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!