Fall roots redux

Soft striations in the soil from a not-so-soft storm.

Soft striations in the soil from a not-so-soft storm.

2019 Week 34, Summer CSA 12 of 26

Hello all, on this doozy of a day. I know that some of you would rather the world end in fire than in ice, but even so, I hope you have enjoyed some mid-day coolness … or even that rarer-and-rarer chance to dwell in the heat, for the way it feels when it is gone. I have a 64 fl oz stainless steel water bottle that is literally too large to hold; but it wasn’t quite big enough to hold enough water for the berry harvest today. I imagined myself something of a cartoon sieve, pouring water in, only to watch it leak out just as quickly.

We had quite a ruckus of a storm on Thursday night. Two and a half inches came down. Everything in farming is about timing, and that was just the wrong time for our freshly seeded fall roots. I left the beets, rutabaga, turnips, and radishes as they are, but bed-prepped the carrots and re-seeded to carrots and turnips. A fast-maturing variety of carrots are in the mail, and when they arrive, we’ll seed some more. We’re cutting it close at that point, but if the moisture gods are with us, I think we’ll be fine.

Due to our nutrient brew turning on the seedlings this spring, our pepper plants are not the twenty-variety trial we had planned, as we transplanted whatever made it. Still, the lack of order at harvest-time has been distinctly and positively surprising. “Is this ‘Lipstick?’ This one looks like ‘Corno di Toro Giallo,’ which was just a trial packet. How cool!” I am working on next year’s plan, which doubles the sweet peppers, as we could use some more. Also, note that the ‘Padron’ and ‘Shishito’ peppers are somewhere between a hot and a sweet type, and so I will be separating those out and moving them over with the herbs. Fried, with a dash of salt, they make a great appetizer.

Working on the 2020 plan has been quite exciting. Here is some of the news: A generally earlier spring, as the year-round CSA means we are no longer holding off until the start of June; expanded spring broccoli, plus a new sprouting type for a weekly harvest; the fall kale king thus far, ‘Madeley,’ as an Elephant Ear type to grow in the spring, while still keeping the ‘Scarlet’ kale; tripled Asian greens, including an added generation of ‘Senposai’ in summer to gap the spring chard and fall greens; better spacing of spring cabbage, and a reduction to just the quickest selections, plus a garden-gnome pointy-type for the fall; dropping of peak summer snap beans in favor of more soybeans, at least until the soil founds more confidence; the aforementioned doubling of sweet peppers; 20% more tomatoes, space-wise, with more committed to ‘Brandywise,’ which was the clear winner this spring, essentially doubling production; small tomatoes will be scythed down to just the most productive varieties; doubled okra, with ‘Fife Creek’ staying on the list for sure, and your comments helping us refine the remaining selections; an easier two-week, two-sub-generation sweet corn planting succession, with more per planting over a shorter duration, keeping ‘Kandy Korn,’ which has been the best in the field these last three years; a narrowing of flowers down to the current winners, devoting all space to them; and the removal of dry beans from the plan in order to grow more cover crops to build the soil. Not to mention a host of rock and plant-based soil correctives, plus foliar-fed backup nutrition, to translate all of this farming effort into a harvest.

While the absence of a crop might pain you, it pains the farmer substantially more, because he sees them all in the field, but never gets to harvest them. Over a decade of farm planning never gets seen. These soil correctives and foliar-fed nutrients mean an end to that. Hip hip.

For the most part, the farm is ready to move out of beta stage next year, with a better sense for the nutritional ailments of the soil and most of the timing now down — though we’ll push an earlier spring, even without plastic-based rowcover. If you know anyone who is interested in supporting this kind of farming, do spread the word. And if you don’t understand how what we’re doing is new and different, ask!

2020 shares are year-round and now for sale. (The website does not yet reflect this, but it will.) Some kind of ‘Farm Bucks’ alternative for the Farmstand will also be available. Nearly all of the expenses for 2020 happen from now until the end of 2019, which means we need your support. Pre-Dec 31st prices and discounts reflect this need. I will update the website when I have the chance with all the new news about how the CSA and farm runs in 2020, but if you have questions before then, just ask.

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Taking a mid-summer break.

Veggies
Bean, Cowpea Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Okra
Pepper, Sweet

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Garlic
Garlic, Scapes
Mint, of some flavor
Pepper, Hot
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Farm Honey & Ferments for sale.

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

Fall roots

Earthway x 2: Beets, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, and beans of all kinds slide into the bare strips on a 5"-wide two-row system. Here we've ganged an Earthway seeder with another to make that faster and more precise. The beets, in this particular case, also have the overly-excited-to-deposit-seed beet plate halved via silicone in alternating cups. As long as there’s not too much trash in the bed — which a rake removes — it does a good job. In fact, wheel hoeing and raking — and NOT tilling — turned-out to be the easiest bed prep method for this seeder. We also have a single-row Jang, but so far the cheap Earthway has proven to be more versatile and effective, aside from the wee seeds it likes to grind like a peppermill. :)

Earthway x 2: Beets, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, and beans of all kinds slide into the bare strips on a 5"-wide two-row system. Here we've ganged an Earthway seeder with another to make that faster and more precise. The beets, in this particular case, also have the overly-excited-to-deposit-seed beet plate halved via silicone in alternating cups. As long as there’s not too much trash in the bed — which a rake removes — it does a good job. In fact, wheel hoeing and raking — and NOT tilling — turned-out to be the easiest bed prep method for this seeder. We also have a single-row Jang, but so far the cheap Earthway has proven to be more versatile and effective, aside from the wee seeds it likes to grind like a peppermill. :)

Expected Harvest

Greens
Taking a mid-summer break.

Veggies
Bean, Cowpea Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Okra
Pepper, Sweet
Tomato, Small
Tomato, Large

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Garlic
Garlic, Scapes
Mint, of some flavor
Pepper, Hot
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Farm Honey & Ferments for sale.

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

2019 Week 33, Summer CSA 11 of 26

It is amazing how quickly one can work under the threat of rain. Or perhaps the cloudy weather brought the farmer up to a speed which these hot and humid days do not. In either case, there was much list checkbox checking to be had this morning.

One of the new things we tried this year is a diversity of less-hot hot peppers, including something of a rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green — of jalapenos. I did not know I would find it so pleasurable, but that was the feeling — something akin to pleasure — when I discovered their fat colors hanging from the plants at harvest. I hope you enjoy the eating as much as I enjoyed the gathering.

Raspberries are coming on at 10-15h/wk, though the Japanese Beetles are putting in more hours than me. :) Winter members, please take to freeze for later. What you don’t take, I save for late-joiners. So this is your chance! :)

If the rain comes tonight, I hope you get to enjoy it. It feels almost like a rhino walking from poacher territory into a refuge. By which I mean, it feels like refuge. And that feels good. :)

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Bubbles: worm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp, molasses, and EM-1 (effective microbes) get a 36 hour brew. We add humic acids at the end of that, dilute at 10-20:1, and spray. I call it the “nut stew.” All active generations of squash (#4,5,6), cucumber (#4,5,6) watermelon (#2,3), and tomato (#4,5) got sprayed last Friday. There was a wee bit of burning on some of the tomatoes, but otherwise they look good. Let’s see if it helps!

Bubbles: worm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp, molasses, and EM-1 (effective microbes) get a 36 hour brew. We add humic acids at the end of that, dilute at 10-20:1, and spray. I call it the “nut stew.” All active generations of squash (#4,5,6), cucumber (#4,5,6) watermelon (#2,3), and tomato (#4,5) got sprayed last Friday. There was a wee bit of burning on some of the tomatoes, but otherwise they look good. Let’s see if it helps!

Rain Dance

The clouds got silly last Wednesday evening.

The clouds got silly last Wednesday evening.

2019 Week 32, Summer CSA 10 of 26

Thank you so much for the rain dance dancing you all did last week. We got 1.75, 1.5, and 1 inch over three consecutive days. After all that rain, the soil was still just dry enough to dig potatoes. But wet enough to plant the seedlings we had backlogged in the greenhouse: basils, lettuce, fennel, flowers, and celery all made it in. This is a pretty significant week, as, aside from late greens, the last of 2019 goes into the field. Hip hip!

Here's an interesting fact: relative to the start of the season, when farming in the north, we just closed things down for the year, having hit the first frost, with only a few root crops to gather and the snow about to come. But here in the south, we have two more months to go … and then the winter line comes as a kind of fuzzy medium between fall and spring. There's a lot of room in these two extra months for summer veggies, but also a good amount to learn, especially regarding varieties that take the heat and humidity -- whether it be beans, greens, or tomatoes. Sometime in the future I can talk more about that, as it’s most important to the future of the kind of low energy, biological, plastic-less farming we’re trying to develop. It also speaks of proper pacing, not only for the timing of plantings, but the farmer.

As you can clearly see, the farm is limping a bit. If a bit is a lot. I sent some soil off to the lab, and the results are back: our phosphorous is at about 6% of goal, with the potassium down to about 48%. Despite fall rock applications last year, all of that rain pretty seriously leached our phosphorous, which clay does a poor job of holding. The inability to seed cover crops due to waterlogged soils also limited the amount of biological cycling that normally occurs, which is really where farm phosphorous should come from.

We plant most things every two weeks — new beans, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, corn, etc. all go in routinely — but there’s a pretty substantial pipeline which buffers our response time. Once we see something off, there are still months of crops that we can’t address. We’re responding, though! I have been foliar feeding with rock phosphorous, now have soil lab results to properly amend this fall, and am testing a new mix of rocks, plants, microbes, and molasses to aerobically brew for a foliar spray. The idea is that I’m tired of getting 20% back for 100% in — :) — and will be training-wheeling our crops with foliar spoonfuls while the soil gets its legs.

Unrelated to that, and while I’m piling it on, I will also remind you of that note from some months back when I said, “The third planting of tomatoes didn’t make it.” That was our August batch, which a supposedly innocuous alfalfa meal addition burnt at the root. I put the 4th planting in the ground a little early, and seeded the 5th in the greenhouse early, too. But that’s the state of things.

I do apologize, but that’s why we kept the price artificially low again this year. The farm eats this failure — rather than the CSA — and, so far, you all are getting $27/adult/wk for the $20 that went in. I’m rectifying that disparity in future — :) — because we’ll go out of business if we keep that up. But it’s something of a built-in consolation for early soil deficiencies. Thank you all for understanding.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Taking a mid-summer break.

Veggies
Bean, Cowpea Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Pepper, Sweet
Tomato, Small
Tomato, Large

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Garlic
Garlic, Scapes
Mint, of some flavor
Pepper, Hot
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Farm Honey & Ferments for sale.

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

Clouds like these always make me think of how I’d take it on open water.

Clouds like these always make me think of how I’d take it on open water.

The Desert

There is a serious -- and for a long time thereafter ensuing -- pause that a farmer takes to find that the flower bucket, before the flower, is the more beautiful of the two.

There is a serious -- and for a long time thereafter ensuing -- pause that a farmer takes to find that the flower bucket, before the flower, is the more beautiful of the two.

2019 Week 31, Summer CSA 9 of 26

If this heat without rain has made you just a bit slower in your walk, then you will know just how the farm is feeling. It’s a little sluggish out there. But it strikes me how great it is to have back-to-back opposite extremes — for the varietal selection process of this young farm. Last year, everything that didn’t make it through the deluge got ditched; this year, everything that doesn’t make it through the drought gets the same treatment. What’s left are the varieties most suited to the farm in its worst years, which will be quite a thing to build a new year on. The various yield numbers, in that way, actually get me excited. So, cheers to that.

