Tag

high tunnel

Holy Market Season!

By | farm journal

Week 17

2017

Market Season is Here!

We kicked off this year’s market season with another intense series of events—opening day at Downtown Growers’ Market, the Sustainability Expo at UNM, and La Montañita’s Nob Hill Earth Fest. After a long few months being holed up down here working, building, talking to plants, and fretting over the bank account it was SO GREAT to see all the folks we’ve been missing, and have the money flowing in a much more exciting direction. And it’s so fun to send our little plants home with people to start their gardens! And after that whilrwind week, it only took two solid days of vegging out and soaking in gratitude to be ready to get back to work.

Sparkling Flavored Water is Launched!

After a whole lot of permits and paperwork and a few struggles with our new kegs and carbonating system, we finally debuted our flavored sparkling water. We brought two delicious flavors—Peppermint and Lavender—to the first market and they were a great success! I’m obviously partial, but I’m completely hooked. They’re so fresh and yummy. They just taste of plants in the most true and delightful way. We have a batch of Rosemary brewing to add to the selection tomorrow, and it is super tasty, too!

Progress in the Greenhouse

With the exception of the liliaceae, the last trays of plants stuck imprisoned in tiny plugs have been bumped up to larger pots. We cleared out enough space at our first few plant sales to make room for a new wave of big trays and I hope the poor ones that spent so long in such tight quarters will forgive us and grow big and healthy.

Meanwhile, the ginger has begun sprouting and a few have moved into pots from their flats while we try to figure out the best way to build a raised bed for them. As the lavender comes out, the ginger will take its place and fill up a large space in the greenhouse.

Solanaceae Recovery

The eggplants seem to be holding up well after tackling the aphids. No new mold has appeared and they continue to look strong and are growing consistently. They do, however, have a few holes now thanks to a couple tiny rogue grasshoppers.

It appears that the trouble with the tomatillos may have been entirely self-inflicted by yours-truly. Another search of the almighty internet revealed photos of plants with symptoms that look identical to what ours were experiencing and the problem was simply oedema–overwatering. With the troubled leaves removed, the new growth seems to be looking much healthier.

The tomatoes seem to be suffering from another issue, they are showing lots of yellowing and purple veins. Research led me to believe that may be caused by soil temperatures too low for the plants to metabolize nutrients. Kemper moved them into larger pots with added compost and gave them a round of fish emulsion to see if we can keep them a little warmer and supplement their nutrient needs. As soon as it’s warm enough for them to go in the ground, we hope they’ll be happy and healthy.

Plants in the High Tunnel

This week we picked up a load of compost from my brother at Soilutions and got our first bed—Chughole Meadows East—in the high tunnel double-dug, composted, and planted. Yay! We shuffled the original plan a little bit to get the most desperate plants in the ground first: beets, broccoli, and cauliflower. When I started beets to transplant, I expected to have beds ready to plant into by late March. Now that it’s nearly May… Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

It’s a ton of work to prep a bed that way with our solid hunks of clay, but the plants in Shady Acres that got the double-digging treatment are looking nice and healthy! So I continue to believe it will be worth it.

We’re also planning to implement better soil conservation practices through the winter. For any beds that won’t be growing fall and winter crops, we will either cover crop or apply alpaca manure and a heavy layer of mulch and allow it to compost in place through the winter. Completely abandoning the garden for six months as we’ve done the past two years certainly couldn’t have helped.

The onions, scallions, leeks, and chives (the last starts still stuck in tiny plug trays) are headed for the ground just as soon as we finish digging and prepping Orchard Estates East. We got partway through this morning before the rain came in and forced a tea and farm journal break.

High Tunnel Hijinks

By | farm journal

Week 14

2017

Construction Begins

The high tunnel arrived Monday and we’ve got the frame almost completed. The rafters and purlins went up quickly. It’s much easier the second time around. Especially with the scaffolding and chop saw we borrowed from my pop. It’s so so so helpful to have access to tools when we need them. We looked at a few possible configurations for our end-walls and finally settled on putting in a person-size door hung from two vertical 4x4s and a vent up high.

With the frame up, we can start marking and digging the beds and get some plants out of the greenhouse and finally into the ground this week!

The Tragic Mouse Massacre of 2017

We discovered mice were getting into seeds in the greenhouse again, so we set a fresh run of traps and gave a plea to all the mice to please find food elsewhere. The next morning there were three mice caught. And another one two days later. It feels so strange to be in charge of deciding that the plants live and the mice die. I do not think I’m qualified for that position.

Freezing Temperatures & Tons More Rain

The peach tree is full of tiny little fruit babies, and the lows according to the weather station got down to 25 this week. So far they’re still hanging on, miraculously! I hope they can make it a few more weeks!

And Shady Acres officially became Swampy Acres with a half inch of rain. We looked it up—that’s the total average rainfall for the whole month.

