Sunday, August 28, 2011

Upcoming Work Days

This past week, Aurora (one of our 3rd graders) and her grandfather came and helped work on the fence and build compost on Wednesday.  "Pepe" is very knowledgeable about gardening and had a lot of good advice to offer.  I look forward to seeing them out at the garden again soon.

On Friday I planted buckwheat for the bees.  Sadly, plans for sprinkling the jauche (fermented weed tea) and planting some leaf crops were cancelled on Saturday morning.  Hurricane Irene made the weather too iffy for what was planned.

We've got two work days scheduled for this week:

Wednesday, August 31, 8:30 to 12:30 we'll add a layer of kitchen scraps and dried weeds to the compost pile, plant carrots, beets and radishes, mound up some more soil around the leeks and weed the sweet potatoes.

Friday, Sept. 2, 10:00 to 1:00 we'll plant another bed of buckwheat and weed the flower beds.

As always it is perfectly OK to come and/or go at any time during the scheduled work hours.  Every little bit of help makes a big difference to the garden.  I hope to see you out there!

One of the flower beds we'll be weeding on Friday

Close up of Cosmos in the flower bed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Next Week's Garden Time

Next week's big gardening days are Monday, 8/22, 8 am to noon, Friday, 8/26, 8 am to noon and Saturday, 8/27 9 am to 10 am.

On Monday we will plant parsnips in B1 and continue work on the compost pile that Bill Sanford started for us.

On Friday we will prep beds and plant as much buckwheat as we can (up to 6 beds).  The buckwheat will flower in 4 to 6 weeks and provide much needed fall forage for our bees.  They will also fix nitrogen for the next batch of crops we plant.  Prepping beds for the buckwheat will be much easier than prepping beds for veggies as we can skip the careful pre weeding, amending the soil and edging the beds to keep out the root weeds.  All we have to do is get rid of the larger weeds, loosen the top layer of soil, scatter the buckwheat and water.  The buckwheat will sprout shortly and begin to shade and crowd out any smaller weeds fairly quickly.

On Saturday I will be sprinkling the jauche from the blue barrel at the back of the garden over the entire garden.  The jauche is a fermented tea made from wiregrass and mugwort, two of our most aggressive weeds that spread via their root systems.  Theoretically regular sprinkling of the jauche at the right time will cause those weeds to weaken over time and spread less easily.  It could take as many as three years before we see a noticeable change.   Stay tuned to find out if it works!  While this work day is short, I could still use some help as the jauche is too full of particulate matter to be strained into the backpack sprayer so it must be hand sprinkled over the entire garden.  This is one of those times when many hands make much lighter work.  Sprinkling plants in the morning sunlight is a pleasant way to spend an hour when you have company.  Children especially seem to enjoy the work.  Come join me if you can!

Don't forget that there is also one more work day this week, Saturday, 8/20 from 8 am to noon.

Hope to see you in the garden!

Happy Asparagus and Parsley

Alyson and I finished taking care of the asparagus and parsley today by spreading a layer of good compost over their bed.  Her 3 year old daughter and I had a great time sprinkling the compost layer with Pfeiffer Field and Garden prep to help the compost finish breaking down.

We also planted one small flat of lettuce and trimmed the basil.  All this in only two hours of working time.

Oh yes, and Alyson's son (or is that a wood elf?) cut a chunk out of a big vine that has been trying to strangle one of the best shade trees on the property.  Thank you mister wood elf!  :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Extra Work Day

If anyone is available, I will be at the garden from 9 to 11 tomorrow (Wednesday, 8/17).  We were unable to finish everything that needed to be done today so I will be spreading compost in the asparagus bed and giving the whole thing a good sprinkling of Pfeiffer field and garden spray to help any remaining organic materials in the compost finish breaking down.

I'll also be planting some lettuce in flats which will be kept in the shade until cooler weather comes.  Lettuce seed does not like hot weather so I decided it would be better to try planting in flats in the shade than to expose our seed to the hot days that are still likely to come over the next week or two.

Please come tomorrow if you are able to!

Asparagus and Parsley Looking Good

Therisa and I cleaned up and edged the asparagus patch today.  There were still quite a few little parsley plants hiding amongst the weeds.  Asparagus and parsley are planted together because the two plants boost each other's vitality.  It's clear that the asparagus provides a cool, shady place for the parsley to hide during the hot summer months.  I'm not sure what the parsley does for the asparagus, but I suspect that it's odor helps to keep away asparagus loving bugs.
Here is the asparagus patch before we got started.
And here it is once we were finished.

This is one of the many parsley plants we found hidden amongst the weeds.  It was so nice to see that they survived the summer.
I also planted arugula, dill, mustard, chard and collards in the leaf bed.  The arugula we planted last week is already up.  It's so exciting to see the fall crops starting!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fall Root Bed ready to go!

Alyson and I spent about 4 hours prepping B1 for the fall root crops on Friday.  We got everything done except covering the surrounding paths to keep the weeds down.  B1 had cover crop on it which Bradley had cut down a week earlier.  Not needing to weed and redefine the bed certainly cut down on our prep time!