While planning-out next year, I came upon the seemingly simple “Parker’s Gold,” a yellow yarrow. It is my aim to one day plant each insectary bed into a solid block of a single perennial flower varietal, not just for harvest or beneficial bug habitat, but for the farmer’s own happiness. Ed Abbey — a Pennsylvania native as well — had me curious about the feeling of the desert from a long time back. But this note gets me whimsical:

What we love most about Parker’s Gold is the captivating aromatic leaves that look like ferns but smell like the desert. It is one of our favorite smells from the plant world. —Adaptive Seeds

What else are these hot days good for, but for enjoying these oh-so-slightly-cooler nights?

So, enjoy these nights,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Taking a mid-summer break.

Veggies
Bean, Cowpea Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Tomato, Small
Tomato, Large

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish

Fruit
Blackberries
Raspberries*

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro or Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Mint, Peppermint
Pepper, Hot*
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Farm Honey & Ferments for sale.

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

Do you remember that time when I was mowing a field with a tickle in my ear, and so I finally pulled off the ear protection to find that the tickler was a black widow? But that it was male, and so apparently nothing to worry about? I remember that time. Here's its female counterpart, found hiding-out in the basil seedlings.

Do you remember that time when I was mowing a field with a tickle in my ear, and so I finally pulled off the ear protection to find that the tickler was a black widow? But that it was male, and so apparently nothing to worry about? I remember that time. Here's its female counterpart, found hiding-out in the basil seedlings.

My favorite crop, the cover crop. The fall cover crops get going here: Buckwheat, Oats, Berseem Clover, Field Peas, and Woolypod / Lana Vetch as a winterkill polyculture. A soybean & buckwheat biculture also went on before the garlic. Next, the flowers get undersown to crimson clover. Later in the year the dry beans and field corn get the same winterkill cover.

My favorite crop, the cover crop. The fall cover crops get going here: Buckwheat, Oats, Berseem Clover, Field Peas, and Woolypod / Lana Vetch as a winterkill polyculture. A soybean & buckwheat biculture also went on before the garlic. Next, the flowers get undersown to crimson clover. Later in the year the dry beans and field corn get the same winterkill cover.

With so many particular things to find in a cloud, why so long to find Mt. Fuji, or some other equally mythic peak sent to strike some resonant thing? Yes, for me, something sounds back.

With so many particular things to find in a cloud, why so long to find Mt. Fuji, or some other equally mythic peak sent to strike some resonant thing? Yes, for me, something sounds back.

Dust

How dry has it been out there? The squash say, “Quite.”

How dry has it been out there? The squash say, “Quite.”

2019 Week 30, Summer CSA 8 of 26

Expected Harvest

Greens
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Fennel
Leeks
Tomato, Small
Tomato, Large

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish

Fruit
Blackberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro or Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, Lemon Balm*
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Farm Honey & Ferments for sale.

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

Such wind as to be kind of scary, actually, just came through the farm. But no rain as of yet. If the forecast is with us, we will have at least half an inch by tomorrow night. Let’s cross our fingers on even that tiny amount, but hope for more. Because, boy, has it been dry here.

While preparing the fall carrot beds — wheel hoeing, and then raking them out — one could not help but raise a bit of dust for the rare bit of wind. At the end of the day my arms had a thin sleeve caked all around them. That is not normal.

So, yes, let’s hope for rain. But don’t think us farmers fickle. Having watched it come down oceans at a time last year, we might have called it too much, but our bodies never forgetting the thirst of drought, we would not have called it bad.

The greens are out this week, aside from lettuce, which I hid in the shade of corn, and so is not too bitter to enjoy. The soybeans are in good supply. We have too many blackberries for our small crew. :) And the tomatoes have really come in, despite how terrible they look in the field. :) Foliar-fed phosphorous is the buzzword on my tongue at the moment … plus other trace minerals that kelp and alfalfa might provide, after more fall soil remediation. We’re going to get there. I know it! :)

Oh, one last reminiscence. It was hot out there, as you know, and as my clothes would have told you, looking a bit too much like I had fallen in the creek. I said, “Boy, you should wear a wet suit if you’re going to go swimming.” And my mind was cast to older times and cooler days. It was fall. And Moie, our 60-plus-year-old farmer’s wife and still-broccoli farmer herself, was harvesting broccoli on a cold morning … in a wet suit. For years she had said, “It’s so cold, and you just get so wet out there in the morning. We should just wear wet suits. Why don’t we just wear wet suits?” And then she did!

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

I watched this fellow come out of one field, move across the main path, and fold him/herself into a roll in the shade here — with this shot coming just before the finish. It was reminiscent of a dog, really, getting cozy in a very familiar way, like this is just what s/he does after having found a good spot to spend the day.

I watched this fellow come out of one field, move across the main path, and fold him/herself into a roll in the shade here — with this shot coming just before the finish. It was reminiscent of a dog, really, getting cozy in a very familiar way, like this is just what s/he does after having found a good spot to spend the day.

The thick of it

‘Scarlet Peony Poppy’ seedheads. Yes, it’s true; poppies don’t make it well from the field to the glass. So, no poppies in next year’s line-up. But why not save the seed to grow them for their field appreciation, and not their cutting? We shall, then.

‘Scarlet Peony Poppy’ seedheads. Yes, it’s true; poppies don’t make it well from the field to the glass. So, no poppies in next year’s line-up. But why not save the seed to grow them for their field appreciation, and not their cutting? We shall, then.

2019 Week 29, Summer CSA 7 of 26

We have had a rather dry summer here on the farm, despite other sites not so far from us having a fair precipitation-year. We were lucky to get 1.5” the other day, but I have been watching the mini-drought effects across the farm, and most especially on the snap beans. This last planting — we plant every two weeks — did not like the dryness, and so I have left their curled funniness in the field as a kind of cover crop, rather than putting them in a bin and apologizing to you. Up next, rather than the standard snap bean, are cowpeas picked at fresh stage. I chose those specifically for their better hot weather production, though it is a bit of an experiment. It’s just a short while before we know how they do — from a yield and flavor perspective. Do let me know.

Having had such dry weather, I have spent all my time in the field, and very little with books and spreadsheets and paper sprawled out across the desk. But this last weekend seemed like a good hot one for that kind of thing, and so I got joyfully busy working on our fall cover crop plan, nutrient regimen, and biological ‘explosion’ program. The soil isn’t where I want it to be, and the challenge of determining just how to get it there is just my kind of on-going challenge. I will keep you up-to-date as the practices arise, but they principally involve getting as much microbiology out into the soil, and then engaging the right kind of cultural techniques to keep it there. Plus a bit of rescue medicine while things establish.

I am emptying out the freezer for our blackberry onslaught. If you would like hot peppers in bulk, they’re there. Otherwise they’re going to the compost pile. Also, Winter members, do note last week’s cherry tomatoes when you get here. Cherry tomatoes are super easy to wash and freeze in a bag for winter. Just pop them out when you need them, and cook. No need to make sauce now. Easy.

Happy Summer,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Corn, Sweet
Fennel
Leeks*
Tomato, Small
Tomato, Large

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish*

Fruit
Blackberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro or Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, Apple*
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

Oh, boy! Here comes the Fall kale. Eight varieties chosen for: fast fall growth, winter hardiness, spring production before bolting, and flavor of the raab. We’ll see what we see.

Oh, boy! Here comes the Fall kale. Eight varieties chosen for: fast fall growth, winter hardiness, spring production before bolting, and flavor of the raab. We’ll see what we see.

Thank you all for being so lovely to our farm campers last week, Moby and Joon. They had a great hot time, but especially when you all showed-up — just for them — at pick-up. They had just had dinner and a bath — and were consequently tied-up for a bit while they dried-off and didn’t roll in the dirt — when I took this shot.

Thank you all for being so lovely to our farm campers last week, Moby and Joon. They had a great hot time, but especially when you all showed-up — just for them — at pick-up. They had just had dinner and a bath — and were consequently tied-up for a bit while they dried-off and didn’t roll in the dirt — when I took this shot.

Still Young

I recently heard somonee express in a podcast that when he sees a thing for a third time, he should finally wake-up and act on it. It has been well more than three times that some curiously gorgeous detritus of life has stopped me in the greenhouse. Stopping is probably the proper end, but maybe a photo in passing, too ...

I recently heard somonee express in a podcast that when he sees a thing for a third time, he should finally wake-up and act on it. It has been well more than three times that some curiously gorgeous detritus of life has stopped me in the greenhouse. Stopping is probably the proper end, but maybe a photo in passing, too ...

2019 Week 28, Summer CSA 6 of 26

I believe we have had a proper and official welcome to summer. So, welcome to summer! I hope some of you got to enjoy it over the 4th of July with water other than sweat, and maybe of the cold, jumping-in kind. I suddenly have the urge to recraft the schedule to harvest blackberries while the sun is still somewhat eastward, being as that gives at least one round of shade. On that count, blackberry harvest -- this being the first year for real production, young as the farm is -- has been one of the most enjoyable parts of this new farm season. But if the curve continues, we might change our minds -- Wednesday, 10.4#; Friday, 19.6#, Monday, 47# -- I'll let you know this Wednesday. :) At any rate, there are lots of blackberries!

Also on my mind — and wanting to put in yours — is the still awesome youth of the farm. We have two years under out belt, with one of them being a total — 5.5 feet of rain — wash-out. Some things work, others don’t, that are very particular to the circumstances of this land. Hopefully it will just take a tweak here and there to fix it all. The thing in farming, though, is that it takes at least a year to make one tweak, and another to make a second. I am learning patience on this front, with my love of fixing things luckily balancing the weight of what breaks. A note then, if you find a thing broken.

I have had questions about the Winter CSA, and can address them in person, as the dialogue is probably easier than email. I will also make some amendments to the website to clarify all the logistics surrounding it. Thank you for asking! :)

So many thanks to you all,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Broccoli
Corn, Sweet*
Fennel
Tomato, Small

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Blackberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro or Dill
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, Citrus Kitchen*
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Cooking Classes
Wednesday, July 10th: Sold-out
Thursday, July 11th: Space Available
Contact cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

The 'Honeydrop' cherry tomato. Perhaps I'm a little weird, but I very much do not enjoy eating tomatoes out of hand, even all the sweet cherry tomatoes. But for trial purposes, I taste them all the same. I had one of these yesterday, for the first time ever, and found myself totally astounded. It was sooo good! So, here's to the first tomato I've ever enjoyed in the field. :)  We had 100 varieties of tomatoes last year, and I clearly meant to reduce that count this year ... getting better year, by year. But, somehow, we ended-up with 100 varieties again. And, again, I mean to reduce that count next year, as we pile-up more and more winners and drop the loswers. 'Honeydrop' -- by flavor, at least, not yet knowing its field health -- is one of those winners.  Here’s the Fedco write-up that first lured me:   Honeydrop Small-Fruited Tomato ECO (62 days) Open-pollinated. Rampant Indeterminate. From a selection of F-1 Sunsugar, Rachel and Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, MA, developed Honeydrop and sent us the original seed, with their blessing to keep the production going. Honeydrop’s sweet juicy fruity honey-colored treats taste almost like white grapes. They are much less prone to cracking in wet weather than    Sun Gold   . Seeking to add another light-colored cherry to our selection, we trialed it against Blondkopchen, Dr. Carolyn, Isis Candy, Lemondrop and Weissbehart. It bested them all by such a wide margin in earliness, sweetness and complexity that we declined to add any of those others. Parthenocarpic. Still retains a percentage of recessive pink off-types but see    Pink Princess   ; these are also yummy!

The 'Honeydrop' cherry tomato. Perhaps I'm a little weird, but I very much do not enjoy eating tomatoes out of hand, even all the sweet cherry tomatoes. But for trial purposes, I taste them all the same. I had one of these yesterday, for the first time ever, and found myself totally astounded. It was sooo good! So, here's to the first tomato I've ever enjoyed in the field. :)

We had 100 varieties of tomatoes last year, and I clearly meant to reduce that count this year ... getting better year, by year. But, somehow, we ended-up with 100 varieties again. And, again, I mean to reduce that count next year, as we pile-up more and more winners and drop the loswers. 'Honeydrop' -- by flavor, at least, not yet knowing its field health -- is one of those winners.

