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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Yes, we’re still here

The summer solstice has come and gone and most all of the summer crops made it into the ground except for a few more beds of melons and squash to go in Wednesday. I know, I know. We are late on planting as usual. Why the lateness? A big theme for us lately (and well this entire season so far) has been figuring out our new four-acre scale with the increased labor and water demands. And managing two properties has got Josh running in circles (literally, since we don’t have a timer on the irrigation system at the leased field). Needless to say, we’re tired and hanging in there and trying to find time for our family and relaxation. The heart of the season is upon us and we’re running to keep up with everything that needs to be done. The support from the community is what keeps us going! Thank you!

We are in a bit of a produce lull while we wait for summer veggies to mature like zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, beans and basil, but they are just around the corner if the weather would stay warm. We are coming to the end of our small plantings of broccoli and cabbages and hopefully, it will make for a seamless transition. I know you can only eat so much kale.

Our crew planted out a huge number of transplants this past week including popcorn (our little farm experiment), peppers, eggplant and sunflowers. Plants are in a bit of shock, but should pull out of it soon. Our next big task this week is taking out all the weeds that are threatening a major beet, basil and carrot planting. Watch out weeds. Here we come.

We’re having a light market booth this week between some labor changes and our produce lull, but we will still be there with lots of green abundance, so come out and see us. Happy summertime!

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We’ve been busy around here. Planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing, watering, more planting. It has been go-go-go for the last couple of weeks. Plunging forward with our heads to the ground.

Our new intern Mark arrived this last week and now, we’ve got our full crew in swing for the season. Wow! What a difference it makes having one more pair of hands around here. We were done harvesting by 1:30 pm and done washing by 5:00 yesterday. That’s a turn for the better. On harvest days, we’ll sometimes be harvesting into the evening and washing and packing until dark. This was a nice change. Josh and I actually got to take showers and eat dinner at a reasonable hour! Yeah for efficiency!

We’ve planted all of our onions and leeks at the new leased ground — a whopping 10 beds, or to put it in perspective, more than a mile of onions and leeks — 6,000 feet. We are going to be up to our ears in onions and leeks this year. Besides some minor crop failures and pest problems this spring (we’re out of the honeymoon phase), things are proceeding well. We’ve got some major planting hurdles to get over in the next few weeks — lots of summer crop planting, potatoes (still haven’t gotten those in), and carrots, carrots, carrots. We’ve had a bit of a hard time getting carrots off the ground this year, but we’ll have them eventually. We just won’t have them probably until July.

The hens have been very happy on nice, new pasture. The eggs are unbelievable in color because of it. They are also very productive. We are up to our ears in eggs bringing on average 60 dozen to every market!

The Saturday Ashland market has begun. Come see us! It starts today.

We harvested the first of the scarlet red turnips yesterday. They are one of our favorites and have turned out very nice this spring.

turnips

Also, here’s Josh and Mark harvesting radishes in the hot mid-afternoon sun.

radishes

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Plants are finally growing thanks to this beautiful spring weather. Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Market should be beautiful on Tuesday and we’ll have all kinds of new veggies to bring including radishes, bok choy, broccoli raab, pea tendrils and pink petiole mustards.

There is still plenty of room in the CSA. We start up on May 18th. See our 2009csabrochure. Please email or call us if you have questions.

Here’s a picture of our April greenhouse. Full and growing!

greenhouseapril

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Back from vacation and the list of things to do is long. The high tunnel is almost done. With help from neighbors and friends, the plastic should go up on Tuesday. This is exciting because our salad greens, spinach and bunching greens are ready to go out. We are already behind on our planting dates and greenhouse work and it isn’t even March! That said, our two new awesome apprentices arrive on the equinox, so it will be nice to have some eager, helping hands on the farm.

We are finishing up our renewal forms for our og certification. We’ve found two acres to lease next door for the poultry and are still looking for leased land nearby for vegetable production. Any ideas? We realize we’ve maxed out on our two acres here and want to have another five to start doing some rotations with cover crops and veggies.

We had some enlightening conversations with fellow farmers this past week and finally figured out an alternative poultry feed. It is going to take a bit more labor as we will have to mix all the ingredients ourselves, but we are pretty excited about the option. It should cut our feed costs significantly. More on that later.

The oat and pea cover crop is filling in nicely with all the moisture and warmer temperatures. It really does seem like spring is right around the corner. I’ll get some pictures up of the new high tunnel in a few days!

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We are starting to get excited for our 2009 season. We can’t believe we are only 2 months away from going to our first farmers’ market this spring. If all goes well, we are aiming for the first couple of weeks in April. Most of all, we are hoping that we get some snow and moisture some time soon. It has been such a mild winter so far. I mean, it was almost 70 in Ashland the other day!

There is still room in our CSA, but we are filling fast, so don’t forget to sign up!

We’ve been working in the greenhouse alot so far this year. This is one of my most favorite parts of the year. Starting seeds in the quiet of winter. I think we have started over 20,000 onions & leeks. We found that we just didn’t grow enough of these last year and with our increase in markets this year, we are bumping up these 2 crops. Now, we just have to find the space to plant them. We are currently working out some leased land agreements, so they should find a home before planting time.

