Posts Tagged ‘cover crop’

As we near the end of August, we are sensing the close of Summer. Our ewes are beginning to lamb again, the days are getting noticeably shorter, the grapes are ripening…Autumn is coming! This also means that we are also deep into our winter vegetable farming…

napoli carrots

napoli carrot

We have carrots growing. Carrots take a very long time to germinate (2-3 weeks), and in the heat, we have to keep them moist and cool to get the little plants going. That means hand-watering them twice a day. It’s a lot of work, but we love carrots 🙂

looking over the south section of the garden

looking over the south section of the garden

To the left of the oak tree, you can see a brown, cultivated section of the garden. With the walk-behind tractor, Adam roughly shaped the beds. We have started to shovel compost on the beds, shovel up the sides, and rake them flat. Then we laid out the drip tape from last season and started seeding beets and spinach. The next couple days, we’ll be doing that to the rest of that section and transplant our chard and seed more root crops.

flats of kale, cabbage, and cauliflower

flats of kale, cabbage, and cauliflower

In the green section to the left of the oak tree, the cover crop will be cultivated in, and beds made in the same way. We’ll transplant many of the brassicas (picture above) there.

acorn squash

acorn squash

We are very happy with how well the winter squash and pumpkins are producing. At this point, now that the squash plants are in the ground, we just have to irrigate them until harvest. We had to do a couple rounds of cultivation as weed management, but we’ll be under-sowing the plants with cover crop soon.

potatoes

potatoes

And the potato plants are doing their thing. We don’t do much with them since they’ve been planted. Some weeding and watering in the beginning, but we just wait to harvest them now.

So, we have a lot going on with the winter vegetable farming. It would be great if more people sign up and send deposits soon. We’re putting in a lot of time and energy on the winter crops instead of the summer crops, meaning we’re not selling a lot of summer produce, meaning we’re not making a lot of money from produce right now. It will be a few months before we have lamb to sell, and we are not raising a lot of extra meat chickens outside the poultry CSA because their organic feed is so expensive. Please sign up for the winter CSA today!

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Check it out – our first broccoli!

packman

packman

It doesn’t look like much, but that’s the stage all our brassicas (ie cabbage family crops) are at. Along with loads of broccoli, we’ve seeded red Russian kale, lacinato kale, champion collards, brussel sprouts, numerous varieties of winter squash, purple and white cauliflower, and red and green cabbage. We propagate these plants with different sized plastic trays and potting soil. The potting soil, we make with sifted finished compost, vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss. It’s pretty fun sifting the compost and mixing all the ingredients together on a big tarp on the ground. It’s also nice knowing what exactly is going into our potting soil. The “off-farm” inputs for the potting soil, we buy from Sparetime in Willits.

trays of broccoli and winter squash

trays of broccoli and winter squash

more winter squash

more winter squash

This week, we’ll be doing more planting and making more potting soil soon. Please sign up for our winter CSA now if you know you’d like to join. Your financial support will help us buy more seeds, potting soil ingredients, and irrigation parts which we need to grow the crops in time for December. USE THIS FORM TO SIGN UP

cover cropped area where winter veg will get planted

cover cropped area where winter veg will get planted

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April 11, 2009

IN YOUR BASKET THIS WEEK

Scarlet Nantes Carrots
Red Ace & Bull’s Blood Beets
Ruby Ring Spring Onions
Lincoln Leeks
Fiero Radicchio
Various Lettuce
Italian Dandelion or Frisee Endive

NOTES FROM THE FIELD

This week brought us a few chilly days, but the rain was quite welcome. We haven’t had any frost issues up at Heart Arrow, although it has been important that we shut the greenhouse doors at night to keep our tomato starts warm and happy.

Before the first rain came, Adam did a lot of mowing at the Potter Valley property. We’ll probably refer to that piece of land as the Hale Ranch. A lot of our spring seedlings are ready to get into that ground, so when it is drier, we will be spreading compost and cultivating as soon as possible. The grapes at Heart Arrow are starting to bud, so we moved the sheep out of the vineyard and into the surrounding grassy areas to pasture. Moving the sheep is always an adventure or challenge; they are not the brightest animals. Two ewes had lambs this week – a single and twins. The sheep pretty much lamb all year round. We also put our four angora goats to pasture in a very green part of the garden, where the grass is super tall. It’s food for them and grass mowing for us.