Here’s the Fedco write-up that first lured me:

Honeydrop Small-Fruited Tomato ECO (62 days) Open-pollinated. Rampant Indeterminate. From a selection of F-1 Sunsugar, Rachel and Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, MA, developed Honeydrop and sent us the original seed, with their blessing to keep the production going. Honeydrop’s sweet juicy fruity honey-colored treats taste almost like white grapes. They are much less prone to cracking in wet weather than Sun Gold. Seeking to add another light-colored cherry to our selection, we trialed it against Blondkopchen, Dr. Carolyn, Isis Candy, Lemondrop and Weissbehart. It bested them all by such a wide margin in earliness, sweetness and complexity that we declined to add any of those others. Parthenocarpic. Still retains a percentage of recessive pink off-types but see Pink Princess; these are also yummy!

Success! We have been double-seeding the greenhouse lettuce, finicky as it has been at germination. Being a shoulder-season crop, lettuce does not like the heat — neither in germination, nor in growth. On a prior farm we had a special, cool room with fluorescent lights to get them started; in past years I have put them under benches in the greenhouse to keep them cool, only to step on them; last year I took the seedlings into the walk-in fridge for a few days to get them started. But I never got the balance of germination and seed-attention — i.e., lack of spindly growth — that I wanted.  But look at all those pulled seedlings. We have success. I keep the greens seeds — lettuce and spinach, principally — in the fridge year-round. And when it’s time to germinate, I pull them out; seed; dust with vermiculite for moisture retention but light access; mist with a fog nozzle; and then put in the normal caged-from-critters seedling site, but this time cover the cage with cardboard. I didn’t think that would be cool enough, but it was well hot last week — over 100 in the greenhouse at times — and we had close to 100% germination. Here here!  After a two-month planned hiatus from the heat — because it doesn’t grow so well in summer — the fall lettuce is on!

Success! We have been double-seeding the greenhouse lettuce, finicky as it has been at germination. Being a shoulder-season crop, lettuce does not like the heat — neither in germination, nor in growth. On a prior farm we had a special, cool room with fluorescent lights to get them started; in past years I have put them under benches in the greenhouse to keep them cool, only to step on them; last year I took the seedlings into the walk-in fridge for a few days to get them started. But I never got the balance of germination and seed-attention — i.e., lack of spindly growth — that I wanted.

But look at all those pulled seedlings. We have success. I keep the greens seeds — lettuce and spinach, principally — in the fridge year-round. And when it’s time to germinate, I pull them out; seed; dust with vermiculite for moisture retention but light access; mist with a fog nozzle; and then put in the normal caged-from-critters seedling site, but this time cover the cage with cardboard. I didn’t think that would be cool enough, but it was well hot last week — over 100 in the greenhouse at times — and we had close to 100% germination. Here here!

After a two-month planned hiatus from the heat — because it doesn’t grow so well in summer — the fall lettuce is on!

Because the grass is always greener on the other side — and for me the fence is the present, dividing the past from the future — I’m somewhat jealous of the future farm. Here’s to making that future present, with a seriously gorgeous mix of cherry tomatoes.  This one is ‘Napa Chardonnay Blush,’ and despite its beauty — this photo not especially showcasing that trait — it’s tastes first, aesthetics second. Don’t be scared of the weird ones — if you think this one weird — or you’ll miss out on some super yumminess.

Because the grass is always greener on the other side — and for me the fence is the present, dividing the past from the future — I’m somewhat jealous of the future farm. Here’s to making that future present, with a seriously gorgeous mix of cherry tomatoes.

This one is ‘Napa Chardonnay Blush,’ and despite its beauty — this photo not especially showcasing that trait — it’s tastes first, aesthetics second. Don’t be scared of the weird ones — if you think this one weird — or you’ll miss out on some super yumminess.

Tithonia is so popular! Hummingbirds, butterflies, honeybees, bumblebees. Tithonia’s stems and leaves color the vase water and make it smell a certain not-bad way. Some winter research showed farmers using a genus relative in a water ferment to spray on their crops. Maybe we’ll try that this year or next, and see what the impact might be.

Tithonia is so popular! Hummingbirds, butterflies, honeybees, bumblebees. Tithonia’s stems and leaves color the vase water and make it smell a certain not-bad way. Some winter research showed farmers using a genus relative in a water ferment to spray on their crops. Maybe we’ll try that this year or next, and see what the impact might be.

And lastly, I wanted to point out the new-to-you ‘Salmon Rose’ scabiosa. It is a slow bloomer, but well worth the wait. These pictured are somewhat light on its continuum of color, with the deeper hues making me quite eager to put them on the list for 2020 — which list, I should note, is happily and already populated by a good few other new additions from this year.

And lastly, I wanted to point out the new-to-you ‘Salmon Rose’ scabiosa. It is a slow bloomer, but well worth the wait. These pictured are somewhat light on its continuum of color, with the deeper hues making me quite eager to put them on the list for 2020 — which list, I should note, is happily and already populated by a good few other new additions from this year.

Aftermath

‘Cherokee Sunset’ Rudbeckia is new to the farm lineup this year. Let’s keep it. :)

‘Cherokee Sunset’ Rudbeckia is new to the farm lineup this year. Let’s keep it. :)

Expected Harvest

Greens
Cabbage
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Broccoli
Fennel
Tomato, Small*

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Blackberries*
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, Kentucky Colonel*
Turmeric, Frozen

Staples
Popcorn

Flowers

Cooking Classes
Wednesday, July 10th: Sold-out
Thursday, July 11th: Space Available
Contact cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.

2019 Week 27, Summer CSA 5 of 26

Although I will try for earlier tomatoes next year — without organic’s traditional resort to plastic coverings — I am quite glad to have the cherry tomatoes ready, in some small measure, for the 4th of July. Blackberries, too! The first harvest is always a little light, but they will soon be taking much too much of my harvest day, I smile with mock scorn. :)

Although it may still confuse, while we have our last year of the Summer CSA — rather than a year-round approach — I will be noting two limits on the fruit, and setting aside a veggie/greens ‘pickle pile’ — as I have been — for winter. A first limit will be for the summer, the second for what you can freeze for winter. In this case, I am specifically thinking of blackberries and raspberries. If you have any more questions about how the CSA works, let me know! I don’t mean to confuse. :) Also, if you have not yet signed-up for the Winter CSA, you may do that now, to put the berries in your freezer. A $100/Adult downpayment would be nice.

I am very excited to also have some brand-new Kohl-Dill pickles for sale, $10/jar. Katherine at Gathered Threads fermented them, and was really happy with the result. I had them with lunch and dinner today, and had a hard time swallowing through the smile. :) We will try again with another style next time, perhaps her most seriously excellent Chilero, or her Summer Salsa. Let me know what you think.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Some of the aftermath of the last cooking class, which featured snap beans. We had Sautéed Beans with Basil Purée; Buckwheat and Snap Bean Salad; and Bean, Broccoli, and Edamame Salad with Curry Leaves and Coconut.  Sticking with cooking class etymology, for just this one more time, it is at this point a mostly lost knowledge that ‘aftermath,’ as a word, originally meant the second cutting, as of hay. ‘Math’ in this case being related to ‘Mow.’ So this isn’t technically the aftermath of the cooking class, but why be archaically correct when you can be normally right? :)

Some of the aftermath of the last cooking class, which featured snap beans. We had Sautéed Beans with Basil Purée; Buckwheat and Snap Bean Salad; and Bean, Broccoli, and Edamame Salad with Curry Leaves and Coconut.

Sticking with cooking class etymology, for just this one more time, it is at this point a mostly lost knowledge that ‘aftermath,’ as a word, originally meant the second cutting, as of hay. ‘Math’ in this case being related to ‘Mow.’ So this isn’t technically the aftermath of the cooking class, but why be archaically correct when you can be normally right? :)

Flea beetles sure like eggplant leaves. Some plants co-evolved with insects, using their new aearation as an expected heat-loss radiator. I don't exactly think that's the case here, though. If one current mode of agricultural thought posits pestilence and disease to be ecological garbage collection, it's one more prod on the road to full soil health.

Flea beetles sure like eggplant leaves. Some plants co-evolved with insects, using their new aearation as an expected heat-loss radiator. I don't exactly think that's the case here, though. If one current mode of agricultural thought posits pestilence and disease to be ecological garbage collection, it's one more prod on the road to full soil health.

What a good time of year! The first soybeans of summer arrive. If you didn't take note on the crop label, my favorite way to eat edamame is to boil for 4-6 minutes, drain, salt, and eat as soon as you don't burn your tongue. :) No sooner or later, though, as the enjoyment diminishes with their coolness.

What a good time of year! The first soybeans of summer arrive. If you didn't take note on the crop label, my favorite way to eat edamame is to boil for 4-6 minutes, drain, salt, and eat as soon as you don't burn your tongue. :) No sooner or later, though, as the enjoyment diminishes with their coolness.

Cahier & Césaire

'Ildi' shows it multi-flora tresses. 'Sungold' and 'Chiapas' are so far first to the post, but it will be just a bit before they are producing at production scale. Soon, though! :)

'Ildi' shows it multi-flora tresses. 'Sungold' and 'Chiapas' are so far first to the post, but it will be just a bit before they are producing at production scale. Soon, though! :)

2019 Week 26, Summer CSA 4 of 26

Expected Harvest

Greens
Cabbage
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame*
Broccoli
Fennel*

Roots
Carrots
Kohlrabi
Onion, Fresh*
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, Chocolate*
Turmeric, Frozen

Staples
Popcorn

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

Cooking Classes
This Wednesday & Thursday, 6pm
Featuring: Snap Beans

Digging the new carrots has been an unexpected transportation to other farms and other times in places more northern than this one. And I felt, as I dug or popped the greens off, about diasporas. Even in this very small way, I understood the distant land one called home, as I build this new one. Which had me thinking of Aimé Césaire and his Cahier, his notebook of a return to the native land. It is well, well beyond the little feeling here, but what a force of nature that screed was:

I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not understand any better the roaring of a tiger. ― Aimé Césaire

As to popping off the tops of carrots. Do note that I very rarely give you a root with the tops still on, unless you will eat them! :) The greenery pulls all the moisture out of the root, leaving you with wobbly vegetables. Better for me to put the greens back into the soil, and then give you crisp, fresh veggies. I understand the market appeal of greens tops, but I’d rather not. :)

I was made inclined to plant some fennel this spring, but too late to go in with the early batch of crops. Next year I will definitely plant some first thing, for an early harvest. That said, I harvested some of the cutest baby fennel this week, and will continue onwards … just in case this heat causes them to bolt. New also are some small ball onions, plus the year’s first edamame. My favorite, indeed!

We had our first farm cooking class last week, and it was so great … for me! I got to finish my day with a fancy, super-yummy meal at the simple price of washed dishes. I’m sure it will be great for you, too. :) Let Cecelia know that you’re interested, or if you have questions. Bulk discounts available. Private group classes also encouraged — come with your friends. Get in touch at pick-up, or email cecelia.baum@gmail.com. This week we’ll be featuring snap beans.

See you on the farm,
Austin

The inaugural cooking class! Inaugural (and inaugurate), says the memory, is a word that comes from the divination of fortunes from the flight of birds. (Ain't words neat?) Which leads me to note that the goldfinches have been most appreciative of the new wildflower patch, and the fence that overlooks it. To watch their looping flight -- like they can't quite fly, but then they can -- over the fields is, truly, to feel it. Does this mean a rollercoaster in our future. That's okay by me. When it's all said and done, who isn't sad that it's over? Or that the line is so long, because you're going again? … contemplates the farmer.

