Friday, June 10, 2011

Early June Greenhouse Activity

Lettuce, ready to find a home in the great outdoors! Getting so big in the greenhouse it is a chore to get water to the roots...the umbrella of the plant can often be obtrusive when trying to water, additionally, the roots begin to dominate the soils capacity to absorb water and the plants dry out much faster. These flats of lettuce are on their way out, following recently transplanted flats of celery and, of course, the hundreds of chiles an tomatoes plated out earlier this spring.

Cabbage? I didn't even check...if not cabbage, broccoli. This stuff comes in waves throughout the farm as Lee and Wayne try to always keep it available as staple crops. In fact, this is what we were sowing again this week. The stuff we seeded this week will be the fall harvest and some of it will go into winter, for example the brussels sprouts. Other crops seeded this week include another succession of lettuces, cauliflower, cabbage (lots of sauerkraut to come!), broccoli, romanescos, etc...All of that sea-green stuff. All of this is done according to the moon phase and we were in a hurry this week to get seeds into soil while the timing was right.

An overview of celery to plant out in coming weeks. The Thanksgiving crop? Perhaps. Planted too early the celery will flower as it is a biennial and reacts to temperatures that are too low. Planted too late it will never mature prior to fall/winter frosts. We have a good time trying to get the perfect celery specimen to harvest each season. It is one of my personal favorite growing experiments. Not to mention the tiny seed size. It is a challenge to drop just one seed per cell, one must focus very hard or else thin later on which can prove to be a lot of extra work.

Number one all around assistant Dominique and her side kick, Marisol, work hard to drop seeds in soil, organize flats, follow instructions from Lee, brew soil to fill flats, water greenhouse during high afternoon temperatures, etc.... This is a nice shift from the farm stand, the CSA, the commercial kitchen and all the other places Dominique had divided her energy for the farm these days....not to mention she is trying to invest time and energy into her own farming adventures this season! If there is one thing for certain, farming offers way too much work all the time. If you could do ten things at once, you might be able to get to it all...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Barn Construction Photo Tour, Early June

The second story is going up, the barn is getting its full vertical won't be long now. The further along the construction goes, the more tangible the use of the barn seems a reality. Viewing perspectives and spaces as they are brought together on site is like a dream manifested and it is wonderful to come along for periodic barn tours with Wayne. This view is what you might see coming towards the farm from the Fulton/Airport intersection, it is the "front" as you would pull into the farm.

A similar perspective as above, but further back. Omit the weeds in the foreground....the rhubarb and nopales never seem to get quite the attention as other needy annual crops.

With early spring brassicas and the Chandler strawberries in the foreground this is another look at the "front" of the barn. The left parallels Airport and the cluster of trees left of the barn is where the existing farm stand is located. Following completion of the barn, the farm stand will move to the right exterior of the barn. This will be a timely migration for the farm stand as freeway construction will impact the historic location when Cal Trans makes it up here to the Fulton/Airport phase of their work.

Another close up of the front. Again, the farm stand/sales area is planned to be on the lower right where you see dirt piled in this image. The central portion of the barn is designated for CSA packing and other work spaces. Up top, storage! This farm could never have enough of that! Grains, onions, garlic, winter squashes, you name it! A "lift" will be employed to get these crops up through a second story entrance on the opposite side. The large harvest bins will then stack and store crops, safe from rain, thieves, pests, etc...

Another front view...I hope one day I can squeeze some flower crops into this front crop area. It would look nice!

And this is the opposite perspective finally. Facing to the southeast, nice spring crops frame the foreground of this image as the tractor passes by the barn on it's way to pick up plants for transplanting. Soon it will travel no further than the barn where the primary activity area will be concentrated.

And here are the views from within...this is looking out towards the area the previous photo was taken from. This is where the upper level will have a doorway for "lifting" crop bins. The broader frame you see around the existing window cut out will become a larger opening, allowing large white harvest bins in for long term storage. Additionally, a small exterior patio space will be added, allowing for optimal human vantage point of overall farm views to the north.

Another of the same opening, head on. In the foreground of the farm field below are strawberries and tomatoes...chiles to follow. Well planned this season to have the cash crops and customer favorites nearby!

This interior perspective is a look into where the farm stand will "store" itself overnight and on rainy days. Sales will be conducted for the most part on the exterior of the barn here, but the set up of the sales operation will now be able to pack away on this lower east side of the barn rather than the storage shed at the existing stand that has honestly become a sentimental archaeological investigation of the last ten years of business operations and farm fun!

A lot of changes lie ahead! It is exciting for everyone involved and the support throughout the process has been so greatly appreciated. This could not have been possible without the help of so many, a truly magnificent example of the community coming together to support their local farm. Soon it will be time to indulge and enjoy this grand new tool, shelter, storage and work space.

Good thing it didn't get demolished, huh?

Transplanting Celery

Look how long and tall these baby celery plants are....more often they are about half this height when they are move out of the greenhouse to find new home in the field for the season of growth. This is a prime example of a "leggy" plant, or something that has been greenhouse grown. It may remind you of a nursery plant that looks big, lush and green, but also seems to lack the strength and vigor of a more hardened off specimen that might better endure the challenges of nature that the outdoors is bound to introduce. Either way, these plants were going into the ground yesterday. Lee could only hope that the next few days of environmental conditions would not damage the perfect little celery plants, loved and coddled for weeks in her greenhouse. Celery is always a focal point as it is a nice staple for the CSA....additionally, Lee is always trying to time the harvest to correspond with Thanksgiving (good in stuffing and other harvest season recipes).

Here the celery is placed in a bed just north of the chiles. If you walk far enough into the field you will find them and may observe their progress along with all else. This is just one of many phases of planting, we were working in the greenhouse with a younger generation of plants yesterday too.

Lee and Jose follow the tractor driven by Pablo here. An attachment that draws duel furrows in the bed as Palo slowly drives creates space for the plants to be inserted quickly in the ground, soil falling back over them as the tractor proceeds forward. Transplanting at Tierra is one of my many favorite activities to observe...mechanically efficient on a small/large farm scale versus the back breaking methods I might employ in my own garden.