Saturday, December 20, 2008

We all need heroes

This is a book written by a newfound hero I have, Diana Beresford-Kroeger. I first heard her speak on a Living-on-Earth program and I have been smitten ever since.  Her mind is a work of art; she even speaks fluent Gaelic.  This book details 20 trees found in the north temperate zone, all of which we should be able to plant somewhere on our land and most of which have medicinal and edible properties.  I was reading about honey locusts last night and it turns out that the eastern redbud tree (Cersis canadensis) is a relative of the locust with an interesting Christian oral history. The redbud is also called the Judas tree. Diana writes, "Jesus, before his death by crucifixion, was betrayed by his best friend, Judas Iscariot, who, anguished by the remorse of his action, hanged himself on a redbud tree....The history also holds a legend that the tree blushed with shame and was forever pink afterward." It turns out that Judas hung himself on a close relative of the eastern redbud, Cersis siliquastrum (found in Palestine), also known as the Judas tree.  
We have finally planted a couple trees on our property, thanks to a very thoughtful friend (Mark, you're the best!) who gifted me with two heirloom apple trees for my birthday.  They look very healthy and content next to the hoophouse, alongside the 70 ft row of daffodils we have planted.  I've been wanting to plant cherry trees and peach trees as there may not be anything more beautiful in the springtime than their blooms.  And honey locusts, redbuds, pawpaws, catalpas, pear trees, and any other lovelies needing a secure home for life.  


Greenhouse is complete! We still need to double plastic the endwalls for extra insulation, get a propane tank delivered and set-up, have electricians wire up the house, build the tables for all the seedlings to go on, put down landscape fabric, etc. etc. But it feels done to us, and oh what a feeling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Greenhouse work

Here we are drilling, framing, leveling, drilling, sawing, drilling. Our greenhouse is going to be so AWESOME! One of my brothers is coming out later today to help us lift the huge exhaust fan onto it's posts as well as the super heavy heater. I'd rather be figuring out how to grow cyclamen or something along those lines. However, having this house up and running should have a huge, positive impact on our growing season this year. We thought we would have this done by the end of Nov. Maybe too much racquetball??? There is also a picture in here of the great dilapidated house that is on our property that we currently use as a storage space/barn. We're not quite sure what to do with it---another project, another day.

Sowing the seed

This picture is from a week ago. We have sown arugula, lettuce mix, turnips, radishes, and beets for winter market. We saved two beds so we can have some veggies in late Feb./March as well. It's hard to time all this stuff, especially as it has been so cold this Dec. We've actually been under the weather with a head cold for the past week. While our greenhouse waits, patiently waits. We have sown white clover (already germinating!) in between our rows in the hoophouse---the seed is so fine and so much smaller than crimson clover. we've never worked with white clover before so we're hoping this isn't a bad move. time shall tell!

Taking it to the courts

So the cat's out of the bag; we love racquetball. We can even hold conference calls between games to get business done, just like in all those eighties movies (remember Wall St. with Charlie Sheen?) We are missing the cool clothes though. We played three games....I should've won all three, but I only won one. I think it was rigged somehow. I did get a victory dance in, as pictured below. Stuart's victory dance consisted of a leap against the wall; he's trying to recall the name of the breakdancing move this jump replicates as we speak. If you're looking for something to help you deal with winter angst, racquetball may be the answer. not that I think winter angst ever goes away, not until the redbuds and forsythia start blooming---but we've got to try something to cope.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ransom Visits

This past week we had the pleasure of having Stuart's younger brother Ransom help us out for a couple days on the farm. We finished seeding and mulching our driveway, spread gravel over our greenhouse floor so that water drains properly, and planted 750 daffodils. Daffodils take so much longer to plant than tulips or iris because they need 6 in centers. We originally wanted to put them in our landscape somewhere, but efficiency won out as usual and we planted them in a boring row next to our new hoophouse. We're hoping the squirrels don't get desperate and dig up the bulbs for food. They were the last of the bulbs so now we can move on to finishing our greenhouse. We all went to go see Synecdoche, NY, the new film by Charlie Kaufmann. Do yourself a favor--spare your mind the torture. The owner/manager of the theater was walking out as we were entering. He excitedly told us it is the best film of 2008 and gave us some food for thought before going in--"At the end of the movie think about what you thought the plot was at the beginning of the movie, and then ask yourself, What happened?" Not surprisingly, he also said there had been quite a few people walking out of this movie.