The inaugural cooking class! Inaugural (and inaugurate), says the memory, is a word that comes from the divination of fortunes from the flight of birds. (Ain't words neat?) Which leads me to note that the goldfinches have been most appreciative of the new wildflower patch, and the fence that overlooks it. To watch their looping flight -- like they can't quite fly, but then they can -- over the fields is, truly, to feel it. Does this mean a rollercoaster in our future. That's okay by me. When it's all said and done, who isn't sad that it's over? Or that the line is so long, because you're going again? … contemplates the farmer.

Last week’s class featured kohlrabi … in a slaw with fresh herbs, and stir-fried with kale, ginger, garlic scapes, and hot peppers, plus some yummy South Indian Dal.

Last week’s class featured kohlrabi … in a slaw with fresh herbs, and stir-fried with kale, ginger, garlic scapes, and hot peppers, plus some yummy South Indian Dal.

Hoss Tools makes some very fine wheel-hoes, including this new-to-the-farm-for-2019 High-Arch Two-Wheel Hoe. Various attachments attach -- as they would -- to the frame, like these 6" sweeps. We have about a mile of dry beans this year in a field that took quite some time to clean of sod. But, apparently, cleaned not well enough -- per the tool damage. A very literal few minutes after emailing Hoss with a note and photo, they said, "Would you like a reinforced version?" So I said, "Yes!" And here we have it, with rebar welded down the middle. We are principally on a one-row system this year -- thus the two-wheel hoe -- but I will be trying a ganged-Earthway two-row seeder next year, plus another new wheel-hoe dedicated to two-row crops. Guess who I'm going with? / Having the right tool for the job doesn't just make the job go faster, it makes it go WAY faster.

Hoss Tools makes some very fine wheel-hoes, including this new-to-the-farm-for-2019 High-Arch Two-Wheel Hoe. Various attachments attach -- as they would -- to the frame, like these 6" sweeps. We have about a mile of dry beans this year in a field that took quite some time to clean of sod. But, apparently, cleaned not well enough -- per the tool damage. A very literal few minutes after emailing Hoss with a note and photo, they said, "Would you like a reinforced version?" So I said, "Yes!" And here we have it, with rebar welded down the middle. We are principally on a one-row system this year -- thus the two-wheel hoe -- but I will be trying a ganged-Earthway two-row seeder next year, plus another new wheel-hoe dedicated to two-row crops. Guess who I'm going with? / Having the right tool for the job doesn't just make the job go faster, it makes it go WAY faster.

Blackberries are here in small quantity. I imagine we will start picking them  en masse  by the end of the week / start of the next! Hip hip.

Blackberries are here in small quantity. I imagine we will start picking them en masse by the end of the week / start of the next! Hip hip.

The most common common name for these are 'dogbane beetles.' I found them while wheel-hoeing the grits / polenta corn. Because, who doesn't like shiny things?

The most common common name for these are 'dogbane beetles.' I found them while wheel-hoeing the grits / polenta corn. Because, who doesn't like shiny things?

Recall

‘Pink Passion’ chard sure is pretty to look at. :)

‘Pink Passion’ chard sure is pretty to look at. :)

2019 Week 25, Summer CSA 3 of 26

If you forgot what hot and humid feels like — which I nearly did — today was a pretty solid reminder. The squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes, though, quite enjoy these warm nights, which speed along their growth. It is the temperature at night, in fact, which is the biggest predictor of crop growth … up until it gets too warm in the day.

On the tomato front, we planted two generations on the same date this year — earlies and ‘normals’ — with the former averaging 69 days to maturity, and the latter, 79. As it turns out, though, the disease resistant ‘normals’ average 73 days, which means we will likely have a pretty hefty early bumper crop of tomatoes once they start coming. Because the third planting didn’t transplant well, enjoy the first while we see how the yield curves. I expect — and hope — to have a superabundance early in the season, which is a great segue into the Winter CSA … and the 2020 CSA in particular.

I am super-duper excited to move the farm out of beta stage into proper youth next year, and am most excited about recoupling the decoupled Summer and Winter CSAs into just ‘the CSA.’ Although we’ll still have a Winter CSA this year, starting next year it’s just a year-round CSA that starts in June. Hip hip! For all of you interested in such a thing, you can start with the Winter CSA this winter, with a $50/adult downpayment. All remainders from the prior week, and set-asides during the week, will be out for preservation — extra blackberries and raspberries to freeze, tomatoes to can, kale to ferment, beans and cucumbers to pickle, etc. This is the way the CSA was originally designed, but it has taken a little bit of time to get there on this farm. If you can’t tell, I am so glad to finally come back to that kind of home.

A few CSA / Farm notes:

  1. This farm is your farm, Wednesdays 3-7pm. Walk the fields, walk the mowed perimeter of our corner of the property. Have a little picnic. Explore and come back with questions.

  2. If you find yourself early to the CSA, there’s a parking lot at Preddy Creek Park, not far from here, that would be great to hang-out in. Please don’t arrive before 3pm. Thanks!

  3. If you have any of those white half-gallon buckets, please help them find their way back home to the farm. :)

Cooking classes start this week, Wednesday and Thursday, 6pm. Email Cecelia — cecelia.baum@gmail.com — to sign-up. The classes are a cozy 4-6 people, and feature the week’s harvest prepared in a variety of ways. Learn all the culinary uses and ways to incorporate the farm into your meals, including vegetable substitutions. There will be 10 class-weeks spread over the summer and early fall, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6pm, at the farm. At the end, we’ll collect all of the year’s recipes into a farm yearbook and cookbook. Sweet!

We still have room in the CSA this year. Tell your friends, we’ll love them! :) Get 10% of every dollar they send our way, sent your way.

Thank you all so much,
My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Broccoli

Roots
Carrots*
Kohlrabi
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Anise Hyssop*
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Dill*
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Oat, Milk*
Turmeric, Frozen

Staples
Popcorn

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 19th: Einkorn
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

Cooking Classes
This Wednesday & Thursday, 6pm

Watching the garlic for clove differentiation. Because of the rain, we didn’t get these in until December! last year … much later than the standard Halloween planting date. But I’m a little surprised to see them so slow in their growth, for how warm the spring was. We’ll just wait, though, until they’re ready. :) Shvelsi, Music, and Silverskin to come.

Watching the garlic for clove differentiation. Because of the rain, we didn’t get these in until December! last year … much later than the standard Halloween planting date. But I’m a little surprised to see them so slow in their growth, for how warm the spring was. We’ll just wait, though, until they’re ready. :) Shvelsi, Music, and Silverskin to come.

Left Field

The first sweet corn -- Bodacious (F1) -- starts to tassel. The tiniest little buds of an ear are also beginning to show. It generally takes 21 days from silk to harvest, so I will let you know the moment I see a preponderance of silks. My hope -- too early on this farm to be yet an aim -- was a July 4th harvest. I removed the early-earlies from the plan, but after having had a June 21st 'baby' corn harvest in 2017, suddenly I miss that date. Next year we might go back to the tiny ones to start.

The first sweet corn -- Bodacious (F1) -- starts to tassel. The tiniest little buds of an ear are also beginning to show. It generally takes 21 days from silk to harvest, so I will let you know the moment I see a preponderance of silks. My hope -- too early on this farm to be yet an aim -- was a July 4th harvest. I removed the early-earlies from the plan, but after having had a June 21st 'baby' corn harvest in 2017, suddenly I miss that date. Next year we might go back to the tiny ones to start.

2019 Week 24, Summer CSA 2 of 26

Once upon a time, I thought to name this ‘Left Field’ Farm, because the best things come out of left field. But a few farms already had that name, and so I went with Atelier, though perhaps the gist is true; this week is proving it. The best things come out of left field. So a long, curious-glancing bow to that.

What a wonderful time it was to meet you all last week. I am so very excited for this summer, and to share it with you. If you like what we have here, tell your friends! :) We’re a young farm, and in need of sales. The CSA, Farm Bucks, and Farmstand are all options, though the CSA is what truly supports us.

A field-note-free update this week because we have so many other kinds of news!

Cooking Classes: If you did not hear last week, new this year are farm focused, vegan cooking classes with Cecelia. The classes are a cozy 4-6 people, and feature the week’s harvest prepared in a variety of ways. Learn all the culinary uses and ways to incorporate the farm into your meals, including vegetable substitutions. There will be 10 class-weeks spread over the summer and early fall, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6pm, at the farm. At the end, we’ll collect all of the year’s recipes into a farm yearbook and cookbook. Sweet!

Prices: $20 for a single class, $15 per class for 4 classes or more, or $12 per class for all 10. The first classes are right around the corner, Wednesday 6/19 and Thursday 6/20. Email cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up and for additional information, or tell us in person at the CSA pick-up.

Bread: Andrew at Althea Bread will be taking a medical leave for a few months this summer. We wish him all the best in healing and health. June will be the last month for weekly loaves, but he will be back in a couple months to start again. Thank you all for your enthusiasm and understanding.

Honey: Our beekeeper Adam at Sublime Bees harvested several hundred pounds of honey this spring, and said the bees looked better than ever. The rest of their summer honey yield stays for them, but I did buy 50 jars before they were all gone. I will have them for sale at the farm, $10/jar.

Ferments: I dropped a very good quantity of kohlrabi and dill off for Katherine at Gathered Threads. In a few weeks we will have some Kohl Dill ferment for sale on the farm. I’m sooo excited! $10/jar.

Pickle Pile: As we are about 1/3rd sold, we have mucho excess on the farm right now. I will have last week’s extra greens — 100+ lbs — and beans out this week. Free to year-round members to put by for the winter; for sale to summer folk.

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Broccoli
Pea, Shell

Roots
Kohlrabi
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro*
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Lemon Balm
Turmeric, Frozen

Staples
Popcorn

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 12th: Flax Seed
June 19th: Einkorn
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

This fellow got stuck in the wash/pack hardware cloth. Sadly. Member Joe said that as a boy in Ohio they called them, ‘Sand Wizards,’ and a few of you also noted that they’re called ‘Cicada Killers.’ Pretty mighty in the air. We’re sorry, love, for your demise.

This fellow got stuck in the wash/pack hardware cloth. Sadly. Member Joe said that as a boy in Ohio they called them, ‘Sand Wizards,’ and a few of you also noted that they’re called ‘Cicada Killers.’ Pretty mighty in the air. We’re sorry, love, for your demise.

Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) larvae. Mmmm. They can defoliate whole swaths of a field, so we go collect them for a 'burial at sea.' They have not been much of a problem in the past on this farm, but are a few levels higher here than 'normal' this year. The parents -- and I reckon the larva -- are very good at evolving beyond pesticides. I rather like them for that survivability.  I did not grab a photo, but I observed at least four dead, ‘black’ bodies of the larva. I have seen that many times in the Tobacco Hornworm due to a parasitic wasp, and there is online note of an egg parasite for CPB, but not yet any note about a larva parasite. I’ll keep you informed.  As a last note, this researcher is much impressed with them:  “An important thing to keep in mind is that Colorado potato beetle has a legendary ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control. High predisposition to resistance development seems to be an inherent characteristic of this species. It is probably caused, in large part, by the coevolution of the beetle and its host plants in the family Solanaceae, which have high concentrations of toxins, namely glycoalkaloids (Ferro, 1993). The first instance of Colorado potato beetle resistance to synthetic organic pesticides was noted for DDT in 1952 (Quinton, 1955). Resistance to dieldrin was reported in 1958, followed by resistance to other chlorinated hydrocarbons (Hofmaster et al., 1967). In subsequent years the beetle has developed resistance to numerous organophosphates and carbamates (Forgash, 1985). Presently it is resistant to a wide range of insecticides, including the arsenicals, organochlorines, carbamates, organophosphates, and pyrethroids. Resistance crisis was temporarily abated with the introduction of highly effective neonicotinoid insecticides. However, the first cases of beetle resistance to neonicotinoids have been already observed in several field populations (Alyokhin et al., 2006; 2007; Mota-Sanchez et al., 2006).” [  http://www.potatobeetle.org/overview/#ins  ]

Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) larvae. Mmmm. They can defoliate whole swaths of a field, so we go collect them for a 'burial at sea.' They have not been much of a problem in the past on this farm, but are a few levels higher here than 'normal' this year. The parents -- and I reckon the larva -- are very good at evolving beyond pesticides. I rather like them for that survivability.

