Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nematode Treatment: Round 2

We started into a second round of applying beneficial nematodes last week. What is this mystery product safely secured away in re-used canning half pints? The tiny nematodes that none of us could ever see with a naked eye are hanging out in this clay medium as they await their application into the field which requires very moist conditions. As I understand it the nematodes literally swim to their intended feeding sites (cucumber beetle larvae, we hope!) and require a very moist soil medium in order to do so. This is how they appear in transit as we prepare the timing and fields for fertigating (applying with our watering systems for efficiency) them into our schedule. Upon our initial application, we discovered manual application with a sprayer to be extremely tedious for the scale of the farm. Applying the beneficial nematodes in conjunction with the watering systems was really the only practical solution.

Wish us luck. It will benefit you all too as it will increase productivity and quality of produce if we succeed in decreasing the numbers of cucumber beetles. Unfortunately, the population of the
bad little green lady bugs is so intense on our site that we are prompted to invest in this second treatment and perhaps once more even before the season is done. The problem is that we provide these guys such an incredible environment for survival with great places to live and feed!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marrow Fat Bean

Wondering when the Marrow Fats might come into season? Here is the latest news....they are sizing up, but still quite green. It won't be long, but it is not time yet. That last sentence could be applied to anything you are seeking in anticipation at the will be ready any moment, but we aren't certain enough to say when, and then suddenly it just appears and you have to be ready for the moment in the season. That is what is so exciting and special about this localized and seasonal food stuff.

We wish we could always have Marrow Fats for you, but if we did, would they be as exciting when the harvest finally occurs? I always have a tough time during fresh shell bean season due to the overabundance of things I would like to eat all at once. We have entered the season of great bounty and I can only suggest to try a little of everything each day and thoroughly enjoy the productivity that enriches your life from your incredible local farm and committed farmers.

Marrow Fats coming soon....stay tuned.

Marrow Fat Beans are supported by Slow Foods in addition to all you customers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Sign Across the Top of the Shed

Here is a small story of those things that people like you do to make the farm a better place.

This is Gerry, posing with her recent work. See all that color overhead, brightening the Tierra Vegetables sign over our farm stand shed? Thanks to Gerry, this is now a much more cheerful space within the farm stand atmosphere.

And here are Gerry and Evie stopping for a cooperative pose, featuring the recently completed sign. But is it complete? Gerry has piece-worked this project over the last few weeks, diligently appearing a few afternoons a week to paint a pepper here and a few flowers there.

And so rarely pictured in my own blog, here Gerry and I share a photo-opp. with the shed painting. This was a real cooperative feat as Gerry often painted right amidst my packing and work spaces. We worked together wonderfully to accomplish our specific goals. The history of this sign goes back a ways, I'm not sure how far. It has been incomplete for some time, often provoking interest in on-looking customers as to when it could be completed beyond the pencil sketch of beautiful vegetables. This is how it was when the original customer who developed it left it behind. Gerry stepped in and invested her time, energy, resources and creativity to make the most of it for all to enjoy, highly crediting the originator of the sign all the while. An ergonomically challenging task, she decided she was finished as most of the space was filled and it just hurt her body to keep at it!

Note some of the detailed imagery including peppers, corn, dry beans, and strawberries.

Golden jars fulls of honey with little honey bees, little hot chiles, and deep red tomatoes that Evie thinks look like really good tomatoes....

And the right hand side has a floral effect, likely somewhat inspired by the flowers I have scattered throughout the stand this season. Note the white beehives hanging out in the upper right in a ghost-like manner. Gerry really tried to capture the overall picture of the farm in her representative images.

We thank her tremendously! This are the kinds of touches that people bring to the farm that really make it special. Filled with hard work, creative energy and giving to each other..these good vibes are always welcome at the farm.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Threshing the Sweet Peas

Here I have caught Wayne in another of his myriad of duties around the farm...of course, this is a self constructed project as farming priorities tend to be. You must pick and choose your battle amongst a never-ending list of options that call at you non-stop throughout a day, everyday. We decided to save the seeds of that bumper crop of sweet pea flowers many of you may recall this early summer. The pleasure of the sweet bundles of flowers pairs so nicely with the spring flush of strawberries. We hope to do that again next season and saving this year's seeds is the first step towards that goal.

Tierra Vegetables is the proud owner of a seed separating device, or Thresher, an investment that became rational as a result of the many dry bean and experimental grain crops that are employed on the farm these days (did you know Wayne has a dream of one day expanding the grain production to service a grain CSA?). If you would like to read on about threshing techniques, equipment and seed/grain processing follow this link or Google more about the process for yourself. This image captures one of two very expensive seed plates we have for this thresher. Although not ideally suited to the size of a sweet pea seed, it would have to do the job as it is all we had.

Here are those little round pea seeds that I diligently begin planting in fall and continue to ensure they make it through pests and frosts throughout the spring. What a wonderful spring of sweet peas we had on the farm this season and I can honestly admit I am quite tired of cutting tiny sweet peas flowers this year. Maybe it is time to rest up for next season now. So this is how the plants are removed from the field once gone to seed. They have been left to dry on a tarp for a week or two prior to processing in the thresher so that they dry up nicely to remove the plant material from the seed. I could slowly and diligently remove seed after seed from the dried up pods with my hands, the quiet and meditative form of seed saving. Alternatively, since Wayne already has this nice mechanical piece of equipment, specifically suited to these purposes, we may as well give mechanical efficiency a chance.

The first of the three steps the plant material goes through, I have forgotten the name of this portion of the machine, but this is where you insert the plant material for crushing/grinding. It then passes through a screen in the inner depths of the machine where my camera does not easily see and then passes either out the back as trash material or falls down a chute into our tub as seed material. Voila! Pounds and pounds of sweet pea seeds saved for future generations of floral pleasure and therefore no need to go buying more down the road. Seed saving is so appropriate to the continuous grower if you have time, space and resources to be doing so. Tierra has also grown out a seed crop of the Early Red Burger onion this season, a good seed crop to invest energy into as onion seeds to do last long and must be purchased annually if not saved.

Here is the trash material going out the back of the machine. Once upon a time, pre-mechanical processing, Tierra staff and friends gathered to stomp and process beans by hand and foot. Changes and choices like these are options that can make a difference in the efficiencies and affordability of particular processes and crops around a small farm. It is really worth no one's time in the long run to be processing grain crops by hand, unless we were going to charge an arm and a leg for them and then you would never buy them. The reality is that the mechanical approach is really the only way to make any sense of the greater picture, unless you are a small home grower who has the time to spend and finds pleasure in the process.

This is what results look like as the seeds began to filter their way to the tub. We filled a good quarter of this tub on Saturday afternoon, plenty of seed for the farm next season and my own personal personal trials as I seed sweet peas around my own home and garden spaces.