Tag Archives: wheel hoe


Yikes! We’re 3 days into summer and rain is predicted. Possibly more than an inch over the next couple of days. That is a very unusual forecast for this spot on the globe at this time of the year. The impact for the farm and the crops is minimal though the moisture will certainly encourage weeds to germinate all over the place. Formerly clean beds will need attention before the crop is over run with something unwanted.

Paul mows down a summer cover crop on June 13th.

Paul mows down a summer cover crop on June 13th.

This is where the summer cover crop was mowed 2 weeks ago.

Same field today after 10 days “digesting”.

Watermelons are sizing up!

Watermelons are sizing up!

Love the Little Gems

Love the Little Gems

This crop of beans is in our new field and has almost no weeds!

This crop of beans is in our new field and has almost no weeds!

7 beds of carrots are germinating beautifully

7 beds of carrots are germinating beautifully

The carrots we are picking now are delicious

The carrots we are picking now are delicious

Cleaning up the radishes with a wheel hoe.

Cleaning up the radishes with a wheel hoe.

Looks like the seed ran out on this row of radishes. Should be ready in a few weeks.

Looks like the seed ran out on this row of radishes. Should be ready in a few weeks.

Even on a grey day, the bees are busy.

Even on a grey day, the bees are busy.

Summer Starts

I know that the solstice is weeks away but here in Sonoma, it feels like summer has started. Schools are letting out. It’s been 90 degrees days in a row. Vegetable gardens are everywhere and everyone is busy. Outdoor weekend parties are being given and planned.

The farm has some big plans too. We are going to open a farm stand on Saturday mornings, toward the end of this month. The site is quite visible from Arnold Drive as one drives by. Watch for changes in the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted…

Looking across Arnold Drive at Olive Avenue is the driveway to our new Paul’s Produce Farm Stand. Watch it change!

The second planting of peppers dots the newly rock-crushed field. Fresh tractor tracks indicate these beds were just tractor cultivated. Look how clean it is! The drip tape is getting buried.

Not everything can be tractor cultivated. Wheel hoeing between rows in the allium beds. Not an easy task because there is lots of rock.

Onions, cabbages (savoy and napa) broccoli, cauliflower, fennel and even some dandelion going to flower. Diversity = Thrive

Potatoes and summer squashes

The greenhouse tomatoes are staked and climbing. with some flowers.

First field tomatoes are about thigh-high.

Green Glow

It’s the green glow, post-rain flush. Nothing like what happens after rain in the garden. Just look outside. Take a walk. Look at the ground. Weeds and grasses are springing to life with all the vigor they can muster. Somehow the weeds know the difference between rain and irrigation. Maybe it’s the change of weather that prompts all of this activity. In fact, if you look closely, the weeds are entirely different than just a month ago. So it’s time to cultivate EVERYWHERE at once.

The cultivating tools have been out in force, wheel hoes, stirrup hoes, and the cultivating tractor. It has to be done now, before they gain on the crops too much. Every once-in-a-while, we’ll lose a crop to weed pressure. And conditions like last week are a perfect storm for that possibility. If the ground stays wet too long the weeds will get to a size that it’s not economically practical to do anything except start over.

These rows of arugula and Easter Egg radish are wheelhoed for the first time. We'll do this at least one more time and then some hand weeding.

Walking around the fields this morning, I was struck by how much had been cleaned up. I’m amazed how fast the crew jumps on these issues. As soon as they are finished picking or packing, Silvano, Servando, Austin and Orlando have hoes over their shoulders and are headed to another bed.

This was peppers only two weeks ago.

There are also many empty beds, with the spaghetti of drip tape gathered into furrows, to be moved later. The obvious weed growth on these open stretches isn’t important at all. And in some open fields, the grasses are coming up in distinct rows, sure sign of the tractor mounted cover crop seeder. This crop of bell beans, winter peas, vetch, barley and oats will be tilled in sometime in the spring. There is nothing like cover crop to build the soil fertility and structure.

We're happy to have the cover crop pop to life. The oats and barley always show first.


The soil is littered with a colorful juicy orbs filled with seeds. Imagine how many tomato seedlings will be here in the springtime!




This was the first crop of cherry tomatoes planted outside in April. The trellis has come down, so did all the plants. They’ll lay here until the stakes are pulled and then the plants will be chopped and incorporated into beds for either cover crop or or early 2012 plantings.

Little problems always come up in the course of working with machinery that can stop everything. Paul was transporting a load of  compost to the new front field when the wheel on the spreader broke. Luckily he was on the road and able to jack it up and re-weld the break.

Compost was spread on some open ground before the wheel interruption.

Instantly fall

That was fast. We got possibly an inch of rain last Wednesday, the first rain of the year since May(?) and that made quick work of the summer season. We are expecting warm weather again this week, but there is no doubt that the first rain begins a new kind of work on a small diversified produce farm in California, such as ours.

The summer fruits are quickly sucking up the water from the damp soil, leading to splits and cracks in the skins and then to rot. The flavor dilutes. The leaves are clean and yet brittle. The first planting of tomatoes has been abandon and the trellising has come down. The stakes will be pulled as soon as there is time.

We’re glad to be moving into fall crops like this fennel and celery as rain will size them up nicely.

The small greenhouse was covered on Friday, putting a lid on those crazy cherry tomatoes as they reach the rafters. They will likely have a growth spurt with the added humidity.

Most of the crew has Saturday off which is the first time several months.

Foggy morn

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Late Spring

As the weather makes a shift, the farm is prepared. All the covers will come off the field crops in the next few days as 90 degree days are predicted next week. Finally!

This box has spinach, salad mix, arugula, a bag of oregano, a head of sangria (red butter lettuce), carrots, turnips, radishes, sugar snap peas, and a bunch of lacinato kale. So spring!

Our CSA started today and we are thrilled to try this new way to sell our vegetables. Most of our current members are familiar to me, but a “Farmers Choice” box of whatever is ready to pick up once a week will beautifully fit into households that want excellent, safe produce but have time constraints and are unable to attend either of our farmers’ markets. Those folks will find us. If you know anyone that might want such a box, let us know. e-mail: candied@vom.com.

Austin, Silvano and Servando pick lettuce, beyond the broccoli.

The basil is still under covers.

Fat fennel

Cherry tomatoes are flying along, in the greenhouse.

Basil in the greenhouse will be planted soon.

Paul works on a wheel hoe.

These English peas make for easy picking.

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