I did not grab a photo, but I observed at least four dead, ‘black’ bodies of the larva. I have seen that many times in the Tobacco Hornworm due to a parasitic wasp, and there is online note of an egg parasite for CPB, but not yet any note about a larva parasite. I’ll keep you informed.

As a last note, this researcher is much impressed with them:

“An important thing to keep in mind is that Colorado potato beetle has a legendary ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control. High predisposition to resistance development seems to be an inherent characteristic of this species. It is probably caused, in large part, by the coevolution of the beetle and its host plants in the family Solanaceae, which have high concentrations of toxins, namely glycoalkaloids (Ferro, 1993). The first instance of Colorado potato beetle resistance to synthetic organic pesticides was noted for DDT in 1952 (Quinton, 1955). Resistance to dieldrin was reported in 1958, followed by resistance to other chlorinated hydrocarbons (Hofmaster et al., 1967). In subsequent years the beetle has developed resistance to numerous organophosphates and carbamates (Forgash, 1985). Presently it is resistant to a wide range of insecticides, including the arsenicals, organochlorines, carbamates, organophosphates, and pyrethroids. Resistance crisis was temporarily abated with the introduction of highly effective neonicotinoid insecticides. However, the first cases of beetle resistance to neonicotinoids have been already observed in several field populations (Alyokhin et al., 2006; 2007; Mota-Sanchez et al., 2006).” [ http://www.potatobeetle.org/overview/#ins ]

Work and Days

I could check the numbers, but I think we have about 100 varieties of flowers on trial this year. ‘Zeolights’ and ‘Bronze Beauty’ Calendula among them. The flowers are a few weeks away from profligacy, but there will be some to start the Summer!

I could check the numbers, but I think we have about 100 varieties of flowers on trial this year. ‘Zeolights’ and ‘Bronze Beauty’ Calendula among them. The flowers are a few weeks away from profligacy, but there will be some to start the Summer!

2019 Week 23, Summer CSA 1 of 26

First things first. I have a box of new seeds to my shoulder — from Fedco and Adaptive Seeds, beets and cilantro, Lebanese Squash and new variations of kale — and in the end-of-the-day sleepiness, their simplicity hits me square with a wave of thankfulness. Everything smells and feels right in this sunset, but especially these small things that remind me of what I first felt when I got into farming … because I am already, and still, feeling them. The whole season of summer like one long work week, and yet the hours of summer, sometimes, like days, with so many riches falling from them. We start June on the opposite side of Thanksgiving, six months distant, and how appropriate a date, because how else can I — could we? — begin this new season, but with thanks?

Thank you all for being CSA members to the farm. It is you alone who found what we are doing together.

Second things second. We still have room — ample, perhaps — in the CSA. If there is anything I can do to incentivize your assistance in the filling-in of those holes, please let me know. You are welcome to 10% of every dollar referred into the CSA for your efforts. I am not on social media, but if you are, feel free to spread the word. I have pull-tab fliers and quarter-sheet fliers also available. Just say the word!

On the farm, all has been lush — but not too lush! — and busy, with some anomalous heat to speed along our crops. What looks like a snake in the grass, but has for so long been just a stick, or a strap, or a hoe, is now in fact a snake in the grass. The cedars waft their melted sap across the fields. And at night the fire flies constellate every possible tree row like lighting in the clouds. As to the crops, most of our experiments have fallen into the win side of the ledger, though a few — particularly the 3rd planting of tomatoes, and the early germination of sweet peppers — haven’t. Strange to say, but the galling feeling that comes from some of these losses turns into the excitement I feel in fall when I make the new plan. Because this time all the quarters are coming up heads.

As for that, the 2019 season is essentially in the books, and I have for a few months already been planning 2020. Strange to say, I admit, but so it goes in farming. As I have elsewhere noted, we spend the fall designing, the spring building, and the summer staying out of the way of the contraption we dreamt up. Or as others have said, first we sow, and then we reap. Here’s to the odd ease of summer — with its sane, rhythmic schedule — because what is more easy, after all this work, than reaping it? Ha.

All my best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: Tell your “I’m not quite ready for a CSA” friends that the Farmstand opens this week! Thursdays, 3-7pm.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce
Asian Greens

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Broccoli
Pea, Shell
Pea, Snap

Roots
Kohlrabi
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dill
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, of some kind
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 5th: Oat Porridge
June 12th: Flax Seed
June 19th: Einkorn
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

After a few bed-prep hiccups, the dry beans and corn are in. The grits / polenta corn — Tennessee Red Cob — was too fat for the push seeders I have, so I tried a new — rather, ancient in design — jab seeder, putting them in seed-by-seed. It was only a few minutes into it, sweeping my foot to cover the seed as I went, that I remembered this old line of Hesiod’s. “A few thousand years old” old, to be inexact. I don’t have my copy here, but an internet translation has it as such:   Pray to Zeus of the Underground, and to holy Demeter, that the sacred grain of Demeter may become heavy with ripeness, as you begin the plowing, laying hold of the end of the plow-handle and coming down on the backs of your oxen with a switch as they pull at the yoke-pole with their strappings.  Standing a bit further back, the servant who has the mattock should give the birds grief as he makes the seed disappear inside the earth.  Good management is the best thing for mortal men, while bad management is the worst.

After a few bed-prep hiccups, the dry beans and corn are in. The grits / polenta corn — Tennessee Red Cob — was too fat for the push seeders I have, so I tried a new — rather, ancient in design — jab seeder, putting them in seed-by-seed. It was only a few minutes into it, sweeping my foot to cover the seed as I went, that I remembered this old line of Hesiod’s. “A few thousand years old” old, to be inexact. I don’t have my copy here, but an internet translation has it as such:


Pray to Zeus of the Underground, and to holy Demeter,
that the sacred grain of Demeter may become heavy with ripeness,
as you begin the plowing, laying hold of the end of the plow-handle
and coming down on the backs of your oxen with a switch
as they pull at the yoke-pole with their strappings. Standing a bit further back,
the servant who has the mattock should give the birds grief
as he makes the seed disappear inside the earth.
Good management is the best thing
for mortal men, while bad management is the worst.

This wasn’t the first time I noticed this, but it was the first time with a camera around to get the proof: I have enormous fingers.

This wasn’t the first time I noticed this, but it was the first time with a camera around to get the proof: I have enormous fingers.

We found a few friends on the Friday Field Walk. This has been a much warmer spring than the last, and with a rain schedule permitting proper cultivation — i.e., weeding — of the fields. Carrots much appreciate the love. We’re not more than a month out — likely sooner — from their harvest.

We found a few friends on the Friday Field Walk. This has been a much warmer spring than the last, and with a rain schedule permitting proper cultivation — i.e., weeding — of the fields. Carrots much appreciate the love. We’re not more than a month out — likely sooner — from their harvest.

What governs the fall of a sparrow, one wonders. And also its rise? A bee is so inestimably light in one’s hand. It also feels infinitely precious … and for that reason weighty. How on earth, all this? Spring is a good time for these feelings of the miracle of being.

What governs the fall of a sparrow, one wonders. And also its rise? A bee is so inestimably light in one’s hand. It also feels infinitely precious … and for that reason weighty. How on earth, all this? Spring is a good time for these feelings of the miracle of being.

In it for the clouds

Maybe we don’t get into it for this reason — maybe we do. But at some point it just seems like we’re in it for the clouds. :)

Maybe we don’t get into it for this reason — maybe we do. But at some point it just seems like we’re in it for the clouds. :)

2019 Week 21, Winter CSA 12 of 12

Thank you all, you winter members of the not-quite-a-Winter-CSA CSA! It was so nice to have you here each every-other week, even if I only got to see your car come in as I prepared a field, or weeded the onions. I will be back and in one place for the summer CSA, taking a break from the heat, and enjoying all of your presences. And as to that, the Summer CSA begins in two weeks, on Wednesday, June 5th.

I was struck by two things, most, this week. First, in one week the farm will be nearly 100% full. That is, every single bed on the farm will be growing food. That blows my mind. Up first for the week, though, is a delivery and planting of sweet potato slips (12 beds), the 3rd planting of tomatoes (5 beds), the fifth planting of snap and soy beans (4 beds), and the delayed and we’re-just-going-to-accept-these-soddy-beds-as-they-are direct seeding of polenta-grits corn (18 beds) and dry beans (25 varieties over 42 beds). A new farm layout against currently producing strawberries means we’re going to hang-on mowing and tilling the berries for a bit, and plant the 3rd batch of watermelons, cucumbers, squash, and corn in the greenhouse, rather than the field.

And the second thing I was struck by: All of the great input you have had on farm crops and varieties, which I felt in my excitement for a slew of little seedlings this year: ‘Nufar’ Basil — a consensus favorite — Rainbow Jalapenos — because hot was too hot — padron & shishito peppers — because enough wasn’t — and Asian cucumbers — because they do that better, too. It’s so great to feel this excitement over your own excitement.

I don’t want to take too much from the start of summer, but there will be a bit of chard and kale added to the mix this week. Hip hip.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Asian Greens
Chard
Kale
Radish, Salad

Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Fresh

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

05/22/19

The general order of appearance of the berries is this: June 1st, Strawberries; July 1st, Blackberries; August 1st, Raspberries. Although I will be mowing and tilling the strawberries in this year — some even before we get to pick them — due to a new farm plan, we have at least one more week of harvest before they start to go. Plus, look at all these blackberry flowers. :)

The general order of appearance of the berries is this: June 1st, Strawberries; July 1st, Blackberries; August 1st, Raspberries. Although I will be mowing and tilling the strawberries in this year — some even before we get to pick them — due to a new farm plan, we have at least one more week of harvest before they start to go. Plus, look at all these blackberry flowers. :)

A good morning spent cleaning-up some of the spring greens. L-R, Scarlet Kale x 3, Nash Kale, x 1, Argentata Chard x 2, Pink Passion Chard x 1, & Gator Perpetual Spinach / Leafbeet / Chard x 1. I also seeded a later planting of Lacinato / Tuscan / Dinosaur kale, per request, which makes 2/3 of both Kale and Chard varieties new to the farm this year.

A good morning spent cleaning-up some of the spring greens. L-R, Scarlet Kale x 3, Nash Kale, x 1, Argentata Chard x 2, Pink Passion Chard x 1, & Gator Perpetual Spinach / Leafbeet / Chard x 1. I also seeded a later planting of Lacinato / Tuscan / Dinosaur kale, per request, which makes 2/3 of both Kale and Chard varieties new to the farm this year.

Scarlet Kale. Spring / Summer and Fall kales fulfill different roles, from both a farm cultural and culinary perspective. Spring kale has more cabbage worm issues — which we deal with by planting those varieties which are most resistant / unbothered — while fall kale has need for both cold tolerance and late spring bolting — because it gives us a week or two longer of spring ‘hunger gap’ harvest before it flowers. In the kitchen, I prefer a lighter kale in the spring, and a heavier one in the fall … as the cold comes on.  This particular variety, ‘Scarlet,’ is new to the farm, but comes well regarded by other growers for staying tender into summer. I’m excited to see how it fairs, so let me know what you taste.

