If it is still Thursday.

18 04 2010

This has been a pretty crazy week for farming. It began with my continuing demonstration as a terrible carpenter. I got one wall of the greenhouse up and covered with plastic. The other wall is made of straw bales. Laziness is only part of the reason I did this. The greenhouse needs to be opened up in mid summer anyway to let the wind pass through to cool it down. I can just deconstruct the straw bale wall when I need it to be cooler in the greenhouse. The straw is local and no-spray, and it will also be used as mulch over the course of the summer. I need to be adding as much organic material to the soil as possible anyway. This straw will be used as mulch to prevent water evaporation from the soil surface.

With one wood and plastic wall and another made of straw this greenhouse can finally hold some heat. For a little extra oomph I am putting a couple of heat sinks in the greenhouse to maintain temperature for better germination for all the summer crops. With the greenhouse all sealed up, it was time to plant hard. Ten styles of tomatoes went in, about 144 total starts. This will add to the 150 tomato starts started some 3 weeks ago. One of the tomatoes, Big Red Italian, I am growing for seed for Baker’s Creek Heirloom seeds. MarketMore 80 cucumbers, Peppers (sweet, spicy, and hot), heirloom Melons, Watermelons, Winter Squash (Marina Di Chiogga, Delicata, and Georgia Candy Roaster), Summer Squash, basil, summer savory, and lettuce of course.  Eggplants have been started indoors, and the primary variety is Millionaire.

Somewhere in between all the greenhouse action I was inspected for my organic certification from Tilth. This actually took place on Thursday afternoon.  It went well, I learned a little about the vagueness in the system, and because of said vagueness I would probably be issued a non-compliance.  The inspector told me I would just have to comply.  I would not lose my certification and it would not mark against me on the great big bureaucratic board.  The inspector actually told me that I was more organized than most.  Stunned and always feeling like I am wading in disorganization, I did a doubletake, said, “really?”, and thanked the man.  I must throw in a proper thank you to the Small Farms Extension at OSU.  If not for their countless classes, I would have never have been adequately prepared for my certification.

As I saw it, Friday looked like a fine day.  The whole weekend was shaping up. I gave a quick call to my new friend Michael.  He is a very nice man that we met at a Small Farms class,  a neighbor to the field that I am farming, and he is also the owner of a tractor.  A tractor is becoming a very important tool to have available.  Until I work hard enough to earn the money to buy my own tractor, I currently have to beg, barter, or work harder to be able to borrow someone’s equipment.  As it happened, Michael was home, he agreed to some work trade, some starts, and some wine, and then we got the tractor up and running.  Having this tractor at my disposal allowed me to turn the compost pile, move the drum fish fertilizer closer to the injector, and till.  I tilled about  1/2 acre that over the next week will be planted in kales, cabbages, broccoli, bok choy, carrots, onions, lettuce, raab, and potatoes.

While all this is being managed with systematic and strategic organization and forethought, I enjoy spending many a day making sure I get my allowance of chaos.  Watching two two year old does just the trick.  Oy Vey is an understatement.

Where the farm is as of today


April Acceleration

11 04 2010

This month seems almost over.  So much is happening at once.   All the fertilizer for the year has been purchased.  There is liquid fish, liquid kelp,  and pelleted chicken fertilizer.  I use some bone meal here and there, but these are going to be the primary amendments (besides mulches and compost) to the soil over the course of the growing season.  All the liquid fertilizer is going be used with a fertilizer injector.  It will be a whole new technique for me to learn; the dilution rates, and the ratios to use for the amount acreage under irrigation so I don’t burn through a years worth of fertilizer in a couple months.

Planting is the name of the game.  Soil mix is made for all the summer crops, direct seeding is going on every three weeks, and lettuce transplants are being planted every other week.  On Thursday turnips, beets, dill, lettuce, scallions, chard, radishes were all direct seeded. On the harvest side of things, lettuce will finally be ready for sale in about two weeks for the restaurant accounts.

The greenhouse is still a pain.  I really need to insulate it down to better germinate all the summer crops.  I have a couple big water storage containers to use as heat sinks in the greenhouse, and I am about to buy straw bales to use the end caps.

I did end up buying some no spray straw to use as mulch, as the weeds are strong, and I need to apply efforts to other things besides weeding daily.  The perennial crops all were mulched.  While I mulched the strawberries I discovered a multitude of gopher runs.  While I have been setting out, and checking traps regularly I have not caught a single varmint.  I am planting back-ups upon back-ups of crops just in case the gophers decide to molest my farm.  I just received some of those underground noise makers to deter them as well.  I will use every tool to rid myself of this problem.

