Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fair Share Farm CSA to Start May 9th

The time has come to start the harvest. This Spring has been unusually mild and has created an early maturing of most everything on the farm. These conditions have convinced us to start the CSA a week earlier than originally planned. So...the schedule for the first week's pickup will be:

Wednesday Distribution (Bad Seed or Farm) May 9th
Saturday Distribution (Liberty or Farm) May 12th

For deatils relating to your distribution site please click on the link. If you are a farm pickup, you will have chosen either Wednesday or Saturday, so please take note of which day you are scheduled for.

The farm crew has been busy keeping up with everything the last month. Our 2012 apprentices Dani Hurst and Ryan Stubby started the last week of March and have now been on the job for a month. Peruse the previous blogs and you can see all that we have been up to.

This last week we have been concentrating on our summer crops. On Monday we started up the irrigation system as the plants were becoming quite parched. Our solar irrigation system seems to be working well this season. You can see in the photo the high flow we get on-demand from the panels. We measured this flow at 35 gallons per minute.

Elsewhere in the field crops destined for future shares, such as onions and broccoli are growing well.

The tomato plants are starting to go out. The cherries and caged hybrids are in the ground, and the heirlooms and remaining hybrids are No. 1 on the runway. Squash and cucumbers are germinating in the greenhouse and will be in the field in the next 10 days or so.

We began seeing aphids in the greenhouse on the peppers and eggplants the last few days, so felt it was time to call in the biological hit squad of lady beetles. Rebecca bought some at Family tree nursery and we set 1/3 of them loose last night. This morning they seemed to be quite active. We expcet them to do their job and help keep our transplants as healthy as possible.

Look forward to seeing and feeding all of you soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Watkins Mill Spring on the Farm 2012

We feel fortunate to have an historic site as beautiful as Watkins Mill located but a mile from the farm. The mill and farmstead date back to the mid-1800's when Waltus Watkins brought his family here from Kentucky and created Bethany Plantation.

While the mill and house are open year round, several times a year events are hosted at this Missouri State Park. The video below is but a sampling of the many activities that took place yesterday.

Part of the reason we went is because we consider it a vital training session for our farm apprentices. There is a lot of intrest in self-sufficiency these days, and the Watkins were experts in it---by necessity rather than by choice. Between the visitors center displays, the house, and the many demonstrations, you can see just what it took to live in those days.

Of course to really understand it you would have to cut ice in the winter and store it in your icehouse; spend all day Monday washing clothes by hand; help to slaughter, butcher, cure and smoke 65 hogs at a time; tend to a large vegetable garden and orchard; and many other demanding tasks. Much of it was at times drudgery, so we visit to make sure the romantic shine isn't the only thing seen when wishing for the past.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Planting Winding Down

It has been an exceptional Spring for plantings, especially if the freezes and frosts hold off. To date we have planted:peas
swiss chard
bok choi
hakurei turnips
tat soi/yukina savoy

lettuce under row cover

cabbage, kale and row cover

Already in the ground from last year, or as a perenial are:
garlic greens

strawberries forming in April

With the help of our electric and gas powered tractors, and the dry weather, we have been able to keep the beds as weed free as ever. Each bed has received several rounds of cultivation, and many have also received hay mulch.

The cultivating serves to kill the weeds when they are still small, and help exhaust the "weed seed bank" in the beds. The mulch keeps new weeds in check, holds the little moisture we have had, provides lots of worm food, and cools the soil. So far, so good.
mulching the napa cabbage

freshly cultivated onions

We are looking forward to the 2012 season, and may be starting a week early (only 3 weeks from now?!)  More on that later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Google Earth Tour of Fair Share Farm

While looking over the web for aerial photos of the farm I decided to download Google Earth. It is a treasure trove of information, cataloging our farm's progress since we began in 2003.

My curiosity piqued, I quickly learned how to do a tour/flyover of the farm and then how to turn it into a movie file that could be displayed on YouTube (thanks Screencast-O-Matic). The detail isn't as good as viewing it in Google Earth, but it is still amazing that I can put such a thing together while sitting at my desk (and for free!) I hope you enjoy it.

More to come in the near future...historic aerials to show our progress over the years.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Planting Away

So far, this Spring has been one of the best we have had for early growing. We continue to put out plants and seed our fields, and hope for thisweek to be especially productive, so that we can have time to turn our attention back to our high tunnel.

Our 2012 interns Dani Hurst and Ryan Stubby have been on the go and productive since the beginning. Last week was a good example as we: mulched, staked and trellised the peas; planted, mulched and covered the broccoli; weeded some "no-till" beds; planted potatoes; potted up tomatoes, eggplant and peppers; hoed, fertilized and mulched the new asparagus patch; harvested for the KC Food Circle Expo; and took care of many other tasks.

We also put row cover over the strawberry plants, the first time we have ever done that. Of course this is the first time they have ever started flowering in early April. Last year the very cold start to May severely damaged our crop and we do not want a repeat of that, so we are doing all we can to keep these tasty fruits protected.

pea mulching
covering the strawberries
asparagus plants
potato planting

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fair Share Farm at the KC Food Circle Expo

Getting ready to spend the day at the Kansas City Food Circle Expo at Penn Valley College tomorrow. From 9:30am to 2:30am we will be selling a few Spring items and encouraging people to fill the 25 openings remaining this year.

See you there or tell a friend. All you need to know is at

Kansas City Food Circle

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Photo of Springs Past

Crazy but enjoyable weather this year. In the ten years we have been here at the farm we have never had a March quite like this one. We have photos of the Spring since 2004, and in perusing them can see that the trees have never been as leafed, or the plants so far along as this year.
As a contrast to this year check out the 2009 photo below of our lilac bush. These seem to be real extremes---from iced over leaf buds in 2009 to full and glorious blooms this year. In fact, the blooms Rebecca picked this morning are already beginning to be past.

March 29, 2009

March 30, 2012

Other, less anectdotal info shows just how warm it is. Each week during the growing season MU Extension sends us an email with information on weather conditions, weeds to expect and soil temperatures. The last soil temp chart we got is shown below. This years soil temps are over 15 degrees warmer than the 12 year average in some cases.

This is the condition, more than air temperature, that has created the show of greenery this March. Normally at this time of year we are wary to plant out because the soil temperatures are too cold for the tender roots of our transplants, or too cool for seeds to germinate.

This year, the soil is downright hot. When we were planting onions yesterday the soil was warm to the touch. What this means for the rest of the year is hard to tell, but at this point we have moved our planting schedule up and plan to start the season a week early.