Tubing the tomatoes

Cutworms are a voracious bunch that munch at the end of the day and through the night. They are the larvae of night-flying moths. The adults do not cause a problem….but their youngsters should all be in community service for the damage they inflict.

In order to protect our new transplants from the ground-dwelling grubs, we collar each plant with a toilet paper tube. It worked for us last year with the 224 tomato plants in the high tunnel – no instant deaths by munchers. Here’s the deal……we need more paper tubes!

Our greenhouse tomatoes, Moskvich along with 589’s and 968’s, are snug in the ground with caging and twine to hold them in place. Each has been tubed, though last year we did not have cutworms in the greenhouse. I am not sure why plants have numbers instead of names. Imagine naming your children that way – how would the nickname sound?

Canned grape juice is now available. The ONLY ingredients are grapes and a bit of water – no added sugar. I like the juice diluted 1:1 and with a bit of sweetener. I have made a wonderful Honeyed Squash and Apple leather…now to trial a grape one!

Grapes are part of the purple super power munch team. We have grown a huge assortment of purples: Saskatoons, eggplant, aronia berries, haskaps, black (purple) currants, potatoes, carrots, kohlrabi, cabbage, onions and beets. My goal is to continue experimenting so that they become more acceptable at the table – they protect us from free radicals, improve immunity and give us the option for a healthier lifestyle.

Farm shares will get to choose carrots, beets, cabbage, potatoes, Sweet meat or Kabocha squash, red onions or garlic, pint of grape juice, frozen vegetable or greens. It is March and we continue to have some mighty fine eats – hip hip!

Shades of greens

Steve is rearranging the greenhouse to make space for the huge Moskvich tomato plants he started January 31. There will continue to be 2 lettuce beds in the soil and then, of course, many shades of greens in the rain gutter plantings. It is definitely eye candy to look out the window into the greenhouse while slogging through the lowly job of washing dishes! Tomatoes due by…… guess!

A friendly collector of useful stuff has given us a trailer load of metal roofing that originally came from some redo at Midway many years ago. Steve has plans to build a raised bed in the greenhouse all along the southern exposure. Raised beds were in the original blue prints but we quickly realized that we needed more flexibility in the greenhouse and chose not to fill the space with permanent fixtures. We will take note how this one works.

We hoisted kites to the market ceiling today. Anticipation of running in green meadows with a colorful kite flowing out behind me gives buoyancy to my step! Check out how kites fit the picture when next you waltz in.

There’s to be a large bag of greens for farm share members this week along with Napoli (candy) carrots, frozen leeks/pickles, garlic/cilantro, potatoes, frozen veggie or fruit. Oh, and a sample of my latest endeavor – Orange Spiced Beet Spread, a big name for a delicious mouthful. Hey Ho!


Whatever is true

I am off to the MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service) conference in LaCrosse this coming weekend. It would be nicer if my partner were along and we could absorb twice as much information. Someone has to keep the home fires burning……literally. Our central boiler is the only source of heat for the market.

We are considered a very small farm and business and the new food safety rules rolling off the printers do not apply until 2020, at least that is how I understand it. There is to be a day long course at MOSES on this topic that should get me up to speed. My goal in life is to stand straight and tall and know whatever is true, pure and lovely and to think on those things. I want to grow up like an onion – at least like the two with their heads up!

Staff of life?

Homemade bread was the norm from my earliest years. We had a wood stove and I learned just how many pieces of redwood were needed to stoke the fire to reach the right temperature. There was many a time that the crust got singed black since there was no knob to turn down the heat.

Jumping ahead 20 years to west Africa, in order to make homemade bread we resorted to floor sweepings of whole wheat berries from a mill! Imagine! I washed it, dried it in the sun, then ground it with a manual meat grinder. Peanut butter sandwiches were our main source of protein and calories.

Take another jump of 30 years and now crops (oats, potatoes, wheat, edible beans, barley, flax, tritical, sugar beets, millet, canola) are sprayed with glyphosate while still in the field, just days before harvest, in order to dry out the plants. Yoikes! Studies have shown that these residues stick around and show up in a lot of processed food without our knowledge. Hmmmm

Transparency and having a choice in the matter at hand are rather important for me. It is to be Valentine’s Day and that means choosing who gets extra hugs and the reason for being so wild and amorous – haha!

We choose to provide some might fine eats: salad mix, carrots, salad vinagrette OR beets, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash OR dried delicata, cabbage and frozen veggies.

Selling water


I am keenly aware that a glass of water to quench thirst or of a cooling shower to wash off the grime from a hot day is a privilege that half the world’s population does not have access to. Cape Town, with nearly 4 million people, is soon to be without their life-giving source of water…..the reservoir has dried up after the long drought. Just what would I do if I was a ‘have’ or a ‘have not’ and my neighbors across town were in the opposite situation?

Oh, there are so many ‘have not’ stories of me, but in each instance, I could take a hike to where a water source could be found – a real nuisance since the going and coming got me all hot, grimy and bothered again.

My youngest son is but one year old and I constantly had him on my back to keep him from crawling in the dirt. I hauled water from our well each morning and evening in order to get enough for the day. We had a liter each to ‘bathe’ with in the cool of the evening when the sun finally let the stars twinkle and the cooler breezes rattled the dry palm fronds. Just hearing that scratching sound when all was dark on my night walks with a crying baby would give me reprieve. Whew!

I look bedraggled, and that was how it was. There is a happy picture but it was not to be found.

I hauled water to the outdoor toilet, to the katedyn filter for drinking water and filled all the storage drums….everyday. Our well would go dry and then off to the neighbor’s with a bucket so we could share a liter between us, most refreshing.

We now sell water in the form of salad mix, carrots, beets, soup, fruit smoothies and all the other good eats. This privilege is not taken lightly. There is no baby on my back but the responsibility of caring for the world’s limited resources so all the children and their families can have a meaningful life is rather daunting.

This week, CSA farm share members will enjoy water in the form of: salad mix, garlic, carrots/ beets, potatoes/onions, winter squash, frozen produce, fruit sauce and an herb.