Since restarting a small farm from the ground up the field still doesn’t look like much as of now.  But below, and just above soil level there is tons going on.  Things are growing, and the rain mixed with hot sunny days of spring in Southern Oregon is helping the plants along.  About a half of an acre, everything that is tilled, has been planted with much more on the way.  Next week will hopefully involve more tilling, as transplants need to go in the ground.  Here are some pictures of the field as of today.

The goat is not mine.

Planting sticks

5 04 2010

Sadie helped plant about 200 Zinfandel cuttings today. These will be potted up next year after they root in the sandy soil. Then two years from now they might make their way into a vineyard like setting of a mixed use small farm. I want to get another 200 Tempranillo cuttings as well.
Round 2 of carrots were sown today. Three varieties were planted: Baltimore, Parano, and Scarlett Nantes. So far everything that has been direct seeded has germinated rather quickly. Root crops are well on their way for the beginning of CSA.
The cover crop of Oats and Peas are knee high. The pea tendrils on the regular field peas are delicious; so sweet.
The lettuce transplants in the greenhouse are about two weeks out till harvest for lettuce mix.

But the challenges of gopher trapping and weed eliminating are proving difficult.  All part of the fun I suppose.

Lastly, there is the dreadful job of plucking off all the strawberry flowers.  Over the past 2 weeks I have picking the flowers off in order to promote root growth on all the strawberries that were transplanted.  There will be strawberries eventually.

In the Tub

Spring purple

3 04 2010

Planting started on April fools and won’t stop till October

Joys and Sorrow

25 03 2010

Finally, the tractor support came in the middle of the month. The soil at the new place is really sandy, and in a super sunny location. It drys out quickly, and there was a window this month to carve a couple rows. My friend Ted, who has a tractor, drove it down from his property up the road. Three hours later I was returning the tractor and tiller. I was overjoyed with efficiency. They were right, tractors were made for a reason.

.First tilling
The tractor carved 5 ft wide beds. I have 4 ft wide beds in my farm plan, but I will have to work with what I have. I immediately planted the beds with rows of spinach, beets, turnips, carrots, radishes. There were enough beds carved in this first tillage for this first round of direct seeding, then a second similar round of direct seeding, as well as a large round of brassica and lettuce transplants.

This Earthway seeder is nice, but not very precise.

I have a greenhouse full of the second and third round of seedlings, and I am about ready to start on the fourth round of lettuce. I am keeping up the schedule of planting lettuce every twoish weeks for the rest of the year.  I got to make some green.  I planted the first round of tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse.  Even though it still doesn’t have any endcaps on it,  the field gets so warm in the mornings, and it should be enough to germinate these warm weather crops.  Those transplants were then covered with another round of plastic to help insulate them from the cold and heat them up even quicker in the morning.

After the event of direct seeding my first round, I made bet on mother nature providing some moisture.  I lost.  The irrigation had to be lined up on the field, the pump in the river reset,  and the water inlet cleared of debris so I could water the seeds in.  All of this was new to me. But after a days worth of work we had water flowing to the field again.  Everything seemed happy.  The next day I came out and turned the irrigation on, and it started up right away.  Upon walking up the field I noticed a river making its way over the remay covering the peas, and across all the rows I direct seeded.  A line had popped out in the middle of field and cut a foot deep trench in my peas, sprayed dirt all over the remay, and destroyed a bunch of my rows beyond that.  I quit farming for the rest of the day. A 10 hp pump can do a lot of damage.

I came back and cleaned up the mess.  Moved the remay, replanted as best as I could, and fixed the pipe.  I check the joints everyday now before I start the pump.  Good ole trial by fire.  Then just today, I noticed the gophers; they have been eating my garlic.  This is not going to be easy.  I must rid the farm of them.

There were peas planted there.

There is a reason for tractors.

8 03 2010

Trying to obtain a tractor for a couple hours worth of work is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. I need to pull about 15 beds. I have been tilling everything by hand with a hoe, but the work smarter not harder mentality is nagging at my current work ethic. Lots of plants need to bed down shortly. Direct seeding a large first round of veggies is ready to happen.
There are still lots of spots in CSA that need to be filled, and are looking for people to enjoy this season’s bounty with us. There are other obtainable markets for fresh produce, but we really feel that the CSA is the best way to advocate closing the system on consumer producer relationships.


21 02 2010

The greenhouse has almost completely come together. I am not sure how the end caps will go on, so it might just be a hoop house for the time being. It still gets hot enough for the lettuce and onions to germinate. Gotta love south facing slopes in the Applegate.
A large portion of seeds being planted are being contracted out this year. Wolf Gulch farms planted all of the first succession of lettuce and brassicas.
For all the seeds that I am starting, we are using homemade compost and homemade seed starting mix. I sort of follow the Eliot Coleman recipe.
Lastly, I am contracted to grow orach as seed again this year. I planted the orach that I seed saved from last year, and planted 200 starts of it. CSA members may get some in their salad mix.