Saturday, October 27, 2012

After a quick harvest for our Hampden area members I moved one of our greenhouses.  I was finally able to align the stars and catch it on video.  I'll include links to the Youtube channel so anyone who is interested can watch the video and see how we make our mobile houses work in the garden.  First, some new items on our weekly member's email list.  
Brussels Sprouts aren't new but with the first couple of major frosts behind us they will begin to sweeten up.  A real treat!

Speaking of treats, here is one to go with the trick or treat holiday.  I experimented with a late planting of white satin and scarlet nantes carrots and it paid off with our Halloween Carrots Mix.  Beautiful, seasonal and delicious!

I forgot to rotate this picture before putting it on here but you can see one of the key ingredients in next spring's greenhouse move success.  If you don't grease the rails before assembly they don't come apart very easily (and that's a nice way of saying it)!

And here is the greenhouse all prepped and just about ready to move.  You can see the newly shaped, fed and planted beds in the foreground.  At this hour it's already nestled into it's new home for winter.  I've included the links to the videos I shot this morning while moving it.  Be careful with the first one if you are easily motion sick from video.  Sorry, my first walking and filming didn't go well but I didn't realize it until I watched the video later.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Fall!  What a week this is shaping up to be.  I'll be working on our firewood, planting and mulching garlic and getting beds prepped and planted for the annual fall greenhouse move.  The weather will hopefully cooperate with a respite from the rain.  Before getting the week started I figured it was high time for a blog post.  Below is a photo of some of the ribbons from the Common Ground Fair.  I wasn't able to take the time for a photo shoot while we still had the fresh greens, peas and beans but the ribbons in front represent those items.  All in all we did pretty well.  28 items entered, 13 blue ribbons and 14 red.

This Connecticut Field Pumpkin was one of my favorite entries from our farm.

The next few photos are dedicated to Tim.  He is probably back in England now but he was an invaluable addition to our farm this spring.  In fact, without his help we wouldn't have had nearly the amazing onion crop we have.  He dedicated himself to the health and watering of our seedlings in the spring.  I know he'll take pride in these ribbons for our Ailsa Craig, Red Wing and Patterson Onions.  

Some of our dry beans!

I'm very pleased with this Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.  I had never grown them before but they are now a permanent addition to the Parker Family Farm annual squash field.

Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage.  We didn't have much of a cabbage crop this year but hopefully I'll get a chance to convert what we did get into kraut!

Diablo Brussels Sprouts...and lots of them!

Leeks.  This year I experimented with a new inter-planting idea.  Leeks in the middle of our early beet crop.  It worked very well.  Now the beets are long gone and thanks to Jim and I the leeks are all well mulched for fall.


The weekly Brussels Sprouts harvest requires a long, sturdy cart (only 10 stalks is nearly too much for me to push up the hill to the compost pile) to move them to the compost pile for de-leafing and heading.  

Well, that's all for now.  Off to prep beds and stack firewood.  Be well.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcoming Autumn on the farm

Happy Autumn everyone!  Lizzie wasn't feeling well this morning so I stayed home from market.  This not only gave me the rare opportunity to take my time with the harvest and packing, but also to do a long delayed blog update.  And it turns out autumn is a wonderful time to catch things on the farm in photos.  Below are some of the items that are currently being pulled in from the gardens and some items that are soon to be available to our members and at markets.

Our large, slicing tomatoes are a big hit this time of year.  Not long from now the plants will be frosted but until then we'll get plenty of enjoyment from a great tomato season.

Our newest offering is a mix of baby chard, baby beet greens and baby lettuce.  This is also a very popular item after a month and a half without lettuce or greens during the heat of summer.  Nice to be back!

The winter squash field is looking very nice with the plants dying back to reveal a bounty like none I've experienced thus far as a farmer.  It makes me look forward to our annual tour during which we'll offer hay rides for pumpkins!

Farmer's Choice Heirloom Tomato Mix.

