Photo review

It is coming into a slower time in the field now as we approach the end of August.  Here in Waterbury there are only a couple weeks left of “frost-free” nights and although it is doubtful that we will see a frost until October, September 1 signifies a change in the season.  August is an interesting month here.  There are crops that are just starting to come on: tomatoes, peppers, onions, winter squash, leeks, but almost all of the plantings are done and trays that need to be transplanted are disappearing from the hoop house.  It is a contrast of beginning and ending; the work winds down, we experience the first signs of death in the field, but everyday there are new shades of red, yellow, and orange hanging from vines in the hoop house.  It is my favorite time because I begin to feel space to breathe and I realize that I have other interests besides farming that I can pursue again.  Maybe I sleep a little later, maybe I take a longer lunch, cut out early to swim, and it all feels ok.  It has been a truly amazing season so far with so many opportunities for growth and learning.  Here are some pictures from the last couple weeks.

heirloom tomatoes are on:IMG_1501I just loved the brilliant white of this Ailsa Craig sweet onion:IMG_1461

Last week I harvested the garlic.  Despite really tight spacing, the season produced some really good sized heads of garlic.  IMG_1465I believe that garlic is one of, if not the most, photogenic vegetable:IMG_1444

Padron peppers, only one in 10 or 20 will be hot, very hot, the rest are super mild and delicious.  Its a gamble eating them!IMG_1489This last weeks CSA share.IMG_1494

Week 5 CSA

Welcome to week 5 of the CSA!  This week there were some mid summer colors and eating including summer squash, broccoli, basil, and cucumbers.  Despite the persistent wet conditions, the plants continue to grow.  Some have been set back and it has been a challenge attempting to mitigate the moisture.  The winter squash, field cucumbers, kale, onions, and garlic seem to be growing great while other crops like basil, peppers, and zucchini/summer squash seem to be set back a little.  Regardless, this share saw a variety of great veggies:

IMG_1411Once again, the share included a personal favorite: kohlrabi.  Often times I hear that people are unsure about what to do with kohlrabi.  It does appear to be an alien vegetable but its flavor is cool and like a cross between a subtle radish and a cucumber.  The term “kohlrabi” is a combination of German words translated to mean “turnip cabbage” and the bulb is actually a swollen stem.  Most often I peel the skin off and slice it to be eaten raw or with cheese.  However, you can shred it into a salad, dice it into a stir fry much like broccoli stem, add it to a soup, or roast it in the oven.  Given that it is the summer, I enjoy eating it raw the most and you can try a recipe for a simple salad with cucumbers here:

Refreshing Kohlrabi & Cucumber Salad

other recipe ideas for the rest:

Scallion/Zucchini and summer squash pancakes:     http://www.marthastewart.com/338312/zucchini-scallion-fritters

Broccoli, Kale, and Ginger stir fry:      https://vermontvalleyfarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/broccoli-kale-ginger-stri-fry.pdf

I hope you all are enjoying the food.  And it won’t be long before these are on the way:

IMG_1405not that exact one, I ate it already.  And it was delicious!

Week 4 of the CSA!

This week saw a very green share.  With all the abundant green vegetables, the arrival of broccoli and summer squash added some summer staples and the hoop house seems to be overflowing with cucumbers. IMG_1396In this share were a few personal favorites of mine.  The arugula, which has matured into a larger, spicier leaf than its often eaten baby version, will compliment any salad, top any sandwich, or can be thrown into a stir fry for just a moment at the end.  This will wilt it but preserve its peppery flavor.  We saw again the the white, Japanese salad turnip, known as the hakurei turnip.  Eaten raw, I love to dice it into salad or substitute it for crackers with cheese.  The turnip was once considered the vegetable of nobility in Europe and the subtle flavors of the hakurei certainly show why.

I wanted to pass along a summer recipe for those who don’t really know what to do with dill.  This seemed to me to a good summer cucumber salad and one can certainly sub the sugar in the recipe and add something else like lemon for a summery tang.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sweet-and-sour-cucumbers-with-fresh-dill-109713

I hope you enjoy the share this week.  Thank you for your continued support.  Tomatoes are on the way!!!

Pics from the past couple weeks

Its been an interesting June and I am looking forward to what will be coming in July and August.  Below are some photos from the past few weeks.

the seasons very first hoop house cucumber

the seasons very first hoop house cucumber

The tomatoes are thriving in the hoop house.  Lots of great looking dark green vegetation and some fruit set.  I am hoping to be harvesting in 2 weeks.

toms

toms and one row of cukes to the left

This time of year the garlic puts out scapes and although mine are late, they all come on relatively close in time.  A restaurant that I sell to wanted the whole bucket to make pickled scapes.

bucket o' scapes

bucket o’ scapes

And once again, Slugs.  Noah has been mowing the outside edges of the field which has helped drastically but with all the moisture over the past few weeks, the slugs are loving life.  And my plants.  Below is just outside the row cover.  Zoom in on the dots.  It is significantly worse under there.

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all those dots are snails and slugs. Eww.

This is a picture from the CSA share on Friday.  The radishes are coming to an end for the early season.  I’ll be planting more for a fall harvest soon.

pretty radishes

pretty radishes

It feels nice to be able to relax today as I have been trying to do on saturday.  The work will be there tomorrow.  Happy fourth!

