Tag Archives: spinach

Greenhouse Progress…


DSC_0567 Neat, huh? The concrete on the North side has been painted black to absorb more of the sun’s heat.

DSC_0568The blower has a temperature controller to turn it on to a certain setting.

DSC_0564Soon, a compost pile will be built to cover this welded steel tube to circulate air pulled from inside, through the pile to be warmed, and then back into the greenhouse. DSC_0562Meanwhile, Andrew and Conor from Black Earth Compost brought their clatterbox. It’s not really called a clatterbox, it’s a device that’s going to help them to screen out the fines to bag up the compost for sale. It’s going to be an infernal machine. Loud and clackety. But it should do the job once it’s all welded up. Check them out at www.blackearthcompost.com.

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Did I mention that half the compost is for us to use on the farm? So far they’ve made about 200 cu yds of rich, black, nutritious “black gold” for our gardens and fields.DSC_0571

All of these young men are coming up with innovative “farm hacks” on a daily basis.

DSC_0570The Spring-like weather of late has made the ground approaching the compost into a quagmire. We will be putting down some stones to create a road out there. It’s time to build that road, as we plan to keep hosting these folks in their endeavor. It’s become a great partnership! Yesterday, Andrew and I went around to a few restaurants in Gloucester and met with great success. We’ll be bringing our vegetables this summer to Plum Cove Grind in Lanesville. They are going to use some for their salads and lunch offerings, and also sell retail, as well as become a drop site for CSA shares.

The Gloucester House wants our veggies too. This is huge, as this very busy seafood restaurant serves 1500 on a busy Saturday night. At first I was skeptical that this would be a good fit. But they assured us that we won’t have to supply all their veggie needs, and they will be happy to work with us on whatever we can provide. They will even come to the Cape Ann Farmer’s Market on Thursdays to pick up their order! They plan to develop some “local” offerings, such as a salad with our greens mix, along with whatever other vegetables we can supply them throughout the summer. This is a wonderful development for us. It’s going to be a big year!

DSC_0572Meanwhile, inside the large hoop house, the spinach is ready for harvest. Delicious!

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Filed under Compost, CSA Shares, Farm Hack, Greenhouse, Sustainability

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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Filed under Bees, CSA Shares, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring, Uncategorized

And… Away We Go!


First, a shot of the small hoophouse in its new position where it was moved on Sunday. The carrots underneath the hoops are recovering nicely from the compost burning, thank goodness! The house was closed up and black plastic was spread over the soil to warm it in preparation for the next crops to be planted soon: artichokes and hot peppers!DSC_0959

Last night, the large hoophouse was moved into its new position. It will house tomatoes, ginger, basil and parsley.

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See the tractor in the distance? Two 200 foot lengths of cable are attached to the back of the tractor. The cables run through pulleys screwed into two short posts that have been put at either end. This keeps the greenhouse on an even plane as its pulled by the tractor.DSC_0949

And there it goes! The preparation to make the move took longer than the actual move itself…DSC_0950

Which was, literally, over in seconds…DSC_0952

Like buttah…DSC_0954

Afterwards, the hoops and reemay cloth were replaced over the crops, since our nights are still hovering in the 40s. They are probably fine without this protection now, but we don’t want to take any chances of a freeze. Plus, the crops underneath will be hardened off to the direct sun over a period of days. DSC_0962

Spinach and lettuce has already been planted in the rows alongside the greenhouse, and here, Mike is preparing a few more beds so we can plant beets and turnips today.DSC_0965

As the sun goes down, a parting shot of the whole picture.DSC_0966

As I went home, here’s the new view from my house.

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Filed under Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring, Tractor

More Greenhouse Planting Means Spring Can’t Be Far Behind!


DSC_0519Come, take a walk through the snow with Shelby to find out what happened in the large hoophouse Saturday!

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The snow was over her froggy boots!

DSC_0522Inside, things were very different!

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She found that everyone was working on something. Richie was using the broadfork to loosen and aerate the compacted soil…

DSC_0513Then, papa worked with the broadfork and Uncle Mike pulled weeds from the onion bed…

The remaining spinach, red lettuce, mache and bunching onions had been harvested. Most of these crops had been harvested for shareholders before Christmas, sold at the last farmer’s market in December, and fed our family during the winter months. Time now to clean it all out so we can plant again! This time: carrots, more lettuce, bunching onions, and spinach for spring!

DSC_0527Ok, I can do this. I remember the rake! Mimi taught me how to use it last summer!

DSC_0529See? You use it to make a path on the dirt!

DSC_0531 And break up clumps, like this!

DSC_0532And then we use this stirrup thingie to get out the weeds!

DSC_0533See? It makes a real nice path on the dirt too!

