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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tomatoes For 2008

We love heirloom tomatoes here at Boulder Belt Eco-Farm. We started this love affair back in 1994 when we were given the seeds of a pink Brandywine tomato by Susan Domonkos, a friend of mine from my horsey days at Old Stone Riding Centre . we dried the seeds and planted them that spring and got wonderful pink beefsteak maters and we were hooked.

This year's roster of tomatoes is as follows
Dr Wyche's Yellow-a huge orange beefsteak mater with great taste
Great White-bought this seed last year, misplaced the packet and wondered in august why we had no white tomatoes, even though I knew I had ordered seeds. Found the seeds this spring (exactly where they were supposed to be) and planted them. These will be white or ivory in color. I have no idea what they will taste like.
Nayagous-we grew this black tomato for the first time last year and it was wonderful. The plants are prolific producers of golf ball sized perfectly round black maters, taste is excellent
Crincovich-a huge pink tomato from Czechoslovakia with an unpronounceable name. Like the Nayagous we grew these for the first time last year and loved them.
Black Krim-our friend Wyatt gave us a couple of black krim plants last year so we saved seed. I was introduced to black krim back in 1989 or 90 while I was working at DiPaolo's restaurant in Oxford, OH (which is not to be confused with the current DiPaolo's restaurant in Oxford, OH which has nothing to do with the DiPaolo family or the incredible cooking they used to do there on North Beech St). George DiPaolo Jr. ordered black tomatoes one day and we in the kitchen were fascinated by this strange fruit. Sometime in the 1990's I grew Black Krim in one of our early market gardens and was not too impressed (and I discounted the fact I didn't really know what I was doing back than and the land where they were planted was in great need of soil improvement). Burt the Krim's we grew last year were beautiful and tasty so they are now in the tomato rotation.
GL-18-a wonderful red mater that is the rarest of all out tomatoes. You can sometimes find these seeds via the Seed savers Exchange annual yearbook but known as Glick's Pride. We saved this variety from extinction back in 1994 or 95. A colleague, Wendy Carpenter, at the Richmond farmers market had found seeds for these while visiting her dying grandfather-in-law who had been a tomato breeder in the 1940's. She planted the thousand or so seeds and got 3 plants and from one of those plants I got two tomatoes and saved the seeds and have been growing them out each ever since. This season they are the main red tomato as all the hybrids we used to grow as our main red crop are now owned by Monsanto and we will not buy their products. I will miss Big Beef but GL-18 is an excellent replacement.
Amish Paste-Grew this for the first time last year and loved them. They make incredible tomato sauce and are prolific as hell. these replace Opalka which got crossed pollinated with other tomatoes so we lost the strain. I love Opalka but they are not great producers and in market farming you need to pay attention to yields and always opt for the heavy yielders.
Red Grape-one of our cherry tomatoes. It's red and shaped like a grape. Nice tasting
Cherrywine-a cherry type we are developing. We had a pink brandywine cross with a sunsugar and got these wonderful pink cherry tomatoes with great taste. Boulder Belt is the only place you will find these as we have not gotten this stable enough to start distributing seeds. It takes about 5 to 10 years to get a tomato strain to stabilize into an open pollinated variety.
BB Striped-another breeding experiment. We got these wonderful striped (red and yellow) tomatoes when a pink brandywine (the slut of the garden) crossed with an opalka and we got these rather misshapen striped tomatoes. For the past 6 years we have been selecting for taste and color and this year we should have a stable open pollinated variety. These look a lot like the German Johnson striped (which we grew last year but dropped because our BB striped is a better tomato).
Costoluto Florentine-A wonderful red tomato from Italy. We grew these for the first time last year and at first I wrote them off as bad tasting, diseased plants not worth bothering with. But a month later these determinant plants were producing these beautiful red fluted fruits with a taste that is second to none. So I kept seed
Yellow Taxi-this is the oldest of the tomatoes we save seed from each year. After discovering the world of heirloom tomatoes via the pink brandywine we ordered yellow taxi seed, probably from seed savers exchange. This is a wonderful determinant lemon yellow tomato. When we started with this it would mature in about 65 days which is quite early for a tomato but through 14 years of selection I have gotten our strain to mature in 52 days, about the earliest tomato there is. We use these for early hoop house production as for this is what we have been breeding them.
Sunsugar-one of the few hybrids we grow. this is the best tasting cherry tomato we grow by far. these orange beauties are early , prolific and tasty as well as our best selling cherry mater. once people taste them, they tend to get addicted.
Early Girl-We felt we needed a red hybrid to replace Big Beef so we are trying early Girl, one of the oldest of the hybrid tomato varieties. I have not grown an early girl tomato in probably 20 years. We will see if we like them.
Early Big Red-I have no idea what these will be like. We ordered something from Schumway's and they sent us this "experimental Variety" to try so I started some seeds from the packet. Sounds like they are red, big and early. they just might be our hybrid replacement for Big Beef
Opalka-Eugene found a volunteer Opalka plant last year that was true to type and saved seed. Maybe these will be pure and we can start growing them again. Though with the Amish paste being as good tasting and far more prolific I don't know why we would continue to grow this variety other than for old times sake.
Sunray-we got these from our friend Wyatt. these are a beautiful yellow orange fruit, egg shaped with great flavor and an heirloom, though I do not know the history of them.
Yellow Pear-A pear shaped cherry tomato that is yellow. these are perhaps better to look at than to eat, though they are one of our most popular sellers.
Green Grape-This is reported to be one of the oldest heirloom tomatoes around. these produce a green round fruit a bit smaller than a golf ball with a really nice taste. We have not grown these in several years but i found some seed from 2002 and decided to see if the seed was still viable. I started about 150 seeds and got 10 plants which should be more than enough as they are prolific and due to their color not our best seller (though once people eat one they are usually hooked)
Matina-an early red tomato we got to try as a hoop house tomato. I know nothing about them other than they have a strange shaped leaf and will be big plants and they are an heirloom.

