Carrot Frosting

No, not the kind you put on a cake but the kind that happens after hail!
We went out to harvest carrots and the shear delight of yanking out stuff from the ground with the ground covered in white was a real treat. I grew up in a climate that would not allow this to be happening at this time of year. I hope the punch packed for us tonight and tomorrow don't freeze the shoulders of these little wintertime gems. If these were diamonds they would be more than 12 karats each.
Carrots and sleet

Farmer Scott contemplating the next cold snap

WinterTime Fun

Well, it happened last night. As I was sleeping I heard the first and second (and the only 2) cracks of lightning. It was nice to know that there was something good out there fixing atmospheric nitrogen N2 into available N2O for the soil and plants. Its the hardest thing to make in nature. But then I began to sigh, as I heard the pelleting of hail hitting the roof. "It must be cold out there" I said to the unattentive n sleeper next to me. I wondered what might be happening to all the greens and the cauliflower and the sprouting broccoli plants. But knowing I have no control over it all, I fell back asleep.
I awoke to a winter wonderland of a sheet of frozen together hail balls. It had to be worse than I imagined in my dreams. I suited up and took a walk, after my morning tea, nothing gets me away from that.
The first thing I saw was the pullets (not laying hens) and their white playground. They tend to like the tastey green stuff that grows there but its all gone now.

Then I saw this lonely pumpkin that fell out of the wheel barrow during harvest and has sat there for over a month now. It is a symbol of harvest that greets everyone who enter the garden. I think it might make a great head to a snowman or is that a hailman?

A quick walk around the fields yielded the following results: It hailed and it hailed a lot. Luckily it was small. I hope the plant tissue can handle the cold cause they are now "on ice". And its supposed to be even colder tonight, minus the sleet. What is the difference between sleet and hail anyway?





Ode to a summer Veggie

The summer is long gone, its tell tale sign only visible on the calendar and the lack of tomatoes. What makes the tomato such a beloved veggie? Why is it the one thing that farmers try their darndest to get to market first? Why does it draw such great devotion to the subtle variations in tastes and textures? The delicate flavors of a single tomato could be the culprit to such sinister acts as wrecking a home. Many a time I have been at a friends house and saw with my own eyes the fervor that wells inside some over their tomatoes. I myself have such an addiction to these lovely fruits that during the peak of the season I have been known to eat entire meals of juicy tomatoes. A tomato is where I spend my summer vacation. Its very inexpensive and I get to visit every day. Every tomato welcomes me with a floral scent encouraging me to bite in and feel the juice run down my face. One should never attempt to slow or divert the flow with a napkin, a sleeve is acceptable but true etiquette calls for it to drip off ones face.

Like those who enjoy thier BonBons sitting in front of the TV, I find a view of the garden much more relaxing and the commercials (things buzzing about the air) are always louder than the actual program for some reason. I stand and pop those little dots of cherry tomatoes in my mouth, one by one, pint by pint until I am well satiated. 

And then there are those times that I find myself actually in the house cooking, with a tomato none-the-less. I made a burger this past summer with everything but the bread from farm raised stuff. It was heavenly, fulfilling and made me take a nap afterwards. I am reliving this day until next year when we have tomatoes on the farm again. I love the seasonality of it all. I can never get sick of one thing because its never around long enough for that to happen. And I have renewed appreciation for what I have lost. May the spirit of the tomato be with us all.

Hoophouses and greens

Although we live at roughly the same latitude as the bone chillin' Minnesota or North Dakota, we have an ocean to regulate the temperatures a bit, or a lot! The same ocean that makes it difficult to grow hot season plants here is the same one that makes it possible to grow cold tolerant greens in the winter. In recent years there has been a lot of emphasis put on hoop houses to extend seasons, even in the bone chillin' north. These structures give plants a few degrees protection from frost and cold and also stop the winds that make things freeze faster.

We planted out hoophouse to green things a few weeks ago to some greens we hope make it through the "cold winter" we are supposed to have this year. In there is some lettuce, mustard greens, cabbage, chard, and kale. I would like to keep a few of the survivors and let them seed out. I could then collect the seeds next summer and plant them again in the fall for winter survival. If I do this enough times I will have seeds that are very tolerant to our cold snaps. As of now I use seed that is purchased and not bred for things like cold tolerance. Who knows, maybe soon we will have our own breed of lettuce. And besides, it just plain makes sense for a farmer to start saving his own seed for future use.


Farm Tour season is still in full swing. The other day we received a group of young WSU students wishing to learn more about sustainable agriculture in the PNW. They were given the full round about tour of everything a small, integrated farm has to offer and its many interrelated parts that make it a functioning whole. Its refreshing to offer this insight to the next generation when they are inundated with information that revolves around how large industrial farms operate. They learn the importance of and how to close the loop of inputs and outputs, making a small farm profitable in the newly emerging small farm economy. But it wasn't all seriousness. We set out to get them geared up for their next frightful Halloween by providing them with farm raised pumpkins to carve and eat! 

