Tag Archives: farming

Managing the Heat

It’s 106° right now. Paul has gone out for the fourth time today (it’s Sunday) to “check water”. Daytime highs are predicted to be around 100° for the next 10 days. Keeping the crops and the field crew hydrated is essential to ensure harvestable produce in the next month or so.

Yesterday I took some photos of things as they manage. It was 100°.

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Fennel, Kale, Collard and Scarlett Kale, ready to harvest.

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Potatoes (in the foreground) are looking healthy.

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These lettuces were planted two days ago.

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The bees are very busy in the heat.

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Looking across 6 weeks of lettuce plantings; Red Butter, Little Gem, Rosaine, Cherokee and Romaine. We need to cover the Little Gem in the last stage, so it’s not feeding the rabbits!

Summer is always busy. As the heat continues, we are relieved by the decision not to host the Saturday Farm Stand this year. Because we farm year-round, we have to use our energy wisely. Our sense of pace is maturing.


Rain Damage

California has had a bunch of rain this month. And it’s taken a toll on our fields, especially the artichokes. Wet soil and wind combined to flatten many of the tall, in-full-production, gorgeous plants. I guess the weeds, mud compaction and cold hands are a small price to pay for the groundwater recharge. Onward!

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Artichokes blown down

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Flowering kale

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Hopefully this lettuce will recover when the sun comes out.

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Paul’s shop has gotten more attention because of the rain. It shows in the organization here.

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Asparagus is coming. Must be spring!

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We are rich in cabbage, just in time for St. Patrick’s day!

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These brussels sprouts are about done. They look crazy at this stage, like a big Dr. Seuss flower.


Winter crops are coming

Yes, celery root and parsnips are making an appearance on our table at the farmers’ market this week. We’re all longing for cooler, wet weather. Wandering around the fields this early evening, I am speechless for the beauty.

The crop of beets (red, gold and chioggia) look lush. Should begin to harvest in a few weeks.

The crop of beets (red, gold and chioggia) look lush. Should begin to harvest in a few weeks.

Parsnips were harvested out of this row for tomorrow's market.

Parsnips were harvested out of this row for tomorrow’s market.

Paul's reluctant to pose for me, too busy.

Paul is reluctant to pose for me, too busy.

The romaine this week was huge!

The romaine this week was huge!

Leeks dashes

Leeks dashing across the ground

Brocoli

Brocoli and cauliflower

I promise there are small carrots coming. This is the next 6 beds.

I promise there are small carrots coming. This is the next 7 beds.

Aren't these brassicas Amazing!

Aren’t these brassicas Amazing!

A little creek planting, to slow down the water. Looking ahead toward rain.

A little swale planting, to slow down the water. Looking ahead toward rain.

The onion baby bed

The onion transplant bed

Artichokes

Artichokes

Next week's Little Gems.

Next week’s Little Gems.

Chocolate brown pasilla peppers. Dry them for a traditional mole sauce.

Chocolate brown pasilla peppers. Dry them for a traditional mole sauce.

The low field has been cover cropped.

The low field has been cover cropped.

Pumpkins to sell tomorrow

Pumpkins to sell tomorrow


Fall is in the air.

Hard to believe but we’re more than half way through 2015. Pumpkins and other winter squash are ripening. The corn is finished, much to the disappointment of our local customers. Tomatoes are ripe and the melons are so aromatic the bees are tumbling around in their flowers. The pictures should speak louder than my words.

August 11, just before the onions began drying down.

August 11, just before the onions began drying down.

August 23, onions drying down

August 23, onions drying down

Paul preps the field for planting chicories.

Paul preps the field for planting chicories.

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Winter squash is thriving, with Santos planting chicories in the background.

Winter squash is thriving, with Santos planting chicories in the background.

Serrano peppers are loaded!

Serrano peppers are loaded!

Two types of lettuce, ready to transplant, with a bed all ready.

Two types of lettuce, ready to transplant, with a bed all ready.

Four successions of sunflowers, planted every two weeks.

Four successions of sunflowers, planted every two weeks.

Eggplant! The first planting was lost. This crop is coming very soon.

Eggplant! The first planting was lost. This crop is coming very soon.

Fennel and radicchio dot the field.

Fennel and radicchio dot the field.

Our kales and other greens have had a hard summer.

Our kales and other greens have had a hard summer.

The next two crops of beans. We've been gapping on beans. They should be back at the market next week...

The next two crops of beans. We’ve been gapping on beans. They should be back at the market next week…

Giant pumpkins are revealing themselves by the Farm Stand.

Giant pumpkins are revealing themselves by the Farm Stand.

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"Sunshine" kabocha squash

“Sunshine” kabocha squash

Shallots and red onions dry under the big old oak. Nice place for the bees, huh?

Shallots and red onions dry under the big old oak. Nice place for the bees, huh?


Slammed!

 

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The small greenhouse appears to float…

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Water flows toward the lowest part of the farm.

 

Yes, it’s a gully washer. Glad the crew was able to get most everything picked yesterday. Today they pack things into boxes to get ready for deliveries to local restaurants tomorrow. And for the farmers’ market tomorrow morning. The market should be very interesting, with lots of stories to share.

As the crew packed, Paul went out to the fields to check the ditches, the tarps and the general water flow throughout the farm. And he happened to be there as a wave of water washed through his shop and across and under the greenhouse tarps. Up the creek he discovered lots of trash trapped against a bridge causing the water to spread out and overflow the creek bed.

It’s let up some now and I admit to waiting until it slowed to take the photos below. The first two in this post were taken by Paul while the water was at it’s highest. It’s reassuring to see how quickly the water recedes.

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Also looking toward the low end of the farm, about 30 minutes later.

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A creek ran through the farm until a few years ago. This is where it ran.

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The culverts are big enough.

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This is the lowest bed on the farm. Yesterday’s chicory harvest in stark contrast to the flow of water.

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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.


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