Also, our first batch of 200 broiler chicks came in the mail from Iowa today! In case there was any question about food safety and using poultry manure as fertilizer, as a general rule, you do not harvest produce from that fertilized ground until after 120 days (4 months) of application. That is the USDA National Organic Program Standard, as well as what several university cooperative extension services recommend. So, we are going by that rule. The grass will uptake much of the nutrients, so there definitely will not be any danger of nutrient runoff if we get a fluke rain either. At this point, we are planning on planting the potatoes in that part of the garden; potatoes require a lot of nitrogen.

The broccoli and cauliflower we have left has not come to head yet, but they should do so soon before the end of the month. The fiero radicchio has finally matured to a good size – another chicory for your basket! They are so good for you. Unfortunately, the indigo radicchio was unexpectedly munched by Peter Rabbit or his friend a while ago, and it never recovered.

Blessed Pesach and Easter!
Adam Gaska and Paula Manalo

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onion starts. These storage onions will go in your CSA baskets in December.

NOTES ON THIS ISSUE

A Friday New York Times op-ed piece entitles “Free-Ranch Trichinosis” by James E. McWilliams, made me mad. Here’s a history professor at an ag college in Texas telling us that free-range pigs have more trichinosis than factory farmed pigs. What does he know? I wondered. What would Google reveal about this guy? Turns out he’s a flak for a PR firm “enviromedia: social marketing.” Couldn’t the New York Times have Googled this guy before printing his PR message for factory farming? Does the Times care?

Slate, the online journal, published another McWilliams piece about organic topsoil containing toxic metals. Apparently the evidence was slim, as even he admitted in the middle of the third paragraph: “Still, some evidence indicates that organic soil can, in some cases, be more contaminated.” Whew – wonder what he got paid for that weighty analysis?

What does all this mean? I think it means that small-scale organic agriculture is scaring big ag enough to make them hire PR flaks to turn out propaganda disguised as reporting.

What should we do? Buy our food from local farmers who share with us their farming methods. That’s what the CSA is all about. Thanks, Adam and Paula!

Janie Sheppard jsheppard@pacific.net

broiler chicks

broiler chicks

Radicchio and Parmesan Omelets for Two

(A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends, by Jack Bishop)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small head radicchio, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the radicchio and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the radicchio into two piles on a small plate. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.
  2. Beat 3 of the eggs with a fork in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs in a separate bowl.
  3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining butter in the cleaned skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, pour in the eggs from one bowl. Cook until the edges begin to set, about 15 seconds. With a spatula, pull the cooked edges in toward the center of the pan, then tilt the pan so the raw eggs can run underneath. Repeat until the omelet is just set, about 1 minute.
  4. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cheese down the center of the omelet and top with half of the radicchio filling (about 1/4 cup). Use a spatula to fold one side of the omelet over the filling. Roll the omelet onto a warm plat. Wipe the pan clean, lower the heat to medium, and make a second omelet with the remaining butter, eggs, cheese, and radicchio. (Note: The pan will probably be a bit hotter when making the second omelet, so the time may be a bit shorter.) Serve immediately.

Serve with roasted potatoes seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary.

Hale Ranch, tall cover crop.

Hale Ranch, tall cover crop.

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July

For some reason (perhaps because we were in a rush?), our last post did not save, so sorry we haven’t had any updates recently! We have harvested some potatoes which are in storage now. Of the ones we have planted, there are about 3/4 more to harvest; these are all by Adam’s house on Tomki Road. They look really good despite a few bites from potato beetles. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about those bugs. We’ll be planting more potatoes at Heart Arrow.

I’ve also been on top of keeping the onions weeded, which keeps them happy, and the winter squash is growing fast! Also growing is the cover crop (below)

That’s Adam in the photo! The cover crop is taller in some places probably because the soil fertility is better there than elsewhere. Probably in the coming week, Jerry or Adam will till it in, then we can start adding compost. Adam has been diligently collecting horse manure from some friends in Redwood Valley (for free!) and growing a yummy pile of poop to make the vegetables happy. We are very excited to start making beds and terrace the steep slopes.

If you or anyone you know is thinking about joining our CSA, please contact or have your friend contact Adam. Seed, remay, amendments, and labor, among other inputs, need to be purchased now for us to have vegetables ready by December. The garlic we are distributing this winter was planted in October 2007. A lot of time and investment is required to produce good food; plants take time to grow. Signing up sooner is better, so don’t wait!

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