Friday, May 29, 2009

The Bees are Busy

The locust trees are in full bloom right now and I wish that I could capture the sound while standing under the tree taking this picture. It was the sound of busy bees....Look hard enough and you can see one in this picture hard at work. We have thirteen hives on the farm managed by a local beekeeper and his son. They sell there honey at the Hudson farmer's market come mid-summer or so.
Bees are very important to us as they pollinate our squash and cucumber crops. Without pollination there is no fruit, so all the crops that are not self pollinating need bees to do the necessary work. Bees are very sensitive and have not fared well in the modern world of broad spectrum insecticides. We are happy to have these on the farm and be sure that there will be more pictures of these important unpaid workers on the farm.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crop Update

The view of the upper fields from the high spot behind the strawberries

We planted day neutral strawberries this year and look forward to picking them all season long. We hope to be able to give strawberries one or two times to our CSA groups as well as offer them to our Farmer's Market customers. Notice the black plastic and the white plastic....the black will bring the plants planted on it in earlier while the white plastic will reflect the hot summer sun keeping those berries producing better in the height of the summer.

Garlic...Planted in the Fall it is the first to jump up in the spring and it will stay there until harvested mid summer. We offer the bulbs freshly pulled for the first week or so before we put them in our barn to cure. It is amazing how much more water is in the garlic before they are cured. Though it makes perfect sense, it never ceases to surprise people.

Here are the onions...they are looking great this year. They quickly rooted after transplanting and seem to be growing quickly...we do have a mild thrips population in our fields that often slows the growth of our onions come mid June...we will keep you updated!!!!
Mesclun waiting to be harvested. This picture was taken last week which means that these greens are being enjoyed by folks from Western Massachusetts to NYC across the Hudson in Woodstock and as far North as Glens Falls. Many a Memorial Day picnic will include these humble lettuces.
More greens; arugula, tatsoi and rapini to the rear. We grow all of these crops under floating row covers to keep the flea beetles off.

Peas, the most anticipated of the spring vegetables. Sweet and crisp they are welcome on many tables cooked or raw.

Here is our first planting of Kale. We have already planted our second planting while our third was just seeded in the greenhouse.
So there you have it, a quick update of where some of the crops are. Other than a few woodchucks nibbling here and there as well as some deer damage in the first planting of swiss chard and beets, things are off to a good start.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rock Raking

This week we were able to get our friend Matt to come and operate our rock rake on a few fields that we wanted to get ready to plant. This field was potatoes last year and we will be planting it with sorghum sudan grass some time in June. As a cover crop sorghum sudan adds large amounts of carbon the the soil, also known as organic matter, it provides the nitrogen producing soil organisms with food to keep them busy all next year when we will plant this field to vegetables again.
Ahhhhhh!!!!! This makes us happy, rows of rocks ready to be lifted by our rock picker. Though these rocks will be gone from the field forever tomorrow afternoon, there will be plenty more coming to the surface over the year. It is the nature of rocky soil to stay that way despite all our human efforts to change it. It will however make life easier for machine and man in the short term and in a few years we will pick this field again.

Tomorrow this will be in action...the rock picker, you can see the rakes that lift the rocks and deposit them into the rear box. Once full you drive to the ends of the fields and unload the rocks. Much smaller than those rocks used to make the famous stone wall all around New England, there must be something we can do with millions of fist sized rocks...ideas anyone????

Monday, May 25, 2009

The First Mowing

We are not baling hay yet...but today we got the mower out and started mowing for straw.
The Rye & Vetch last week The Rye & Vetch & Chris & Lael Today

We mowed all of our rye and Hairy Vetch today, it has been grown to enrich the soil with organic matter and to fix nitrogen. We grow many cover crops here on our farm, but the only ones that over winter (meaning they do not die with the frost) are Winter Rye and Hairy Vetch.
We will bale it up and use it as straw for our strawberries and garlic.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Freezing Temperatures

Today was cold!!!! The weather is calling for temperatures in the mid-thirties tonight and so we spent the day covering all of the cukes and zukes that were planted out last week. The tomatoes peppers and eggplants were covered earlier in the week before another evening of projected frost.

We have never planted the above mentioned crops this early. Other years there has always been a multitude of reasons that we waited until we were not threatened by frost. Either the plants were not ready, the plastic was not laid, or we did not have enough floating row covers to ensure protection if the temperatures dipped towards freezing.

We bought hundreds of high tensile wire hoops to create mini-greenhouse conditions for the plants. The hoops keep the floating row cover from touching the plants (very abrasive on a windy day) as well as allows any frost to settle on the cover and not get through to the plants. We are hoping for the added benefit of reduced wind on our young plants.

The spring winds on our farm are enough to make you batty, on the days that it blows it is relentless, lifting plastic just laid, flying row covers into the trees, and wind whipping young plants; both dehydrating them and bending there often fragile leaves and stems. It will be interesting to see how the plants respond to them as well as how they respond to our field conditions...time will tell.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trade Secrets Plant Sale

Big plant sale this past weekend. It benefits Women's Support Services, a "Worthy Cause" to be sure. Martha Stewart came through our booth, apparently all of her heirloom tomatoes are doing just she did not need to supplement.

The hottest sellers were probably Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes and Brandywines, though we have one customer who comes each season and buys 54 SanMarzano Paste tomatoes; they plant over 100 tomatoes for themselves...they are eating, freezing and keeping them and swore to me that none go to waste...I love it... passionate gardeners keep us in business!! Of course our Nasturtium hanging baskets almost all sold out too, just goes to show...tomatoes and old fashioned flowers are the way to go!!!

We of course had a huge display and as always came back with lots. There is probably someone out there who studies the effect of dwindling display, no one like to think they are getting the picked over goods. We never seem to have that at our Markets and plants sales. We always think big and bring the full diversity of what we have to offer.

Thank goodness for the sunny day and the stonewall behind our tent, it showed off baskets and containers so nicely.

Vegetable and heirloom tomato displays...we carry 24 varieties of heirloom tomato plants...definitely our most popular greenhouse crop.

We went through over 100 cardboard trays in the 6 hours of sales...Leo keeping on task!!!

They look good, they taste good, so many lovely nasturtium basket went to new homes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring! Spring! Spring!

Lael and her friend Eleanor plant pansies by the front door

They look so lovely!!!!

The Lilacs are in bloom and they smell so great...too bad their season is so short!

This torenia is blooming in the is so beautiful!!!! It does well in sun or part shade....we have it in a magenta color as well.

Spring is full of blooming things...though the daffodils are past, violets of all colors are in all the woods, even some of the Solomon's Seal is blooming. With all the warm weather that we have been having, things are coming on a bit earlier than usual. Two of our three Farmer's Markets start this week...Hudson and Lenox.

We have been harvesting Arugula and Mesclun this week and look forward to selling lots of it this weekend. Plant sales are going well also...This is the first week that the Heirloom tomato plants are ready. While Brandywine and Striped German are the most popular plants, I am excited about Tigerella, Wapsipicon Peach, and First Light. I will trial them in a small garden plot to see if they are good enough to go out into the fields next year. We only let the proven winners go into production!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


We all went out with our gloves on and our bags open, ready to harvest the nettle by the stream. I prepared them into a delicious twist on an Italian favorite...Stinging Nettle and White Bean Soup.......Why not.

Delicious surprises we find all around us.