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Getting Wet

Picking broccoli in the rain.

Picking broccoli in the rain.

It rained hard, seemed like all night. Thunder and lightening, which is rare in these parts, shook us awake around midnight. Just what we need. And more is on the way.

Here’s what it looks like this morning.

Lowest part of the farm is maxed out.

Lowest part of the farm is maxed out.

Lettuce beds partially flooded.

Lettuce beds partially flooded.

Drains are working...

Drains are working…

The compost is covered.

The compost is covered.

Good example of why to "bed up". This treatment allows the planting area to dry quicker for earlier planting.

Good example of why to “bed up”. This treatment allows the planting area to dry quicker for earlier planting.

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Battening Down the Hatches

Silvery red cabbage leaves

Silvery red cabbage leaves

Rain is in the forecast, a novel situation for us in “Droughtville” (California). We’ve had a couple practice storms roll through, dropping an inch, more or less, just to tease us. But this week, we’ve heard up to 7 inches could fall. The whole community is excited, hoping this will open the storm door and eventually lead us out of the dry conditions we’ve experienced for several years now. The reservoirs are low and steps are being taken to monitor ground water supplies. We have two good wells on the property we use to irrigate year-round. And so far, that’s been enough. Paul has also switched most crops to drip lines for most of their life cycle, rather than overhead, sprinkler-type watering. We trade off using less water for more plastic and more labor.

Cover crop has been planted wherever possible.

Cover crop has been planted wherever possible.

Lush cover crop.

Lush cover crop.

The farm prepares for winter rains every year, whether they come or not. As the day length shortens and the nights cool, fields are cleared of finished tomatoes and eggplant, tilled until smooth and flat, composted and finally cover crop seed has been planted wherever we want to give the beds a carbon boost. Ditches are checked and regraded where necessary.

Hoops to cover beds await

Hoops to cover beds await

Hoops are set up over beds in case the rain becomes too much for small plants. Plastic covers can be pulled over the top of the hoops, if need be. We’re ready and waiting to have time in the shop, to clean and sharpen tools, to change the oil for the many machines, and to get to the projects that await, like the recently purchased cultivating tractor that needs a new front axle and for the whole under-belly apparatus to be rebuilt and mounted.

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Romanesco plays peek-a-boo

So we wait to see how much will fall.

Red beets

Red beets

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Rainbow chard is loving this cooler, wetter weather.

Rainbow chard is loving this cooler, wetter weather.

 

Lots of new pipe. The days of moving pipe from field to field are numbered!

Lots of new pipe. The days of moving pipe from field to field are numbered!

Surprise artichokes are popping here and there.

Surprise artichokes are popping here and there.

Moving compost

Moving compost

Attending the compost

Attending the compost

Two kinds of leeks, King Richard on the left and Lexton on the right.

Two kinds of leeks, King Richard on the left and Lexton on the right.

Joanie came to visit on Thanksgiving.

Joanie came to visit on Thanksgiving.

Brussels sprouts are just beginning to form

Brussels sprouts are just beginning to form

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

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New (used) Kubota cultivating tractor

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Front axle needs work

 


El Verano Potatoes

Field restoration is in full swing. Organic farming, almost by definition, strives to improve the soils. Whether by adding organic matter through cover cropping, taking soil tests and boosting nutrients through application of whatever is needed or rock crushing!

Several of our fields are very rocky. Several years ago, Paul bought a rock crusher, which has been earning its keep this month. The rocky fields are slowly (driving as the crusher runs is very slow…15 minutes from one end of the 100 yard field to the other) becoming rock free.

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Already crushed areas, ready for the next stage.

Already crushed areas, ready for the next stage.

Rocky soils are being "crushed".

Rocky soils are being “crushed”.

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Broccoli grows with such verve, it's impossible to ignore.

Broccoli grows with such verve, it’s impossible to ignore.

Kristen picking kale

Kristen picking kale

Will picking kale

Will picking kale

Surprise artichokes are popping here and there.

Surprise artichokes are popping here and there.


Double Header

Fall is coming on strong, as the summer crops peak. What to do? Just work a little harder, longer and stronger, knowing that rain will come, things will slow down. There will be time next to the wood stove, with a book and a cup of tea. But for now, it’s go, go, go. So glad we are up to it. And thanks to everyone that works for us or buys produce from our farm. We couldn’t do it without you.

Today we were presented with a beautiful fall day, lots of big fluffy clouds, lilting through a big sky, over hill and dale, casting moving shadows on the undulations below. With just a hint of moisture, as the clouds misted the fields, dampening the dust, sweetening the soil and doubling the scents. It’s teaming with life out there!

These kabocha winter squash are close to harvest.

These kabocha winter squash are close to harvest.

Shallots dry under a big oak.

Shallots dry under a big oak.

Rhazes, our new red little gem lettuce

Rhazes, our new red little gem lettuce

Brasiccas ready to go out into the field.

Brasiccas ready to go out into the field.

Yellow wax beans

Yellow wax beans

Rosa bianca eggplant

Rosa bianca eggplant

Lots of San Marzano roma tomatoes, perfect for sauce.

