Friday, January 23, 2015

Something tells me

 When Herman's Hermits recorded their hit "Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good" back in the '60s, I'm sure they weren't referring to a shade house for an organic farm. However, working on just that project this winter has me humming that tune ... mostly in the fog. It's no huge project, only 30x30, but it will provide a little home out of the bright sun for tender plants coming out of the greenhouse. As a matter of fact, some of those little plants have already poked their heads out of the potting soil (see bottom pic). And with a tiny little greenhouse, they soon will need to make way for the stars of summer: tomatoes! Well, maybe some zucchini, cucumbers, melons, herbs, greens and watermelons. Last year it was a struggle to juggle all these various plants while waiting for that perfect moment to pop them into a nice warm spot in the ground. This year may be different, but only if the project is finished in time for the plants to make use of it. And we also want to sell our organic heirloom starts to gardeners right off the farm and this new structure will provide an appropriate place for them to be set out for perusal by browsers. And while something tells me I'm into something good with this project, something is also telling me this bleak midwinter is going to end all too soon. So I better get back to work!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's January? Better get out and weed the leeks!

I love leeks. They are the only member of the allium family to commonly stand on their own at the dinner table. And of course you can add a little potato and come up with a fabulous soup. So here you see my two little rows of leeks and a very necessary activity going on around them: weeding. All that rain, then a little sun and the unwanted vegetation has taken off. Who knows what might happen with a little warm weather. That would be scary. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ready, willing and able

Eugene's dad brought his bee's back to my place this weekend. His timing was great. Two weeks earlier and he would not have been able to get them on the property due to floodwater. And I had no way to contact him! He's a jovial Russian guy about my age. Well, his bees are most helpful in pollinating some vegetable crops, like cucumbers, squash and melons. And of course they LOVE sunflowers and lots of the other blooms we grow. I expect he'll haul his hard-working bees off to an almond orchard for a few weeks at some point this spring where a farmer will pay a pretty penny to help insure a good crop and then he'll probably take them all the way home later in the summer, particularly if it's dry again this year. He lives quite a bit further north where spring hits a little later. By the way, if my head was see-through (my wife sometimes thinks it is) you could see that he brought two lines of bee hives this year, not just the one along the fence line.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Burn, baby, burn

Winter weeds are spring up all over our place and, being certified organic, the best ways to get rid of them are hand weeding, or flaming. Flaming is far faster but has it's limitations, the biggest of which is that if you let the weeds get away from you, the torch won't get rid of them. It just singes the tops. The flame is fabulous on just-emerged seedlings and progressively less so as the plants gain in size.
Unfortunately, no flaming was accomplished yesterday because this farmer forgot how to hook up the flamer hose to the propane tank's valve spigot. Sounds rudimentary, but maybe not as much as it appears. As it turns out, there are inside and outside threads! So yesterday it was hand weeding as my tender brain processed this problem. And then, this morning, I had an epiphany! Strangely, this IS the Epiphany, the day according to Christians when the Christ child was revealed to the world, or at least the Three Wise Men who had travelled from afar. So today, those pesky weeds -- like the ones under my shoes in the big photo -- will have a fiery adversary. And I will have fiery farming fun! And I may be kicking myself with one of those steel-toed shoes in the big picture for not figuring it out yesterday!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The winter of our discontent

Every winter provides new challenges and for farmers, and the rain and freezing weather of this winter have not let this farmer down. In fact, the massive storms that pounded our parched region for a good two weeks left my place flooded. At left is the low spot at Singing Frog Farm before and after the storms. All that water didn't just evaporate, either. It needed help to move on down the line. But that's not all. Significant portions of planting plots ended up sitting in water for a goodly number of days, then suffering through three nights of freeze one of which had my thermometer sitting at 23 degrees. The result is seen in the before and after pics up one of my planting plots. Before the storms, green and healthy and after the storms flooding and freezes, brownish and struggling.  Let's hope for some warm weather to help it green up again before I plow it into the soil. So the deluge's positive impact at Singing Frog Farm may be to expedite creation of a retention pond to hold all that water ... a pond that just might be a good place to put some fish and crawdads, and which could be     ringed by native flowers and grasses, providing a permanent home for some very special little singing frogs! It's times like these that make one yearn for the warmer weather which hopefully is already on its way. Rows of tomatoes, corn, cukes, peppers, potatoes. In between dealing with the ravages of winter we've been plotting a bounteous spring and summer and are chomping at the bit to get back to the farmers markets. So here's to the New Year. May it be even more bounteous than the last.