Scarlet Kale. Spring / Summer and Fall kales fulfill different roles, from both a farm cultural and culinary perspective. Spring kale has more cabbage worm issues — which we deal with by planting those varieties which are most resistant / unbothered — while fall kale has need for both cold tolerance and late spring bolting — because it gives us a week or two longer of spring ‘hunger gap’ harvest before it flowers. In the kitchen, I prefer a lighter kale in the spring, and a heavier one in the fall … as the cold comes on.

This particular variety, ‘Scarlet,’ is new to the farm, but comes well regarded by other growers for staying tender into summer. I’m excited to see how it fairs, so let me know what you taste.

I walked the perimeter with the mower the other day, and was pleasantly surprised by several ‘new’ views of the farm. It’s always nice to step outside the fence. That cumulonimbus turned thunderhead broke about an hour later.

I walked the perimeter with the mower the other day, and was pleasantly surprised by several ‘new’ views of the farm. It’s always nice to step outside the fence. That cumulonimbus turned thunderhead broke about an hour later.

August Ambrosia

What a treat these weeks have been. Next year, when they're older and more established, the asparagus harvest goes longer. Can one really sustain the love over that duration? We'll have to try. :) Oil, 415F for 8-9 minutes, plus salt at the end. Mmmm ...

What a treat these weeks have been. Next year, when they're older and more established, the asparagus harvest goes longer. Can one really sustain the love over that duration? We'll have to try. :) Oil, 415F for 8-9 minutes, plus salt at the end. Mmmm ...

2019 Week 19, Winter CSA 11 of 12

Perhaps more picture-book than farm-note this week, but so it goes. The farm keeps filling, and it feels so amazing. Like it always does. Some early setbacks — parsnips, beets, turnips, and peppers to reseed — but also some truly — unexpectedly — gorgeous crops in the field. As always, I am in the future … seeding the second month of sweet corn, planting the late summer watermelons, trying to get a new round of sweet peppers in in time for August, and even watching the parsnip weeds with a triaging eye as to whether we will or won’t have them in 365 days. There is so much time to feel in just one glance at the farm.

A few new things at pick-up this week, including fresh spring radishes, and some Tokyo Bekana and Bok Choy Asian Greens. The last of the pickling asparagus will also be here.

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Asparagus
Radish, Salad
Asian Greens
… Bok Choy
… Tokyo Bekana
*
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

05/08/19, 05/22/19

Because who doesn’t marvel at a good French Breakfast radish?

Because who doesn’t marvel at a good French Breakfast radish?

Summer squash seeds imbibe the yumminess / funkiness. Among a variety of experiments this year is a field -- vs. greenhouse -- planting of squash, cucumbers, and corn. Before field seeding I have been giving them a trial bath in a nutrient stew -- fermented alfalfa and kelp, an endomycorhizzal mix, bacillus spp. and trichoderma spp., streptomyces spp., and the more common em-1 mix — to get them ready for the summer.

Summer squash seeds imbibe the yumminess / funkiness. Among a variety of experiments this year is a field -- vs. greenhouse -- planting of squash, cucumbers, and corn. Before field seeding I have been giving them a trial bath in a nutrient stew -- fermented alfalfa and kelp, an endomycorhizzal mix, bacillus spp. and trichoderma spp., streptomyces spp., and the more common em-1 mix — to get them ready for the summer.

They're coming round the mountain ... Strawberries all ready to blow-up the schedule. :)

They're coming round the mountain ... Strawberries all ready to blow-up the schedule. :)

I had been meaning to contact cooperative extension about this. Toward the end of the day, this fellow flew into the summer kitchen office like a very steady shark. The picture maybe doesn't do its size justice, as it seemed to be at least 2 inches long. at least. The closest thing I can find on the internet is the Asian giant wasp, said to be absent from Virginia, but deadly in Japan. Any ideas? It was pretty scary, in point of fact.

I had been meaning to contact cooperative extension about this. Toward the end of the day, this fellow flew into the summer kitchen office like a very steady shark. The picture maybe doesn't do its size justice, as it seemed to be at least 2 inches long. at least. The closest thing I can find on the internet is the Asian giant wasp, said to be absent from Virginia, but deadly in Japan. Any ideas? It was pretty scary, in point of fact.

There's a cute corner of the farm I have of late been calling “The Trials Triangle,” but has these last two years been a patch of tall grass. The long term plan had always been for medicinal herbs, but the idea of having a dedicated trials spot also appeals. There are a few new things we're trying this year, and this is we're they're going. Nice.

There's a cute corner of the farm I have of late been calling “The Trials Triangle,” but has these last two years been a patch of tall grass. The long term plan had always been for medicinal herbs, but the idea of having a dedicated trials spot also appeals. There are a few new things we're trying this year, and this is we're they're going. Nice.

Just add a 3% brine -- weight of salt / weight of water x 100% -- to the jar, and you have pickles. How exciting for this summer, fall, or winter. There will be the bit remaining at pick-up this week if you're looking for more to preserve / make into soup.

Just add a 3% brine -- weight of salt / weight of water x 100% -- to the jar, and you have pickles. How exciting for this summer, fall, or winter. There will be the bit remaining at pick-up this week if you're looking for more to preserve / make into soup.

We’re onto the third round of tomatoes! The first — two part — batch had 100 varieties. And I’m sure they’ll all do wonderfully. :)

We’re onto the third round of tomatoes! The first — two part — batch had 100 varieties. And I’m sure they’ll all do wonderfully. :)

Chives in the new perennial herb garden. These are a transplant from last year, while everything else is two inches tall. It feels great, though, to have a dedicated spot for the culinary herbs.

Chives in the new perennial herb garden. These are a transplant from last year, while everything else is two inches tall. It feels great, though, to have a dedicated spot for the culinary herbs.

6 Weeks

The fresh onions settle into their new home, and the garlic asks for a chicory mowing. :)

The fresh onions settle into their new home, and the garlic asks for a chicory mowing. :)

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Asparagus*
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

2019 Week 17, Winter CSA 10 of 12

Busy, busy, and out to the field. But a quick note for you all, these 6 weeks before the first week of the Summer CSA.

The beans and the radishes are up! and the soybeans are coming, as well as a trial of direct-seeded early corn and squash. The latter are part of an effort to get more roots earth-bound, and included a soaking in a new "nutrient stew" of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and fermented alfalfa and kelp. Next week the tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and corn officially go out from the greenhouse ... to complement the lettuce, kale, and chard already out there. This relatively late planting -- by my history -- is meant to balance the trouble these early crops have faced in the cold the last two years. Here’s to hoping that a better childhood will help them as adults — and what kind of parent am I to treat them so poorly so young? :) Although many of the transplants looked weak on greenhouse-exit this year, they seem to be taking to the field really well. That feels great! The onions, for example, are shaping-up, as are the broccoli family crops.

The first year of asparagus harvest is upon us, and I am watching how it all plays out. The first true day of harvest was yesterday, when we got 12 pounds on one farm walk-around. Although it takes some years before the planting is well enough established to bear a multi-week harvest, I think we have at least two weeks of picking available to us this year. Hip hip. I am still getting my bearings on this new-to-me crop, and am excited to dig in a bit to its whole story.

Starting this Sunday, 12-2pm, I will be having an "Atelier Farm CSA Open House & Field Walk." Weather dependent, it will happen the next few Sundays. If you know of anyone who might be interested in the CSA or Farmstand, send them this way! Or come yourself, if you'd like a refresher on the past, present, and future of the farm.

As always, all my thanks,
Off to plant the potatoes!

See you on the farm,
Austin

Carrots pop up. WALF (Weeks After Last Frost) 2 is a busy one, but maybe we’ll get to weeding those by the end of the week. Otherwise WALF 3 looks like a good time to thin and clean them up. The beets would like some similar attention.

Carrots pop up. WALF (Weeks After Last Frost) 2 is a busy one, but maybe we’ll get to weeding those by the end of the week. Otherwise WALF 3 looks like a good time to thin and clean them up. The beets would like some similar attention.

You tasted and you told. This year we have all the basils that you liked best, plus a new one to trial.

You tasted and you told. This year we have all the basils that you liked best, plus a new one to trial.

This year — I swear — we will find the time to get our perennial flowers out into the field, and NOT dump them in the compost. Part of this week’s plan involves the initial bed prep to make that happen. Here’s to 20-some varieties of perennial flowers for the larder.

This year — I swear — we will find the time to get our perennial flowers out into the field, and NOT dump them in the compost. Part of this week’s plan involves the initial bed prep to make that happen. Here’s to 20-some varieties of perennial flowers for the larder.

A good rain

A Whistler-Wyeth day, last year. The camera sent all its bits back to the ether, so in the meantime permit a retrospective.

A Whistler-Wyeth day, last year. The camera sent all its bits back to the ether, so in the meantime permit a retrospective.

2019 Week 15, Winter CSA 10 of 12

Happy spring, indeed! Things are changing here on the farm. To wit, I was a bit uncomfortable for a bit of moment, on my seat just now, before I emptied my back pockets of the handfuls of dirt they had accumulated. Yes, we are in new territory. And it feels — and smells — great. Not only does it smell like good weather for growing, I think it also smells like the very fact of growing itself.

The garlic shoots look magnificent in their straight greenness, as do all our newly transplanted alliums — fresh onions, storage onions, shallots, and leeks. I am still working through why the spring brassica — kale, cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi — do not like the out-of-doors transition, but at present they’re all alive, which is the positive opposite of last year!

These last two rains I would call “good.” By which, I really mean, great. Just 0.4” over a day, or even this last 0.15” over a late afternoon, with overcast skies, were just the kind of thing to settle a slew of transplants into their new home. For as much rain as we had last year, I don’t actually believe we ever had “a good rain.” We had many 2 inch, and 3 inch, and 4 inch storms; there was even that one day that broke the ‘dry’ spell in July, when we had a 7 inch rain. But, never the kind that settled the farm into itself. How deep-in-the-heart comforting, then, to benedict this new year with a good rain.

Time permitting, I clean the asparagus beds at the end of the week, and maybe do some mild spelunking, to see how close we are to harvest. By last year’s count, Asparagus will be ready next week … though have not had enough time on this farm to know its normal timing. I will send a note out when the harvest begins! Oh, and fresh cilantro is on the list for the week.

I hope you all are so well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Fresh Cilantro*

Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Last year looks much like this year, but for the basil, which I have seeded later, to skip the late frosts.

Last year looks much like this year, but for the basil, which I have seeded later, to skip the late frosts.

Working Horse, Hauling

Working Horse, Hauling . Kate Javens. I once lived nearly across the street from a library and a museum, and on the way back with my books, I would sometimes stop in to look at this painting. This past week I pulled a 150 pound lawn roller up and down the first 5 miles of the farm. Eventually it got too heavy, and so I saved the steepest section of the farm for the tractor … but not before, having strapped the roller to my old backpacking pack, my body remembered this painting.  I remembered the title and artist, and when I googled to see if there might be a copy online, I found one at the top of a collection of excerpts from Seneca. And so, an except from that excerpt:  “You would come to know a ship's pilot in a storm and a soldier in the line of battle. How can I know with what strength of mind you would face poverty, if you abound in wealth? … disaster is the opportunity for true worth.” Seneca, Essays, Volume 1.

Working Horse, Hauling. Kate Javens. I once lived nearly across the street from a library and a museum, and on the way back with my books, I would sometimes stop in to look at this painting. This past week I pulled a 150 pound lawn roller up and down the first 5 miles of the farm. Eventually it got too heavy, and so I saved the steepest section of the farm for the tractor … but not before, having strapped the roller to my old backpacking pack, my body remembered this painting.

