Tag

real estate subdivisions

Juggling All the Things!

By | farm journal

Week 11

2017

Juggling Plants and Animals

We planted peas and garlic in the beds we double-dug last week (now named Shady Acres.) The garlic popped up within a few days but we’re still waiting on any sign of the peas.

The baby chicks have started spending the days outside in the old hog cage to keep them safe from all the full size creatures.

We’re trying to keep up with transplanting seedlings into larger pots as they’re ready… Most of the brassicas and all the tomatoes are now in 2″ and 2″ pots and looking happy. I had to separate lots of little ones that had come up two in a cell, and they all seem to have adjusted just fine.

I also re-seeded as many of the mouse-acred plants as I could and the new ones are popping up and happy.

The plantings that are supposed to be going into the outdoor beds are falling behind, though. Something about not yet having a fence to keep out hungry beasts…

Strange Warm Weather

The apricots and peaches are in full bloom. Yerba mansa is waking up. And I spotted a full size grasshopper in the garden. All before the first day of spring. The next few decades are going to be a weird ride.

Real Estate Subdivisions

We’re been talking for years about assigning names to parts of our farm that mimic real estate subdivision names and we’ve finally settled on them. We’ll put up adorable cheesy signs eventually. But for now it will be helpful to have a system to refer to each bed in our crop plans and record-keeping for our organic certification.

And then after choosing our names we also found this magical tool that made my day…

Weather Station

Kemper got us a super sweet weather station so we can monitor temperature, humidity, air pressure, precipitation, wind speed and direction, soil and air temperature inside the greenhouse, and soil temperature in our planting beds outside! It can alert us when certain high and low temperatures are reached, and we can check it remotely. It’s the coolest. Kemper pretty much doesn’t look at anything else anymore.

FORMS FORMS FORMS

So so so many forms! Remember that time the state named us Bluefly Forms? Yeah. This week is all about job sheets, specifications, land history forms, environmental health permits… the list never ends. Our biggest obstacles currently are trying to navigate the opposing requirements of the NRCS and the Organic Program. Planning out our fencing has proven especially tricky. The NRCS requires either treated lumber or cedar. The organic program prohibits treated lumber. Cedar is really really hard to find (and expensive!) We are also allowed to use drill-pipe but the NRCS wants it painted and the organic program prefers that it isn’t. Navigating one set of rules is hard enough! The intersection of the two of them is just exhausting.

We have also discovered an amazing phenomenon in which every time we look deeper into what it will take to build out our projects or get closer to ordering them, they get more expensive. Every single time. The list prices actually go up, we remember other parts we need, another requirement comes to light… My original pricing research that showed each project being achievable within the reimbursements are now looking quite different.

Week Twenty-Two – When’s Winter?

By | farm journal

Madness and Overwhelm!

The snap peas are finally producing! They’re still only about 18″ tall but, full of delicious little peas. The radishes, meanwhile, went quickly from delicious to pithy and bolted. I harvested and ate as many as I could and sorta thought I could let them hang out in the ground and keep pulling them as needed, and then all of a sudden they were all goners! In the fall I’ll try to do small batches planted in succession and continue that throughout the spring. For now, though, we’re leaving the flowering radishes in place. The bees are loving them, and if we get a few volunteers out of it, we won’t mind. I also pulled a few carrots and they’re petite but normal-shaped and sweet and tender and DELICIOUS. I have a feeling we’ll be swimming in them soon, and I plan to cut some into coins to freeze for steaming later, pickle some, and eat and eat and eat them fresh! The broad-forking plus alpaca manure plus addition of loose sandy soil seems to have overcome the hard-pan-clay troubles we’ve run up against in the past.

Molly M. came down two weeks ago to help us clone for a while and the next week I went over to her place and helped her move a big compost pile. Her farm inspires me every time. She produces so much delicious food in her third-acre. No tractor. Just good practices. And she lent me One Straw Revolution, which was a great read! Lots in the book that applies very specifically to the climate of Japan, but nevertheless there were some great principles that would apply anywhere. He laughs at people who make compost. Instead, he just puts the rice straw back after threshing and lets it compost in the field. Might not work so easily here with our limited moisture, but I love the idea of interfering less.

