Today was my first delivery of season 2010 CSA. A whooping 5 people this week! Mostly over-wintered things like rainbow chard and nappa cabbage, but also radishes and asparagus. I have a pretty loyal following as I have been making vegetable "grab bags" for 10 years now. I have served my CSA members solely for the last two years, no longer attending the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Ashland. It has been a good move for me as I was wearing down on the whole booth set up and standing in the cold or heat thing. Some wonderful folks and memories, but I have to farm smart if I am going to continue at all.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
This was one of those days where you took your coat off as the sun came out and then five minutes later you were grabbing it because the clouds were back and a cold wind was blowing. We need the rain we have had the last few days and it still rained and snowed a little today. It amazes me how we are so dry and then the jet stream comes down so hard on Rhode Island and the eastern seaboard. Wish Mother Nature could be more level-headed. Transplanted some baby cabbages, weeded baby carrots, and watered baby onions. What? More onions? Well, it was a different red one that claimed to be sweet. I know, that is really it!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It is snowing off and on. Wet, cold and slightly miserable. In the upper greenhouse with the lowest ceiling of the three, it is probably about 62 degrees and then a little warmer when the sun shines between squalls and cooler when it is snowing again. On the whole, pretty nice in there. Worked on final shaping of two tomato beds in there and turned two more for the final shape soon. Those first toamtoes I started have had a rough time germinating, but the ones that popped up immediately have two sets of leaves, so I am sticking them in the soil when I see a break in the nasty weather. I have back-ups that came up a day or two later, and then that next group which is just sending up the first sprouts from the soil now. Greenhouses are awesome for lots of reasons, some theraputic, others financial. We'll talk some more as we go along. Ours came from OBC, Oregon Bag Company, a company with the best price on plastic pots and perlite and greenhouse kits in our area
Monday, March 29, 2010
Raining hard. Retreat, retreat! Poked the second set of tomatoes that sprouted into trays and started some basil, flowers, and another round of broccoli seeds in a tray also. I will let them germinate in the house and then move them out to the greenhouse. I might work on my seed bin which is in disarray with new seed arrivals and ones I failed to file away. If you have a small enough garden, recipe card holders work nicely for seed packets. I use a large plastic tub with a mouse proof lid. I divided it up using recycled file folders. The first section is root crops I guess because they often are the first seeds planted. Then I have a file called brassicas as I don't need to separate cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. Kale should be in there, but I have it in greens because that is how I think of kale. It is my seed bin, so I get to do it how I want! Then from there it starts to be alphabetical with beans, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Anyway, I probably left something out, but you get the gist. I can pull a folder out, look for the seed I want and then stab the folder's back down into its home. I have a big area at the back which is just flowers. Some of them are in envelops together, some with rubber bands and many in odd packages of seed saving size with cryptic descriptions like "bright pink zinnias by greenhouse door". Oh yeah, I remember those.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Planted the last of the onions! Hurray! Made some more soil mix for another batch of tomatoes I put in the paper towels yesterday. The variety I grow the most of is Super Tasty. It is available from Burpee Seed Company and I have been growing it for years. It is a determinate type which means it has ends to the vines which form a bush. The good thing is the plant is manageable. not growing over three feet tall usually. The bad thing is that after a large flush of tomatoes it takes a break, blooms again and then forms another round of tomatoes which can take about a month. So, in order to have a continuous batch of tomatoes, I have to plant several successions of this type. I also grow a few heirlooms and Big Beef. These are indeterminate which means there is no end to the vine and it conitinues to form tomaoes until it freezes. Most cherry tomatoes are this type for instance. By growing different varieties I seem to always have some tomatoes ripening and ready.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I was weeding the path in the lower greenhouse and ran into a patch of volunteer arugula, lettuce, and tomatoes. Suddenly, weeding turned into transplanting! I can't save them all and sometimes I can tell they are not what I want, but once in awhile those volunteers are amazing. I had a tomato vine that trailed along the ground for six feet with some of the tastiest tomatoes on it. Unfortunately, its genes were such a mix that when I planted some seeds from it the next year, they all turned out romas. What would Luther Burbank do? (TCB=Taking Care of Business, ask Aretha Franklin in the song R-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to me. A sixties thing.)
