Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just like the Obamas

Check out this article that ran in the WI State Journal yesterday about the vegetable garden some of my co-workers planted:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Farm Fashion

Today it rained just before we arrived, so our plans to transplant tomatoes and peppers were thwarted.  So instead, we took apart the greenhouse that Claire has been harboring in her backyard and re-assembled it on the farm.  We also made more soil mix and did some 'office activities' such as labeling sprout bags and shelling popcorn and beans.

Jake got the job of using the chainsaw to cut down some stumps near the parking lot area, but couldn't find the eye protectors.  So Megan lent him her sunglasses.  Here is the result, Jake in fashionable and functional farm gear.  Holding a chainsaw.

Catching Up

Sorry I haven't written in a while... last week I was very busy.  Last Monday, more interns came, bringing our total to 13!  This is 3 or 4 more interns than we had last year, so it's very exciting as we can get a LOT more work done.  We finished putting in the pea trellis, transplanted more broccoli and cauliflower, and put in the CSA flower garden.  This is the garden that CSA members can pick flowers and herbs from every week.

We caught up on our weeding, at least for the time being, by getting into the chard, beets, lettuce, spinach, and carrots by hand.   Of course, this won't last long as the weather has been both hot and rainy for the last few days, giving the weeds every chance to get bigger.

We got SO much done that a few of us even got to try our hand at seeding, which is something we rarely have time for.  Claire taught us how to use the Earthway seeder, which is a device that spits out seeds in a line.  It has discs that are different sizes for different seeds.  As usual Claire made it look very easy.  It's not difficult, but the pace of walking with it, the spacing of the bed, and keeping on top of it can be a bit tricky.  You literally must walk on top of the seed you just laid out so that it has good contact with the soil.  It's a bit like walking a tightrope only you're on lumpy soil.

The picture is our stellar crop of clover that we planted last fall amongst the hard squash.  You can see where the squash was, in between the rows of clover.  In the picture, it has just been mowed.  I guarantee that by now, the lines have filled in and the clover probably needs mowing again.  It's a place of pride on the farm as it's one of the only really lush looking crops right now.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pea Trellis

Friday, May 14th Maria and I drove stakes into the ground at intervals of 10 feet down each row where peas were emerging.  We strung up a simple trellis, taking care to pull the string taut so that it holds the weight of the peas as they grow.  We strung 5 rows to make one trellis, at about 6-8 inches between each row.  It was a good day to pound stakes into the ground, as it had rained for several days prior and the ground was nice and soft.  Hopefully, we did a good job and the peas will climb the trellis and stay up so we can harvest them easily.  Last year, some of the plants ended up on the ground because the string wasn't taut enough, and it was a royal pain to harvest them.  I'll have no one to blame but myself if that happens.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fall Weather

Wednesday, May 12th felt a lot like fall again.  It was 45 and breezy.  Rain fell all day Tuesday, so the ground was soaked.  We weren't able to do much more than fill in the herb garden paths with more wood chips and hand pull weeds in the spinach and the old herb garden.  It was a cold, wet, muddy job.  On the bright side, another intern joined us for the first time, Megan.  She has some great recent experience on a farm in Pennsylvania, so she will be a good addition to the team.

Claire and Jake had another meeting with the builders of the greenhouse, which is still leaking!  Hopefully some progress will be made.  The grand opening is coming soon!

In the afternoon, we shelled last seasons' popcorn and black beans at the office.  This was a nice change for the afternoon as it was getting cold just being out in the wind with wet, muddy hands (even protected by gloves).  Today it's still dreary and cold outside, but supposedly it's going to be warmer tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Monday, May 10th
A few more interns started at the farm today:  Jenna, Andy, and Maria.  This is reassuring to me, as it's been so long since we had a nice big crew to work with.  It will take a lot of pressure off of all the work we have to do in the coming months.  We did Field Tour today for the first time this year.  Field Tour is, as you might think, when we walk around the different sections of the farm, noting what is happening in the field and taking notes on any work we should do in the coming week.  One thing we knew we had to check was our newly transplanted cucumbers and squash, as it froze the previous evening!  Fortunately, they were covered by remay.  While some outer leaves look damaged, most plants had new growth and looked healthy and ready to keep growing.

It's still early in the season and getting cold at night, so some sections of the farm are still totally empty (such as solanacea).  Other sections still have cover crop in from last fall (rye) or new spring cover crops (oats and peas).  There are also some over-wintered crops from last fall:  scallions and spinach.  And garlic, but that is heavily mulched and won't be harvested for a long time.  Of course, there are all the brassicas we've been transplanting lately, as well as onions and leeks.  And there are lots of crops that were direct seeded by Claire that have germinated and are coming up well:  peas, carrots, and beets.

Along with all these germinated seeds are germinated weeds!  And now is the time to deal with them, before they start taking valuable resources away from our crops.  So one half of the crew weeded onions, carrots, and peas today, with wheel hoes and hand hoes.  The other half finished up the new herb garden by finishing the raised beds and transplanting the perennial herbs to their new location.  All in all, it was a productive day, despite the fact that the tractor is down for the moment and needs repairs.

Weeding is a satisfying job, but doing it for the first time reminded my of how many more times we are going to do it.  Today was only the beginning!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


On Wednesday, Cinco de Mayo, four of us met in the field to do lots of transplanting.  We put in more brassicas: red and green cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.  We also put in some lettuces, as well as cucurbits: cucumbers and summer squash.  It was a lot of bending over, and my back was getting weaker by the end of the day.

Also not helping was the wind.  It blew constantly, sometimes gusting so much I would have to readjust my stance.  The poor little seedlings could barely stand.  We planted the cucumbers and summer squash relatively deep so that they could withstand the pressure.  Just about everything got covered with remay to keep it warm and protected from the wind.  Putting in the remay was actually easier than usual as long as we worked with the wind and not against it.  The long pieces of cloth practically unrolled themselves.

Jake took this picture of me posing near the garlic, which is now flourishing.  We planted it in early November.  On the other side is where the CSA flower and herb garden is going to go.

As an added note, the high was in the 60s on Wednesday.  That gusty wind brought some colder air with it, and now it's been raining and in the 30s and 40s!  Let's hope the plants don't freeze.