Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farm Work Is a Cold Business

It's December 31. It's cold and windy out there. Adam was push-mowing the garden yesterday. He and Philip nearly finished fencing in the garden. He's mowing the tall grass twice and laying the clippings on the last long garden bed that needs a "grass blankie." It looks so tidy now!
A potato growing bin will again be in that cluster of posts, and the new greenhouse will go to its right.
In the far corner Adam has decided to place a truck gate into the garden and will use that metal frame filled with a mesh wire as the gate.
I'm amazed at how different the garden looks this year compared to last -- neat, large, fenced, planned, organized. I'm eager to see how it looks in 6 months!
A little kale and collards is all we have in the garden now.

Two days ago he worked on the herb bed. He will surround the entire U-shaped bed with the metal trim from the roof work.
 It doesn't look like much, but in there are thyme, tarragon (tall on the right), oregano, lemon balm, a bay tree, and parsley that's volunteering too early.

 He cuts and trims the metal pieces so they will link together. He also finishes the sharp edges.

 He dug the trench the metal will be inserted into. The center of the "U" will give us access to all the herbs easily and keep invasive plants from wandering out or in of the beds.
 Beau supervised.
Today Adam again tried to burn the brush pile, but it's too green. There was ash floating in mid-air, however, and Ned can't resist jumping and chasing them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Making Plans for a New Farm Year

That's a mighty title! Our new farm year plans are not impressive ones, but we are excited! I can't wait to have the new, twice-as-big greenhouse. Adam says it should be ready for me to fiddle around in by the end of January. Yippee! Meanwhile ...
 I remembered that I'd kept dried cilantro seeds (i.e., coriander) from the summer. Why not put some in soil and see what they do? Adam brought a bucket of nice compost/soil to the front porch.
 I grabbed a pot and put those seeds into the loose lovely soil. It felt just wonderful to have my fingers in the dirt again!
 Also on the front porch are several basil plants. This is the healthiest:
 This morning at the breakfast table these two men put their heads together over a new method for growing tomatoes. Peter learned it in the summer at the farm where he worked, a system with posts and cabling. He's diagramming it for Adam.
 And so we can remember -- this is the year when Peter is growing his hair out quite long. He wants the front hair long enough for a pony tail. His front hair is massive, but his hair is curly and it piles up instead of hanging long. I can't wait to see how long he goes with this, until he gets sick of it and cuts it all off.
On Monday the menfolk did what menfolk do best. They worked outside with large tools, wrangling nature around and doing stupid stuff.
 Adam had cut the trees in the lot around the little out-building. The boys hauled them over.
 Plans were made for a large fire.
 Adam's been watching youtube videos again -- you know the type of videos: 16 year old geeks trying stupid stuff in their parents' basements. He wants to have a sort of forge. He asked me to buy a blow dryer at the local thrift store. He then taped a pipe to the end, wrapping lots of electrical tape around it to make a tight fit.
 He was unaware that there was a blockage in the pipe, so it didn't work.
 He dumped the metal pipe and went for a bigger PVC pipe.
 The brush was rather green and wouldn't burn well. The blast of air did indeed make it burn vigorously.
 When he saw that the idea was valid, Adam opted for his leaf blower to get more power.
They succeeded in burning out a big hole in the middle of the pile of brush, but couldn't get it lit before Adam had to come inside and make lunch. I imagine we have not heard the end of this idea yet -- running a big electrical tool in order to make stuff burn. Hmm.
Today Adam will work on the herb bed border some more. We have volunteer parsley popping up, which is fun. Not sure if it will survive the rest of the winter! But I'm finding this light farming habit quite delightful. I've never looked forward to spring before this much. Chaio!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One More Garden Bed

Alright, avid readers. I know you've all been dying to see the last long bed. Here it is! Adam removed the big metal cucumber frame and extended that bed through the old greenhouse location, joining the bed on the other side.
He's run out of metal from the roofing job, so now he's using small wood timbers as a temporary bed border.
Here's that metal frame. We both think it might make a good bed border itself, if the mesh were removed.
I regularly check my herb bed. I'd read about which of my current herbs should be winter hardy here. My tarragon seems to be surviving. We had 19 degree temps last week, and it's still green.
And way down underneath at the base of the plant, see the fresh green sprouts of tarragon coming out? They're the ones with the four-leaf star shape.
Another hardy herb is my lemon balm, although it's outer leaves are burnt.
Again, there's beautiful new greenery underneath, hiding like baby chicks under the fluffy mother.
I'm watching my two new rosemary plants carefully. They seem happy. Yesterday I was about to pluck out the weeds from this planter when one of them caught my attention. It looked familiar -- it's on the far right side.
See that? It's cilantro!!! In December! Can you believe it? It reseeded itself somehow from the herb bed into this tire tub. I tasted it ... and yep, it's definitely cilantro, my favorite herb. How cool is that?
I will watch its future progress with great interest.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sunset on the Farm