Just wanted to say a couple things about planting strawberries before that season has passed. I have added some new plants to our collection this year. I am going to try Tribute. I am a big fan of TriStar, but it is good to try something new once in awhile. Both varieties are everbearers or day neutral types. They make a good June crop and then keep blooming and producing after that until serious rain or freezes end their season. When you receive the plants they often have a crowd of roots that really like it if they are splayed out before planting. I prepare the holes with some compost. Our soil is naturally acid which berries prefer. Then in the middle of the hole I make a ball of soil with my fist which I place the plant on, circling those roots around the ball. Then when I plant it, the roots are already headed down and the crown which doesnot like to be covered is up on top. The crown is that brownish husk around where the leaves start up from. In the photo, the tape is showing soil level. A little water and they should take off, especially with some cooler weather and rain for their early life. There are a few bug issues which we can talk about later as they happen.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It is wet out there. I will work on raking some beds which have been turned in the top greenhouse this afernoon with a friend who is stopping by to help. Good to have an indoor work place. Otherwise, a good day to catch up on house chores. Glad to have planted so much outside that is getting free irrigation. The asparagus is up and will love the cooler moist weather.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Now where were those carrots? Oh, there they are!
Town day, TCB. Did get a little weeding done. Well, quite a bit of weeding done, just not very far- trying to find some overwintered carrots. Poked some potatoes in that I purchased from Wood Praire Farm before it rains tonight; they offer great organic potatoes to plant. Wood Praire is located in Maine where potatoes grow happily in the cool climate and old glacial soil. My son and husband helped make a nice trench we filled with a mix of sand, compost, and some pumice we hauled froma pit up by Crater Lake. The pit is basically mining what blew out of Mt. Mazama. It will keep the soil loose and has a few other benefits.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Mulching all those onions! The neighbor, Alan, comes about once a week and helps out with whatever is going on. It exactly what a small farm should be about. Local folks tune into the fact you have the best produce around and do what they can to be a part of it so they can take some home. Perfect! I started some Garden Sweet Burpless Cucumbers, a variety from High Mowing Seed Company. I really like their take on the business of seed production. Nice to see that very necessary part of farming get back into smaller caring hands. Last two beds of onions going in and then that is it. Really!
Monday, March 22, 2010
The tomatoes started coming up over the weekend. They are little babies at this point. They will get to stay in the house for two weeks under lights. Then we will see if I pot them up to 4" pots or plant them right in the beds that are already turned and waiting in the upper greenhouse, the warmest of the three. I have a hunch it may be go ahead and plant them because the soil is warm enough volunteer tomatoes are coming up, and there are nasturiums in the corner of that greenhouse growing like crazy where they were planted last year. Nasturiums are not hardy, but those ones are doing fine. So...wait and see. Guess what I planted more of? Yep, more onions. I don't have a tool for planting onions. Hmmm?
As I mentioned, I planted quite a few seeds outdoors last week. It made it sound like a rich, full day, but actually it took me about 15 minutes! That is because I used the tool, Earth Way's Garden Seeder. I see Peaceful Valley has them for sale for $109 plus s&h. I've used this one for almost 20 years, so it has served the farm well. The seeder comes with flat round plates with holes at intervals appropriate for the seed being planted. Then these plates lock into place rotating as the wheels turn making a seed bed, and dragging the soil over the seed as it slides into the ground from a chute and then tamping it in lightly with the following wheel. As quickly as you can walk down a bed, you can plant it.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
First seeds planted outside this year! I have some things going in the greenhouses, but this is the first outdoor bed I have planted this year. I planted bush snap peas. I like the bush ones in some places because you don't have to give them any framework to climb. They just lean against each other and do fine if you give them enough room. I also planted cilantro, beets, Scarlet Nantes carrots, and spinach, an organic one from Territorial seed, Erste Ernte. They were weird looking as they still had their hull on. Oh and Yep, more onions! Happy Vernal Equinox to you all(though I noticed we have gone past 12 hours of daylight, and 12 hours of night several days ago).
