Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Successful Successions

We've gone to town planting our next batch of successions this week to ensure we have a continuous supply of produce this season. The north plot is finally looking like something! We planted carrots, beets, beans, greens (in the shade of the corn), turnips, rutabagas, summer squash, and cucumbers.

We've started to feel like this: http://www.qu-i-x.com/dirty.html (Dirtiest man in the world by Shel Silverstein)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

PIGS! Compost, and Surround

Apart from being a VERY wet week, we've had fun. Especially with the new addition of six pigs! They seem to be enjoying their lives outside, rooting in the mud, frolicking in the grass, and running away from us. But they're warming up to us already. They are yet to be named, so if you have any good ideas, let us know!

We also started our compost this week. We layer the proper combination of green manure, brown manure, and an inoculate (in our fist case, rotten squash from last season, but usually soil or other compost), making sure that it is covered in straw last. This pile will keep growing until we can no longer reach the top- then we'll make another one. The compost will be ready for next season. 

We are enjoying the rich compost from last season!

The Colorado potato beetles are multiplying everyday! Here is communal farmer Dwyane spraying Surround on the Potato plants

Surround is a kaolin clay (white powder) mixed with water and a bit of vegetable oil. We spray each plant with a hand pump sprayer, coating each plant with the milky looking substance. This organic residue is very abrasive to the pests, and when they eat the plant or crawl around, the clay scratches the pest and their contents seep out, slowly dehydrating them to death. We've heard it works quite well! We hope to see results in about a week. Though with the unexpected rain today, a lot of our hard work yesterday ran off....bummer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our First CSA Box Pickup Day

Today marked the first official CSA box handout to our full and and half share members.  We managed to harvest endive, lettuce, green onions, herbs, and kale in between unfortunate bouts of rain.  Our chickens managed to lay enough eggs on their first full day on the farm to give each member a half dozen eggs to take home. 

Baby lettuce heads and kale

CSA member basket

Our chicken's eggs
In addition to our first harvest, we worked on preparing the pig pen by expanding their fence into the woods so they have plenty of shade.  They will be arriving on Friday!

An article was written in the Northfield News about SEEDS Farm that came out today, check it out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wild Chicken Chase!

Our biggest news of the day: we got some chickens!  Today we welcomed 35 egg-laying hens to the farm.  We herded the majority into their newly built coop, but unfortunately ended up chasing 6 escaped chickens for about 2 hours.  So far it seems as though the chickens are settling in and making themselves at home.  We look forward to providing farm fresh eggs to our communal and CSA members this summer!

Chickens in their new home

Today we also spent some time investigating the pests that are quite fond of our cucumber, squash, melon, and potato plants.  We have researched a variety of "solutions" to combat these pests, so now our next task is to experiment.  Rae, a very knowledgeable and helpful farmer from L&R Poultry, suggested using a kaolin clay spray on and around the plant to ward off pests.  The spray creates a film on the plant which repels the pest trying to chow down.  An example of one of our nasty pests is the potato beetle.
Colorado Potato Beetle (yuck!)
The potato beetle larvae feeding on potato plant leaves (double yuck!)

 For the remainder of the week we are focusing on tackling the ever-growing weeds, packaging our season's first CSA box, planting successions, and moving in the pigs!  More updates will be coming soon! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

3.19 inches of rain in five days

Everything is wet wet wet! Which means quite a lot of mud. It also means the plants are doing great. Now that the north plot has all germinated with the rain, we can finally weed it. That'll be our project for the first part of the week. That and chickens!
We finished up the construction on the chicken coop for the laying hens we'll be getting the beginning of this week.

Goats being silly in the tool shed
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The barn where the straw is stored. We've made a dent in the bales! We are almost done mulching

Kara's first tractor ride

Yesterday we planted the flower garden. The flowers were donated by Green House Growers up in Prior Lake. We planted flower seeds in between, but we're not telling you what is what! It will be a random diverse surprise of color when the come up!

Where are your work clothes?

The goats had a full day of following us while we were weeding. They are inseperable

The Rural Enterprise Center making progress

The goats liked our snacks as much as we did! We let them roam free when we're out there. They behave most of the time...

Who could resist these guys? They eat the weeds exclusively. Quite handy
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pictures finally

The rain this weekend has helped our transplants and newly planted seeds quite well! I (Becca) have been gone from the farm only 48 hours but so much has changed already. Here are a few pics of recent endeavors:

Goats milk and sweet strawberries! What a dynamic duo. Tonight I plan to make a milk shake and I can't wait. Feel free to help yourself to strawberries out at the farm when you're out there. New ones are ripening every day. And if you are ever interested in helping milk the goats, let us know. It sure is fun.

The immense amount of land under cultivation calls for diverse weeding strategies. One way to reduce time weeding is to suppress them with straw. This came from the farm last year and will eventually cover the solenacias and brassicas. It's a time investment to put it out now, but we'll be thanking ourselves later. When we spread it, we must make sure it's on thick enough so the weeds can't find too much sunlight.

