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What’s Growing

May 15, 2015

Well, actually what’s growing and what’s just planted.  Lists are so nice…a cheater post again.

clean place to store bok choy slated for breakfast while I weeded last night

clean place to store bok choy slated for breakfast while I weeded last night

The list of plantings in order of how I ‘see’ them in my mind as I type…good mental exercise since I don’t do crossword. I may be forgetting somebody, but I think this is pretty much it.

Potatoes – Dark Red Norland, Purple Viking, Desiree.
Carrots – Nelson, Napoli, Red Cored Chantenay
Peas – Sugar Sprint
Cabbage – Charmant, Ruby Ball, Melissa, Nash’s Green (Columbia), Toyko Bekana
Kale – Lacinato Morton, White Russian, Red Russian, Red Ursa
Bok Choy – Joi Choi
Arugula – Basic
Turnips – Hakurei
Radish – Black Spanish, Miyashige
Kohrabi – Kolibri
Lettuce – Parris Island, Little Gem, Red Salad Bowl, Oscarde, Merlot, Thai 88, Anuenue, Flashy Green Butter Oak.
Parsnip – Turga
Spinach – Space
Mizuna, – Early Green, Ruby Streaks
Beets – Lutz, Detroit Dark Red, Touchstone Gold
Beans – Uncle John (dry), Maxibel
Chard – Fordhook Giant, Five-color Silverbeet
Cilantro – Pokey Joe, and ours?
Broccoli – Arcadia, Romanesco
Cauliflower – Cheddar, Vita Verde, Denali
Garlic – Music
Onions – Walla Walla, Guardsman, Red Long of Tropea
Leeks – Bandit, King Sieg and maybe one more I can’t recall…
Shallots – Ed’s Red
Tomatoes – Amish Paste Kapuler, Bellstar, SunSugar, Pantano Romanesco, Astiana, Costoluto Genovese, Sweet 100, Japanese Black Trifele (I’m cutting back this year)
Peppers – Flavorburst, Numex Joe E Parker, Early Jalapeno, Hidalgo, Red Ruffled Pimiento, Piment d’ Espelette, Basque, Padron
Squash – Sweet Meat, Musque d Provence, Nutterbutter, Cocozelle, Raven, Dark Star, Spookie, Styrian Naked Seed
Cucumbers – Marketmore 76, Lemon
Melons – Delicious PMR, Piel de Sapo

and way too many annual flowers and herbs to list.

Still to plant sometime in the next month, Gilfeather turnip, Joan rutabaga, sweet corn, flint corn, and more of just about everything above that lends itself to succession planting.

late night light in the greenhouse is kind.  Buckwheat can quickly become a weed if you let it.

late night light in the greenhouse is kind. Buckwheat can quickly become a weed if you let it.


Blown Away

May 14, 2015
Shot Wing's mate

Shot Wing’s mate

I am blown away by all the wonderful comments!  THANK YOU so much for all the kind words and ideas for future blog posts.  It’s always nice to get a little pat on the back now and then.  Again, thanks so much.

Why the raven picture you ask?  Well, we owe that raven big time, he and his mate Shot Wing used to guard our pastured poultry flock from hawks.  We called the pasture the No Fly Zone.  Really they were guarding their young that they always raise in our watershed, but we benefited from their diligent parenting.  When we sold pastured eggs we never sold floor eggs, it was just a thing we had, by floor eggs I mean eggs we found (in deep bedding you never know how old that egg is) on the floor of the greenhouse we wintered the hens in, and that transferred to pasturing season too.  No worries there, because the ravens took care of that too.  We always had a hen or three in 900 that just couldn’t seem to figure out to lay in the nest boxes, or to give them the benefit of the doubt, you’ve seen the lines at the privies at a concert, ladies you know what I mean… . Maybe when the egg was imminent the preferred nest box was busy.  I have no idea, but I know the ravens would swoop in on a daily basis and grab the floor eggs.  Or I should say raven, because Shot Wing was usually on the nest, so her mate would swoop in and grab an egg and head for the timber where the nest is.  And it was funny, as dumb as I think chickens are, they knew that big shadow the raven cast was not a danger to them.  Our broilers weren’t quite so lucky, when it was time to take the pasture pens to the field the ravens showed up, knowing that little meaty morsels would soon be in those metal and wire boxes.  Part of the yearly inspection included making sure there were no gaps that a raven beak would fit into for pulling a chick wing or leg through.  Wicked birds they can be.  Stop gap measures literally were needed.