Friday, March 19, 2010
It is beautiful here today(and yesterday). It is that teaser weather which makes gardeners crazy. You start seeing all the possibilities right up until it rains for days on end again! Worked on cleaning up the raspberry rows; take out the dead canes from last year, the puny ones and select a good cane every 8 inches. That means quite a few have to go. These canes make the late July, early August berries. The little green plants sprouting at the base are the late August until frost berries. This second crop is bigger and better as the temperatures cool, the berries get bigger, it isn't so hot to pick, and the yellow jackets give up piercing and drinking the juice of the berries. The drip lines are old holey ones recycled to hold the vines up.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
As I mentioned, I made soil mix. Not sure if that caught your attention, but if it did I want to talk briefly about it. I keep it simple, usually three ingredients; peat moss or coco fiber, compost, and perlite. I can vary it and add other things according to the plants' needs, but the basic mix is not difficult to come up with. The electric mixer was the tool that made the concept easy enough for me to make quite a bit of mix. Before that, I had the kids making potting mix in a wheelbarrow. After your children grow up and move away, you figure these tools out. If you want to know more, this is where the other blog comes in. I don't want to go on and on about some things and miss others. So, that is it on soil mix for now. If you have any questions go to Garden Question Lady blog and comment with a question. That is how I hope this might work.
Those tomato seeds sprouted. The little tails, the brand new roots, were sticking out ready to go. I made a batch of soil mix and filled some trays a couple days ago, so I had them warming inside by the stove. I poke the soil with the tip of a pencil. Then, I press the sprouted tomato into the side of the hole , not really at the bottom. Then pinch the soil closed around the seed, add a bit of water and place in a warm area until they begin to flip up into the air. Then what? Wait and see...
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
March 16: Started tomatoes for greenhouse today. I always try to start some for us before I start plants for anyone else. It is a residual marketing thing. Why would I provide plants to people I want to sell tomatoes to? 'Cause I'm nice. Anyway, these few plants (100) will go into the greenhouses to grow for the earliest tomatoes. I put seeds in paper towels and mark the type, Sun Gold, Big Beef, etc., water lightly and stick in a ziplock bag on top of the freezer which seems to provide the perfect temperature for germination. What happens next? Wait and see...
Monday, March 15, 2010
March 15: Transplanted Walla Walla type onions into beds today. Also put in a bed of Red Torpedo. Both onion types were started back in late September and wintered through in the top greenhouse. They have some good size to them, so hope they do well this year. Last year was a terrible onion year for me.
Radishes! Yes, you can plant radishes now. They are hardy little souls and can handle anything the weather wants to throw at them. They are a very short season crop, 28 days, so maybe you want to plant just a few and then when they show up, plant another section, etc. That way you may have radishes for a few weeks rather than lots for a few days and then nothing. So it goes with succession planting. Mustard greens are very hardy also, and can be planted from seed as soon as you can get a place ready. Arugula is one of many mustards available. They are fun to add to salad and can be picked leaves at a time so that they continue to produce for awhile. If you have enough nitrogen in your soil, mustard greens (and radishes) will grow quickly and be less hot and more tasty especially if they are getting sufficient water. If they are not getting either enough nitrogen or water, they will turn yellow, go to seed (make flowers) and be so hot, you won't enjoy them. There are lots of wonderful bagged products out there these days, and "Bloom and Grow" comes to mind, but check your local nursery outlet or where you buy garden goods for a good organic (if possible) mix that has listed ingredients rather than "potting mix" which tends to be weaker. Cilantro is another thing you can plant now and for the next seven months! Ha-ha. The life expectancy for cilantro is short, like 35 days. There is nothing you can do when it starts to bolt. So, once again, you should plant some and then some more so you can have it for longer. Cilantro grown now, obviously won't be around when your tomatoes are ready and you can make salsa. Get ready to plant a little cilantro every two weeks if you want to have it continuously. Otherwise, plant a row when tomatoes start to turn red, and it will be ready for salsa. Cilantro takes its time to germinate, sprout, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't pop right up as the radishes and mustards did. They can tell if you have doubts and it can affect their self esteem!