Lots of San Marzano roma tomatoes, perfect for sauce.

We've been gapping with our beet crops, but these are almost big enough to harvest.

We’ve been gapping with our beet crops, but these are almost big enough to harvest.

Celery and fennel, first planting.

Celery and fennel, first planting.

Fennel and celery root, next planting

Fennel and celery root, next planting

Broccoli

Broccoli

Picchu berries, a new crazy delicious berry, we're trialling.

Picchu berries, a new crazy delicious berry, we’re trialling.

Cherry tomatoes are dropping.

Cherry tomatoes are dropping.

Leeks and onions

Leeks and onions

Carrots in the foreground. It didn't rain enough to keep the irrigation from happening.

Carrots in the foreground. It didn’t rain enough to keep the irrigation from happening.

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Summertime Hustle

It happens every year. Juggling price changes, seed and box orders, soil samples to send, staff needs, signage plus new accounts, keeps everyone on their toes.

And then there is what’s happening in the fields. Multiple crops are ready to be harvested and sold. 5,000 heads of lettuce are seeded every two weeks, but now every 10 days, as demand increases. More is required of our bodies and our minds. It feels like a miracle that it all comes together each week… the orders are taken, the crops are picked, packed and delivered, the markets happen and we sell.

We are so grateful for our tremendous staff, in the field and at the markets. Our health and ability to make this all happen has much to do with eating our own great products!

Yellow raspberries are really strong right now.

Yellow raspberries are really strong right now.

Cherry tomatoes are so decorative.

Cherry tomatoes are so decorative.

Flowering potatoes

Flowering potatoes

Irrigation needs patching due to crow damage. Grrr

Irrigation needs patching due to crow damage. Grrr

The culprits ...

The culprits …

Kale

Kale

I'll take the sugar baby camouflage.

I’ll take the sugar baby camouflage.

We've been selling sunflowers at our farm stand on Saturdays.

We’ve been selling sunflowers at our farm stand on Saturdays.

Everyone loves the sweet corn.

Everyone loves the sweet corn.

Winter squash, melons and cucumbers create such a beautiful blanket.

Winter squash, melons and cucumbers create such a beautiful blanket.

Lovely delicata!

Lovely delicata!

Acorn is the first of the winter squash to be ready, maybe a month away.

Acorn is the first of the winter squash to be ready, maybe a month away.

The Rosa Bianca eggplant that won the beauty contest.

The Rosa Bianca eggplant that won the beauty contest.

 


That’s Farming

Red Butter Lettuce with exposed burned edges

Red Butter Lettuce with exposed burned edges

For the second week in a row, we have lost our planting of Red Butter lettuce to a pervasive burn which effects the edges of the leaves. It looks beautiful, until you start to pull it apart. We will face a lot of disappointed customers at the markets, but luckily have other lettuces to offer. The burn seems to correspond to heat during certain parts of the growth cycle.

The old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” comes to mind right now. The farm has lots of baskets and they are full of many summer crops. Take a look:

This week's ruined Red Butter crop in the center. Last week's failed crop on the left.

This week’s ruined Red Butter crop in the center. Last week’s failed crop on the left.

The full crew picks beans.

The full crew picks beans.

Asparagus in frond stage

Asparagus in frond stage

Melons

Melons

Tomatoes are beginning to color.

Tomatoes are beginning to color.

Just harvested pea shoots

Just harvested pea shoots

The first row of of a new crop of carrots was picked today.

The first row of of a new crop of carrots was picked today.

Garlic chives are flowering.

Garlic chives are flowering.

Cloudy skys over the winter squash field. The plants are taking off, but not yet flowering.

Cloudy skys over the winter squash field. The plants are taking off, but not yet flowering.

The yellow raspberries are in full production.

The yellow raspberries are in full production.


Summer crops are almost here!

IMG_5935Today’s sky was unusual for around here. The thin clouds hung around all day, allowing for a very easy-on-the-eyes day and a perfect day to take pictures. And since it’s been a month since my last post, this is long overdue. I apologize for my absence. My unorganized self is fully to blame.

Garlic chives in bud

Garlic chives in bud

Winter squash field

Winter squash field

Picked over beans, in the foreground. The next crop is flowering in the background.

Picked over beans, in the foreground. The next crop is flowering in the background.

Shaggy asparagus

Shaggy asparagus

Couldn't resist two watermelon pictures...

Couldn’t resist two watermelon pictures…

Sugar baby melon

Sugar baby melon

Two charentais melons

Two charentais melons

Allysum, marigolds and tomatillos

Allysum, marigolds and tomatillos

The first tomatoes are sizing up!

The first tomatoes are sizing up!

Flowering cilantro is humming with bees.

Flowering cilantro is humming with bees.

Onion beds are such an extraordinary color.

Onion beds are such an extraordinary color.

Sunflower sprout flats, after harvest.

Pea shoot flats, after harvest. We’ll harvest the soil too.

Shishito peppers are quite a bit shorter than their more famous cousin, the pardon. And full of flowers.

Shishito peppers are quite a bit shorter than their more famous cousin, the Padron. They’re full of flowers.

