Sunday, April 27, 2008

late April on the farm

Greetings –

Finally some gorgeous spring weather after so much of the cold and muddy. Storms were all around us last week although we missed the deluge that others have seen. The paths we spaded last fall to allow excess water to drain out of the growing beds seem to be working. One place that we hadn’t spaded was in the potato beds, so Thursday we bailed the potato trenches by hand. After moving literally a ton of water, they are now drying out. All of the spring crops are in the fields but growing slowly with the cool temps. Looks like our latest planting of peas rotted, but we’ve got four other beds growing. Now is the time when we begin to fret about whether all of our winter planning combined with the vagaries of climate will lead to the season starting on time. With three weeks away from our planned first distribution, the mood at times is tense. So far, we think we’ll make it. In the meantime, we continue with the spring chores. This week we thinned the direct seeded crops: arugula, beets, chard, rapini, radishes, and turnips.

Our transplants have been extra nice this year – we think we’ve finally found a potting soil combination that grows a healthy plant quickly. Microleverage compost from Sedalia, MO and organic worm castings in the potting soil and effective microorganisms in the greenhouse water appear to be making the difference. The lettuces in this photo were particularly vibrant – it was hard not to eat them instead of planting in the field. So far we’ve planted over 900 feet of head lettuce with many more successions on the way.

The greenhouse is full of the summer crops: all kinds of tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers. With the sun shining again they are beginning to catch up with the calendar. As soon as these next couple of cold nights pass they’ll move to the coldframe in preparation for field planting. So far we’ve just planted one bed of cherry tomatoes who are safely snug under a layer of heavy row cover.

When its too wet to do anything in the fields, we continue our work on our old barn. This spring our goal is to build a permanent roof over our wash area and the old creamery. In past seasons, we’ve gotten by with a temporary canopy like the ones many use at farmers markets. While they served us well as a quick fix to our need for shade, the canopies have a lot of drawbacks including only shading a 10’ x10’ area and being very buoyant in a strong wind. We plan to use mostly recycled materials in the roof extension: metal tin and wooden posts from the old equipment barn along with used decking donated by one of our CSA member angels.

Rocky, the farm guard dog in training is proving to be a quick learner, if a bit headstrong at times. He loves visitors, young and old, and for a puppy is pretty well-behaved. Today he did well with a couple of young visitors at the farm while we searched for frogs up at the pond and played in the yard. His tendencies to become over-excited seem to coincide with cooler weather. A sunny day even in the 70s finds him hunkered down in the shade of the picnic tables. Undoubtedly he will be pretty much a nocturnal animal once the summer heat sets in.

And finally a word from our friends at the BADSEED:

ATTENTION CONSCIOUS EATERS & CONNOISSEURS OF LOCAL FLAVOR:You are invited to the BADSEED Farmer's Market Season Opening!!Friday - May 2nd - 4:30 to 9 PM1909 McGeeKansas City, MO64108(in the Crossroads)Local organic delights including succulent and exotic greens, heirloom sweet potatoes, fresh flowers, herbs, home-made baked goods, artisanal goat cheese, free-range meats and eggs, and organic soaps & beauty products!!!Featuring live music, art, and prepared (local organic) meals by Eden Alley Cafe ( more info please go to you there!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring UnSprung

It's been a bit cold here at the farm and we hear it will be getting colder. We have been covering all the tender plants with row cover. Lots and lots of stooping and digging and burying the edges.

Sunday night is supposed to be down to 27 degrees. Cold, but not as bad as last year's 18 degrees (for 2 nights). So if we make it through this cold spell, we feel that Spring will finally have sprung.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring has Sprung

It’s been awhile since the last blog, and there’s lots of catching up to do. A brief summery of what’s been going on at and around the farm in the last 3 weeks includes:
  • A quite successful and fun sign-up meeting on March 30th
  • The arrival of our new intern Jenn Baughman on March 31st
  • A farm tour as a part of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) 20th anniversary conference that was at the Weston Crown Center the last week of March.
  • A visit by fellow member and Channel 9 newsman Mike Flink to do a story on community farming
  • Rebecca’s birthday
  • Rocky’s first tooth

We would like to extend many thanks to the Core Group for organizing the signup meeting. We think it was enjoyed by all. The blurriness of the picture may be due more to the whirl of activity than a shaky hand.

We also have been visited by several William Jewell students who are each doing 15 hours of service learning work at the farm as a part of their Ecology of Food course. We are friends with the instructor Paul Klawinski, who we’ve known since our first market days in Liberty in 2003. We’ll expound on the class in future blogs. We are happy to be a part of this unique science class. That’s two of them helping Rebecca uncover the strawberries so the soil can warm up and their leaves can catch the sun.

Greenhouse and field work have been on the list of things to do too. The greenhouse is emptying of its Spring transplants, as they go to cold frame to “harden off”. Much of the cabbage, broccoli, asian greens lettuce, cilantro, and onions have made it to the fields. With the Spring crops heading out, the greenhouse is filling with summer ones, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil, and soon summer squash and cucumbers.

We have also seeded our first batches of peas, beets, carrots, turnips and radishes. We will continue this week to plant the potato crop. We are halfway done. We also seeded 100 lbs of wheat and 25 lb of crown vetch as a cover crop in many of our empty beds.

The plants look as healthy as they ever have this year and we are very happy. We are not sure if it is our source of compost, the extra worm castings, or adding EM (effective microorganisms) to the greenhouse water. While it probably isn’t any one thing, we feel adding “good” bacteria to our system can only help.

We hope to get some more good planting in this week and will have time to keep the membership posted more often. In the meantime we have cleaned out our root cellar and larder and found a nice stash of carrots, beets, celeriac, potatoes, turnips, radishes, onions and garlic. We also found our cabbage kept well this year in the cooler, and a delicious slaw has been in order lately.

You can do the same thing at home if you have a basement, garage or other room that stays cool but above freezing for the winter. Simply layer your carrots, beets or other roots in sand, and set them in a dark area (or cover them). You'll find the carrots you put away in November may actually be more sweet and tender in March and April.

And finally a video, simply because we can. Rebecca planting with the G.