Many years have went by, and we’ve stopped doing pastured poultry, but our long-lived raven pair is here and two sets of their offspring have nests as well on different parts of the farm.  Usually in the fall when the babes are getting ready to leave the nests and care of their parents for good they have a confab here in the home pasture.  Carrying on, games in flight, a group of raucous ravens and then they’re gone.  But unless it’s hunting season (carrion everywhere) the ravens are here every morning at chore time, and when the young hatch they come twice a day.  I give them two eggs.  If I forget, or don’t notice the silent sentinel, they make a noise to remind me.  When my daughter’s horse was still alive they developed a hankering for Equine Senior, Raven Senior?  Getting a photo of them in flight with the egg in their beak is hard, they hate the camera.  Two-legged with box near face is bad.  Bring eggs only no box.

new pullets
To that end, I raise a few extra pullets each year to supply the ravens with their daily eggs.  We haven’t sold eggs since 2008 but the ravens are still here and we enjoy them.  They aren’t a bother, they don’t take more than they are due, and we are still grateful for all that hawk hazing they did.


Same Ol’, Same Ol’

May 12, 2015
Jane Butterfield

Jane Butterfield

I’ve got a couple, well actually three comments in as many weeks about my blog absence, so I thought I would do a quick walkabout with the actual camera and take some photos in a five-minute stretch.  Everybody is in permaculture zone one right now, so it was pretty easy.  I have to say though you blog readers, if you don’t comment or like my posts, I hardly know you’re there.  So without further ado, here we go.  Jane is the first item of interest I encountered.  I sold her calves, and am milking once a day now and she has put on some weight since winter, even though she is giving 4.5 to 5 gallons of milk per day.  Grass is a magical thing for cows you know, I’ve dropped her grain, her production has climbed a bit and she’s gained weight.  All good.

dryland staple garden

dryland staple garden

The dryland garden is almost all planted.  The only thing left to plant is corn, flint and sweet. And rutabagas just before the solstice.  Planted so far:  Potatoes, carrots and parsnips for Jane, beets, dry beans and an attempt at winter squash, some direct seeded and some transplanted.  It’s hard to explain to folks that I plant winter crops before many summer crops…but I do, and I did.

We finished the refurbishing on the brooder/chicken house/greenhouses. The new little pullets are in the small greenhouse to the left, and the mature hens are in the small greenhouse on deep bedding to the right.  I tried to take a photo of them but it was way too humid and the lens fogged up.  So scratch that.  We aren’t doing meat birds this year, finding that we just aren’t eating much chicken, so until our freezer inventory is cleared out, there is no point in adding more poultry.  Things will be quiet on the chicken front this year.

Opie, Chibs and Fiona

Opie, Chibs and Fiona

Here is our blackberry abatement crew, three Large Black weaner pigs from a local farm.  They also are here to take care of any extra dairy products I have, and I have a lot.  Jane did well raising her calf and one extra to seven months of age, and now she’s helping raise these three little baconaters.  Have I ever mentioned dairy cows are a pretty good thing to have around a farmstead? That is if you like cows, and like to milk…

greenhouse 2

greenhouse 2

Next on the walk is greenhouse two with sweet onions, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and miscellaneous brassicas planted.  One row is left to be planted with melons, squash, and cucumbers.

greenhouse 1

greenhouse 1

Directly adjacent is greenhouse 1 which is where we’ve been spending a lot of time.  Plant starts and our garden is growing here.  Most of the starts for sale have went to their new homes, and we are still seeding for our own use, but not as near the pace as earlier.  When I see the amount of fresh food we have been pulling out here on a daily basis, I always wonder why serious gardeners balk at putting up a greenhouse. If you’re eating every day, your food is coming from somewhere, and most likely grown and transported in ways that you don’t really want to know about.  I couldn’t resist throwing that in there because if one more person tells me that I am using PLASTIC in my gardening efforts I think I’m going to do something bad to them. See?  I’m still here ranting and raving like usual.

full cows

full cows

Cows always calm my nerves, so the last stop on my walk was the cows.  They are full and resting and enjoying our drizzly days.


Always the faithful pup awaiting my return from across the road.  So dear readers if you’re still out there, let me know and toss me a few ideas of what to write about, because from my side of the screen and the camera things look pretty much the same as always.

Garden Tour Sort of

April 22, 2015

I was warned that this would happen…the long-hand blogging would come to a screeching halt once I started posting photos to Instagram.  Yes, I’m still here, and if you check here in the sidebar you can see pretty much how a day unfolds around here.  We’re all over the place, literally, and with two people posting to Instagram you get a little better perspective of the farmstead, I believe.  So without further ado, a quick garden tour this fine April day.

Main garden

Main garden

We’ve got two gardens and two greenhouses and both get different treatment as far as planting, irrigation, and general fussing.

The main garden above gets crops that need or benefit from irrigation.  I also plant seed crops here.  That’s leeks on the left just heeled in after tilling, we hope to eat them, but maybe not.  On the right are selected leeks and parsnips for seed.  Yesterday I got the cover crops that had been mowed, tilled in.  Not much will get planted here until mid to late May except dahlias, which I might plant tonight if I get off the computer.

greenhouse 1

greenhouse 1

Directly adjacent to the main garden is greenhouse 1, a lot happens in here, it acts as a prop house, and our first garden of the season.  Growing in here besides a ton of transplants for sale and for us are: potatoes, carrots, beets, peas, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, bok choy, arugula, lettuce, daikon, black radish, salad turnips, cilantro, basil, and some miscellaneous greens.