Dogsitting Ruby

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lettuce, Radicchio, and Anemones

Here we have a couple pictures of some late lettuce and radicchio that should be ready in a couple weeks for winter market.   The radicchio has taken awhile to head up, but is looking really nice.  It's so hard to figure out what to charge for radicchio as it takes much longer than lettuce.  We should have planted four times as much, but as we're in an amateur stage of farming (especially winter farming), we'll forgive ourselves.  The temps have been super cold lately with the last two nights being 23F.  We didn't rowcover our lettuce bed when it got down to 27F last week and we lost our romaine.  The middle of the stems ruptured and are now brown and pretty gross looking.  The other varieties held up, butterhead and two redleaf varieties.  We covered for the past two nights.  

Here is a picture of a presprouted anemone. It is my first time growing these so I have no idea how they'll perform. Seems a bit risky to have 60 ft. of them planted in our very valuable hoophouse space, but I come to this conclusion after having ordered them. Brilliant. The ranunculus we planted on Friday were a different variety than we normally grow (we got them from Ednie's) and they did NOT like the presprout treatment we gave them. We lost about half of them to some mold, and although we planted the other half, I feel like that may have been a mistake seeing as how they were probably all infected even if it wasn't obvious. I guess we'll see. The learning curve is a bit overwhelming. We're also concerned about how flowers are going to sell in our economy that is deflating. Hopefully people will need them as I do to brighten things up, but I think we may downsize some next season.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hoophouse Complete!

 Actually we still have to rig a system to roll up the sidewalls, but for the most part it is now finished! We had to have a few trusty farmer friends come over to help us pull the plastic over the house. Not only did they brave weather in the twenties, but they showed up at eight o'clock in the morning to help us beat the wind. Friends for life. All said and done, this house took about five eight hour days with two people to put up.  Cost for this house so far is around $5000 big ones.  Pricy, we know, but we now have around 2,250 ft. of growing space.  If we make 2.25 per square foot, then our house is paid for!!  I think I'm doing the numbers right.  This house has more square ft than the house we'll live in for the rest of our lives.  Crazy.    


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Third Day and Seven Things Me

I had to take a break from hoophouse construction yesterday because we had flowers to plant. black-eyed susans, yarrow, sweet william, snapdragons, and veronica all tucked into their neat winter beds.   Stuart and Gerard kept on trucking with it.  As I've been blog-tagged by Sarah from Saipua, I must face up to the challenge before me of describing seven facts about myself.
1. Sometimes I find I am intimidated by flowers. Pre-cooled tulips, calla lilies, elephant ears, coleus, delphinium, etc. The unknown character that lurks behind the facade of grace and elegance is so frightening. Until the first cut.
2. I think my life would be more fun if I could have this attitude
3.  My hair is turning white at a rapid clip.  I'm cool with it.  Stuart says he's cool with it.
4.  I wanted to shave my head in sixth grade and be a wrestler like my older brothers.  I'm glad that didn't work out for me.  
5.  I have a fetish for fabric even though I have no idea how to use a sewing machine.  I have an embarrassing amount tucked away for the day I miraculously understand how it all works.  
6.  I hate being cold.  Everyone says I look like an eskimo, but really, let's go with something more Indonesian.  
7.  I've never liked black and white films (with the exception of the Battle of Algiers).  I think I watched The Wizard of Oz at too young an age too often and the brilliance of the color switchover made me a lifetime hater of black and white.   Stuart makes fun of me, finding me quite unsophisticated just because I don't like boring old movies. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Women and Sledgehammers

Let it be known, I'm not a builder.  Putting up this hoophouse up is on par with shoving splinters under my nails.  Stuart doesn't allow me to talk while we do this, so I just pretend like I'm a convict guilty of stealing glances at the Prince Badeshaan as he disrobed before his afternoon bath.  Now I must work on constructing a hoophouse for the Prince's exotic collection of cacti that only bloom under the light of a full moon.    
Actually, the work isn't so bad.  It took us forever to get the site measured out correctly and properly leveled.  And then the sledgehammering began.   40 inch anchor posts down down down into the soil.  I have mixed feelings about wielding a sledgehammer.  My puny muscles shiver after about five whacks, but there is something magical to me, much like seeing Prince Badeshaan naked, about brute strength and feeling as if I too can be helpful in constructing something useful on the farm.