Passing the baton

A golden tree outside my window shines as a torch aflame on this blue-sky day. I am thankful that each twig holds onto the color even though it has not had the sustenance of rain in 2 months. It is a miracle actually. Various plantings of flowers around the yard look pitiful since they only receive a passing slush of dishwater. I have been known to save washing machine water for plants but that can be messy. We irrigate our vegetables every other day with a drip tape method using city water, which as you know, has chlorine in it to kill the bacteria and in general is not a wise way to grow living things. We hope to come up with something else sustainable over time.

We feel real proud of our compost windrows! A lot of manure has been hauled in which is mixed up with tons of our produce, plants and prairie cuttings as well as old produce from Maynard’s grocery store which I pick up every day. The compost temperature is checked daily with a huge thermometer to make sure all is cooking well. When the temperature drops and it has a good feel it is basically ready to use. Composting puts the nutrients back to the soil instead of into a dead landfill. We add compost to each bed before planting something new. Some beds are planted out three times a year.

We are working hard to be ready for our Field Day on October 13 from 1-3 p.m. with Rural Advantage. You are all welcome to come for a walkabout. I can’t imagine where we would be if our son Nathan had not been with us this past month. Oh my goodness!

Harvest today should include: carrots, potatoes, onions, pears, peppers, buttercup squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cilantro and maybe some Asian greens. As you probably have noticed, I’m trying to figure out something other than buying more plastic bags to litter the earth. Bringing your own helps immensely!

This is a baton passing moment, please remember to bring your market boxes so we can change things around. For those disembarking: thanks for your support and hope to see you again, soon!

Three makes a team

My heart just grew two sizes bigger! Our son, Nathan, is home from his many years in Bolivia and……he is excited to join the adventure! Hallelujah! And all the people said, “Amen!”

Things have been hopping since I last shared some farm wisdom. We have an inundation of grasshoppers that manage to eat all new shoots as they break through the soil into the sunlight. We lay down floating row covers on each bed in hopes of an eventual harvest. This is not something we have had to do before so it is more of an experiment. I think the hoppers know what is good; we don’t have an arsenal of chemicals to kill their enthusiasm and so we are in a stand-off.

Cracks are gaping wider each day, which indicates how dry it has been. Our farm operation has three locations. We only irrigate at the one located by our home in town. We are looking into other options for next year, especially rain water harvesting. Water is precious so we attempt to use it wisely and with care. All kitchen sink gray water is collected and is poured on thirsty flowers. It is a resource that we should not take for granted. I feel a soapbox slipping under my feet so instead of preaching I would be interested in hearing what others do to be good stewards of clean water and how it is passed on to your children and community.

The small melons that were trained to climb the fence to keep out of the clutches of 4-footers managed to reach over and down again…but without water….they shriveled on the vine.

We have a new shiny tractor to turn our long window of compost. It is one long row! We hope to do a better job this year by taking its temperature to make sure it is hot enough to kill the weed seeds and cook up right.

The high tunnel in process is still processing. The goal is to get the raspberries covered before frost. We also have two new plots added to our “short line” of cars. That will give us 7 plots to rotate our plantings in. New track needs to be laid and a cover crop planted as soon as yesterday.

I sat curbside this week trying to sell off 90 watermelons. I did not succeed so each half share will receive one this week along with potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, cucumbers, herbs, carrots, eggplant, broccoli, raspberries, and tomatoes. Melons will be for sale.

I have experimented with melon juice – blending melons in water and ice cubes with a dash of sweetener. It is delish! I have also made a marvelous salsa with serranos and tomatoes and also pickled them with onions and garlic. A salsa verde with tomatillos was my first introduction to that unique tomato cousin. What a treat!