Early Friday morning we decided to raid the downtown cardboard recycling box. One huge trailer load later, this is how far we got. We decided it was not worth our time to 'cardboard' everything and decided to weed thoroughly before we put down the straw instead.
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mulch and New Construction

This morning when we started it was actually cold-can you believe that. We pulled some weeds in the potatoes then went over to the farm next door where are straw from last year is stored to pick up some bales. We spent the rest of they day mulching the solenacias. We are on top of those weeds- so a thick coating of straw will suppress the future weeds for the rest of the season. No weeding if done correctly! The brassicas are a different story-they will take cardboard to suppress the weeds that have already grown before they can be mulched. We have also decided to irrigate the brassicas before we cover them with mulch.

The agripreneure training center started building today! It was fun watching it start to take shape, like watching tv in real time. A lot of people came to start construction, very busy day out at the farm.

The strawberries are coming in. Yesterday I noticed a few, today I ate them by the handfuls....but the only way you get to taste them is if you come out to the farm! They sure are good......yum yum yum.

Task for tonight: continue mulching solenacias, stake the tomatoes, irrigate brassicas, play with goats.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pleasant weather and goats

What a change in weather-gladly welcomed. Today we welcomed four new members to our farm, Adelle, Sophia (the mothers) and Henry and Polar Bear (the baby boys)! They were a bit frightened at the beginning, but after we milked them and they saw they had plenty of green pasture to graze, it seems like they'll like it at SEEDS Farm. Not to mention the view-they have the best one of the farm! Feel free to visit, pet, and play with them. They are quite tame and follow you around as they grew up bottle fed, but if they're not watched closely they may bolt for our plants. The mothers were able to get out of the old hog house in one leap, so we put up another fence and that should keep them in. If you ever see them out of the fence, give us a call immediately! They're not supposed to get out.

As for other happenings on the farm, today we started at the back plot. We have it mostly planted with oats (to eat), sorghum (for making beer and molassas...an experiment), flax and sunflower (both for oil pressing and overall beauty). We got one more variety of watermelon in today, mountain yellow, which we planted with the rest of the melons. We started putting a handful of manure on the brassica's and sollenacias from the chicken coop last year and got quite far.

The irrigation was finished last night, so now everything we plan on irirgating is now set up. It's working wonderfully and we are lucky to have a system where we don't have to worry about a lack of water.

We are ending phase one-getting everything planted. Phase two will be controlling weeds! It looks beautiful now, but it's not going to last. To deal with the weeds in a few of  the areas, we are going to mulch the brassicas and solenacias. But as you can see, there are quite a few weeds there already. To address that, we will put recycled cardboard down in the pathways to diminish the sunlight and then put mulch over. THis will not only kill the weeds, but will protect the plants. In order for the cardboard and mulch to be put down we have to make sure irrigation is set up (check) and they are all manured (almost check).

Phew! We're looking forward to the cooler weather for the rest of the week. We'll be out there Thursday and Friday from 5-8 and Saturday. This mulching project will take a lot of effort!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

What a hot and windy day today! We started the day at 6:15 to beat the heat-and are glad we did. It was pleasant then. We started planting the winter squash in the newly tilled area closest to the old chicken coop, then prepared the bed for the last bed of carrots and parsnips by broadforking. These crops are the only crops we broadfork at SEEDS and we do it because it loosens the soil so the roots can penetrate deeper. It's hard work, I"m glad we don't do it for the whole farm, but with our experience last year, it sure paid off. We had a bed of carrots that were and a bed that were not broadforked, the bed that had been broadforked produced carrots far superior. By finishing up the carrots, we completed the planting of the first and second blocks! We then repaired some of the hog fencing to welcome the goats soon, and ordered some more seeds before siesta time.

We found some potato bugs-we killed about 20 of them as we walked through the potato patch plant by plant searching for them. We even caught one in the act of laying eggs! We are researching an idea where we flame the plant while it is still young-thus killing the bugs and larvae... and scorching the plant. But with it's young age, the plant can bounce back. We'll keep you updated.

Monica made a trip up to the irrigation supply store today to get the last parts for the irrigation. If anyone is ambitious and would like to help install the irrigation for the greens, herbs and flowers tonight, e-mail us at seedsfarm@gmail.com and we'll come out and show you how.

We'll post some pictures soon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

We are up and running!


We have been quite busy these past couple of weeks, eagerly getting our transplants into the ground along with direct seeding.  We have planted a large variety of plants including: cucumbers, greens, flowers, squash, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, kohlrabi, potatoes, melons, clover, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, beets, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, leeks, celery, celeriac, and corn, just to name a few!  

Having a blog is a great way to keep the community updated on the activities happening on the farm.  The function of this blog is not only to provide a daily update of what is accomplished on the farm, but we'll also post the weekly evening communal member hours (posted Sunday nights), share photos, stories, and recipes that incorporate seasonal produce. 

Once everything is planted (hopefully to be completed in the next few days!), SEEDS will be welcoming some animals to the farm.  We will have 4 Nigerian dwarf goats (2 milking does and 2 male kids), 200 chickens, 30 egg-laying chickens, and 6 pigs.  We will definitely have our hands full!

We hope you follow along on our blog and watch our farm grow!  If you are interested in stopping out at the farm to visit throughout the season, there will be farmers out there M-F from 7:30-4:30 (if we aren't there, we are running errands, on a lunch break, etc.).  

We look forward to seeing you out at the farm.  Happy Summer!