Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Farm Update: 5/2013

On the Farm...

A Purple Kohlrabi transplant doing well outside 
It's been awhile since we've had the time for a farm update, but we finally got a good, long rain last night and this morning.  So there is little we can do outside in the mud, beside get muddy. 

As always, we've been busy on the farm, Farmer Don has been working on turning almost 2 acres of our pasture into seedbed for the CSA's next plantings, plowing and tilling the pasture under with our tractor.  Farmer Figgins, has been planting and transplanting our cold season vegetable crops in the field--Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Lettuce, more Onions, and Arugula.

Rows of Spinach and Broccoli

Soon we'll be transplanting and seeding the first of the warm season vegetable crops, sun-loving plants like dry beans, green beans, cucumbers, and summer squash! We started summer squash and cucumbers inside to get a jump on the season. We have a variety of dry beans planned--Kenearly Yellow Eye, Midnight Black Turtle Soup, Calypso Beans, Hutterite Soup Beans, and Tiger's Eye beans--which CSA Members can expect a couple pounds of come the last few weeks of the season. 

Since the last farm update we've also had a few new additions to the farm. A 3 year old Jersey cow named Rosie, and 10 piglets that we are raising on pasture. We've also moved the turkeys and meat chickens out to pasture since our last farm update, and some of our egg layers have started laying! 

An unusual Spring...

While we are new to this climate, it has felt to us like an unusual spring thus far. 

First we had the 100-year flood rains in late April that pushed our first planting back nearly 2 weeks. But since then we've seen unusually hot and rainless days, a late frost threatening our transplants in mid-May, and hail to the east of us just last night. We've been lucky so far, and more than thankful for our row covers when that late frost hit.  

Because of these setbacks we couldn't plow until later than expected, so our CSA Shares are likely going to start early June.  

If you haven't yet, get those contracts and payments sent to us! You won't find a CSA this cheap, and we're offering lower prices this year because it is our first year!

Late-germinating beets struggling with the heat

So far our Lettuce, Kale, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, and Potatoes are looking good.  Unfortunately our Spinach, Beets, and Carrots are slow to germinate in this unseasonable heat, and may be a little later to the table than hoped.

The potatoes have started emerging! 

There has been some more rain finally. Blessed rain dumping down on our hillside.

I spent last year working at a CSA farm near Boulder, Colorado, where the average annual precipitation is 14" during a good year. Last year was not a good year. 

While much of the country struggled under the oppressive heat and drought of last summer, Colorado was one of the worst, with weeks worth of days in the high 90's and 100's without rain for months. Denver set a new record for days in a row above 100 F. The heat and the drought created the perfect conditions for wildfires, which ravaged the state in one the most costly and deadly years of wildfires in Colorado's history. 

So we are glad for these storms, whether they threaten flood or hail, we are glad. Just another reason why we moved to Michigan.


T'is the Thinning season...

As our seedlings emerge and our transplants take root our first round of weeding and thinning must begin. 

Thinning is the practice of removing extra plant seedlings to give the strongest plants the necessary space to grow. 

We over-seed in the spring, using 3 seeds for each plant we hope to grow. One for the bug, one for the bird, one for the farmer, as it goes. But if all three seedlings emerge, its necessary to manually thin out the excess. 

If planted too close, root crops like radishes will push each other's round roots out of the ground, limiting their water and nutrient availability and exposing it to the sun and sunburning. That's right, plants can get sunburned!  The plant's leaves will lean on each other and grow long and leggy.  Also overcrowding can lead to higher soil temperatures and humidity, and a higher risk for disease. 

The point is, gardeners and farmers have to place a limit on growth. We have to understand the specific plant's needs and then make sure they are in the best possible environment for growth. Though it hurts to thin those precious plants, it must be done. 

 On the bright side, the turkeys and chickens get to enjoy eating the young sprouts and greens. 


  1. And a lot of those tender little greens are edible for you too! Of course I'm a southern girl, so I fry 'em up in butter or bacon grease. There is no vegetable on the planet that I won't try if you fry it! ;)

  2. Sounds delicious, we'll have to give it a try! I like to add baby greens like Radishes to my salads to give them a little extra kick. But frying always does the trick--fried green tomatoes, summer squash, potato chips, yum! I never thought to fry greens though, thanks for the tip Anna!

  3. Hmmm.. now I'm wondering if you can turn them into chips like that kale chip recipe you posted?

  4. Absolutely! I've also seen a radish leaf pesto that looks yummy. Going to have to try!