Tag Archives: artichoke

Pushin’ in February



So much is happening. The weather, the great dictator of what happens on the farm, has been very generous to us. It must have been over 70 degrees F. today. Beautiful. We’re planting spinach, turnips, radishes, lettuce, pea seeds in the field. Once planted, some are covered. We may plant beets and carrots this week.

Tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings

The greenhouse is starting to really fill up with freshly planted flats, some covered, some not. The first planting of tomatoes have blasted out of their flats and pushed the remay into puffy pillows. So have the peppers. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, fennel and onions were all started in the greenhouse flats last week or before.Greenhouse

Lettuce, chard, kales and collard are all being transplanted. Once in the field, they are also covered to insure against wild weather swings. We hope they will feel secure enough to take off.

Covered beds and open ground

Covered beds and open ground


Running the water

The irrigation system is engaged with the warm dry weather. The final bit of field turning is almost complete as the pipes are hooked up.Pipe

There is an experiment in the new field with planting oats, wheat and barley, side-by-side. Which will be the most beneficial to this soil? We’ll see.

Wheat, Barley and Oats

Wheat, Barley and Oats

The Farm Stand signposts are all that remain of last summer's bounty.

The signposts are all that remain of last summer’s Farm Stand.

Brussels sprouts, covered bed and beyond the farm

Brussels sprouts, covered bed and beyond the farm


Daikon radishes are being harvested out of the cover crop between the rows of regrowing artichokes.

Daikon radishes are being harvested out of the cover crop between the rows of regrowing artichokes.

Headed toward Fall

We have had our hands full between the markets and restaurants and the new farm stand.

Pollinators abound in the tithonia.

In the background is the consistent planning and planting new beds of vegetables for sale in the months to come. The early planting of winter squash is almost ready to be picked. The acorn squash are the biggest we have ever seen.

Delicata squash are looking plentiful.

Butternut squash have beautiful markings before they turn tan.

The artichokes have surprised us. They are popping out all over even though we expected them to start in November or December.  This is certainly a crop we are learning about.

Artichokes are strong, already!

To add to the normal summer chaos, we are leasing almost 5 acres of land adjacent to the property Paul has been working for all these many years. It’s got some drawbacks (it’s the low spot on the property and much of the soil is quite sticky clay) but we are thrilled and Paul has been mowing, putting water out and tilling.

These two majestic Valley Oaks are on the property.

Mowing clearly shows the different soil types. This ground hasn’t had anything done with it for at least 20 years.

It’s Perfect Today

There air is cool and the breeze hit you just enough to stimulate your skin. The insects are everywhere, a haze in the early air.

Paul is tilling in kale and fennel. It smells of dirt, anise and minerals as he passes. The crew of three is cleaning rows of parsley with hula-hoes. Certain times of the year, it seems very difficult to keep up with the weeds. Saturday is a shorter day for the crew. The energy this morning is active and soft.

These beds were seeded with beans yesterday. Notice the even footprints between the tractor tire tracks. The sure sign that a push-seeder and the pusher has just passed! Artichokes are watered in the far bed.

The new Farm Stand guardian ‘-)

Roadside Farm Stand site

Plans continue with our Roadside Farm Stand. Most of the rows of flowers and vegetables to decorate the parking lot, are up and pushing. There has been some deer damage! And as I walked up to take this picture, I disrupted a flock of crows, maybe 10, from pulling up some (sunflower?) sprouts.

Preparing for the Heat

It is supposed to be around 100 degrees today, a bit cooler tomorrow, not a heat wave but quite warm. The crew is busy with the end-of-week tasks, staying hydrated and covered from the sun. They will work just until noon today.

Pulling row covers over the basil to protect from the voracious cucumber beetles.

Once the covers are pulled over the hoops, large metal clips secure the material.

New artichoke plants were put in the ground yesterday. They need a good soak today.

The first three rows were planted a week ago. The others more than a month ago. The staked tomatoes are getting their first “tying-up” right now.

Bye Bye Artichokes

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The artichokes were tilled in today. The field looks pretty rough right now, chock full of artichoke stems and burned out buds. Yesterday the crew came through and picked everything. And the plants looked quite ancient, straggly and prickly. Their giant downy leaves had turned dry and brittle. What a treat to watch that cycle. We have a new batch ready to plant soon.


