Tag: Campbell

Late Fall Revival

Three hours to the northwest everyone is buried in snow.  We only received about an inch, and that quickly melted away.   I took advantage of warm temperatures and no snow to clean up around the micro farm.  Contemplating this blog post I have struggled to come up with and answer to one key question.  Why has it been six months since I last blogged?  I do not have a good answer.  All I know is I found this past summer a difficult season.  Again, I do not know why.  I had plans to accomplish much more than I did.  The micro farm was left on its own too much.

Regardless, I am moving forward.  I am already anticipating next spring and summer.  This weekend I accomplished a good amount of work at the micro farm.  I pulled the remaining vegetables and cut down dead flower stalks.

The micro farm cleaned up, mostly, for winter
The micro farm cleaned up, mostly, for winter

I decided to leave the marigolds and other border flowers until spring.  Their roots will hold the soil and it will not wash away.

I was able to fill one of my compost bins with plants and stalks so I should have plenty of new compost this spring.

My full compost bin.
My full compost bin.

I was able to get a fairly good harvest today.  Lots of baby carrots, a few beets, a turnip or two, and one rutabaga.

Carrot, beet, and turnip harvest.
Carrot, beet, and turnip harvest.
The rutabaga harvest.
The rutabaga harvest.  It’s really big.  Sorry for not adding to understand the scale.

I was also able to start raspberry cane pruning.  I prune the yellow raspberries to the ground.

Yellow raspberry canes cut down
Yellow raspberry canes cut down

I also started pruning out old “wood” of the red raspberries, but I daylight was going away quickly.  The black raspberries are going to be a big effort to get them under control.  They are very aggressive growers and I have not been able to manage them to my preferences yet.  Maybe next year.

On Friday my friend Dylan and I loaded up three garbage cans of wood chips and brought them to the micro farm.  Our local electric utility offers free chips at one of their stations.  So we were the “crazy” people loading up wood chips in the middle of November.

Recently mulched path on the right.  Old mulch on the left.
Recently mulched path on the right. Old mulch on the left.

I think they look very nice, especially for the price.

The last significant task this weekend was adding pine needles to mulch garlic and other sensitive plants.

The pine needle harvest for this year
The pine needle harvest for this year

I purchased two cranberry plants from a friend this spring and they were give some protection; along with the garlic, blueberries, and strawberries.  I planted several types of garlic this past fall.  I am not sure what varieties will make it, but it will be fun to see in the spring.

A few more jobs before the winter sets in fully.  It will interesting to find out the type of winter we will have.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  I hope your day is filled with laughter, friendship, and delicious food.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

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Productive Two Weeks

Home repair projects have a way of interrupting life in ways you would never expect.  My project has been slowing life, a bit, but I am coming to the end. Just in time for spring to come around.

I know spring will be here before we all know what happened so I started a few seedlings on Friday.

DSC06378
A “big picture” view of my seedling setup. Don’t forget to give your seedlings 16 hours of light.
DSC06379
A “close up” of what is under the plastic

I am growing several varieties of plants (for example, onions) that require over one hundred growing days.  Even here, on the New York and Pennsylvania border, we typically do not  have that many growing days.  So starting inside is a must.  I start my seedling earlier than most, because the temperature they are growing in is lower, and the cooler temps slows germination and growth.

I put in my second seed order of the year, and it should be here this week.  It has a plant or two that will need to be started right away.  Hopefully I have enough room under the lights.

As I planted seeds this past week, I have been thinking to this same time in 2015.  I am going to try saving different varieties of seeds this year.  I have a lot to learn, but I started by taking a few notes to help me next fall.

My Field Notes notebook, seed saving instructions from Fruition Seeds
My Field Notes notebook, seed saving instructions from Fruition Seeds

I have grown to love a brand of small notebook called Field Notes.  They make a series called “Country Fair” and I chose one of my New York notebooks to start me seed saving notes.  I am growing to varieties of plants from seeds I purchased from Fruition Seeds.  They are a local seed company, and they encourage seed saving.  They include seed saving instructions and tips in each packet of seed.  If you are interested in getting started check them out at Fruition Seeds.

I have some heirloom seeds from other sources that I needed to take notes about. I used Susan Ashworth’s book Seed to Seed, that I was able to get from inter-library loan.  It is a wealth of information.  There are other great book available just check out your local library.

I am feeling productive as I reflect on the past two weeks.  While spring has tempted us this past weekend.  Winter is not leaving with out a fight.  We have some more cold temperatures coming this week.  Fortunately, the seedlings will not know the difference.  I will feel encouraged by getting my hands in soil again.  Maybe, just maybe, I can finish that home repair project too.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

 

Cucumbers to Pickles and Beans to Beans

Dramatic temperature swings were the story last week.  While the temperatures dominated conversations regionally, more locally our neighbors have been talking about a lightning strike.  Two of our neighbors lost electronics in their homes on Wednesday.  Fortunately, we had no damage at our house.  After piecing a timeline together I realize I had been outside the back door when the lightning had struck.  A bit scary to think about.