I remembered the title and artist, and when I googled to see if there might be a copy online, I found one at the top of a collection of excerpts from Seneca. And so, an except from that excerpt:

“You would come to know a ship's pilot in a storm and a soldier in the line of battle. How can I know with what strength of mind you would face poverty, if you abound in wealth? … disaster is the opportunity for true worth.” Seneca, Essays, Volume 1.

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

2019 Week 13, Winter CSA 9 of 12

Happy Spring everybody! It has been a busy time on the farm, which is really just to say that the farming year is here! Today was a beat-the-rain rush to get 600 feet of spring black and fall red raspberries into their new home. It doesn’t sound like much, and I suppose it wasn’t, but it took all day all the same. The black raspberries should mature in June, beginning next year; the red are a +50% continuation of last year’s middle-two varieties — Caroline and Heritage — which were the productivity winners over Joan J and Josephine. What happens with the latter two are up in the air, though I am leaning toward replacing ‘Joan J’ with some Justaberries — a Currant and Gooseberry cross — for a post-blackberry small fruit.

For a number of reasons, I did not run a true CSA this winter, as you know. One of those was the fact that I knew I would be tilling in the spinach early, in order to establish the new farm system. So, no more spinach for the winter. I was able to leave a strip of cilantro, though, which ought to be growing well as this weather warms. Not a greens replacement, but a nice thing nonetheless.

A hardy hearty reminder that we are still looking to sell the rest of the Summer CSA. If you know of anyone who might be interested, you can get 10% of every dollar they send our way, sent your way. What a deal! :) We have just a few more things to buy to finish-out the start of summer — some gravel for the entry walkway, and some wooden stakes and twine for the tomatoes, for example — but are cash short at present. The shares will sell in due time, but selling them sooner is so much better than later. :)

My best,
See you on the farm,
& Happy Spring, once more,
Austin

Just heading out with 60 pounds of living mulch seed to spread with the ‘belly rubber’ broadcast seeder. Spring sure is getting springy, here on the farm.

Just heading out with 60 pounds of living mulch seed to spread with the ‘belly rubber’ broadcast seeder. Spring sure is getting springy, here on the farm.

The black raspberry — ‘Jewel,’ in this case — ready for its new home. Here’s to an abundance of early summer — think June! — fruit; though we do have to wait an establishment year before we can indulge. :)

The black raspberry — ‘Jewel,’ in this case — ready for its new home. Here’s to an abundance of early summer — think June! — fruit; though we do have to wait an establishment year before we can indulge. :)

Part of the new row crop living mulch (RCLM) system involves sub-16” strips through a multi-species living mulch. Here is the tractor’s tiller pared way down to just a few tines to reach that goal. I haven’t tried it yet — Is the hood too close to the edges? Is there an imbalance to the tines which might cause it to rattle? — but I will the second the soil is dry enough. I’m super excited about this experiment, and hope it’s a lot more than that; not an experiment, but just the way we do things from now on.

Part of the new row crop living mulch (RCLM) system involves sub-16” strips through a multi-species living mulch. Here is the tractor’s tiller pared way down to just a few tines to reach that goal. I haven’t tried it yet — Is the hood too close to the edges? Is there an imbalance to the tines which might cause it to rattle? — but I will the second the soil is dry enough. I’m super excited about this experiment, and hope it’s a lot more than that; not an experiment, but just the way we do things from now on.

Lawn roller and ‘lawn.’ Where I haven’t rolled is where the crops grow. Where I have, is where the pathway mix lives.

Lawn roller and ‘lawn.’ Where I haven’t rolled is where the crops grow. Where I have, is where the pathway mix lives.

Myrmecochory. Back in 2010, I think, we were having a terrible time getting tomatoes to germinate at the farm I was on in Pennsylvania. We’d seed, the germination would be bad, and we’d seed again. At a certain point we saw that some of the seeds were actually missing, so we set mouse traps. But we caught no mice, and the seeds kept going on walk-about.  Finally, we found the answer. Myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants. Ants and seeds have a mutualistic relationship, where the seed gives good things to the ant, who takes the seed home, which is likely a place the seed wants to be.  I was getting stumped as to why I was seeing so many odd seeds germinating in our potting mix this spring. At first I thought that the new potting mix source had unclean material. But then I saw this shiso — which looks just like basil, but obviously smells differently — germinating in the kohlrabi. I very certainly did not rattle a wand of shiso seed pods over the tray, but it sure looked like I had. Seeing this, I knew almost immediately that it was ants. Not stealing, like they had before, but adulterating our beautiful kohlrabi, kale, and cabbage flats. Pretty interesting, and just a little annoying. :)

Myrmecochory. Back in 2010, I think, we were having a terrible time getting tomatoes to germinate at the farm I was on in Pennsylvania. We’d seed, the germination would be bad, and we’d seed again. At a certain point we saw that some of the seeds were actually missing, so we set mouse traps. But we caught no mice, and the seeds kept going on walk-about.

Finally, we found the answer. Myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants. Ants and seeds have a mutualistic relationship, where the seed gives good things to the ant, who takes the seed home, which is likely a place the seed wants to be.

I was getting stumped as to why I was seeing so many odd seeds germinating in our potting mix this spring. At first I thought that the new potting mix source had unclean material. But then I saw this shiso — which looks just like basil, but obviously smells differently — germinating in the kohlrabi. I very certainly did not rattle a wand of shiso seed pods over the tray, but it sure looked like I had. Seeing this, I knew almost immediately that it was ants. Not stealing, like they had before, but adulterating our beautiful kohlrabi, kale, and cabbage flats. Pretty interesting, and just a little annoying. :)

A new 13HP Honda on the Grillo, having swapped out the old Subaru-Robin 14HP engine. As it turns out, Subaru got out of the power equipment business a year or two ago, so there wasn’t even a replacement for the old one.  While our little tractor was out of commission, I rented a four-wheel tractor to prepare the farm. This is something we ideally do just once, and though we did it at the start of the farm, 2019 is a bit of an exciting re-start, and so I did it again. Renting the larger tractor had me think of fossil fuels, and so I went back and looked: In 2018 we used about 1 gallon of gasoline per member. In the future, production efficiencies should drop that to about 1/2 a gallon, and farm practices should drop that to about 1/6 to 1/3 gallon per member per year. Even at this point, though, the total amount of gasoline used on the farm for the tractor (per member) over the course of a year doesn’t drive the average member’s car to the farm and back on a single pick-up day.  For all my desire for a quiet, solar-charged electric engine on my walk-behind Grillo — because, how dreamy — it’s interesting to see how long the carbon emissions from the current set-up would take to equal the total emissions from mining, production, and shipping … even before it reached the farm for its first engine hour. And how those emissions would still be embedded in an electric engine and battery. Which is why biology and technique interest me so much.  Making omelettes and breaking eggs, the goal here is to establish a system that is principally to totally biological / ecological in practice, where one uses fuel to establish a system that doesn’t; or, one net-emits carbon to establish a system that net-absorbs it. This is a matter of design, from a farm and tool perspective. Though we lack on both fronts, every year shows more and more movement from more and more people. And this gets me so excited. Anyone want to build a recumbent pedal-powered flywheel-driven sickle bar mower with independent gearing for the drive and PTO shafts? The orchard and walkways would love one of those. Though, who’s to say a scythe wouldn’t work just as well.  And do note that engine fossil fuel use is just one source — sink, really — of power on the farm. There are the spring greenhouse’s heat mats and the walk-in fridge, which both run on electric power — Rappahannock at present, though I have been talking with a few solar install companies. Those are both heating and cooling, done electrically. Solar — and electricity, for that matter — does motion and light well, but heating and cooling are really its efficiency nemeses. I have plans in my mind for a passive solar hydronic heating system in the greenhouse, though it would probably require supplemental heat, and the literature is full of the system-efficiency downsides of supplemental energy. Though hot beds — think biological carbon + nitrogen + biology = thermophillic stage compost heat output — could be a homegrown solution. And, as for that, radiative fins at the top of the greenhouse, with a lightweight pump to cycle water, could possibly make that water hot enough. On the food storage front, a root cellar with a not-very-efficient-in-Virginia evaporative cooling system could work … though, being as we can only do so much, that is on the long-term if-some-funding-source-wanted-to-see-that-happen-here list, and not really on the do-this plan.  Which is all to say. We have a new engine. It runs on a gas. But we’re not the end, we’re the evolving way, and also part of a larger system / context … so I guess that’s okay for now. :)

A new 13HP Honda on the Grillo, having swapped out the old Subaru-Robin 14HP engine. As it turns out, Subaru got out of the power equipment business a year or two ago, so there wasn’t even a replacement for the old one.

While our little tractor was out of commission, I rented a four-wheel tractor to prepare the farm. This is something we ideally do just once, and though we did it at the start of the farm, 2019 is a bit of an exciting re-start, and so I did it again. Renting the larger tractor had me think of fossil fuels, and so I went back and looked: In 2018 we used about 1 gallon of gasoline per member. In the future, production efficiencies should drop that to about 1/2 a gallon, and farm practices should drop that to about 1/6 to 1/3 gallon per member per year. Even at this point, though, the total amount of gasoline used on the farm for the tractor (per member) over the course of a year doesn’t drive the average member’s car to the farm and back on a single pick-up day.

For all my desire for a quiet, solar-charged electric engine on my walk-behind Grillo — because, how dreamy — it’s interesting to see how long the carbon emissions from the current set-up would take to equal the total emissions from mining, production, and shipping … even before it reached the farm for its first engine hour. And how those emissions would still be embedded in an electric engine and battery. Which is why biology and technique interest me so much.

Making omelettes and breaking eggs, the goal here is to establish a system that is principally to totally biological / ecological in practice, where one uses fuel to establish a system that doesn’t; or, one net-emits carbon to establish a system that net-absorbs it. This is a matter of design, from a farm and tool perspective. Though we lack on both fronts, every year shows more and more movement from more and more people. And this gets me so excited. Anyone want to build a recumbent pedal-powered flywheel-driven sickle bar mower with independent gearing for the drive and PTO shafts? The orchard and walkways would love one of those. Though, who’s to say a scythe wouldn’t work just as well.

And do note that engine fossil fuel use is just one source — sink, really — of power on the farm. There are the spring greenhouse’s heat mats and the walk-in fridge, which both run on electric power — Rappahannock at present, though I have been talking with a few solar install companies. Those are both heating and cooling, done electrically. Solar — and electricity, for that matter — does motion and light well, but heating and cooling are really its efficiency nemeses. I have plans in my mind for a passive solar hydronic heating system in the greenhouse, though it would probably require supplemental heat, and the literature is full of the system-efficiency downsides of supplemental energy. Though hot beds — think biological carbon + nitrogen + biology = thermophillic stage compost heat output — could be a homegrown solution. And, as for that, radiative fins at the top of the greenhouse, with a lightweight pump to cycle water, could possibly make that water hot enough. On the food storage front, a root cellar with a not-very-efficient-in-Virginia evaporative cooling system could work … though, being as we can only do so much, that is on the long-term if-some-funding-source-wanted-to-see-that-happen-here list, and not really on the do-this plan.

Which is all to say. We have a new engine. It runs on a gas. But we’re not the end, we’re the evolving way, and also part of a larger system / context … so I guess that’s okay for now. :)

So much goodness

That rare morning, with features so amazing, even color would be gaudy.

That rare morning, with features so amazing, even color would be gaudy.

