Be perfect

Anyone keeping track of the raindrops? We have had 5.79 inches of rain in the last week. Someone figured out that about 196,634,000 raindrops fall on an acre to make up an inch of rain. That is a lot of little hammers on bare soil, if there is no cover crop! It also makes for a force of movement creating deep gullies which makes me wonder why farmers have agreed to waste their children’s inheritance for a few more feet of crop land. Hmmm. Our farm has the same issues but on a smaller scale, so I am not off the plow yet! We are trying to understand the movement of water across our acreage, plan for it to stay put and not travel along with precious soil in its grasp.

Sun power and rain are showered on us all, those with good intentions and those who don’t eat their vegetables! Actually, the words of truth are found in the Good Book in Matthew 5:43-48. I’ve read and pondered those words many times but with this reading I find myself being counted among the pagans or at least at the bottom of the perfection scale. How many odd characters have I prayed for in the last week or at least given a hearty handshake, a “Sabaidii” or a “buenos dias” as a greeting?

Harvesting rain water off of our buildings is at the top of our to do list. Once harvested, then what? We need it for irrigation which requires power to move it from one spot to the next. Could a solar pump move it to an elevated tank which would then have a gravity flow to the plants? Our high tunnels move from season to season so….a water tank on wheels? I don’t think so!

We are also thinking about grey water usage which is to say, water from sinks, showers and washing machine. I have always saved it and bucketed it out over my flowers around the yard. It makes for strong arms but I do sense each year as it passes me by.

Harvest this week should include: radishes (cherriette, French breakfast, & Shunkyo), a salad mix, Asian greens, Skyphos head lettuce which I mistakenly called Lollo Rossa, Nelson carrots, green onions and herbs: mint & dill. I think there will be some nettles for those who discovered fresh courage and didn’t find a patch in their back yard or their neighbor’s! We should have some asparagus, rhubarb, and herbs for sale as well as some slicing cucumber plants for sale.

This is the last week for the spring shares. Remember to hand in your market boxes this week if you are not signed up for the summer and to bring a bag for your produce. I will miss the members not continuing on ….it would be wonderful if you could find someone to take your place!

I’m working on being more organized to take your orders for eggs, frozen meat or chicken, grains, flour or beans and seeds, honey and bread. We are also checking on a method for a delivery to Windom but would require at least 5 people to make it worthwhile since there would be an added fee for transportation. It would save on everyone driving here individually.


Passing the baton

A golden tree outside my window shines as a torch aflame on this blue-sky day. I am thankful that each twig holds onto the color even though it has not had the sustenance of rain in 2 months. It is a miracle actually. Various plantings of flowers around the yard look pitiful since they only receive a passing slush of dishwater. I have been known to save washing machine water for plants but that can be messy. We irrigate our vegetables every other day with a drip tape method using city water, which as you know, has chlorine in it to kill the bacteria and in general is not a wise way to grow living things. We hope to come up with something else sustainable over time.

We feel real proud of our compost windrows! A lot of manure has been hauled in which is mixed up with tons of our produce, plants and prairie cuttings as well as old produce from Maynard’s grocery store which I pick up every day. The compost temperature is checked daily with a huge thermometer to make sure all is cooking well. When the temperature drops and it has a good feel it is basically ready to use. Composting puts the nutrients back to the soil instead of into a dead landfill. We add compost to each bed before planting something new. Some beds are planted out three times a year.

We are working hard to be ready for our Field Day on October 13 from 1-3 p.m. with Rural Advantage. You are all welcome to come for a walkabout. I can’t imagine where we would be if our son Nathan had not been with us this past month. Oh my goodness!

Harvest today should include: carrots, potatoes, onions, pears, peppers, buttercup squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cilantro and maybe some Asian greens. As you probably have noticed, I’m trying to figure out something other than buying more plastic bags to litter the earth. Bringing your own helps immensely!

This is a baton passing moment, please remember to bring your market boxes so we can change things around. For those disembarking: thanks for your support and hope to see you again, soon!

Three makes a team

My heart just grew two sizes bigger! Our son, Nathan, is home from his many years in Bolivia and……he is excited to join the adventure! Hallelujah! And all the people said, “Amen!”

Things have been hopping since I last shared some farm wisdom. We have an inundation of grasshoppers that manage to eat all new shoots as they break through the soil into the sunlight. We lay down floating row covers on each bed in hopes of an eventual harvest. This is not something we have had to do before so it is more of an experiment. I think the hoppers know what is good; we don’t have an arsenal of chemicals to kill their enthusiasm and so we are in a stand-off.

Cracks are gaping wider each day, which indicates how dry it has been. Our farm operation has three locations. We only irrigate at the one located by our home in town. We are looking into other options for next year, especially rain water harvesting. Water is precious so we attempt to use it wisely and with care. All kitchen sink gray water is collected and is poured on thirsty flowers. It is a resource that we should not take for granted. I feel a soapbox slipping under my feet so instead of preaching I would be interested in hearing what others do to be good stewards of clean water and how it is passed on to your children and community.

The small melons that were trained to climb the fence to keep out of the clutches of 4-footers managed to reach over and down again…but without water….they shriveled on the vine.

We have a new shiny tractor to turn our long window of compost. It is one long row! We hope to do a better job this year by taking its temperature to make sure it is hot enough to kill the weed seeds and cook up right.

The high tunnel in process is still processing. The goal is to get the raspberries covered before frost. We also have two new plots added to our “short line” of cars. That will give us 7 plots to rotate our plantings in. New track needs to be laid and a cover crop planted as soon as yesterday.

I sat curbside this week trying to sell off 90 watermelons. I did not succeed so each half share will receive one this week along with potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, cucumbers, herbs, carrots, eggplant, broccoli, raspberries, and tomatoes. Melons will be for sale.

I have experimented with melon juice – blending melons in water and ice cubes with a dash of sweetener. It is delish! I have also made a marvelous salsa with serranos and tomatoes and also pickled them with onions and garlic. A salsa verde with tomatillos was my first introduction to that unique tomato cousin. What a treat!