Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week of July 19-23

-Intern Ezra Citron has left us after staying for two months.  Thanks and Bon Vacance a Ezra!
-Summer fruits are flourishing! Tomatoes and now Peppers, Cucumbers, and Zucchini are ripe for harvest!

New Mulching technique:
Instead of planting first and waiting for seedlings to grow so we may mulch around them (more labor intensive and more pre-weeding involved) we have decided to experiment with the technique of mulching the ground after drip tape first, then planting into the mulch to combat initial weed spikes that affect plant growth in its most vulnerable stage of development.  We are testing this technique with broccoli for fall.

This Week's Events:
Harvest: Sungold Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Basil, Swiss Chard, Winterbor Kale, Beet Greens


Beautiful purple bell peppers!!!

Garlic Drying and Tying: Last week we laid out the 5,000 heads of garlic on a tarp in the tractor barn to dry. 
                                     This week we hand tied all of those heads in a day's work 9am-7pm with only 3
Renata standing in awe of all the garlic we were about to tie all day

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week of July 12-16

-Sungold Tomatoes are ripening significantly by now and peppers and heirloom tomatoes are growing!
-We harvested over 5,200 heads of garlic in one day!  But that's only the beginning--we still have to do drying, curing,...

This Week's Events
Harvest: Red Russian and Winterbor Kale, Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Dill, Basil, Swiss Chard, GARLIC!!!

Triumphant shot of us after harvesting some 5,200 heads of garlic--and after swallowing a raw clove of garlic in cheers!  All in a day's work!

Tomatoes: We finished staking, tying, weeding, and spraying (with Regalia Biofungicide against Late Blight) all the tomatoes in the home field.  Ready to ripen!

Seeding: We seeded Pak Choy, Lettuce, and Watermelon

Fertilizing: We applied compost tea (made from composted urban food waste) from our very own Mobity Bits soil company.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Week of July 4-9

-Blackberry Meadows now has 14 quails! Their eggs are miniscule (about the size of a quarter), but are considered a gourmet delicacy.  Quails can start to lay eggs after only 8 weeks.
-Finally got a thunderstorm after nearly three weeks of no rain and a heat wave!

Week's Events:
Harvest: Red Russian and Winter Bore Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Cilantro, Basil, and ...(drumroll) a few Sungold Tomatoes!

Kitty and Lynn weeding zuchinni and cucumbers on hilltop field

Mulching: We mulched the eggplants and tomatoes for summer using new tractor mulcher (see below)

Irrigation: Hot weather and unpredictable rains call for drip irrigation to guarantee sufficient water for crops.  We added irrigation using our rainwater harvesting irrigation system (using our pond on site) to the tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, zuchinni, and cucumbers.

Seeding:  We seeded lettuce (eek!) and basil for fall this week

Friday, July 2, 2010

Week of June 28-July 3

              The new technique of lengthening the freshness of lettuce by pulling out the taproot when harvesting proved successful.  Renata suggested this to keep the lettuce from wilting (we had an unusually large amount to harvest due to near-bolting point) and Jen was able to sell it at market days later as a result! :)

Week's Events:
Harvest: Red Russian Kale, Basil, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Cilantro, and Red Cabbage

          We used the waterwheel transplanter to transplant lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, and tomatillos.  The waterwheel is a device digs holes (while adding water and fertilizer) into the rows with a turning wheel, which we plant the seedlings into.

Kitty and Jen on the waterwheel behind the tractor, ready to transplant lettuce
Renata and Kitty covered in mud after transplanting vicious lettuce (only 12 in spacing between plantings!)

Rock Picking!
We picked rocks for hours by hand!  It was invigorating but productive!

Here's our mountain of rocks (some the size of a human head or larger--big pieces of shale!)

Seeding:  We seeded more lettuce, and all the kale and cabbage for fall.

Week of June 21st! Summer Has Officially Begun!

-New farm intern, Renata, has arrived (on the first day of summer)
-Farm has recently invested in new machinery to replace labor by hand:
1) Tractor Mulcher- This device chews up hay bales and spits out the chopped up debris with a big plastic tube, allowing us to save hours of hand mulching
2) Rock Harvester- This device picks up rocks (of which we have bundensome that inhibit cultivation and crop planting).

Week's Events:
Harvest: Russian Red Kale, Napa Cabbage, Red Sail and Green Lettuce, Kohlrabi, and Broccoli.

 Jen, Heath, and Ezra harvesting kale for CSA

Mulching: As of this week, the tomatoes, kale, onions, and leeks have all been mulched with the new mulcher.  The effects of mulching are immediate and dramatic: all of a sudden without weed pressure, the crops skyrocket!

Intercropping:  In order to reduce weed pressure, Renata had proposed the idea of intercropping the already established leeks with lettuce to crowd out weeds (but not the leeks, which already have grown over a foot in height).  Lettuce has an affinity for our wet weather and grows relatively fast, creating a dense cover to suppress weeds and retain moisture (reduce evapotranspiration) for crops, and having a later start, will allow the already established leeks to grow uninhibited.  We intercropped three rows by hand.  Let's see whether this intercropping experiment of differential crop structures and timing will work!

Weeding: Heath mowed extensive acreage of thistle and other overgrown weeded patches to create new rows for squash planting.  Thistle, which has begun to seed, is increasingly a threat.  Renata has proposed the idea of solarization with clear plastic mulch (using extra greenhouse plastic), which Jen says will help kill the thistle weed seeds which have already dropped, and other surface weeds as well.  Jen plans to apply the new technique of solarization for the summer fallow fields as an experiment for weed control.

Seeding: We seeded all the cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli (brassicas) for fall!