So that is the list of the 20 kinds of tomatoes we will be growing this year

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stewie Update

Okay Stewie as I mentioned sprayed the house (but i got all the smell out of everything) so he was banished to the barn. Last Monday we had a vet appointment to get his nuts neutralized. he had to be at the vet's by 9am. So at 8 am we go out to look for him in the barn. cannot find him. 8:30am comes, still cannot find the damn cat. 8:45 comes, still no Stewie. I go in the house, call the vet and cancel the appointment. they say when we catch him bring him in and they will put him in a cage and de-nut him the following day. Cool.

I, having called the vet, give up on the Stewie search and start dealing with tomato seedlings. Eugene has not given up on the Stewie search and at 8:55am catches him and crams the cat into the pet carrier. Stewie is pissed off majorly by this state of affairs.

We take cat to the vet drop him off, run some errands in Richmond, IN and go home. Call the vet and are told the cat is staying over night and we can get him the following day. This is good because we have lots of farm work to do and having to spend 45 minutes going to the vet and back home would have put a wrench into the works.

the next day we get over to the vets early afternoon, pick up the cat. Pay them money. The vets say "boy he'll be happy to get home" I say "but as far as he is concerned he is not going home". Stewie is glaring at us through the bars on the door of the pet carrier. He is not happy about anything

We take him home, put him in the barn open the door to the cage and after sitting there for a minute, gets up and slinks away. We have not seen him since. but we know he is there because he is still liberally spraying the barn. The only good I can see here is the stink will keep mice, rats and other rodents out of the barn.

I wonder if Stewie will ever warm up to us or if he is so perpetually mad at us and his situation that he will be the phantom barn cat.

The lesson is never ever get an unfixed sexually mature male cat via FreeCycyle.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's Tick Season!

One of the gajillion ticks we have so far removed from various mammalian hides this spring

It's tick season here at Boulder belt Eco-Farm. Eugene and I have spent many warm moments with the dogs removing ticks from them for the past 10 days. It got warm and the littler critters got active and hungry. We find them on the dogs and on us. Would use toxic pesticides but they do more harm than good in the long and short of it. The treatments for the dogs are not very effective and they are expensive. We have used them in the past but questioned why we, as sustainable folk, would use such products. So this season we will not use poisons made by corporations of which we do not approve and control the ticks through more natural methods.

Nate looking at the hand holding yet another tick

Today we must have pick 40 or 50 off of the dogs. Nate is a tick magnet. It is easy to pull 10 or more off of him in a single tick removal event. Danny is second in tick magnetism. We get about 10 a day from his hide. He has long fine hair so it can be difficult to remove the vermin from his coat. hard to find them, for that matter. Nate with his short coat is easy to deal with. but also easy prey for the ticks. Arlo seems to be almost repellent to them. We have found one or two on him so far this tick season.

After we remove the ticks we burn 'em with cigarettes until they are dead. Probably have prevented a gajillion eggs from being fertilized, laid and hatched into larvae. And we will kill more BWAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

Food Issues

It looks bad for our food system. High petro prices is having a negative impact on how grains are farmed either conventionally or organically. the price for flour I buy, Kroger certified organic, has remained steady but I suspect in the next few days the price will go up 50% or so (if it hasn't already, I have not bought flour in about 10 days). This happened with King Arthur flour which I can no longer afford when there are cheaper options that are also certified organic.