Pipes, covers, colors

Here on the farm is a blast. Especially when the wind starts a blowing. All the dry summer we use an irrigation known as drip tape. It lets out a drip of water every 4" and keeps the soil moist when the dry PNW winds are a blowing all summer long. Even though it may seem moist in the air, the soil dries out considerably. This method allows us to not help along the fungus and plant problems that occur with over head irrigation. It also allows us to save water. And believe it or not we need to save water. But I digress... The tape is a bit of a hassle to deal with when done for the season. It lasts at least two if not three but is so thin that it just tangles into a mess if not rolled. I got the great idea to just bunch it all up, all 17,000 feet of it and lay it out flat. I then laid about 45 fence posts across it all. I hope this holds them down for the winter or I will need to buy new spools of the stuff. Lets all cross our fingers that the drip tape doesn't cross itself into a mess.

Thanks to CSA

As the season winds down we want to give out a big shout to our CSA members who have supported us throughout the worst growing season in 3 decades! Yea and we hope you all have enjoyed your wonderful variety of veggies and they have nurtured your bodies and souls. We still have 3 more weeks left and you better like root crops and squash! Hope to see you all next year, just a few months away til spring share season...


The piggy named Spike loves to give rides. He actually enjoys when I get on his back. I think its like chiropractic medicine for him and all that wonderful tasty bacon he has to carry around. Mmmmmmm, bacon....

Fall Flavor

The season has been long and difficult. The worst in 2 decades I am told (depending on who you speak with). But we have harvested the winter squash and have hauled it into the greenhouse to protected it from the coming weather. Its not as huge as expected but at least we have some to eat in the months ahead.
We tore into 3 different varieties and the results are good. They have firm flesh and are sweet. Not as sweet as I had hoped or what I am used to but none the less very tasty. They cooked up nice in the oven, held their moisture and even got a bit flakey near the end. We ate them right out of the shells. Just a bit of salt and butter. Then we made a bit of bread and a whole mess of creamed squash soup.
We put in several varieties but the best ones are sweet meat, baby blue hubbard, and burgess buttercup. Unfortunately these are the ones that produced the least in our wonderful climate. As I have been saying all  year long, "there is always next year!"
We hope you enjoy all of them over the next few months...

The Government

We are Back! We took a hiatus from this blog due to some big brothers, i.e, the government, having an itch to scratch with our farm. Thanks to a new law put into action earlier this year we can now have apprentices come to the farm and learn all about the wonderful ways of farming without having to spend fifty thousand dollars to go to university. And besides they will get a better curriculum that has loads of hands on learning, eat way better food than in the cafeteria and not have to deal with their dorm mates. We will be growing the new generation of farmers right here on the island and it wont be conventional agribusiness. Nope none of that at all, in fact we will be teaching how to run a business that is small, sustainable, profitable, good for the community, good for the body, bring down the agribusiness giants kind of farming. If your Monsanto, ConAgri, or ADM and your reading this you should be very concerned. The era of behemoth, blue chip monopolies is over. Its time for the synergy of mind, body and spirit to control the food once again.

Roots and More

Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes

And more potatoes 

Oh my god, the potatoes are dragging me into the ground! 

 The fall leeks went in yesterday

Project day

The other day we were so caught up in the garden we decided to start work on some projects. We got a lot done but as of today, Friday, we are behind again. So goes farming.

This is our local Zapatista all up in arms. He wields not sticks of fury but of wheel barrow handiness. Wheel barrows last forever but every once in awhile you need to replace the handles.

Instead of building we were deconstructing a huge steel sink to be used in cleaning all the bountiful produce. Hack saws away! Be gone ye copper pipes.

And then a sink with peepholes. We are going to build a better faucet head for cleaning food.

This is not nap time on the farm! The drains needed to be made bigger so all the gunk from the fields doesnt clog it up. The water is piped out to the beds where it will be used to grow the water hungry celery.

Gandalf the great paid us a visit and offered to stir our biodynamic prep with his powerful and magical walking staff. It has great potentizing powers.

And our onions got a special treat of fish emulsion to help them get some big green growth. This stuff is loaded with nitrogen to make em big and tasty.

The spring frogs are everywhere. Here one was helping me to harvest some greens.

And look at this beauty. A work of art fit for a museum. Or maybe our farm. This masterpiece will greet all the members as they come to get their share each week.

A mixture

How bout an introduction to what we plant all our starters in. Its an important ingredient for the farm. Without a proper mixture of stuff we wouldn't be able to get early broccoli, there would be no tomatoes, and we might have to fight mother nature for our winter squashes.
The first thing we use is Coir.

