a few; eat a few, then pick a few, etc. to ensure the best berries reach the box.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Developments for 2008

For both repeat members and new members, I thought I’d write about a few new developments at the farm in 2008.

First, this May we purchased a walk-in cooler. Although my relatives weren’t to pleased to help me move the 800-pound behemoth from Fargo to the back of our machine shed, I’m really pumped up about using it. It’s pretty small by walk-in cooler standards (6 feet wide, 4 feet deep, 8 feet tall), but it will greatly improve harvest around here. You might be thinking that this will just allow me to pawn off less-fresh produce on you all, but, in actuality, it will allow you to receive better produce. Up to this point, we’ve had to harvest on delivery day or the day before, sometimes picking at less than optimal times. We can now pick beans on a Monday or Tuesday when they are at their optimal size and ripeness instead of waiting a few days too late. Weather also plays a factor…we can pick Thursday morning so we won’t rip up the garden and cover everything in mud during a thunderstorm. Lastly, the cooler will help the produce keep longer. Even if picked on a pretty cool day, all produce retains field heat, which will cause vegetables to go bad very quickly if the core temperature isn’t brought down. Now we hydro-cool most of our produce to get the core temperature down by soaking the veggies in a tub of cool well water, but some time spent in the cooler will help even more.

Second, we brought a new field into production last fall, giving us another ½ acre to play with. We’ve been struggling over the last few years to fit everything in, especially space-hungry crops like squash and pumpkins. Typically we get to the last bed in June and we have 6 or 8 flats of plant that still need to get into the ground. The new field has allowed us to plant a fuller range of squash, including Hubbards and Buttercup—which we’ve never grown before—as well as a whole another succession of corn and more melons.

Third, we’re in process of putting together a farm stand for the end of our driveway. We’re getting some posts and beams from a barn tear down and will putting it together between now and mid-August. I want it to have the “look” of a farm stand and I figure the old recycled timbers will do the trick. Right now it’s still an idea on paper, but I’m excited by the prospect of having a place people can pick up some local produce as well as other local products like honey. So many people travel the Pelican and Vergas area, but don’t have a way to experience our farm landscape, so this will give them a stop. Also, I know of a number of people who would like to pick up some produce here and there, but are not interested in becoming a member like yourself for a whole season, so this will allow them to do that. We’re looking to do a first-year run featuring fall crops this September-October on the weekends only. We’ll see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hail! The Bane of Growers Everywhere

Man, I feel like I just can’t catch a break lately. When an isolated storm came through this week, I figured, what’s the chance. But looking at the TV satellite, I noticed the path was slated to come right over the top of our place. And came it did…bringing not just a heavy rain, but about 10 minutes of hail too. Hail! Every growers nightmare. What’s worse it came with a strong wind, so it cuts through plants even better. Basically this affects some crops more than others. The hardest hit are plants with broad leaves like Swiss Chard and the like…you’ll notice that this salad mix isn’t as beautiful as it was just two days ago (there may be a little “picking through” necessary, so look out). It’s actually good that some plants are not as far along as they should be like peppers; right now they are still just little plants with little foliage to lose…it would have been disastrous if actual peppers were on the plants. All told, it could have been worse.

Anyway, I’m thinking the rest of the season will be on the up and up since we’ve gotten the bad stuff out of the way. The soil around here is very heavy and is finally starting to warm up, which gets the plants growing. Up until our recent heat wave, a number of plants just sat there—not much bigger than when I put them in.

Monday, June 30, 2008

First CSA delivery

As all of you already know, this spring has been a real bear…not a nice cuddly bear, but a tough ugly bear who brings plenty of snow, rain, and cold. We shoot to do our first CSA delivery during the third week of June, but it just didn’t happen this year. Things just took too long to plant, and, when planted, didn’t want to grow in cold, wet soils. Things have started growing just enough to pull together a box this week, but, I have to admit, it was tight. Expect the boxes to become fuller as the season moves on.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

CSA filled for the season

We had 15 shares available, but all have been taken for the season.

Man, am I glad winter is done!