July 19, 2008

Well, it’s pretty much mid-summer, and there is so much to do that it’s impossible to do it all…..tonight Ken and I were working outside on the main row crop garden, which was losing ground to weeds. A few days ago, all the weeds were cut down with a weed-whacker. Tonight there was much burning and spraying of roundup in the fallow rows with no vegetables. We are rototilling between the rows to cultivate out those weeds…mostly a plague of crabgrass. We are paying the price for our poor weed control of the garden last summer, when most weeds had a chance to fully go to seed. But, I can’t be too hard on myself, since at the time I was working fulltime at UC Davis in addition to trying to farm. Anyway, I did my part to worsen the local air pollution for the night. While I feel somewhat about the smoke, fire is a valuable tool to managing a garden. It destroys weed seeds, pathogens, and restores nutrients to the soil. It’s actually one of the best control methods possible for weeds on the scale that we grow, and it beats paying Monsanto for even more Roundup. I really look forward to the day that we can come up with a weed control system that eliminates the use of herbicide, but we’re not there just yet. My big idea is that in about 2-3 weeks from now, the weeds will be crispy-dead. I am going to pay for a truck-load of compost, many, many tons, which will cost somewhere around $700. We will rake the dead weeds off the rows and top-dress the rows with about 3-4" of compost, and then call it ready for fall planting. No disturbance of the soil tilth, and the compost will act as a form of weed suppression. To me, it’s a win-win situation.

Drew has been managing the other two row-crop gardens almost single-handedly. We just planted corn (for the mill) and pumpkins, squash and lemon cucumbers, melons and dry beans. In the weeks to come there will be much, much more to seed into the new rows. It’s our general goal to increase our gardens to accomodate a CSA clientele of 50 boxes per week, so there will need to be winter greens on a grand scale. We have seeds for all our heirloom lettuces, cabbages, kale, chard, spinach, arugulas, mustard greens, radicchio, peas, collards, mache, the list goes on and on. We should be able to produce a very great amount of food. Summer is a time of garden luxury when all the plants produce lots of yield, quickly. A small garden produces enough for a great many people in a short time. But in winter, vast quantities need to be planted in order to have enough. Crops grow slowly, sometimes seeming to almost stand still. You just can’t have enough……

Today another mama turkey had her chicks hatch, 3 Narragansetts and what looks like a Beltsville Small White. We had a really disappointing breeding season for the Beltsvilles, whereas we have something like 45 Narragansett poults. In a nutshell, all the really rare breeds had very little gain, while the other much less critical heritage breeds did well beyond our hopes. I’m crossing my fingers that we have a lot of demand for turkeys this Thanksgiving, or boy are we in trouble. The feed bill alone will sink us….

This farm has become some sort of peafowl magnet. An India blue male showed up a month ago, and stayed. Last week a pied male showed up and seems to be staying as well. I guess I don’t care if every exotic bird within 5 miles makes this home, but the most recent addition has a scream like a broken crumhorn. He sounds just TERRIBLE. But at least he’s pretty.

 We are trying to cope with several side-projects. Bottling and selling honey, sun-dried tomatoes, dried apricots and other stone fruits, extra flower sales, and almond sales in preparation for the 2008 harvest. I don’t seem to have much free time lately, I wonder why…..eat turkey!!

 The blackberry harvest is just about over. There are still going to be a few fresh berries to pick, but just for us. I’m ending picking for sales as of today….it always seems a little sad when it’s over. I now have truly large amounts of frozen blackberries and blueberries packed away, for all those scones I’ll feel like making as soon as it cools down a little. The berries create so much work that it’s a bit of a relief when they’re done. The first of the green beans are ready as of today, so we can trade on hassle for another. I am trying two new kinds of beans this year and so far they look quite good.



1 thought on “July 19, 2008

  1. Glad to know there are still small, family farms that do things the old fashioned way (such as raising heritage breeds) in my area (live in Sacramento)!

    Have you considered raising/using geese to control weeds? They can be used in a variety of crops: garlic, strawberries, potatoes, cane berries, tobacco, cotton, mint and other herbs; sugar beets, tomatoes, onion, carrots, hops, blueberries, evergreen and deciduous nursery crops, and in orchards. They also eat a pretty wide range of weeds: young Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, sedge and nut grass, puncture vine, clover, chickweed, horsetail and many other weeds.

    Potentially it could be win-win-win situation for you. You’d have the opportunity to conserve yet another heritage breed(s), have another source of eggs, meat (mmm… Christmas goose!) and feathers and have a more eco-friendly, less labor-intensive form of weed control.

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