The cloning is progressing. The propagation-tunnel had to be modified to half its planned size because we didn’t have enough plastic to cover the whole thing, but it seems to be working well! Molly helped us get a nylon cord wrapped over the top and we hung a few micro-sprinklers from the spine of the tunnel.

Markets have been going pretty well despite our insane lack of preparedness. We’re doing half the booth with BlueFly stuff and half promoting the Community Farm and the Maze. Our laser-cut plant stakes are continuing to sell well and aaaaaaany day now we’ll be able to start harvesting lavender. It’s sending out tons of gorgeous buds. And meanwhile, in the heat-island that is Albuquerque, we see lavender in full bloom everywhere we go and must work really hard at being patient.

The alpacas have been doing the most phenomenal job of keeping the field clean and trimmed. They were given an enormous head start, of course, by Kemper, the mower, and the weed-whacker, but as things are greening up there are hardly any weeds creeping their way into the plants. I’ve sworn for the past two years that we’d do a good hand-weeding right before harvest so we don’t have to pick out as much from the lavender once it’s cut. And it looks like that might actually be manageable now! And *knock on wood* the salsify hasn’t had a chance to come up out there meaning we hopefully won’t be picking those fluffy little seeds out of each bundle!

We DESPERATELY need more secure fencing. And a better layout. Right now the alpacas’ favorite place to hang out (and poop) is the small courtyard area right outside our front door. And while it’s hilarious to wake up in the morning and see them chilling right out the window, it’s not so awesome that they’ve eaten every green thing there down to nothing, and the poo pile… well. So we need a fence that keeps them just a hair further from the house, and also a more secure one around the back. An alpaca-proof, dog-proof, giant-steer-proof, non-chemical-leeching fence! Trouble is, that will cost thousands of dollars. Cue the NRCS funding to support our rotational alpaca grazing. And then cue the news that our amazing, super representative at the local NRCS office is gone. We were supposed to get contracts and be able to start work in April. It’s now June. We have a meeting next week. Fingers crossed we can get rolling after that. We also desperately need the micro-sprinkler system!

Still waiting on the shearer. Hoping he can make it this coming weekend. These boys look hot! They spend a lot of the afternoon loafin’ in the shade.

The rye in the garden rapidly got taller and thicker and started going to seed. Kemper mowed it but it was impossible to get around the corners of the beds and between the garlic that’s still all over the place, so there are some place we’re still taking it down by hand. He wishes we’d done clover only. Hopefully in the long run it helps the clover get established better and we won’t spend the rest of forever fighting rye grass in the garden.

The baby chicks are roaming free and their travel is growing day by day. I’ve been trying to put them in the new coop when it’s just dark enough that they won’t try to relocate themselves. No idea how long (or even if) it’ll take to get them to go there on their own. But I do enjoy tucking them in at night.

A week ago we planted the tomatillo, eggplant, and tomato starts into the bed that the sweet peppers were massacred in. Must have been too cool, because everything in there now is happy! A bit disorganized, though, since I was planting around the mysteriously-still-green stems of the peppers hoping they might somehow make a miraculous comeback. We also decided this time to leave the mulch off so that the dark soil can absorb the sun and stay warm. Who knows if that would have made enough difference for the first batch. Been debating naming that bed Pepper Deathwatch or Winter Wasteland instead of whatever crappy subdivision name it was destined for before. Sunset Gardens? Orchard Park South?

This past weekend (Memorial Day) we got a few more beds broad-forked, added magic alpaca beans, threw a layer of the Soilutions mix (compost, wood chips, sand, and perlite) on top and planted lots of the remaining transplants—green chile, Jack and Evie’s flowers, and cabbages which will likely just bolt since it’s so late and hot but I put them between a trellis of peas and a row of garlic so they might have a chance with a little shade and mulched them to try to keep the soil temp down.

