Friday, August 12, 2011

On the downhill.

Hi all, we're past the halfway point, which means it's getting to that point in the summer when there is just so much to do it's hard to keep track. Thus, the late blog post this week. Never enough time!
And speaking of that, sometimes it's hard to remember why I've decided to choose farming as a way of life. There is always so much to do, the weeds, the animals, the harvesting, the preparation for fall, winter, next spring, the list is endless. And I'm the type of person who needs to be going all the time. So it's critical to remember why I do what I do. Aside from providing real food for my family, friends, neighbors and community, aside from leaving the planet better than when I arrived, aside from trying to change the course of humanity's actions on earth...there are much more important things in life. Below is one example.

We are graced to live in an idyllic setting just through the woods from the farm on a beautiful lake in a mixed forest. Here is a shot of our wonderful daughter on one of her canoe rides with daddy. Each night after dinner and in the mornings on the weekends (after I make French Toast with 'Good Bread' and our eggs, Lizzie and I check the lake to see if it is calm as glass. If it is, we take a short canoe ride together. Here we are at sunset enjoying the tranquility just before her bedtime. This is what it's all about.

Daddy's little helper loves to paddle like a big girl! And she's quite good at it thank you very much.

And now onto the nitty gritty of farm and garden life. Below is an example of a problem. A big, big problem. This little dandy is called a giant horn worm. It doesn't look like much and in fact I thought it was a swallow tail moth caterpillar at first. But this thing eats tomato plants...yes, entire plants. They are making a big dent this summer across the state. Most pests go in cycles (nature's great that way) and this is a good year for them. This is the first and only one I've seen in the garden, knock on wood. Just one can pretty much destroy a plant in a couple of days. I can tell you that chickens love giant hornworms...;-)

Another problem...sort of. As I mentioned there is always tons to do. Here is an example of a success that breeds more to do. As you can see from several photos throughout this post, the tomatoes in the greenhouses are doing very, very well. In fact, they are up to the top of the hoop houses and curling around the plastic. Thus, they need to be lowered. You can see I've done one here and need to do the rest. This must be done on either a rainy day or very early/late in the day because it's too dangerous to be in the hoop houses on a sunny day between about 9 am and 5pm. On another note, I'll be including some green tomatoes soon because we need to trip the bottom of the plants to one single stem in order to drop them to the ground and give the tops more room to grow again.

Here is one 'New Girl' tomato begging to be lowered!

And here are the Sun Gold tomatoes proving they are indeed hybrids. The rafters in this greenhouse are about 10 feet up. The vines are well past that!

And now for something that is as far from problem as you can get! This is the first vine ripe heirloom to come out of the garden this season. Cherokee Purple and this is from a plant that bloomed from my seed saving efforts. In other words, I saved see from a plant last year and I'm selecting for uniformity without cracking (a common problem with some heirlooms). This is a rousing success...and it tasted absolutely wonderful! I harvested a bunch of heirlooms yesterday and soon there will be enough to put in the shares (assuming the late blight stays in Waldo county - keep your fingers crossed for scorching weather with low winds).

Another success. Found this beautiful Tasty Jade cucumber hanging in the Cathedral house. It's huge! And it was still quite tasty! We took family photos with this one.

It's no match for our little guy who weighed in yesterday at his 4 month check-up at 16+lbs. Not bad since he was just over 5 lbs at birth! Good job buddy!

Lizzie's newest facial expression is definitely appropriate here. 'Dad, how are we supposed to eat this?!?!?!'

And here is another example of one more thing to do. Starting over. It's a continual process when you are a small, diversified farmer trying to use the land intensively. Here is a newly tilled bed in the beginning stages of getting ready for fall.

You may notice some black spots on your basil. We try to get rid of those in the process of harvesting and packing but miss some when we deal with so much basil each week. Be sure to go through your basil and pull those leaves off right away or it will spread. This is a problem that afflicts basil at the end of it's life. It will not harm you but those leaves won't taste good so discard them and use the rest.

Here is another shot of the tomatoes with the basil. I will be cutting of things like this to allow the plants to be dropped. These will be the type of green tomatoes you'll be getting in your share (probably).

Zucchini. Time slipped by me this week and when I looked at the zucchini yesterday I was amazed...and I've seen some big zucchini in my day! I found one that weighed 10 lbs. I am keeping that one and several others. The best thing to do with zucchini this large is make bread or soup or something that involves cooking. Fried zucchini slices are a good choice and we'll be enjoying some at our house this week! I hope to have more time to harvest regularly this week to avoid such gigantic specimens in the future!

Lemon Cucumbers! Yes, they are cool and they are wonderful and I will be growing them each year from now on. They are ready when they look like a lemon (like what's in your share). They are so tender they don't need to be peeled, which is a plus since their shape makes it hard to do so. We've been having a lot of cucumber sandwiches lately and these make great selections.

The grapes are starting to blush!!!

Here is a shot to give a little perspective on the Sun Golds. I'm 6'2"...

And here is why we need to lower them. I can't even reach 3/4 up the plants anymore!

A beautiful assortment of beans in your share this week. The Royal Burgundy Bush Beans (purple ones) are good raw as a snack. Cook them and they fade to green.

Here are a few more quick photos before I head out to rake blueberries today.

These are all zucchini and summer squash. I love variety in the garden!

Here's the 10 pounder!

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