Posts Tagged ‘soil’

Newsletter 3.4

IN YOUR BASKET

Spaghetti Squash
Turnip
Braising Greens
Red Russian Kale
Green Onions

NOTES FROM THE FIELD

Happy 2011! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and is looking forward to weekly local vegetables again. We farmers are especially excited for the sun-filled week ahead. The rain came down so much on Heart Arrow Ranch that we have found new sinkholes and slides in the landscape. The land literally moves here.

Snow by Adam's loft on New Year's Day

Many more lambs have been born, keeping us busy, as we have to check them often and sometime bottle-feed them. In the month of December, over 20 lambs were born. We finally castrated our baby bull, which was like a mini rodeo event. And our pigs are in hog heaven as long as we give them enough straw bedding. With livestock, the rain makes manure and soil management challenging.

In the dry week ahead, we expect to cultivate and start planting vegetables in the new greenhouse. Even today, it was quite warm inside it. And we are spending most of our evenings on crop planning, budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and general brainstorming. Crop planning, including crop rotations and cover cropping, really means planning a year out. The weather that actually happens – like when the rainy season actually ends and starts – forces us to make adjustments in those plans along the way. As many of you know, that’s what makes farming challenging, but having CSA members like you, it’s less risky and more manageable. Thanks!

Eat well,
Adam and Paula

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Herbs
Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds
removed
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, & more for brushing
1 tbsp packed light-brown sugar
Salt & pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup blanched hazelnuts (1 oz.), toasted and coarsely chopped

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Brush the cut sides of squash with oil, and sprinkle with sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Place squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, for about 45 minutes. Let it cool slightly on the sheet on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
2. Using a fork, scrape the squash to remove the flesh in long strands. Place the strands in a large bowl. Add oil, Parmesan, parsley, cilantro, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss, and serve immediately.

Did you know that you could eat spaghetti squash and meatballs?

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Compost Tea

It has been a while since we made compost tea, but we wanted to give our potato plants a boost. The field where we are growing potatoes was basically fill (clay and rocks) before we started cropping, so the soil could really use the tea on top of the compost and green manure (cover crop cultivated in) it’s already received. Plus, potatoes need a lot of nutrients to thrive. Here we are experimenting using a fire hose to apply the finished compost tea.

If you are unfamiliar with compost tea, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service describes it as “a compost extract brewed with a microbial food source—molasses, kelp, rock dust, humic-fulvic acids. The compost-tea brewing technique, an aerobic process, extracts and grows populations of beneficial microorganisms.”

Take in those microbes, potato field!!

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So far, it has been good leasing from the Hales. We hope to get a soil test result soon from Alpha Labs in Ukiah, but we have gone ahead with a fertility plan. This past Thursday, we stirred and sprayed BD 500 and prepped the compost we bought from Cold Creek down the road.

Since we do not have a tractor, we are hiring the neighbor to do the big tractor work. We looked into renting a tractor ourselves, but we do not have the insurance required. By outsourcing, we can stay within our budget. First, we had him mow down the cover crop. After we purchased compost and rented a spreader from Cold Creek, we had him spread it.We purchased fish emulsion and rented a fertilizer sprayer from the Farm Supply in Ukiah and are having the neighbor spray that as well. It’s been really efficient outsourcing the tractor work, and he’s a really nice guy who seems to know what he’s doing. I think our landlord is pleased with the activity going on.

If we haven’t mentioned it before, we’re very excited to be cropping here because the water is very affordable and it’s FLAT (as opposed to the hills at Heart Arrow).

The neighbor takes a break from discing to chat with our landlord and Adam.

inside the compost spreader we rented

one of the fields at the Hale Ranch

The soil in the first section of the field looks really good.

the second section, also with overhead sprinklers

the third and largest section

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Water, water everywhere

The past couple days, Adam and I have been spending time at Heart Arrow Ranch watering the field we will grow most of the CSA produce. A few weeks ago, Jerry Yates, the wonderful vineyard manager there, disced the soil then spread lime throughout. These are the first steps in creating healthy soil. We use a tractor to disc the soil to break it up and pull up the grass (and future weeds) already growing there. The Goldens did soil tests not too long ago which found the soil there to be calcium deficient, hence the application of lime.

With a few sprinklers, moving them around every couple hours, Adam and I watered the ground in order to create the right amount of moisture in the soil appropriate for another round of discing. Then we will plant the cover crop, which in this case will be buckwheat. It grows quickly, will add organic matter to the soil, smothers remaining weeds, and will add tilth (the fine, crumbly quality of soil).

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but it is quite exciting to be breaking ground and planning where we will first plant. The field is partly a drainage area, so there are some slopes. Next time, I will put pictures of the new land, and you will see how I am intrigued to plant on this not-so-flat terrain!

Looking at the map above, the land we are farming is just west of the westernmost pond.

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