From the Garden: Springtime Update

Spring has sprung. April showers, warmer temperatures, and hands-on attention make a happy garden. Farming is subject to the whims of Mother Nature, and so far, she seems content to help.

The farm’s focus this year has been succession planting, meaning getting multiple crops from a single plot throughout the growing season. For example, spinach, a cool weather, frost-hardy crop, comes up first, followed by beans after the spinach is harvested. The broccoli will be followed by a cover crop, or “green manure” to enrich the soil naturally.

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The spinach is doing well in the center beds. Two cuttings from the one small 30″×12′ plot have already provided more than three pounds of the leafy green. Green and purple beans are filling out the row of spinach and the spinach bed will cycle to beans when the spinach is done.

The red leaf lettuce is coming along nicely and should be ready later in April. The rain showers most certainly help! This year, these beds were sown with lettuce and carrots. A row of lettuce with a row of carrots on either side offers an optimal yield of the two crops. This technique may be used in the future if it continues to show success.

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The broccoli crop has been a particular challenge, inasmuch as, insect larvae find the leaves tasty. The solution, from the organic farmers’ toolkit, is a soil dwelling bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt is safe to humans and devastating to moth and butterfly larvae (thank you for that one, Mother Nature!). The broccoli is now coming along. The full row of three beds is planted for succession harvest in May and June.

Squash transplants are filling out. Three more hills will follow and all together should provide a significant yield of patty pan squash. Space should not be a problem for this sprawling vine this year!

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The onion transplants are getting settled and should offer lovely sweet red and yellow onions this summer. Remember: trim the roots on the transplants to speed growth.

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Tomatoes will be transplanted before the end of the month. The direct seeding methods need… improvement. Fifteen plants should provide a good harvest.

In addition to continuing to use principles central to organic farming, we will irrigate the gardens with rainwater and, as often as possible, the use of hand tools in place of petroleum powered devices.

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Moving forward, the plan is to expand the garden, establish standard 30″×100′ beds and develop a long term crop rotation plan.

Meanwhile, the crops…

Meanwhile, the crops keep coming. Every day for a few weeks looked a little something like this.

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We now have over a hundred pounds of squash. It is safe to say that we are having a good summer harvest.

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The summer harvest is officially underway.

The mystery bush bean plants are just getting started and have given just over 2 kg of beans so far.

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And this week’s harvest star is definitely the patty pan squash.

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We’ve brought in over 6 kg this week! Does anyone know of any excellent recipes?

Mistaken Identity and a Mystery

Each year we plant pole beans. We made wonderful arbors, reusing old fencing materials. We got the seeds; we planted them; we were ready. The plants grew and were very healthy.

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We waited for the little arms to sprout up and grab hold of the arbors. We waited, and waited, and waited, and only one plant sprouted.

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Ah, nuts. We have bush beans. The disappointment isn’t too great because these plants are strong and will surely give us enough beans to last the year.

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The mystery of the lone pole bean plant remains to be solved…

Amish Market

Around here, one of the most delightful signs of Spring’s arrival is when the Englewood Amish Farm Market re-opens. We mark the date on the calendar and literally count down the days until we have access to gloriously fresh produce that hasn’t traveled on an Interstate.

The way to the market, off of Hwy 411, is marked with hand-written wooden signs.

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This early in the season,  produce is “limited” to a variety of greens, lettuces, and radishes. They also have farm fresh eggs, but they sell out early.

The green house is just getting going, too. They have different varieties of tomatoes, and already have lots of herbs, including a handful of basil varieties (purple, cinnamon, lemon, and plain basil).

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Also for sale are reasonably priced hand-crafted items, like porch swings and carpenter bee traps.

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If you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop by. Remember that this is an Amish-run farm and business, so please be respectful of their culture and customs.

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They are cash-only, appreciate conservative attire, and some of the kindest people you may ever meet.