Blue Hubbard Squash.  This one is the size of a beach ball!  Enjoy Jim!

Lemon Cucumbers.  Our Farmer's Choice Share Members will find two pounds of these beauties in their share bag this week.  They are a wonderful, interesting, prolific cucumber.  This time of year when we start to get a little rain again and it's still hot, the plants go nuts and so does the amount of fruit.  I can barely stay ahead of them and I only have 5 plants!

Your standard salad cucumbers.

Another item that our FCS members will find this week that's new is this flat pod Italian type of green bean.  Don't let the 'weird' shape fool you.  This is a great tasting bean.  Unlike many of our other bush beans though, I recommend cooking this one rather than sampling raw.  They tend to be a bit 'toothy' when raw but that disappears when sauteed lightly in olive oil or steamed.

A flat, yellow podded pole bean.

Another shot.  Ok I was just enjoying playing with Em's fancy camera here.

Ruby Ring Onions.  I'm sometimes surprised when orders come in on Monday night about what is hot on the list.  This was one of those cases.  Our members like red onions...who knew?

Our lettuce mix is back as summer winds down and autumn picks up.

Another new item for our FCS members.  Red Kuri Squash.  This is considered an Hubbard squash and is marketed by Johnny's Selected Seeds (where I purchased the seed for this variety) as a 'Baby Red Hubbard.  There is nothing baby about the flavor or the color though.  Very nice addition to the autumn harvest field.

People also went nutty for garlic this week.  I as surprised to see how much we needed to clean and pack.  This is a beautiful example of Russian Red.  I nearly kept this one out for my yearly entry into the Common Ground Fair Exhibition Hall.

Acorn Squash

New England Pie Pumpkin

Delicata Squash on the left, Buttercup on the right.

Butternut, a later squash, which I was pleasantly surprised to see is beginning to be ready in the squash patch.  Can't wait for the first butternut of the year.

We grow and Heirloom pumpkin for jack-o-lanterns.  Connecticut Field Pumpkin.  I actually passed by the largest one I've ever grown last night in the field.  I can't wait to show Lizzie and Martin.

Ok, this is the highlight of my season.  Lizzie and I look forward to going to Mainely Apples in Dixmont every year as autumn draws near.  However, I also graft my own fruit trees with the intention of someday having an orchard of rare varieties that I cannot get from our friends in Dixmont.  Anyway, I graft every year and you always have to assume that if you're lucky and take care of the trees you'll get a crop of apples in 5-20 years.  I was walking by the nursery this morning and happened to notice this apple on one of the trees that I grafted 2 years ago!  The first apple of the season is always a momentous event for me when we go and pick at the orchard.  But I can tell you it is nothing compared to the excitement of the first apple ever in your own orchard from a tree you grafted.  I can't wait to show Lizzie and Martin and Emily and then slice into this beautiful apple.

Our honey bees are performing admirably in their top bar hive preparing for winter.

Now for some of the potatoes that will be available to our members shortly on the weekly email list.  This is my favorite potato.  Butte.  It's a russet and quite wonderful both from the viewpoint of the grower and an eater.


Always knocking on the door of Butte for my favorite are these amazing spuds.  King Harry is a variety I have grown for a few seasons now and I really love them.  They produce under pressure from weeds and potato beetles but they also taste great.  A nice baking potato.