Into July

The soil is slowly beginning to dry out after the previous few days of sun and heat.  June has been a learning experience as everything in this work proves to be: managing a “high water incident” and thinking tragic thoughts about the season, overcoming that obstacle, learning to witness and accept plants struggling to thrive in less than ideal growing conditions, fighting (and potentially losing) various mammalian pests such as deer and a groundhog that just loves carrot tops but not melon inside a havahart trap, letting the slugs get their share of what is in the field and learning to sleep with it, and the list goes on.  I believe the groundhog situation has been resolved since right above one of the gardens in the center of the road is a freshly hit groundhog.  I can only assume he/she lived right below the site.  Tragic?  Celebratory?  Ultimately confusing I believe.

After a dry, hot May and scrambling to get plants watered it, June came and set records for monthly rainfall.  Montpelier saw the wettest month on record at just under 10 inches of rain and Mt Mansfield saw 15 and a half inches which beat a record year in 1998.  I hope that July will take on more normal weather trends and that the peppers and basil wll catch up.  Most plants continue to be resilient and despite the wetness there is a lot of food in the field which has been going to various local restaurants and to the CSA which began last week.  The first share included salad greens, arugula, Hakurei turnips (a personal fav), garlic scapes, the season’s first cucumbers, a bunch of mixed kale, a bunch of cilantro, and a potted basil plant.

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first share

The weather shifted late this week and we saw consecutive sunny days.  This friday was the second pick up day for the CSA and the share looked a little more colorful.  It included purple and white scallions, a bunch of radishes, a bunch of swiss chard, cucumbers, a bunch of dill (great for lemon and dill grilled chicken for the fourth! or salad dressing), a bag of salad mix, and pick your own snow and snap peas.

second share

second share

Maybe it is that I have a year of experience under my belt, maybe I am more organized this year, but moving into July this season the work seems more manageable.  Whereas last year I could barely breath, this season I actually have some time to take off and enjoy the summer.  It seems strange that the season is already closing at least from a planning standpoint.  I have reached the last page of my sowing schedule for transplanted crops and mostly all that remains for successional plantings are salad and late season greens and roots.  I am already thinking about next season.

So, thanks to all that come out for the CSA and if you are in the area and pop into The Reservoir might I suggest a salad, the kale salad, and whatever special Shawn has lined up with scallions.  All from the farm here.

Spring flurry

As we move into mid June and rapidly approach the peak of light for the season, I have felt a shift in the work load.  I have been able to go about the work with a calmer pace, more attentive and meticulous, and there has been more time for other activities, not much, but some.  In thinking about the shift, I know that, as a wave, the high point of the early season scramble of planting, and prepping, and sowing, and planning, and setting up, has come to an end.  I am beginning to experience the first lull of the season, a low point with somewhat less activity.  Granted there are still many tasks but there is less of an urgency this time of year.  I keep in mind that the next wave will be on its way come July.  This will be the time when weeds are trying to take a firm hold, planting is still happening, harvesting becomes an important part of the week, and the importance or prioritizing and managing time begins to take hold again in the scurry of work.  Then there will be a dip in August when things are once again stable and established.  This lull will last until one final end of the season quick-burst flurry to close up shop for the year.

During this week, I am finding that I am already doing things for the last time of the year, and although it feels like the season is just beginning, I know that after this weekend we are on the downward slope towards autumn again.  I feel grateful to be able to have this connection with the natural rhythms of the earth and its annual routine; I feel inextricably tied to the waxing and waning of light and heat, to life and death in the field, and I draw conclusions about my own being as part of the greater whole.  If there was ever a profession, job, or lifestyle that was designed for developing wisdom, it is, for me, this work.  I like to think that beyond planting vegetables, I am learning how to discover the meaning of life while in the soil.  And I think I’m getting pretty close.  I love this life.

Here are some pictures from the previous bit of time:

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some bunches of radishes

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Tomatoes growing crazy

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little baby cukes – which within just a few days are no longer babies

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Bok Choi!!! I struggled with these last year and am proud of them.

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First Tomatoes

Garlic update

The garlic is growing great.  Here is a comparison picture:

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April 30

May 29

May 29

This big particular variety which is an unnamed “mystery german” type, produce big heads of garlic often with only 4 to 5 big cloves.  This makes peeling really easy and this flavor is amazing!

Evolution of a Hoop House volume 2

I posted a blog last year about the construction of the hoop house on the property.  I’ve learned a ton since I prepped and planted the hoop house last season and this year, I did it differently with the knowledge I have going into year 2.  Below is the evolution this year from bare ground to planted ground.  Enjoy.

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first till since last may

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after broadforking some of the areas, I went over it again with the tiller to create a really nice bed

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amenities added, tilled, raked, ready for plastic.

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laying drip tape irrigation for underneath the black plastic mulch.

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hate to use the plastic but no weeding and the black plastic will absorb solar energy and enhance the growth of more heat loving plants like tomatoes.

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burlap coffee bags used as pathway mulch

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all planted. Next step is hanging a piece of twine from above for each plant to trellis them. The one bed to the left with the posts and trellis has cucumbers otherwise its all tomatoes.