Many fields are moving from spring to summer crops.

The summer squash looks great! You can see where the variety changes from Raven (our green zucchini) to Gold Bar (the yellow), in the center left of the photo.

First tomatoes planted May 1st. This picture was taken May 3rd. Peppers and eggplant are under the covers beyond the tomatoes.

The tomatoes were staked May 11th and the covers have come off the peppers and eggplant.

Broccoli, fennel and spring onions.

May 3, looking like peak?

May 13, mowed between the rows.

Kinda gorgeous with kale, fennel and broccoli going to flower.

Winter or Spring?

Sure feels like spring…warm, dry and windy. Our beekeeper is concerned about the lack of nectar to feed the bees. It’s been so dry. And the worry is that it will rain throughout the month of March.

So, irrigation has been running. Lettuces and and greens are under covers. Fields are being readied for planting and planting is happening.

This bed of fennel and kales was planted Friday. Strange confluence in that 2 or 3 people asked about when we would have fennel again. As you can see, it’s probably 6 weeks off.

Favas are flowering. The artichokes are starting to really produce.

Ideally, before we do get rain, all the ground that can be planted should be bedded up and composted. Paul is spending a lot of time on the tractor with his compost spreader right now. This first picture, you can see him off in the distance. Through the power of ZOOM, he comes a bit closer. The spreader he made last winter is working like a charm and getting a lot of use. Looks like it’s gotten a nice rusty patina over the year.

Dry Winter Farming

The weather determines so much on the farm. This year has been dry so far and Paul has taken every opportunity to keep planting and working the ground. Irrigation has been running during the day to keep the new beds of lettuce and leeks, peas, broccoli raabe, mizuna, arugula, spinach, carrots and turnips from drying out. We know these are crops that could rot, given a couple weeks of rain which is not uncommon here in January and February. But it’s also possible we will be flush with fresh, early spring bounty when we are most often quite thin, stretching to find product to sell. It’s worth the risk.


Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

Yet there is plenty to do at the farm.

The morning is cool and quiet.

Rain is expected later today.

Keeping up

One requirement for a good farmer is to be able to juggle many things. Today, as I walked around the farm, I noticed the following:

Shallots have been pulled and are drying in the field. There they will stay for a week or so, then go into shade for further drying before long storage inside. These shallots were planted from seed in the greenhouse in February and planted in the field April. Fresh shallot harvest began about a month ago.

Lots of ground is “open” right now, either furrowed as shown on the left side of the sprinkler line or bedded up and ready for new plantings, as shown on the right. The furrowing step helps the soil dry more thoroughly and helps the breakdown of the previous crop residue. When the soil is at optimum moisture levels compost is added and it is shaped into beds. After bedding up, organic fertilizer is worked into the beds and given a chance to assimilate into the soil before planting. Beds are irrigated to promote breakdown of previous crops and organic fertilizers.

The next crop of carrots is coming along. We’re glad the huge carrots are still tasty. It’s a trick to estimate how many carrots to plant to make sure there are enough until the next crop comes along. Looks like these 4 beds will be ready when we need them. About the time one crop is nearing picking the next crop needs to be planted. At approximately 20 seeds per foot, a typical planting of 4 x 200’ beds requires 50,000 carrot seeds!

Paul has planted a smattering of beans this year, several varieties, not a lot of any one. They will go into our CSA boxes. Anything extra will show up at the farmers markets. One variety is called Jade, a typical snappy green bean. Rocdor is a yellow wax bean with a very bad name. And Jumbo is a large Romano-type. They are flowering and we may have our first Jade crop next week.

The new field is getting outfitted with pipe and plants. Expecting a wave of grass and new weeds, Paul spaced these artichoke rows at twice normal to deal with the extra work on weeds. In fall, he’ll plant a crop like fava beans or broccoli deCicco between these chokes.

For those of you in the area, Paul’s Produce is part of the Saturday morning (9 am until 1 pm) farmers’ market at the Sonoma Community Center, giving folks another opportunity to buy our produce. Come down and meet our new employee, Teresa Alampur. She has a multi-cuisine background (think Thai and Indian) and a deep love for yoga. We’re lucky to have her enthusiasm and energy join ours.

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