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

Lettuce tell you a story

So if you keep up on the blog you know that we put in a whole lot of lettuce quite some time ago. 200 bed feet to be exact and thats about 600 lettuce plants. They were on their way to being the stars of the spring harvest and then the wireworms found them.

Here is the little bugger with his beady little head inside the base of a little lettuce plant

So we set out to put some more lettuce in the ground. Fortunately I over sowed lettuce and we have a patch that may be less infested with our wonderful little insect baby friend.

Here is an eager little beaver

Have lettuce luggage, will travel

Even Ester the dairy cow lent a helping toe

All in all, we got another 400 or so lettuce plants in the ground.