Tokyo Bekana and buckwheat

Tokyo Bekana and buckwheat

greenhouse 1

greenhouse 1

Just a different view from the other end.  Once the transplants are gone, all the barrels and makeshift tables will come out freeing up more space for more successions of quick crops.  This greenhouse is way more intensive, plantings are biointensive and watered daily in John Jeavons style.  There is something about watering plants in a greenhouse by hand that I can’t describe, it’s almost like you can see them grow.  I wouldn’t recommend it on a large-scale though, but we eat a couple of meals a day from this greenhouse, it just feels right to spend a little time in there tending.

greenhouse 2

greenhouse 2

Next to greenhouse 1 is, you guessed it, greenhouse 2.  We’re funny like that, our trucks have simple names too, Green, Red, BRT, Weenie, etc.  Greenhouse 2 is a little more hands off, drip irrigation, plastic mulch and crops that don’t need as much attention as lettuce and greens.  The tomatoes are planted already, and I’m threatening to plant the peppers next week when the freezing level goes back up.  Rounding out this greenhouse will be melons, a few cukes, and some moschata squash (squee).  A girl has to try right?

dryland Staple garden

dryland Staple garden

East of the greenhouses is the dryland Staple garden, big plantings of potatoes, winter squash, dry beans, Jane’s root crops, naked seed pumpkins and corn go here.  We rarely irrigate these crops, just weed and harvest basically at the end of the season. As of yesterday, all the amendments and cover crops have been worked in and now we’re just waiting for the cover crops to decompose and the weather to moderate a bit before planting.

Jane's excellent mowing job.

Jane’s excellent mowing job.

And the last shot of the staple garden shows Jane’s great “mowing” job on the headland and my tilling…not too bad for a couple of girls.

What’s Growing This Week

April 13, 2015

Cooler weather (read normal) has sure caused my gardening efforts to grind to a halt.  Outside the garlic is doing great, but we’ve had enough rainy days to delay any planting or thoughts of planting any crops outside.

Inside the greenhouse though it’s an entirely different story.  I’ve backed off a bit on my weekly seeding schedule because the coolness has slowed the growth and I’m running out of room for flats of starts.  But things are progressing nicely.


More tomatoes.

Peppers of all kinds.


Herbs, onions and leeks.

More lettuce and brassicas.


Bok choy – first succession.

Bok choy – second succession.

Bok choy- third succession.  We do eat a lot of bok choy…and it grows fast and furious.  Mustards are funny like that.

Snap peas.


Carrots with a volunteer calendula friend.

Transplanted daikon and salad turnips sharing row cover.

Direct seeded daikon, black radish and salad turnips sharing the same bed as the transplants.  Direct seeding at the same time I transplant older plants saves lots of labor and gives me a good succession time frame.


Kohlrabi successions one and two transplanted at first true leaf stage.

Kales and cabbages for days.


Last but not least, the first succession of cilantro.  This isn’t everything, but it’s everything I have a photo of this week.  I’m getting the feeling that I will gamble and plant my tomatoes this week in the greenhouse.  Of course, that will be after I get the cows transitioned back to grazing.



April 9, 2015
Baby's first hay season.

Baby’s first hay season.

The beginning of my gray hair!!

Behind the Eight Ball

April 7, 2015
Brooder maintenance

Brooder maintenance

Project lists have a way of changing fast on the farm.  On my dream list, we will be able to get the greenhouses in shape for planting out.  Right now that means getting the grass away from the edges on the inside that seems to creep in when you’re not looking, or actually it happens when you’re not paying attention.  I need to get all this done before the cows go out for the grazing season, once that happens it’s heads down for me and the cows.  So enter a quick little windstorm a couple a weeks ago that pretty much had its way with the little chicken greenhouse/brooders.  Okay, the list got changed.  Build a new door for one, and put on a new cover on the other, those two things moved to the top of the queue.

Soil builds up pretty fast actually, so besides digging away the grass inside the vegetable greenhouse sidewalls, the grass outside the chicken greenhouses now needs to be dug up and disposed of too, just so we can get to the springlock and channel to replace the plastic.

Hen pecked compost

Hen pecked compost

I worked out a trade with the hens, for a treat I’ll bring you a wheelbarrow of yummy grass clumps with all kinds of good things, and in exchange I’ll dig down and take a load of henpecked compost for amending soil somewhere else.  Deal?

Barn lion in with the chickens

Barn lion in with the chickens

So it goes, the list never gets shorter, it just changes, new things get added, we re-sort the list and peck away.




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