Its imported from India and its made of coconut husks. Its packed into a 12"x12"x5" brick that weighs about as much as a brick of gold. It adds a lot of fluff to our mix and hold lots and lots of water. Before anyone gets on the bandwagon of how far it traveled lets just say that it consumed less fossil fuel getting here by boat than peat would have by truck from eastern Canada. And it doesn't require someone to destroy a peat bog in the process. I just wish they would leave some of the coconut in the bag!
And the next part is the compost. We make that right here with grass and cows (and a few horses help too).
In the front pile (next to the wheel barrow) is a pile being built. Behind it is the finished stuff. Sweet, brown and full of yummi nutrients for the plants.
Next goes in the soil.  Here our presenter shows a finely made bed. We scoop shovels out of many area of the garden. It is needed so the seeds and baby plants can get to know the soil they will eventually spend their lives in. It brings the "alive" spirit to the mix.

Then it all gets screened for big chunks, rocks, and sticks.

And finally we mix in puffed volcanic ash. I call it "earth popcorn". Its like snow but will never melt. It adds porosity or air spaces to the mix. Roots need to breath.
In the end we get a fluffy mix that is a lot like snow in its fun factor. Here we have a demonstration of soil mix angel making. No snow suit required!

We put this in the flat plugs first to get the seeds started. These are baby tomatoes.

And then they moved to bigger pots on a warm sunny day

Halloween in April

The seeds for winter squash, pumpkins, and summer squash (a.k.a. zucchini) went into their pots on Thursday. It was a fruit day on the biodynamic astro calendar and since they bear fruits we started them on their way. We have about 500 winter squash and 200 summer squash. They will sit in their pots for a couple of short weeks and then be potted out into the field for uninhibited growth. Next thing you know it will be the season of ghouls and growls and black cats that prowl.

So goes the wires of our worms

I dont mean to draw out this issue we have with wireworms but it really fascinates me. I have such surprises when I come upon what this little one inch, tannish, insect does to the stuff on our farm. For instance, we put out some "test tubers" in the fields to see how many of them would be attracted. You see, they really, really prefer potatoes over anything else. Its an easy way to see how bad they are. Look at this spud below after only a few days in the ground...

And this is just one! Imagine a whole field of potatoes, the ones we grow just for all your CSA'ers, getting munched on by these things. Its devastating. And the real bummer of this all is that about the only way to get rid of them is to let loose a herd of pigs to root them up (we are working on this method).

And then there is the issue of how we make our potting mix. We make a mixture of coconut coir, compost and soil. Well, the soil has wireworms in it and every once in awhile one makes its way into a pot. In the below example on the left is a what happens to an eggplant when it is invaded with a wireworm and on the right is a healthy one.
Needless to say the plant is not going to make it. The wireworm has munched its way into the stem of the plant and made it a feast fit for a, well, an insect in its larval form of about the size of the stem.

Note: we are in process of getting in touch with the garden fairies to discuss this issue with the wireworms and hope to work out an amicable deal of percentage of loss to them in exchange for us to let them be in their space. I am counting on 10% but I think they may want 15%. Will keep you informed.

For Sale: Limited Quantity

Come one and come all. For a short and frenzied time there will be tomato plants for sale in the farm stand. Since the hard freeze took out about our entire "for sale" crop it wont last long. We have Stupice and Chocolate Cherry.

Ooooh, and there are great greens for sale as well. Fresh out of the hoophouse and ready for a wonderful salad dressing. Though these will be around a lot longer than the plants they are sweet as candy thanks to the cold weather that did, well, you read the top part of this....

Up to date

The week and the future
Its warming up and things are starting to finally look like they are growing but we also got hit very hard with a strong freeze. It took out a lot of tomato plants in the hoophouse. There may not be many for sale this year. Everything else survived well. We got put in another few beds of cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi, thanks to the help of some volunteers.
The greens are coming on strong so we should be harvesting soon. Its looking like we will have to wait til the first week of May to make our first distribution. And it will be loaded with leafy green things.
Everything is covered with floating row cover in anticipation of flea beetles and cabbage maggots and the carrot rust flies.
Tomatoes are getting moved to bigger pots on Thursday and we are putting in the squash seeds for the season then as well. Its a fruit time on the biodynamic calendar. Speaking of which we gave spirit rights to the compost pile the other day and put in our biodynamic preparations. Next is to mix up some good ole horn manure and give it a spray on the garden. Then to the horn silica to enliven the plants with the qualities of the air and warmth.

The new sound garden

Its just about as grunge as the old sound garden but with more grit. Be sure to stop by the greenhouse to play the bottles or bang the pans...

Magic and Mystery

In order to combat the growing threat of a loss of imagination, we have instituted a fairy, nome, and yes even troll sanctuary in the garden. A part of farming that goes untended most times, the encouragement of a special kind of magic is needed to encourage the soil to be sweet, the plants to grow strong and the general overall health of all visitors to be uplifted and connected. We can only accomplish this with our fellow garden protectors.
In doing this we are fabricating many play places for the spirits that bring life to the garden. If any of this sounds hokey, then good, we have done our job!

Huge metal rooster mojo

A crow of scare for Bald Eagles but maybe for trolls as well

Fairy homes, production phase


Fairy home #1 installed

Fairy home #2 installed