2019 Week 11, Winter CSA 8 of 12

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Last week’s tractor marathon didn’t exactly start, but ended nonetheless … with two great comments on the phone. The first, from the local mechanic, “Your timing chain is gone; down in there, gone; in the crank case, gone.” And the second, from Joel at Earth Tools, the dealer, “Jeez. You really would like a reliable machine. You’ve been having trouble with this one. Like whoever put it together did it at the end of the day, Friday. If you drop it off, I can put a Honda on it, and use yours for parts.” So, a new engine, with a new warranty, for one-third the price of a new one … plus a road trip to Kentucky. That’s the deal on tap for the end of the week. In the meantime, we will be renting a four-wheel tractor to prep the fields in a hurry.

If you have not noticed, that rain from last year never actually let up, and we have had some pretty consistent field moisture. The current situation offers an interesting option to gamble. We need the entire farm to be prepped, spread, and rolled in the next 20 days. Is this the driest we get, or is the future drier? This Friday’s forecast is for 0.2 inches … in a thunderstorm. Do we trust that simple number, which knows nothing of storm burstiness, nor the week that follows? I’m not a gambler, and so we don’t. We wait until Wednesday, rent a tractor, and prep with what is the driest soil we have in the present … and accept the future for what it is: unknown. What an interesting and great way to start the year, with acceptance.

A quick, final note. I was standing in the fields, newly warmed, just smelling them … and I had a feeling. It was a feeling about farming, but it came to me like surfing. We paddle out all winter to the big swell forming, and this takes a long time. We get used to the direction, and the pace. Then, all of a sudden, the forces change, the swell swells, and we turn around, paddle like mad men and women for that lip which holds us for the pop-up. And then we do, pop-up, and take the long slide down for autumn, where nothing comes from fighting forces, but everything comes from surfing them.

That’s what I saw, and that’s what we’re feeling … that it’s just nearly time to turn around, and paddle like mad. Woot, woot!

See you all on the farm,
Austin

Thank you all, you early members. Ginger goes on sale, and sells out, in November. I wasn’t sure, at first, if we’d have any to plant this year … but you made it happen! :)  We’re sticking with the ‘Indira Yellow’ turmeric, as it grows so well in our climate. But we are moving back to the Hawaiian ‘Bubba Baba Blue’ ginger, as opposed to last year’s Thai ‘Khing Yai,’ per yield trials from two years ago. The mature ginger, being blue, scared me a little … but we can’t reach maturity in this climate, and so never really get that seemingly-off color. Thanks again!  Oh, and for those who might be wondering, like I know some are: Ginger, apparently, originates in maritime Austronesia — think Polynesia, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

Thank you all, you early members. Ginger goes on sale, and sells out, in November. I wasn’t sure, at first, if we’d have any to plant this year … but you made it happen! :)

We’re sticking with the ‘Indira Yellow’ turmeric, as it grows so well in our climate. But we are moving back to the Hawaiian ‘Bubba Baba Blue’ ginger, as opposed to last year’s Thai ‘Khing Yai,’ per yield trials from two years ago. The mature ginger, being blue, scared me a little … but we can’t reach maturity in this climate, and so never really get that seemingly-off color. Thanks again!

Oh, and for those who might be wondering, like I know some are: Ginger, apparently, originates in maritime Austronesia — think Polynesia, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

The present future

In the summer, maybe, we do not find ourselves so often on our belly, looking at what the land is giving. And maybe that’s a deficit we need to correct. But in spring, yes, absolutely. I don’t think there is one spring flush of garlic that hasn’t pulled me chin to ground.  You would hardly believe it, but we’ve spent about $4k trying to install garlic on the farm over the last two years, having met significant rot each spring. The return this year, I am most happy to say, looks fantastic! — thanks, perhaps, to not mulching it, and giving the ground a chance to desiccate just a bit. We risk frost-heave and cold damage without a protective mulch, but found little-to-none of that this year. We also risk weeds! which we will attend to diligently this spring.  I recently reviewed Filaree Garlic Farm’s expansive offerings, and might spend a little bit more to identify — by growing them — varieties that are happy on our farm. For instance, although the ‘Silver White’ Silverskin may not be your favorite — fine flavor, but a softneck with many small cloves to peel — it stores the longest and has been the healthiest crop two years running. Are there others like it?

In the summer, maybe, we do not find ourselves so often on our belly, looking at what the land is giving. And maybe that’s a deficit we need to correct. But in spring, yes, absolutely. I don’t think there is one spring flush of garlic that hasn’t pulled me chin to ground.

You would hardly believe it, but we’ve spent about $4k trying to install garlic on the farm over the last two years, having met significant rot each spring. The return this year, I am most happy to say, looks fantastic! — thanks, perhaps, to not mulching it, and giving the ground a chance to desiccate just a bit. We risk frost-heave and cold damage without a protective mulch, but found little-to-none of that this year. We also risk weeds! which we will attend to diligently this spring.

I recently reviewed Filaree Garlic Farm’s expansive offerings, and might spend a little bit more to identify — by growing them — varieties that are happy on our farm. For instance, although the ‘Silver White’ Silverskin may not be your favorite — fine flavor, but a softneck with many small cloves to peel — it stores the longest and has been the healthiest crop two years running. Are there others like it?

2019 Week 09, Winter CSA 7 of 12

What a great week we’ve had, and will have! I seeded the broccoli family crops — broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi — in the greenhouse on Monday. The spring has had its way with them the last two years, but we are trying a few new things to keep them alive after transplant — a more thorough hardening-off process, a pine-based wash to prevent post-transplant desiccation, and a “we’re not in New Hampshire anymore” approach to soil moisture — i.e., the ground isn’t necessarily, and probably actually isn’t, sodden in the spring. The cabbage and the kohlrabi comprise a significant chunk of this batch, as our new fermentation partner, Gathered Threads, will be culturing them this summer. Hip hip.

This is also the week we scramble to prepare the farm for its new living mulch mix. That means we till, seed, and roll the entire annual half of the farm. I really do like how easy it is to just say a thing, as opposed to do it. Because that sure was easy to say. :) If you don’t see me in the greenhouse at pick-up, I’m out there doing that.

A reminder that we still have some shares to sell for this summer, AND that you get 10% cash back of every dollar you successfully refer into the CSA.

Enjoy the weather, &
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

We’ve finally hit a string of dry weather for the orchard’s annual haircut. Welcome to the present future. One doesn’t actually prune the tree in front of you, but the tree three to five years ahead of you. Which branches will be crossing? What hormones will flow, and how will the branches angles, with this cut? I can pretty confidently say I’m not all that good at it just yet, because the feedback that makes you better, in pruning, is always a few years off.

We’ve finally hit a string of dry weather for the orchard’s annual haircut. Welcome to the present future. One doesn’t actually prune the tree in front of you, but the tree three to five years ahead of you. Which branches will be crossing? What hormones will flow, and how will the branches angles, with this cut? I can pretty confidently say I’m not all that good at it just yet, because the feedback that makes you better, in pruning, is always a few years off.

It was meant for spreading peat moss or compost … but it made it through about 30,000 pounds of rock dust before it bit the … umm. I may find a welder to fix what broke, and add some reinforcement, or not.

It was meant for spreading peat moss or compost … but it made it through about 30,000 pounds of rock dust before it bit the … umm. I may find a welder to fix what broke, and add some reinforcement, or not.

There’s a bit of foolish pride in the joy that comes in seeing one survive what one’s tools do not.

There’s a bit of foolish pride in the joy that comes in seeing one survive what one’s tools do not.

That darling hut

Time to reef the sails and throw on the windbreaker.

Time to reef the sails and throw on the windbreaker.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

2019 Week 07, Winter CSA 6 of 12

There were bluebirds sitting on the irrigation risers as I spread the rock dust, and there is now birdsong in the morning before the dawn. Onions are waking in their seedling trays, and I’m having to slap myself for adding another new hot pepper here, or a curious pickling cucumber there. It’s time! The new season is on, and we get to transfer our focus from design to build, and then, later, from build to ride. As always, thank you all for being along for that ride.

See you on the farm,
Austin

PS, most tangentially: I can remember the April afternoon when I learned that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had died. It is like that, too, with Mary Oliver. And so we should not let that passing pass without some kind of witnessing.

One of my favorite lines of hers is from a semi-poem — her “Sand Dabs,” which she slipped into her pocket as she walked her Cape Cod beach — and it’s what I heard in my head when I heard that she had gone:

Myself, myself, myself, that darling hut!
How quick it will burn!

(Mary Oliver, ‘Sand Dabs, Five’, Winter Hours)

And then I saw these lines, last week — translated by the most impressive Jane Hirshfield: “The moon in Japanese poetry is always the moon” — and knew that they all were sisters:

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

(Izumi Shikibu (Japan, 974?-1034?) [translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani])

And saw that the question I was asking, she had already answered:

After I published Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, people often asked me how the spiritual poetry of women differs from that of men. My answer: more imagery of houses. (The earlier poem here by Izumi Shikibu also uses the image of a house to speak of the experience of self and its boundaries.) To become the authority of one’s own household is no small thing in many women’s lives, even now, and the lives of earlier women poets are almost always marked by some fracturing with the expectations and course of ordinary life. The same is often true for men, of course, especially mystics.

Which is a much too long and digressing way to say:

Thank you, Mary.

One of the challenges of the small scale farm is designing human-powered tools to improve the health of the farm and farmer, when it comes to the farming.  After literally throwing out the first 2400 pounds of rock dust by hand — left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand — I decided there had to be a better way for the next 27,600. We’re only halfway there, but it’s pretty wild what wheels can do. Wagon + 8 buckets = 600 lbs of rock dust relatively easily rolled out to site, where 200 lbs fit into a modified — all I had was fluorescent orange gorilla tape — peat moss spreader to hit the right application rate. It’s good to do on a cold day, and it still makes you hungry … but we only do this once! :)  Here’s to doing everything we can to make 2019 rock! (Oh shoot, was that an unintended pun?)

One of the challenges of the small scale farm is designing human-powered tools to improve the health of the farm and farmer, when it comes to the farming.

After literally throwing out the first 2400 pounds of rock dust by hand — left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand — I decided there had to be a better way for the next 27,600. We’re only halfway there, but it’s pretty wild what wheels can do. Wagon + 8 buckets = 600 lbs of rock dust relatively easily rolled out to site, where 200 lbs fit into a modified — all I had was fluorescent orange gorilla tape — peat moss spreader to hit the right application rate. It’s good to do on a cold day, and it still makes you hungry … but we only do this once! :)

Here’s to doing everything we can to make 2019 rock! (Oh shoot, was that an unintended pun?)

Halfway into allium seeding — fresh onions, storage onions, shallots, perennial scallions, and leeks — plus perennial flowers, most of which are hanging-out in the walk-in for their moist-cold stratification. Everything is new for me on the farm again this year, with a new “Row Crop Living Mulch” (RCLM) 3-ft row system. Onions, in this case, get their own row, transplanted as multi-plant blocks. I’m excited to see what happens.

Halfway into allium seeding — fresh onions, storage onions, shallots, perennial scallions, and leeks — plus perennial flowers, most of which are hanging-out in the walk-in for their moist-cold stratification. Everything is new for me on the farm again this year, with a new “Row Crop Living Mulch” (RCLM) 3-ft row system. Onions, in this case, get their own row, transplanted as multi-plant blocks. I’m excited to see what happens.

Hanging-out in the greenhouse were last year’s trial polenta corn seeds, and a wee passel of garlic bulbils. If one were concerned about the transfer of soil-borne disease, saving garlic bulbils and planting from that would help — as opposed to planting from saved bulbs — though there is no cross-pollination, and they are also clones of their parent.

Hanging-out in the greenhouse were last year’s trial polenta corn seeds, and a wee passel of garlic bulbils. If one were concerned about the transfer of soil-borne disease, saving garlic bulbils and planting from that would help — as opposed to planting from saved bulbs — though there is no cross-pollination, and they are also clones of their parent.

Because it blows my mind every single year: the first onions pop.

Because it blows my mind every single year: the first onions pop.