 What a day! After the frigid temps of a couple days ago, how glorious to have a high near 70! -- a balmy December day. I know it was warm because when Adam and I were walking across the field, a small brown snake was in our path, making his way somewhere. Snakes out, in December!
Ned said it was a good day to play outside.
 Isn't he a handsome fellow?
Beau agreed to play with him, and they were both quite happy. Love this pic:
 Sunset through the oaks and pines:
 Adam has worked so hard on these garden beds (and he's not done yet). But three of them are comlete.
They're all three tilled, lined with metal edging, raised soil, and a layer of leaf mulch on top.
 Our two horseradish plants are still vaguely green.
 I was given three large mums this fall. Adam put them deep into one of the beds to sleep for the winter. I hope to put them into a sunny bed in the house lot, in spring.
 On Friday morning, a truly frigid morning at about 19 degrees, I made the chickens hot oatmeal with other yummy nibbles thrown in. I took it to them in a big enamel cooker, allowing the oatmeal to cool, of course.
 Except for their feeders in the coop, these chickens are used to me bringing them crumbs and scraps, and eating them off the ground. They did not know WHAT to do with that enamel pan! They refused to stick their beaks in. They scooted around it, nervous little hens.
Finally I had to dump it all out on the dirt before they would eat it, which they did. Silly birds.
Adam is composting leaves like a crazy man, driving to people's yards and collecting them -- mowing them, bagging them, hauling them back. His compost pile is enormous. Let's hope it translates into some fabulous vegetables next year!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Building Garden Beds

In this chilly weather Adam has been building his vegetable garden for the spring. This time last year, the present veggie garden area was nothing but hard sod pasture. Adam was focused on compost-making, sowing wheat, and wishing our winter garden would not drown. It did :(
Our summer veggie garden looked like this:

 This last photo was toward the end of the season. Most of the trellises are leaning and full of only withered vines. The little greenhouse was torn down.
 It was an excellent garden, but ... Adam knew it was only temporary. He's a man with plans!
Here's the garden this morning:
He's redigging all the beds, lining them with metal roofing sheets around the edges, and filling them with shredded leaves on the already-rich dirt. The six posts on the right are where the potatoes were last spring.
He's already full prepped one bed. This was our first tomato bed last year:
He's finished the second bed except for the leaf topping. This was our second tomato bed last year, at the far end of the garden:
Yesterday he joined up two shorter beds (the hoop bed and another bed with a mixture of many plants in it). It's quite long.
It cuts through where the greenhouse used to be, which is one reason the greenhouse had to come down. (He'll build a new one elsewhere.)
And of course we still have our little beds with asparagus (right) and some greens (left).
We plan to grow many tomatoes again next year, limiting the varieties now that we've given them a test run. By the way, I am STILL eating tomatoes from my garden! I brought them in while green, and they've been gradually ripening indoors. The mini-orange variety is the last one to do well. I've saved some seeds from those. It is an heirloom.
Adam's been yapping with Peter about how to grow the tomatoes. Peter worked on a small farm last summer and their method for trellising tomatoes was quite wonderful. They ran a strong cable overhead and then ran cables down to each plant, allowing the plants to vine up the cables. The three photos below are from that farm:
 They also had some irrigation. They grew some gorgeous tomatoes. Sorry the photos aren't really clear about the trellising method, but I didn't realize at the time I should focus on that.

Their plants were quite healthy and straight. They also have employees who spent hours each day weeding!
Adam did a little fire this morning to keep warm and get rid of some burnable junk. We hope to have another good fire when the kids are here over the holidays. It's coming so soon! But until then Adam will be working hard to get the garden picture-perfect ready for planting in the spring. I can't wait to see what the new greenhouse will be like! Soon I'll have those quiet mornings alone in there, messing with lovely soil and tiny seeds. I can't wait!