DSC_0534So many weeds we need to dig out! I can definitely help with that!

DSC_0537We get down to our shirtsleeves and the real work begins. The temperature is a perfectly comfortable 72 inside, while outside its in the low 40s.

DSC_0539We are putting all the weeds into the crate to give them to the chickens. Yay!

DSC_0542A little minute of rest first please…Whew!

DSC_0543Look how many weeds the chickens are going to get!

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Good dirt to grow things in!

DSC_0550Now, me and Papa bring the weeds to the chickens.

A whole bed of bunching onions is growing nicely. We planted them outdoors in September with the other crops before the greenhouse was moved over them in November. On this day, we planted a second bed of carrots, and a large bed of mesclun mix. Soon, we will also put in more spinach here, and a third bed of carrots in the small hoophouse.

A very productive weekend indeed, thanks to everyone’s help!

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Filed under Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring

Late Season Goodness


People think as soon as Labor Day arrives garden time is over.

Not so. Not here.

Our Late Season shareholders will tell you different.

  • Here’s what their second share looked like last week:

 

 

 

 

But surely, you say, in the meantime, we got 5 inches of snow and all kinds of cold weather! Of course the garden is gone now!

Nope!

Lots of things are still growing and thriving under the hoops and inside the greenhouse, not to mention what’s in the root cellar.

Cold-hearty crops such as beets, lettuce, rutabaga, kohlrabi, mache, spinach are all doing very well thank you, under here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And carrots here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And take a look in the greenhouse! These crops will be ready for harvest in December.

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Firing on all cylinders…


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Doing it…


 

Ah, sweet spring! So much has been happening here that I hardly know where to begin. I hope to keep this blog going despite the myriad challenges and complexities of getting this whole operation up and running. (Fortunately, I have lots of help!) The good news is that everything we put into place last year and all the knowledge we’ve collected so far has made this spring’s work seem a little less daunting. But with all the excitement and care of a new family member, Grammie has little extra time! I hope to persist with the writings and photos whenever possible!

Last week ended with a spring burn on the last day burning is allowed. What is it about fire that brings out our inner pyromaniac?  

Meanwhile, with the advent of warmer temperatures, the plantings in the greenhouse have exploded in the past couple of weeks. After mulching with a thick layer of compost, the carrots have doubled in size, and we are cutting lettuce and baby chard, kale and beet greens, and pulling up a few bunching onions to go into our salads every day. I’m noticing a craving for greens has taken over my longing for all the warm soups and stews and root vegetables of the past season.

Carrots in the greenhouse have doubled in size the past week!

Deer tongue lettuce. One of our favorites!
 

 

We’ve weeded out the asparagus bed and layered it thickly with compost as well. We are already being rewarded with many sweet stalks. The adjoining rhubarb bed is also growing like mad and soon we will be enjoying the tangy bite of rhubarb pies and crisps from the patch. We even use it in sauces for our main dishes!

The asparagus bed has been weeded and composted. The rhubarb is coming up.

Shelby is going to be a real farm girl! She's already spending time with us as we hoe and rake and do the work on the farm. Pretty soon she'll be helping!

 
The first succession of peas got planted in the U-Pick area about a week ago, and they are already coming up. We’ll be putting in another planting in a few days. Our CSA customers can save a little money and have some fun picking their own peas, green beans and cherry tomatoes this year, as well as fresh herbs from a new area we’re planting just for this purpose. People can also opt to have us pick these items for them along with the rest of their weekly veggie pickup for an added charge.
 
We are very fortunate to have a number of friends who like to come and help us. On Sunday they helped us to plant 36 raspberry canes on the slope in front of our house. Within the next two or three years, we hope for a bountiful harvest of one of our favorite fruits! 

We planted 36 raspberry canes. Nova, a summer bearing, and Heritage, an everbearing variety.
 
Our latest acquisition was a six-row seeder designed by Eliot Coleman. We used it yesterday to plant beds of lettuce mix, spinach, and arugula. Oh yes! Once we figured it out, it worked like a charm and will save us much time and backbreaking labor.  We also plan to use it to plant living mulch such as clover between the rows this year. Living mulches add nutrients to the soil, keep down weeds and retain moisture. The bees love it! And an added benefit of planting clover is that it can be walked on! We will mow it every so often to keep it under control. It dies when frost comes, leaving the soil areated. It will also hold the soil in case of flooding, which has been a problem in some areas of our gardens in the past. (Not this year, fortunately…)  

Michael and Ross trying out the new 6-row seeder.

Cleaning up the beds and adding compost to plant lettuce, arugula and spinach.

Michael, Ross, Richie and Paul worked hard all afternoon clearing out all the weeds in the lower part of the garden where they'd taken hold!

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