And then just to make it official, the hose we mended last week keeps busting apart and flooding Swampy Acres just to be sure we didn’t think it was about to dry out anytime soon.

CSA Modifications

With the setbacks from aphids, mice, and construction, we’ve fallen a bit behind on the planting and harvest schedules I initially set out for the season. We have plenty of eggs, green onions, and green garlic to start off our first week, but I was hoping for much more! Hopefully it won’t be too long before the radishes and greens are ready to join the ranks.

Learning Everything the Hard Way

By | farm journal

Week 13

2017

Greenhouse Management

Running things manually in the greenhouse has been working out so far, but is severely limiting our ability to go places. Our system currently requires us to be around to open up covers and turn off heaters in the morning, turn on fans when the temperatures start to rise, roll up the side vent or turn on the wet-wall, monitor the water level for the wet-wall, and monitor the plants periodically throughout the day and rotate them though the water as needed. Then we turn the cooling systems off and start closing things up as the sun goes behind the trees in the afternoon, and finally close up the covers, turn on heaters, and set mousetraps each evening at sundown.

This is all fine except that the way we turn each of these things on and off requires dragging extension cords around and trying to dangle them across things so they can reach all the plugs they need to without leaving a connection somewhere it will get sprayed by the dripping wet-wall.

And until today, we had only one hose running to the greenhouse and garden which meant turning valves on and off and disconnecting hoses and sprayers anytime you wanted to water anything. This afternoon we were joined by my incredibly knowledgeable and patient dad who helped us cut, mend, and rearrange hoses so that we can have water in all the places just by switching valves on and off! It’s amazing!!!

So far many of the plants are getting to look really nice, so it has all seemed unquestionably worth it. AND THEN … within this week we’ve started encountering problems left and right. We found sun-scorching on several trays of brassicas (though new leaves appear to be doing better now that they’ve been moved to a shadier location.) Then there’s the mysterious problem with the tomatillos (the leaves are getting bumpy, blistery spots and the plants are dying.) My frantic obsessive research is leading me to the hypothesis that the damage is caused by thrips? But they’re SO small I’m having a very difficult time confirming this idea. A strange grey-ish mold is appearing on the eggplants. Aphids have appeared on the eggplants and several of the brassicas.

UPDATE: My dad brought us a magnifying glass, which allowed me to (I think) confirm the presence of thrips, which we have attempted to treat with a Neem spray. I also discovered that everywhere I witnessed mold on the eggplants, I also saw aphids. A little googling led me to believe we were getting ‘sooty mold’ which grows on the sweet excrement the aphids leave behind. So we are trying ladybugs to control the aphid population and hopefully also curb the mold.

High Fives for High Tunnels!

Our high tunnel is ordered and on it’s way! It’s scheduled to be delivered Monday!

Meanwhile the only bed we have ready to plant is still Shady Acres. We got radishes and carrots seeded, and kale, lettuce, arugula, and collard greens planted out this week.

Thank goddess we have Callan to call on. She’s going to come over this week and help me prep beds so we can prove that two hot ladies with shovels and broadforks can do the job in less time and money than one rented tractor!

Water Falling from the Sky

We recorded our first rain on the weather station this week—0.18 inches over two days.

Thankfully not enough to turn “Shady Acres” into “Swampy Acres,” but if we don’t install gutters on the loaf I expect that will happen soon.

How much would can a wood-chipper chip

Kemper rented a wood-chipper to chew up lots of branches we’ve had lounging about and get them composting. He cut and sawed and dragged and pulverized Russian Olives and Siberian Elms from all corners of the property along with lots of pieces of the dearly departed Juniper we removed last year. Now we have a glorious pile of wood chips to compost with.

Let It Be Spring

By | farm journal

Week 12

2017

Ostara Blessings

To celebrate the vernal equinox we continued a tradition we started two years ago by decorating and then burying eggs around the farm as blessings of fertility. A few eggs went into the post holes that were left open after removing the fence that was where the new hoophouse will be going. We put our special water blessing eggs right down all the way into the water table. Sin agua, no es vida!

Peas!

The peas are popping up in Shady Acres and looking happy! And the garlic alongside them is making up for lost time. It’s all already a couple inches tall. Perhaps the March planting will work out?

Greenhouse Filling Up

This afternoon I seeded and transplanted twenty one new trays… It’s so satisfying to see the rows fill up just like we planned.

Kemper has been working hard to try to get the wet wall running. It’s been getting up into the nineties inside the greenhouse every day and the lavender are starting to send up buds. We’re hoping if we can get the temps down they’ll put their energy into more foliage instead of flowers.

Ginger

And we added a whole new crop to the greenhouse this week—Kemper ordered a huge batch of organic ginger from Hawaii. The timing might work out just right to have it fill in the spaces that are opened up as the lavender gets planted out.