If you are new to our blog/site it is difficult to tell you what we do, we’re a bit all over and don’t fit into a label. The best way to define what we do is; we grow using beyond organic, no-till and regenerative farming methods. Growing this way is pretty hard work, which is why our last update was over two months ago! But we’re still out here growing and every Saturday selling vegetables at the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market. We’ve got a few projects checked off the list and working on a few more. The summers are brutal here to be working outside all day so we get all our daily work done by noon and that does not leave us much time to work on other projects!
Mount Holly Farmer’s Market:
Here are some images of some of the displays we put up every Saturday at the Mount Holly Farmers Market.
In The High Tunnel:
We’re in the transition part of the year moving into fall and getting the tunnel ready for fall and winter. But lets go back a bit. The past two months started off great we had a lot being harvested, then the disease and pest pressure went crazy. We’ve had tomato horn worms in what seems like over night give a dozen of our tomato plants a hair cut. Downy mildew took out all our cucumbers ending the season earlier than we had planned. Basil was doing fantastic until this past week or two and we think it got mildew as well. We’ve trimmed it back pretty hard to hopefully help. Cilantro grew great as well, though we didn’t do a good job keeping up with successions so we’ve had it sporadically through the season. The rest of the tunnel did well, peppers are really going now. Our experiment trying to grow tomatillos was unsuccessful and we cut those plants out.
We had a big water issue in the tunnel with all of the rain we’ve been having. The bed on the outside became water saturated and began to go anaerobic. We quickly turned off the drip lines and dug some ditches on the outside to allow the bed to drain out. It seems to have been working and we’ve noticed an improvement of the health of the plants. We will most likely be installing a french drain to allow the area to drain out and the beds to not become over saturated.
The fall/winter season we are growing: lettuce, arugula, spinach, peas, and bunching onions in the tunnel. Less susceptible crops like collards, kale, and carrots will be outside and under row cover if needed.
After our last update and the battle with the aphids it seems that we did the right thing as we have not even had bugs on the kale at all. The rest of the field has been doing really well. Sweet potatoes are growing like crazy, corn we look to have some cobs forming, and watermelons are ripening. This time of the year it is amazing to see all that we are growing in our small space.
Our issues in the field did not stop after the aphids though. The carrots got leaf blight and forced us to harvest all the successions we had planted. As this is posted we just sold our last pound and don’t anticipate having any more until fall! Leaf Blight is caused by humid and hot conditions, something we have had a lot of lately and the only real solution to it is to grow them under cover and using drip lines…maybe one day. Our other issue in the field was a shortage of seeds this year and because of the shortage we missed 2 weeks of planting lettuce. Those successions would have been harvested two weeks ago, but luckily we were able to get a second cutting off some of our other successions to cover the gap. Beets were also pulled last week from army worm damage, we weren’t as good about keeping up with successions and just ran out of those this weekend. We are planning on seeding beets this week to have some available through the winter, however we will be missing those until then.
All the issues we have had may sound pretty depressing and sad, but it is actually far from it. We were able to get in the mindset early on that crops would fail and we would have issues, regardless of how well planned out things are. Because in the end we are not in control of mother nature. Knowing that ahead of time prepared us to deal with the issues we’ve had this year so far and roll with it. Because let’s be honest, we are still providing really good food to a lot more people than just ourselves and that gives us a huge amount of pride.
Here is a pretty neat series of imagines showing the whole lettuce harvest process from harvest to pack. This harvest was done on August 21st, pretty much the hardest part of the year to grow lettuce. We’re pretty proud of the quality of lettuce we’ve been able to grow this year!
Our flock is officially 31 strong! The last 12 layers got introduced to the main flock two weekends ago and everything has been going good! The middle aged layers we got in the spring are laying and we are starting to get a few sell-able eggs!
Our plans to raise meat birds in the fall got upended when we went to look for chicks to find they are all out from the hatcheries we trust. I guess we’ll try again in the spring!
We needed a storage shed for all the hand tools we use on the farm and a place to put feed. We’ve been working on this shed for what seems like too long, haha. The siding was a couple weeks worth of work by itself, but definitely worth it! We now have a place to store all our tools, feed and other farm related stuff.
We will be expanding over the winter, that is of course after we move the 12 or so cords of fire wood and build a wood shed for it! We’ve started the wood shed after we picked up some more black locust poles. The wood shed will be 10’x24′ with a pallet floor that we hope will fit all the firewood!
Once we are able to get the firewood relocated we can have a contractor come in with a dozer to flatten the plot. Now, we don’t really want to cause that much disturbance to the land, however we are very limited on space and this area is the only suitable area left. Earthworks are needed to address some drainage issues and leveling.
Foraging is something we have always been interested in, but never had the knowledge or support to go and do it. All we needed was a little nudge and we found that nudge in a friend we met through the farm. Foraging is pretty amazing, to find your own food from seemingly unknown places. We’ve found so much just on our own land. Three patches of chantrelles, many more mushrooms (some edible others not), sumac berries and a few other edible plants. We’ve added are finds to different dishes, especially pizza!
We’ve even struck a friendship with a local mushroom grower to produce Lions Mane tinctures!
From Around The Homestead:
Thanks for reading,