Friday, May 28, 2010

One Week!!!!!!!!!!

Just think, one week from now you might be reading this very blog over an amazing spring salad with greens so fresh they were picked only hours ago and only a few miles from where you sit. We're down to the final week before the first delivery of the Parker Produce, CSA season. I wanted to give a glimpse of what I get to work with each day. The views are spectacular, the earth is close at hand and all about me is nature. All this and I get the satisfaction of feeding my community, neighbors and family the best food available on that was grown locally, in healthy soils that I feed with nothing more than compost and elbow grease. Here is a shot of one of our herb gardens. On the right is some mint, chives in the center and you can't make out the thyme or rhubarb. I did not put the hay wagon there but it is a nice touch. ;-)
Here is my latest invention - The open air Egg-mobile. This is where our chicks are for the rest of the summer. It's a massive sort of building on wheels. I can move it myself as I installed some old bike tires on the front (but it's easier when Brittany and I move it together and I'm grateful for her help). The chicks love it. They have access to new, fresh, green pasture everyday. The entire thing is surrounded by 'invisible' deer fencing. They get fresh greens and earth each day and as a side benefit for me, they 'mow' the grass. It's working great.
Here is a shot of the garden. What a view!

And another.
Finally, a shot of some of the peas. You can't really make it out but one of the varieties have blossoms all over them (future peas!). You can also see two types of lettuce, spinach, beet greens, dill and sunflowers. Diversity, diversity, diversity. Until next week...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two weeks to the first delivery.

A wonderful stretch of weather including that much needed rain we received the other day, has let loose a frenzy of activity in the garden. Things are growing like crazy and we're putting things in the ground as fast as we can! In just two weeks, our CSA members will be enjoying their first delivery of local, beyond organic, healthy, ultra-fresh produce from our gardens. Food that was grown in fertile, healthy soil, less than 50 miles from your kitchen and harvested the same morning you received it while the cold and dew drops are still clinging to the plants...The way life should be. Here is a shot of just a small portion of the gardens. The lettuce is coming in like a wonderful carpet of color and will be great in the first share.
I also uncovered the first transplants of broccoli yesterday. Brittany went through and cleaned the dandelions that had made a nice home under the row cover while it was protecting the tender young plants. Now it looks great and they are coming along nicely. Today we moved the hoops to the far bed that you can see in the background to cover some potatoes that should be sending up shoots any day now.
Jim and I finally finished trellising 11 rows of Sugar Snap Peas. These will reach well over 6 feet tall and give forth an awesome bounty of sweet, mouth-watering pea pods, perfect for late spring and early summer!

Here is another great example of my gardening philosophy, ever changing and expanding. Diversity is always best, the more the better. In this row you can see pod peas, freshly planted Lillian's Yellow Tomato transplants and chard transplants. Nature will put something on any square inch of ground that is exposed to the water and sun. Why not put something there yourself and make it a plant that can be harvested?

Finally, a nice shot of the garlic bed with the movable greenhouse in the back. It's open to allow for ventilation on an awesome day like today.

Fresh produce, two weeks and counting!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Baby chicks, tomato plants and fresh from the garden salad...

...who could ask for anything more?
I have been meaning to post some photos of our newest arrivals. We ordered 30 baby chicks this year to accommodate all of our members who answered our survey regarding interest in eggs from Parker Produce. Once we have a 'final count' of this year's new members I'll be asking again and we may end up putting in another order...depends on the interest in local, pastured hen, humane eggs. These chicks arrived about 2 weeks ago as day old chicks...
...and now look at them. I guess if you don't have a comparison shot they don't look that big but they are! That's a 4ft high plywood wall on the right (below) and they are just about able to leap/fly over it. It won't be long before I get them down to the farm and onto fresh pasture in the garden.
I also want documentary proof this year of my efforts in the tomato department. Last year's blight infested, rain filled, cold summer led to a total loss of crop. Unlike other farmers, I am unwilling to drown my plants and garden in copper sulfide (organically approved!) as it stays in the soil at least 90 years! I don't find it ethical to do something to the soil that will last long after I'm gone just so I and my CSA members can have tomatoes for a few weeks at the end of the summer. I want to thank all of our returning members for their support of that decision.
This doesn't mean it isn't a horrible, horrible thing to spend literally hundreds of hours on tomatoes, blocking, seeding, transplanting, planting out, staking, trellising, weeding, pruning etc. only to be forced to rip them out, covered in disgusting late blight. Jim, a gentleman who helps out at the farm, can attest to my depression over last year. It wasn't a good day when they all got ripped out. Worst of all, we didn't have tomatoes last season. Ugh! I love tomatoes and I know many of our members feel the same. Hopefully, this year will be better weather wise. I'm also trying a new theory if the blight moves into the state again. Stay tuned but keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't happen. Below are my most recently started tomato seedlings.

And here is a shot of some that have been at it for a while. Once the last throws of winter (frost last night) leave us, I'll be able to get these out into the garden and start working on the trellising.

Finally, this weekend our family celebrated Mother's Day and a couple of birthdays and we had a big feast. I was able to get out the garden and grab a few things to throw together a wonderful, fresh salad made up of healthy, beyond organic, ultra-fresh (it takes about 45 seconds to walk from the garden to the house...beat that California bagged greens!) greens and radishes. Delicious!
To our new members, this is what you can expect in your first few deliveries...among other things. I hope everyone is enjoying the spring and looking forward to the beginning of the CSA season (which for me started last November :-).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One month till the first delivery! Regular posts begin.

One month till the first CSA delivery and we're in full swing at the farm. I've suspended our Spring Club for the rest of the year and will pick it up again in the fall after a short rest from the CSA season.
Now Brittany and I are devoting our days to planting, planting and more planting, as well as all other activities related to getting things in order for a successful season. Brittany is doing an amazing job at the farm and we're very appreciative of her help and glad to have her on board.
Below is a photo of our first ever attempt at early broccoli. You can't see the broccoli plants but their under there. Hopefully, this will translate into broccoli in the spring instead of in the fall when I normally have it!
This photo gives you a shot of a small sliver of the garden but also me putting up a length of chicken wire for a trellis for the sugar snap peas. They are up and doing quite nicely.
Here is my pride an joy in the garden. The new greenhouse, completely recovered from the horrible wind-storm damage of the fall, in it's new location. You can see some of the crops that it was just covering last week. Brittany and I prepped the new location (after the chickens did some work for a month) and rolled the greenhouse over in about 20 minutes. Very cool! Now we are working on filling it with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil and more! Moving the house allows the crops you can see to slow down their growth and not bolt (go to seed).

Here is Lizzie sampling the beet greens and spinach and trying so very hard to walk only on the walking paths and not in the vegetable beds...she does a great job and will be an expert by the end of the summer I think.

Finally, we once again participated in the H.O.P.E. Festival this past week. A wonderful event that also gives us a great chance to showcase our ideas and farm. We had a great display and a lot of people stopped by to chat about the implications of an alternative model of agriculture and local, beyond organic food.