Red raspberries

Red raspberries

Watering the carrots deeply

Watering the carrots deeply

Lettuce and frisee with corn, tomatoes and sunflowers in the distance.

Lettuce and frisee with corn, tomatoes and sunflowers in the distance.


June’s here…

…and changes continue.

IMG_5676There is so much to see, as one walks around the farm right now. Spring crops are finishing up. The asparagus is growing up and beginning to “frond”. It will continue to send up wiry, ferny stems until late in the fall, when it yellows and dries out. January or February next year, the bed will be “cultivated” or cleaned-up and spears will begin emerging in February or March.

Bye-bye chives...

Bye-bye chives…

We’ve had a spectacular crop of shelling peas this year. (I’ve even been able to put some in the freezer. Feels like money in the bank, they are that good.) The peas are almost done, beginning to dry in their pods. Another thing that is finishing for us is Salad Mix. We don’t grow a mix in the summer. It saves the crew having to fit that labor intensive task into their Tuesday and Thursday, while there are so many other things to pick. The salad mix is a wonderful convenience for our customers and we love it ourselves, but a break gives us the chance to look forward to Salad Mix coming back in the fall, to practice patience for produce we love. Beginning tomorrow, head lettuces will have to do.

There are a number of crops right around the corner … Romenesco (a green cauliflower with a most unusual shape), raspberries, potatoes and cucumbers, basil, raspberries, green beans …

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German butterball potatoes are flowering like crazy.

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Romanesco grows on an enormous plant.

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The white cauliflower seems like a prize, all wrapped up.

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Cucumbers are crawling.

And what will take up so much time in the coming months, you may ask? What will be on the menu in our household and others’ in our community and beyond? Standard summer fare with a few curveballs thrown in to keep everyone on our toes, to keep those routines from becoming a rut. There are naturally tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, melons and beans,  even some sweet corn this year, surprise, surprise!

Our farm stand opens on Saturday, June 14th. Lots of buzz and as much as we love sharing all the bounty, we’re relishing the last few weekends without it. The summer hustle is about to begin!

This bed of just planted shallots is growing on buried drip line, a refinement we hope will save precious water.

This bed of just planted shallots is growing on buried drip line, a refinement we hope will save precious water.

 

The first planting of tomatoes has been staked

The first planting of peppers have been staked. These padrons grow so tall, and they are rather fragile. Staking keeps them from tipping over and breaking.

 

Peppers are flowering and have been staked for support.

The first planting of tomatoes and have been staked for support.

 


New Spring Crops

First tomatoes

First tomatoes

First and second planting of peppers

First and second planting of peppers

Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage

Potatoes

Potatoes

Harvested carrot bed

Harvested carrot bed

Farm tools

Farm tools

Sage

Sage

Changes happen fast around here. Our second market of the week opened this week, Tuesday, with much fanfare and commotion. We had a busy and successful night. Thanks to all for coming and supporting us and all the vendors. We look forward to another great season.

We are growing some new varieties this year including a new English pea called Penelope (ahhh). It sports a densely packed pod of small, sweet peas, most picturesque. Also, to fan the kale-craze flames, a broader leafed kale called Rainbow Lacinato kale.

Rainbow lacinato kale

Rainbow lacinato kale

Penelope

Penelope

The farm stand will open soon. Still haven’t set a date, but the decor has been planted.

Farm stand is planted...

Farm stand is planted…


Busy Spring

IMG_5555The words “busy” and “spring” are synonymous on a farm.

Fields are drying quickly and the cover crop wants to be “harvested” and turned into the soil, creating an instant carbon boost helping with fertility and soil structure. Once mowed the debris from the crop digests for several weeks or until it’s structure is all but gone allowing the finished bed to be even and smooth.

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Furrows help dry the soil.

The cover crop consists of bell beans, austrian peas and oats.

The cover crop consists of bell beans, Austrian peas, barley and oats.

Then the field will be rototilled. Sometimes when a field is tilled, the soil moisture is still too high to plant. To speed drying, furrows are made with shovels on the tractor.

Once a field is flat and weed-free, it’s ready to be planted. And there are many transplants lined up waiting for space.

Transplants and irrigation supplies

Transplants and irrigation supplies

The whole crew works the plantings. The irrigation has to be set up. Most everything is on drip lines which have to be pulled and hooked up to the water supply. Some crops require covers. For example, the first tomatoes and peppers (Padron) are in and covered.

Additionally, many things are being harvested at this time of year, adding to the day’s diversity and the community’s health. We are so happy to be able to grow this excellent food.

The artichokes are finishing.

The artichokes are finishing.

These carrots are just beginning to be harvested.

These carrots on drip lines are just beginning to be harvested.

Asparagus harvest today

Asparagus harvest today

Picking peas and sage in flower

Picking peas and sage in flower

Raspberries with lava beans in the background

Raspberries with fava beans in the background

The first peppers in the field have their own greenhouses to give them a little boost.

The first peppers in the field have their own greenhouses to give them a little boost.

Spring purplette onions

Spring purplette onions

 

Even the sweet peas at home are growing like crazy.

Even the sweet peas at home are growing like crazy.


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