The first round of salad mix, spinach and bunching greens have germinated and will hopefully be ready to go out into our new hoophouse by the end of February. This will be our first year experimenting with season extension with a really large hoophouse. We hope to do early greens followed by early greenhouse tomatoes. We learned last year that because our site is a bit cooler at 1,800 feet, we rely on season extension for quicker maturity on a lot of crops, especially the warm loving vegetables like peppers & tomatoes.

Josh is about to start a four-week class on designing a farm mentorship, so that we can be better farm mentors for our interns this year. We are so excited about teaching eager, young new farmers and hope we can design a really productive and interesting learning and work experience for folks this year. We are increasing our labor this year to three interns who live and work on the farm. And then adding an hourly laborer to help with weeding and harvesting. We are expanding our markets this year, so we definitely need more help.

We are curious to see how the recession is going to impact our farm this year. We were astounded at the support of our farm in last year’s market season and we look forward to seeing everyone again this spring.

I have posted some new pictures here of our new pastured poultry Eggmobile! We finally got all 200 hens on pasture and the results have been amazing. The egg yolks are so beautiful and richly orange this time of year. We are looking at leasing more land next door to increase our pasture abilities for the hens. Right now, they get about a 1/4 acre in space to wander and eat bugs and grass. It took them a few days to get used to their new house — Josh was out there every evening putting the hens into the house for the night, but they have finally got the hang of it. Josh has been diligently researching alternative poultry rations and has found a farmer who might contract with us to grow certified organic grains for the flock. Josh is going to be talking at the OSU Extension Small Farms Conference in a few weeks about this very same topic. Go to this link if you want to hear him speak: http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/.

I spoke on panel last night on local farming and climate change in Grants Pass. That was a pretty interesting discussion. The questions went all over the place from GMO canola to horse farming. I had fun.

There’s the update. I love this time of year.

Eggmobile

Eggmobile

Eggmobile & hens

Eggmobile & hens

Everett in the Hen Brooder

Everett in the Hen Brooder

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Farm Pictures

Here are some new pictures of the farm. These are for all of you who have visited in the past. Now, you can see how the farm has changed. All of these were taken from the deck.

Here’s the corn and winter squash patch.

And a view of our ever slow-growing tomatoes on the left. You can see the chickens down below in their pasture pen too. And the shiny (well, not so shiny anymore) new tractor. A new advent on the farm: we are adding 70 broilers to the farm next week! Oh my goodness!

And then a wider view of the garden….

And finally, here is a picture of potatoes and onions and a whole slew of other crops growing in the area we had fire last year. We were calling this the desert zone recently (because we couldn’t get water to it easily and it was drying out), but we have solved that problem and everything is responding now. We have been pulling beautiful Purple Peruvian and Banana Fingerling potatoes and Walla Walla Sweet onions from this section recently.

I’ll get some up close photos soon…I meant to take some pictures of our CSA boxes this week, but I was tired last night and forgot. I promise I’ll do it next.

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July

I know, I know. It has been a few weeks since we’ve posted. It’s July. It’s busy.

What’s new at the farm: everything is growing fast and big. I feel like we are finally into the abundance of summer. It took long enough. All the veggies are doing really good. We’ve been up to our ears in cauliflower and broccoli, but that is slowly coming to an end. We are finally transitioning into our summer crops, a little late, but more than welcome at this point. We’ve picked the first of the basil and potatoes, zucchini and beans are just around the corner. The corn is tall and flowering (already?) and the tomatoes are setting fruit (finally!).

Josh, Everett and I went away last weekend to our dear friend’s wedding in Oakland, so we left the farm to Patrick and Katherine for the weekend. They did a great job of keeping everything watered and alive. They started 70 plus trays of the fall crops and even managed to have a little party while we were away! 🙂

We’ve also stopped going to the Medford market and will be starting up the Ashland Saturday market this weekend. So, we will see how it goes. It was a hard decision to make, especially because we have been enjoying providing produce to Medford folks, but the sales aren’t high for us in Medford and we need to meet our bottom line this year. Three markets a week would overwhelm us. We hope to go back to Medford this year.

The CSA is is in its tenth week, almost half-way through! We have started selling produce to the McCully House Inn in Jacksonville and continue to provide Chateaulin with produce as well. The Siskiyou CSA is moving along as well.

We’ve had a few challengs with our truck breaking down a couple of times. We’ve thrown a lot of money to it in the last few weeks and it has set us back a bit financially, but it is sort of an important asset. It definitely has us thinking about what to do next year….

So, our strawberries. We haven’t had one good pick this year yet. We have 1,000 plants. I’ve had one strawberry from 1,000 plants. It makes no sense. We’ve had a little critter eating all of the ripe berries. We put out a live trap last night and trapped a fox. Josh was going to release it up in the woods a couple of miles up the road this morning. I’m curious to see how that went. We are going to piecemeal together some fencing to keep any more animals from eating the strawberries. This has been a big loss for us so far this year. Losing a high-value crop over the last few weeks has set us back some, but since the plants are everbearing, we still have some time to do some good picks from the plants if we can control the herbivores or omnivores or whatever they are.

It was such a full bright moon last night and all the animals were out moaning and yelping. It was intense.

Okay, I’m going to post some pictures soon of the farm, if I can just get around and take some photos. Happy weekend.

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