I was in TSC buying dog food and looked at the price of chicken feed. It was going for 27¢ a pound if you got it 5 pound bags. It was lower for larger amounts. 27¢ per pound is what I was paying last year for certified organic chicken feed. This year it is well over 35¢ a pound and thus too expensive for us to buy to feed meat chickens. So, for the first time in 12 or so years, we will not be raising chickens for sale or for ourselves (we may still get 30 or so for our own freezer even though they will be expensive birds, we have not yet decided.). I will say local organic feed prices are not rising nearly as fast as conventional and likely would have stayed pretty steady had the Filbruns soybean crop not crapped out on them last year causing them to have to buy in semi loads of organic soy from other parts of the country. Dale told me the soy cost him $22K, double what it cost last year

If we were to raise birds, with the increase in feed, gas and likely processing, we would have to charge at least $7 a pound for a whole chicken. Though at $7 a pound we would profit just $150 for 7 weeks of work. Not our highest profit margin by any means and chickens are a lot more work than produce (which is a lot of work in and of itself).

Already I hear there is some rationing going on in the country. Wal-Mart/Sam's Club is limiting how much rice a person can buy. This will probably get worse. I am wondering if this will be an issue with local foods. People not being able to grow enough for what I think will be a sharply increased demand. though in all likelihood the non-locavores will be slow to realize that if they want to eat they are going to have to find local sources for their food and also will have to grow some of what they eat themselves.

I was thinking about this last night after reading a thread on the SSE forum about food and farming and famine (I have been reading a lot about this over the past 10 years or so and even more in the past month as the mainstream is beginning to realize that our agriculture system is broken and food is important, maybe as important as money) that my county, while rural and a big agricultural county, cannot feed itself because most the acreage is planted in commodity crops-corn, soy with a bit of wheat and other grains and livestock. There are very few produce farms and most of the produce land will be put into sweet corn. I can think of maybe 10 farms in the county producing (non commodity) food on any kind of commercial scale. I think (hope) there are more than that. The Eaton farmers market has mostly very small producers and the biggest "farm" grows nothing at all, they resell what they don't grow (and I suspect they will will be just about out of business after this season).

So how is Preble County gonna feed itself? We cannot eat corn and soy grown for the industrial trades like ethanol (which is the worst idea humans have come up with, perhaps ever.), There is a lot of cattle and hogs raise in PC. But a meat based diet just ain't healthy and a lot of that cattle is grain fed so soon enough will no longer be raised because the price of corn and soy are getting too high. A lot of people have deluded themselves into thinking that we have the best agriculture system in the history of the world but now the gild is off the lily and we can see that the Green Revolution Ag system so dependent on cheap oil has been feeding us bad food and also has been destabilizing the planet for 50 years now. Before the green revolution more people farmed and overall the diet was better (more whole foods and less processed food). In developing countries before they were told told to get modern with their farming people were in great poverty but the family system/culture was intact and people were able to feed and cloth themselves very well. now that they grow for the commodity system they are still desperately poor but because of money they are now taxed by the government, do not have enough to eat and the family system has been broken. But the the people in charge of business are making a lot of money off of the labor of these poor third worlders and of course we in the first world even if we are not rich and powerful get to drink cheap coffee and eat inexpensive bananas.

Change is here folks, cause by a combination of climate change, bad Ag. policies and most importantly greed. I suggest you learn as much as you can as quickly as you can about food, where it comes from, what is in it and how to make your own. if you continue to depend on the corporate tit to feed you will go hungry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

It's earth day once again. A time to reflect on what we have done to simplify our lives and have a lesser impact on the planet.

Today I planted a bunch of broccoli, did some laundry and hung it outside to dry, ate breakfast of locally raised eggs and a smoothie made from raw milk/yogurt and melon and berries we grew last year and put in the freezer for later use. Soon will go get Stewie the cat back from the vet where he was neutered yesterday. After that Eugene and I will enjoy a fun filled afternoon of planting celery and onions.

Friday, April 18, 2008


This morning at 5:36am EDT I notice the house started shaking and continued to do so for about 1.5 minutes. I thought to myself that is strange. There are no Semis going by on 127 so why is the house rattling?

When Eugene got up around 6:45am I said I had felt a strange shaking but I doubted that it was an earthquake but had no idea what it was since it definitely was not truck traffic. Than I went to one of my favorite websites-the USGS earthquake center (I am a bit of geology nerd) and there on the world map was a red square in the middle of the USA indicating that an earthquake had happened in the last hour. Clicked on the red square and saw that it had happened in SE IL at 5:36 EDT and right as I found out that information Eugene turned on the TV and the Daily Buzz said they were going to talk about it but instead went to several commercial breaks (that show used to be so good, so cutting edge. Now...not so much). So He turned to WHIO and that is all they were talking about.