At long last the cucumber processing is winding down.  This is the third of three batches of dill pickles.  This week we will can a batch or two of sweet pickles and be done.

Finished dill pickles
Finished dill pickles

I finished cleaning up the onions this afternoon.  I cleaned off any mud and outer layers of onion skin.  I also clipped off any remaining onion leaves.

My small onion harvest
My small onion harvest

I had hoped for a larger harvest this year.  I did a poor job with my onion seedlings.  Along with not starting them well, putting them in the ground to early along with some hot and dry weather the seedlings withered.  Lessons learned for next year.

The bean harvest today
The bean harvest today

Today I pulled all the dry beans.  I think last week would have been better.  Some of them were dry and last week when it rained they absorbed some of the water.

The process was easy enough, but time-consuming.

I pulle the pods off the plants
I pulle the pods off the plants
Then I shelled the beans.  These are called Lewiston Two-Dot
Then I shelled the beans. These are named         Lewiston Two-Dot
These are the second bean I planted.  A slightly smaller white bean
These are the second bean I planted. A slightly smaller white bean
These beans are a bit green.  Hopefully they will dry a bit
These beans are a bit green. Hopefully they will dry a bit

The Micro-farm growing beds need some attention.  The weeds have really taken over.  Hopefully, this week I will be able to get out into them and pull the weeds.  With more moderate temperatures and sunny weather it should be fun to get outside and work.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

 

Clean Up and Finishing Up

Work at the Micro Farm this week has been mostly inside.  We have been canning more and more pickles and tomatoes.  We were able to finish canning the tomatoes, and ended up with a lovely variety of sauces and a few quarts of just tomatoes.

Similar to the week before I harvested all the cucumbers because the vines were withering.

The final cucumber harvest.
The final cucumber harvest.

This week we will finish with several batches of pickles and will be done with our garden canning. However, we will still be making jam for a while.

After the cucumbers were harvested I cleaned out the cucumber bed. It was hard to believe how far the vines traveled.

The cucumber bed cleaned out
The cucumber bed cleaned out

After the cucumber bed was cleaned out. Then I went over to the tomato bed and worked on cleaning it out.

The tomato bed cleaned out
The tomato bed cleaned out

Then all the vines went to the fire ring.  The tomato and cucumber vines had some disease and I did not want to add that disease to my compost pile.  So I burn it and then use the ashes around the Micro Farm.

Vines waiting to be burned.
Vines waiting to be burned.

Like much of the Northeast we had a frost scare last week. I covered the tenderest of plants.

Tomatillos covered to protect against frost
Tomatillos covered to protect against frost

Fortunately, the frost protection was not needed in this area. It was unseasonably cold but not frost.

There is still growth happening at the Cohocton River Rock Micro Farm.  I planted a late crop of rutabaga and cauliflower from seed.  Only a few seedlings popped up, and I thought they were the cauliflower plants.

Rutabaga, I think.
Rutabaga, I think.

Now I think the plants are rutabagas, and not cauliflower.  Keeping better records late in the summer will be a goal for next year.

The plants given to me by a friend are doing well.  I am pleased to see the doing so well.

Cauliflower plants.
Cauliflower plants
Cabbage plant
Cabbage plant

This week promises to be another busy and exciting week around the Micro Farm.  The weather forecast this week appears to be a rollcoaster of highs and lows.  It appears this fall will be interesting.

What are you busy with?  Are you enjoying fall?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

 

Late Summer Progress

No shortage of work to be done around the Micro-farm lately.  Most of the work has been cleaning and not related directly to growing food.  After all this non-garden work I am glad to be writing the blog again.

Popcorn
A few popcorn ears

The popcorn has tassled and most of the stalks have two ears on them.  I like the purple color on the tips of the silk.  It looks like another good year for popcorn.

One of three pumpkins
One of three pumpkins

After a couple of years of having to many pumpkins I only planted one or two plants this year.  Looking through the leaves today I saw three pumpkins.  They are good-sized.  I hope the pull through, the weather has been wet and damp lately.  Some of the leaves look like they have downy mildew on them.

Pumpkin leaves with downey mildew on them
Pumpkin leaves with downy mildew on them
The dry beans are mostly dry
The dry beans are mostly dry

As the dry beans continue to turn yellow I will pull out the plants by the roots then dry them on a screen.  After they are dried well, I will beat the plants against the screen to get the beans out.

The green pepper bulbs
The green pepper bulbs

I think this is the most successful year I have had growing peppers.  This year I was more disciplined in my plantings.  I planted fewer plants in each row than I have in the past.  I think I found the right ratio to space and plants.

