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Planned Relevance


Another great post from Ben Hewitt.

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Just What We Do, by Ben Hewitt


This from my friend Ben Hewitt, will make you think. I have a real problem with today’s obsession of treating food as medicine, which just adds to the hysteria over food choices. “Eat real food, not so much, mostly plants,” Michael Pollan. My mantra.

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Filed under Canning and Preserving, Cooking with Fresh Vegetables, Lessons Learned, Sustainability, Uncategorized

Turning Our Backs to Separation


Happy New Year, and welcome 2014!
It’s a clean slate, and we all get to write on it. What’s this year ahead going to look like? We can only wait and see, but in the meantime, we’ve got a greenhouse to build and seeds to order…

Reblogging this from Ben Hewitt, Thank you Ben!

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Nursery Greenhouse – Phase 2!


It’s happening! Work is underway again on our new heated nursery greenhouse.

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It is that time of year, when we finally have time to work on projects that we can’t get to during the busy season of planting, harvesting and marketing. …(and then there’s Christmas and all its related activities…)

You might remember Phase 1 from this earlier post.

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When this is all done, we will have a place to call our own that we can walk to, after several years of hauling soil and seeds and trays to an offsite greenhouse in the next town over.

This is even more exciting, as we are experimenting with sustainable methods to heat it. There will be a double, inflated plastic layer that fastens into this double channel…

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And it is to be heated by a pile of working compost that’s soon to be built behind the cement block wall on the North side. Michael has welded up a steel tube manifold that they’ll bury in the compost. The two open ends will emerge through the concrete wall inside, at either end of the greenhouse. A fan will blow air into one end, and out of the other end will come air that has been heated by the compost. Since compost gets up to 165 degrees, we should see a significant warming effect inside the greenhouse on the coldest of winter nights. This blower will be set up on a thermostat, so it only kicks on when the air cools to a certain level. We will also use a woodstove for a backup.

By February or March, we plan to start growing trays of onions and leeks and celery. We will definitely be getting back into using soil blocks too!

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The Home Grown September Challenge


This blog by cuts right to the heart of the matter. My friend Celi is attempting to eat only off the farm during the month of September.

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The Home Grown September Challenge is going splendidly. Though when you get really down to it there is not enough food out there so I am not sure how Long the challenge will last.

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It is very dry now and  I am going to have to do some serious watering lest my greens give up on me. Not being able to reach for a bag of frozen peas as an easy  green addition to a meal makes life interesting.

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Though this is an excellent way to ensure that the list for next years gardens is thorough. I am already running out of potatoes and onions. So  MORE is a recurrent word in the list.

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I have plenty of tomatoes, aubergine, sweet capsicums, beets, celery, zuchinni and jalapenos. There are two  cabbages left and a stand of swiss chard that is taking a beating as I eat it every day.  But…

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Suddenly Summer–Time for Bees and More Planting


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The sun sets over the farm. The rows are laid out with drip tape and plastic, using our “new” bed layer, all ready for planting melons, cabbages, and eggplants. We will slowly convert all of our irrigation to this system which saves water and reduces weeding. We will wait another week to plant the heat-loving melons, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers though, as nights here still hover just above 40. We need nights in the mid-50s for these plantings. It is so hard to be patient!

In the meantime, several successions of cold-loving crops have gone in, such as onions, (more than 3800 of the sweet Walla Walla variety, plus more bunching onions) spinach, kale, chard, beets, turnips, lettuces and greens. All this on top of the protected plantings of carrots greens and onions started in February and March in the two hoophouses, which were moved last month. The two houses are already filled with their summer crops.

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Artichokes, a new crop we’re trying out this year, have been planted inside the small hoophouse. Since this photo, a row and a half of cayenne peppers also got put in. You can see the garlic growing on the other side of the hoophouse.DSC_0013Rosie was game to try out the new two seater planter we got on loan. Our maiden voyage was to plant 600 strawberry plants for next season.

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Rosie and Bill took their positions on the back while Mike drove.

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After a lot of trial and error they got it done. We still need to learn how to set up and use this tool properly!

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Each person alternatively drops a plant between two revolving discs which open up the ground and put the plant in the proper position. It was a little bit daunting, but in the end, much kinder on the knees! We hope to use this planter to get all the broccoli and cauliflower in.

DSC_0009Meanwhile, in the large hoophouse, the tomatoes are growing very well. We’ve also planted a bed of ginger along one side, and will grow pickling cucumbers on a trellis along the other side. We are working to maximize valuable growing space inside the hoophouses.

DSC_0008The mesclun mix is ready for its third cutting! Romaine heads are getting bigger, in time for our first CSA shares which begin June 10. Bunching onions will make a delicious addition to our first shares, along with baby spinach, radishes, and fully grown sweet winter carrots!

DSC_0081And in the middle of all this activity, the bees arrived! We lost all four of our hives last winter. One we knew had a weak queen. We knew we had at least two swarms,  maybe three, last summer. Two of the hives hung on until nearly spring, but didn’t make it. We were left with two broodboxes full of honey, which we will put on the hives in September to help get our bees through next winter. We are about a month late getting the two bee packages in. However, we have enough hive equipment to give these new bees fully built out comb in two deep boxes, which should help them along. If you are starting from scratch, it takes the bees quite awhile to just build comb on all the frames, so we are hopeful that the bees will have an advantage this year. Our main intention is to get these bees pollinating our crops. Some honey at the end of the season is really a bonus for us!

DSC_0056Two of our interns, Rosie and Alisha (doing a great job as photographer, which is why she is not in the photos! Thanks Lish!) helped install the packages. It was a first for both of them, and quite exciting!

DSC_0034This was a first for me, as well, installing packages without Mike and Bill’s input. But we did ok.  The queens must be accepted by the hive (by smell,) so they come protected in little cages that you hang inside the hive. They chew their way out through a candy plug. By the time they get out, usually, the hive has accepted her. We will check in 7 days, and hopefully remove the empty queen cages. In another 7 days after that, we check once more to determine that the queen is laying capped brood. Fingers crossed!

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Rocking that bee-hoodie Rosie!

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Another Person’s Lie


Another very good post by our friend Ben Hewitt. His new book “Saved” about our relationship to money will be out soon, and we are really looking forward to reading it.

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