That's all for now.   I am off to build some more drying racks for our onions as we continue to harvest them and then off to Bangor to deliver for our Members.  Be well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Greetings all and happy Dog Days!  Thought I'd take a moment to post a quick blog since there were quite a few photo worthy items in the harvest today.  I've started harvesting a few cucumbers per week.  If we get some rain and I then get a chance to mulch the beds we might even get enough to include them on our CSA lists.  Right now everything is just sitting in the garden not producing as it should.  But they say rain is on the way for this weekend so keep your fingers crossed.  These are a Maine-bred heirloom cucumber called Boothby's Blonde.  They are delicious and interesting!
 Carrots, carrots, carrots!  I got our new bed-lifter this week and I've been trying it out on everything I can.  I can say that it doesn't work on our carrots simply because I didn't set-up the beds to fit the tractor.  So I'll be digging the carrots by hand going forward as I have been.  Perhaps next year I'll put in a few feet with the bed-lifter in mind.  But, as a side benefit for you all, I'll be offering 'seconds' next week in the Member's Choice Email.  These are the carrots from about 6 feet of garden where I tried the bed-lifter and it simply sheered off the bottoms of the carrots.  Oh well!!!

Sunburst Patty-pan Summer Squash.  These little ones can be cooked the same way as any other summer squash.  We use the larger ones to stuff and roast.  I've had a number of folks at market try our recipe and come back with alternative suggestions for stuffing which I hope to try.  I also hope to get a chance to include some of the recipes on our recipes page but we'll see what time allows.

This rare French Heirloom is called 'Lemon' summer squash.  Nope, it doesn't taste like a lemon at all.  That comes from the aesthetic match.  Rather, it is a delicate, tiny summer squash offered in many French markets.  They are very difficult to harvest in time.  Much bigger than a golf ball and they are tough and worthless.  I've been experimenting with them the last couple years and may try to grow them more in the future for markets.  We'll see!

The large, slicing hybrid tomatoes in the hoop houses are starting to come in in greater numbers.  I was able to include 2 lbs in each of the Farmer's Choice Shares today!  Wahoo!

The ever dependable Swiss Chard plants are still kicking!  Drought tolerant too!  I love Chard for it's beauty, taste, diversity and ability to grow in the harshest conditions and swings in weather.

Royal Burgandy Beans.  They've finally arrived!  These are wonderful eaten raw as a snack.  When cooked they are ok but I eat them raw because I like the flavor, they are a crisp yet moist snack and the color fades to green when cooked (like most colorful veggies).

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes.  The one and only.  We had 20 orders for these today.  Very popular!  Very understandable.  Greenhouse candy!

Raven Zucchini.  Impressive for its ability to continue to produce prodigious amounts of food even in this weather!

I've started offering these delicious Detroit Dark Red Beets.  So sweet and flavorful I can't imagine not growing these beauties.  I love them as an eater and a grower.   

I couldn't resist.  This is what keeps me going even when I wake up at 4, 3 or even 2 am to harvest fresh for all of our members and customers each day.  Farmer Fuel.

Along with the beets, we are also offering a new item this summer.  Rather than discard the leaves, we are taking the time to sort and clean them and offer them to our members as prepared beet greens.  This is perfect for those of us who love beet greens but don't like the fact that we have to float them in our sink to remove the garden soil and then have a sink full of soil to clean up.  We've done all the work for you.  No beets or other roots to worry about, simply remove them from the bag, rinse them with your faucet spray nozzle and toss into the steaming water as normal.

Here is our new bed-lifter courtesy of Leighton's Fabrication Shop in Stetson.  These guys are really, really good and willing to work with people on designs of things they've never even heard of.  They do great work and so does this wonderful item.  This is making our garlic harvest so much faster I can't even quantify the difference.

Speaking of Garlic, here is the beginnings of this year's project.  Ben and I harvested about 1.5 rows on Wednesday and I'll be doing some more this weekend once the bees nest we (ok it was Ben but he didn't get stung) overturned has cleared out.  Then it's up to hang in the barn for curing, then sorting and then we can begin offering it to our members.

Finally, we love basil pesto at our house.  I mean LOVE.  Last year we froze about 60 batches worth.  At this time of year I like to add other fresh items from the garden as well.  Here is what I had for dinner.  Basil and carrot pesto.  I simply make regular pesto but throw some roughly chopped carrots in the processor with everything else.  The carrots add a wonderful je ne sais qua.  I hope you'll try it!