Over the course of the fall we will plant this bed with parsnips, carrots, beets, radishes and eventually garlic.

Moving on to the upcoming week, there will be 3 work days:

Tuesday, August 16 from 7 AM to 11 AM we will clean up the asparagus bed (C4) and surrounding paths in preparation for planting fall parsley.  We'll also plant lettuce, mustard, collards and chard in C2.

Saturday, August 20 from 8 AM to noon we will clear out the weeds and compost from B5 (on another day we will prep this bed for fall planting of grain crops with the 3rd grade).  We will also clean up the bean, strawberry and raspberry beds and feed them with the compost on B5.

I hope some of you can make it!

If you can't make it during work hours, but want to come out and work on your own, pulling all the enormous weeds off of B5 (now a compost pile behind the tomatoes in B4) would be very helpful.  Also, cutting down the taller weeds in A3 and adding a thick layer of horse manure from the pile just outside the garden (between the garden and the horse barn, near the electric fence) would be extremely helpful.  Thank you in advance, for anything you are able to do.

Our front gate.

Close up of lantana next to front gate.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bed for leaf crops finished

Alyson and I finished the new leaf bed this morning.  You can just see the yellow flags that show where we planted dill, arugula and mustard.  This bed took 7 people hours to complete so I've decided to forgo the second leaf bed and just plant fewer leaf crops this fall.  I think the next bed we prep will take less time because it was planted in cover crop this summer which is now breaking down to provide more nitrogen for our root crops.  Below is a picture of the bed next to it still covered with crowder peas (also known as black eyed peas), a cover crop that helps build nitrogen.
And here is the bed that we will be prepping for root crops on Friday (8/12).  I'll be working at the farm from 8 AM to noon then.  Please come and help out if you are able. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Honey Bees

At last we have a hive of honey bees at the garden.  They were rescued from a (people) house and moved into a hive 50 feet back from our garden shed.  Natalie Sadler is the wonderful person who installed them and will be caring for them.  The bees and their honey and hive belong to her, but we get the benefit of their pollinating skills, the sound of their happy buzzing, and the sight of their brownish bodies dancing among the flowers all during the growing season.  They definitely add a healthy new element to the garden.
Here they are zipping in and out of their entrance.  Their entrance faces east to catch the morning sun and is backed by shade trees so they aren't too hot in the afternoon. 

Here is a full shot of their hive.  Such a beautiful shade of cedar red!

Fall Bed Prep

What a wonderful morning it was this morning.  Viorica (our 3rd grade teacher) and I met at the garden and nearly finished prepping a bed for fall leaf crops.  We weeded and trenched it.  Then we laid down cardboard and wood chips all the way around it and covered 2/3 of the bed with compost.

Tomorrow we'll add a little bone meal, give the whole thing a good stirring and spray it with Pfeiffer field and garden prep.  Once all that is done, we'll plant arugula and dill.  Lettuce will go in this bed next Tuesday as it needs to wait a bit so that the weather will be cooler by the time it sprouts.  

Depending on how much help I get tomorrow and how much energy we have after we finish our new bed, we may do some much needed weeding and feeding of the basil, asparagus and sorrel beds as well.

I'll be at the garden from 8 AM to noon tomorrow (Monday, 8/8).  Please come help any time during those 4 hours if you have the time and want a good workout.  :-)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Work days this week

It is time to start prepping beds for fall planting!  I will be at the garden 8 am to noon on Sunday (8/7) and 8 am to noon on Monday (8/8) prepping C2 and D7 for leaf crops and putting in arugula, dill and mustard.  Lettuce, spinach, collards, cilantro and chard will go in later as we move towards cooler weather.  

I'll also be there from 8 to noon on Friday (8/12) prepping B1 and A5 for root crops (garlic, parsnip, beet, carrot, and radish).

Please come help if you have time during any of those hours - no need to be there the whole time, even an hour of help will make a big difference.  

Thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide!

Sweet potato slips transplanted by our farm camp in late July.


Here is a series of pictures from this spring when Jennifer Greene of the Water Research Institute of Blue Hill came to Emerson Farm to build flow forms.  It was quite a process.  First we cleaned and oiled all of the molds, then we bolted them together and poured carefully mixed concrete into each one.  Grades 2, 3, and 9 all had a chance to get involved.  Below you can see grade 2 with a grouping of recently poured molds.

Once the molds have been poured and had a chance to set up a little bit, they are moved to another area where they can safely stay after the molds are removed.  Below is a recently moved form waiting to be unbolted.

Before the bolts can be removed, Grace (one of our adult volunteers) knocks off excess concrete with a rubber mallet and chisel.

Here you can see some of our second graders removing bolts so that the form can be released.

Here is a finished section of flow form.

When all was done, some of our 2nd graders went around and cleaned up excess concrete chips.  Got to keep the farm clean!

Emerson Farm is keeping one of the flow forms and installing it in the garden.  Eventually we hope to use it for stirring some of our biodynamic preps.  If you are interested in seeing what our form will look like, check out this link.