Living and dying tomato vines
Living and dying tomato vines

A few weeks back I questioned if I should spray my tomatoes for late blight.  Well, many of the vines are dying.  They do not show signs of late blight on the fruit so I am wondering why they are dying.  Over the next day or so I will harvest all the fruit and place it in a cool place.  Those that are green hopefully, will ripen.

Over the past couple of weeks I also have done some planting.  I always plant something late in the season that I know that has little chance to finish before the frost.  A farmer friend offered me some free seedlings.  I planted some cabbage and broccoli.  I chose them because they were the most cold hardy and I thought they might have a chance.

Cabbage and broccoli seedlings.
Cabbage and broccoli seedlings.

The cauliflower, rutabaga, and kohlrobi are off to a poor start.  A few of the cauliflowers are doing well.  The rutabaga and kohlrobi are doing poorly, if they are growing at all.

A young cauliflower
A young cauliflower

I hope you are busy enjoying the bounty of your garden.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

 

Bending but not Breaking

All of us at Cohocton River Rock Micro Farm thank you all of you who have served our country.  Memorial Day always encourages me to reflect on the sacrifices people have made for our country.

After two days of, almost, constant 20 mile per hour wind everything seems to be settling down.  I had really hoped to transplant the tomatoes, peppers, and celery.  The night temperatures have been almost frost levels, but the wind was really the problem.

Leaning Garlic
The picture is not leaning the garlic is. They are all leaning from the constant wind.

After seeing what happened to the garlic I thought it would be best to wait until the wind slows down.  Monday is the warmest day without strong winds.

The wind did not slow down work around the Micro Farm though.  Thursday I rented a “mulcher” to clean up my collection of brush.

Mulcher
Me mulching. All the mulch went to create new walking paths.

My friend Dylan helped me get work done around the Micro Farm.  It was really great having a second pair of hands on Saturday with the wind blowing.

Strawberry
New netting over the strawberry patch.

Last year the chipmunks ate all of my ripe strawberries.  Dylan and I covered the strawberries with netting to protect them from getting eaten.  I will let you know how it works.

Mulch
We also purchased two bags of mulch for this walk way.
Straw
The marigolds are doing well. We also added straw to the walking paths between the growing beds.

In the walking paths I lay newspaper down first and then lay straw over the newspaper.   I held the newspaper down while Dylan would lay the straw down.  I could not have done both steps on Saturday without Dylan.  The wind would have had me running in circles.

Today was a beautiful day on the Micro Farm.  There is something about the sunlight this time of year.  I really enjoy it. I hope you do too.

The 2013 Cohocton River Rock Micro Farm.  Click to enlarge.

I hope you are able to enjoy to the weekend.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

 

Don’t Freeze In Place

I returned after a week of traveling to incredible growth around the Micro Farm.  Doing a quick tour I almost could not believe how everything had grown in just one week.  While that was great for the plants I want, the weeds definitely took advantage of my absence.

Weeds
A few weeds that I need to pull.

I do not usually discriminate about what plants I put into the compost.  I knew that could create some challenges.  This year it has.  The compost piles did not get hot enough to kill them.  Once the seeds get water and sunlight they begin to grow.  I have two methods of eliminating the weeds, (1) pull them (2) cover open soil with black plastic.  Another method I have read about is the “ten-day rule” if you hoe or cultivate your soil once every ten days the seeds grow but never take root and create more seeds.  I will be using black plastic to cover most of my open soil to eliminate weeds and to help slow soil evaporation.

On my return tour I was really excited to see the rhubarb flourishing.

Rhubarb
A healthy rhubarb plant

This poor rhubarb plant has been re-located twice.  Finally in its second home and a mild spring it is doing really well.  I am happy to see it flourishing.

Onion Sets
Onions coming up.

The onion sets I planted have begun to come up.  I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of a couple of locations I had forgotten I planted onions.

Radishes
Radishes needing to be thinned.

The few radishes I planted are doing well.  I do need to thin them out a little so when they “bulb out” they do not grow together.

Peas
My first crop of peas

I am trying something new with my peas this year.  So far everything is working well.  I hope they continue to grow nice and tall. I would love to have peas climbing the entire trellis.

While the frost-free percentages are good that this area would still have a freeze it has been several years since we have had one. Last year I planted my tomatoes and peppers this weekend.

This year as the frost is coming so I covered the strawberries.

Strawberries
Strawberry flowers

The strawberry plants are as strong as I remember them.  I really do not want to lose them to a frost.

Low tunnel
Strawberries under my home-made low tunnel hoops

I made these hoops last year.  I had planned to use them with some type of fencing to keep the animals away from the berries.  They went into use just a bit earlier than planned.  Hopefully this will keep the frost off the plants.  I had to use scraps of plastic, I do not a large enough clear plastic piece.  I will pull the black off when the temperatures are warm enough, and put it back on late in the afternoon so the sun warms up the black plastic.

I hope you avoid any frosts, and all your seedlings are doing well.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.