Then we put up another row of trellising and planted Scarlet Runner Beans (my first saved seed!) and I broadcast the onion seed I never started in the bed beside them. I have severe doubts that I’ll get even a single onion, but the seed doesn’t store well, so there’s really nothing to lose!

I also planted new carrot seed in between the beets that are almost ready!

I’m daydreaming of a plan that lays out how often to plant a new section of something based on the season and how much we can eat at a time and also magically considers good companions and times when overlap like that with the beets and carrots would be beneficial. With as much space as we have out there we could be growing a TON of food. We just have a lot of kinks to work out on our way.

Week Nine – Falling Into Place

By | farm journal

It’s working!

Week Nine :  Plant Babies!

Starting new seeds might be my favorite part of this whole gig. It’s so amazing to put those little pieces of magic into some soil and then see them pop up as living, growing beings! Sunday we started several more trays including spinach, kale, lettuce, basil, and holy basil.

Several of the little guys we started last weekend have popped their heads up. The cabbages were first, followed closely by the cauliflower. A couple days later we got the tomatillos and eggplants and then the tomatoes. The chile and sweet peppers still haven’t made any signs, but the teeny little celeries are starting to pop their cute little crooked necks up today! We have two tables now with florescent light fixtures (one with purple plant bulbs and one with regular cool white) and space heaters, but I think the lights are to far away from the plants (and maybe too low wattage) to be accomplishing the amount of light those little babies need. They’re already rather long and leggy. (Which, of course, has us dreaming of a greenhouse just as much as ever!)

We’re looking at plans and a budget to build a prototype greenhouse using stock panels, PVC, or 2x4s and plastic sheeting along the south side of the hallway. I just finished charting the position of the sun throughout the year (azimuths and noon-time elevations for the solstices and equinoxes) to try to estimate wether we’ll get enough sun for it to be a functional space or wether the structure on the east side will impede its performance drastically. But that is, after all, the purpose of the prototype. If it works, we’d build it earthship-style with wood beams and glass panels and hope that we can vent heat into the house in the winter and out in the summer.

The radishes in the garden are also popping up! And so are what appear to be new baby clover in the pathways!

We also finished measuring, staking, and mulching the remaining beds in the garden and since it’s getting confusing trying to describe exactly which section we’re referring to, I thought it would be great to name each set of beds as if it’s a crappy subdivision. We could have ‘Wolf Berry Park’ and ‘Orchard Lane’ and ‘Tunnel Gardens’ and eventually ‘Sunset Place.’ After those beds were happily covered under mountains of hay mulch, Kemper, Jack, and Evie seeded the rest of the pathways with cover crop.

I scored a couple blackberry plants thanks to Mick, a classmate from the Mother Course who works at the Hubbell House. He said they were getting torn out, so I think we’re going to put them in the orchard and build on our bramble collection.

This week’s class at Las Huertas covered crop production planning and was a great overview to the principles that should guide those decisions. Sean is so amazing at bringing a balanced and wise perspective to what always seem to me as daunting and intimidating processes. He talked at length about fitting the production to the business plan and not vice versa, showed us tools for calculating seeding rates for different crops, emphasized the importance of thorough notes, and spent a lot of time talking about the observations and factors that should inform the plan. Then he asked us to come up with a goal or vision or mission statement to serve as a guiding focus for our decisions. I have a draft. With any luck, Kemper and I can agree on a vision for BlueFly Farms and let it guide us through the coming months and years.

The biggest of the apricot trees we planted last year is flowering and gorgeous, and the peach has a thousand buds getting ready to burst. Meanwhile, along the whole valley, the cottonwoods are still asleep but the tippy-tops of all the elms are glowing florescent green. The cranes seem to have all gone home. And cucumber beetles are appearing throughout the garden.

Looking forward to celebrating the equinox and the bursting of life and the goddesses of fertility and the miracle that is Spring.