I filled out the "Did you Feel It?" form at the USGS Eathquake Center. I have always wanted to do that but since earthquakes tend to be rare here in the eastern half of the USA I did not know if i ever would. I didn't have much to report other than the house shook for about 90 seconds

Turns out at 4:36 CDT there was a 5.2 tremor in West Salem IL about 300 miles west of here.
There have been 2 tiny aftershocks since than which caused the dogs, Nate and Danny to get all weird and start barking at each other and a pack of coyotes to start howling around 8am EDT all while I was out harvesting spring mix for the farmers market tomorrow.

Wow I think I just felt another tremor. House shook with no traffic at 11:17am EDT. It's now 11:25 and it has not yet shown up on the earthquake map so maybe I felt something else (or they take a while to post this stuff)

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Yesterday morning I awoke to cat piss smell, courtesy of a very angry and freaked out new cat. Eugene came down a couple of hours after I got up (I am an early riser, he is not) and got a whiff of the cat stink and kind of freaked out. I don't blame him, it's nasty stuff. Than Eugene let in the dogs and Nate had gotten into it with a skunk (who I suspect was raiding what Nate thinks of as "His" compost piles). The skunk odor easily trumped cat piss stink.

Nate was put back outside and in the afternoon when it got warm I made a concoction of water, dog shampoo, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and gave Nate a bath (he also had rolled in cow shit a few days ago so had that going for him too). Removed a lot of dirt and all the skunk and cow pie stench and things were better with him-he was a dirty, dirty dog.

Came in the house and realized a lot of the cat piss odor was on a cloth hanging in a door way so removed that and most of the stink magically disappeared.

If you are keeping track it is skunks 2 Nate 0 so far this year.

Animals, they add so much to our lives


and Stewie and me at 5am this morning

After 26 hours of hiding out under the bed in the computer room/guest room Stewie decided he had had enough isolation last night and came out from under the bed and decided Eugene and me were okay sat on us all evening while we watched a show about breaking the Maya code on PBS. I think Stewie will become a great cat, he's already quite nice.

the next step now that he's come out of hiding is to make an appointment at the vet and get his balls snipped. He's already sprayed parts of the house once (nothing like a pissed off cat, I'll tell ya). Fortunately it looks like everything he sprayed can easily be removed from the house (a cloth we had over a doorway to keep heat in during the winter, a cat bed) I am hoping I am not wrong about this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Freecycle for those who do not know is a web/email based system for people to use to get rid of things they do not need or find things they do need all the while keeping useful objects out of the landfill. You will find offers for about anything on Freecycle and requests to match.

I have been subscribed to 3 local lists (Preble County, Oxford, Richmond, IN) for several years but rarely make use of Freecycle. but this week I did. On Monday I gave away a sewing machine to a woman who lives near the old farm who will be making lab robes for military veterans along with clothes for her new Grandbaby who was threatening to enter the world while she picked up the sewing machine. So an object that was simply gathering dust in the store is now been given a good home.

Tuesday Stewie, a black and white domestic short hair cat, from Hamilton came to live with us. Since Navin died I have slowly realizing I need another cat. Trina is a great cat and getting better all the time but she does not like to be held and is pretty useless for hunting since she was declawed by her former people. So when a plea came over the Freecycle list that Stewie needed a home I replied after thinking about it for a week.

I would like to say Stewie is a great cat (he is very handsome) but ever since he got here he has freaked out and has been in hiding. He did eat all the cat food put out for both of them over night so we know his appetite is good. Trina is pretty freaked herself over the new cat. The dogs do not seem to realize there is another animal in the house. That, or they just don't care.

So That is my FreeCycle adventure for this week. If you want to live a greener life (and this is Earthweek after all, a great time to start one's journey down a green road) click on the link in the title of this post and that will take you to the main FreeCycle site where you can find a group or 5 in your area and start reducing, reusing and recycling.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Getting Things Done

It rained early yesterday and we ended up with 1.5 inches which filled the market garden with water. So we got a day off from planting things in the garden. Instead I pricked 200 pepper seedlings (out of about 450 seeds planted-fairly bad germination) into 2" soil blocks and Eugene planted French and galia melons along with replanting zucchinis because the first bunch I planted had terrible germination due to me using old seeds. I got 6 seeds out of 100 (maybe more) to germinate.

Later we investigated the new to us Coke and Pepsi fridges and decided they needed professional help so I called up Lowman's in Eaton and made an appointment to have their commercial refrigeration guy come out early Monday morning to see what's wrong with them. This visit will likely be expensive but we need to get the fridges up and running before we open the store April 23rd, that's just 11 days away.

We also did thinking about our signage. We have a couple of big signs we bought from a Dunkard who used to sell/repair Howard Miller Clocks. He sold them to us many years ago for $50 IIRC. They have been sitting around posing as tables for several years and now we are finally able to deal with them. So now we have to come up with a design and find someone who will either put a vinyl design on them of someone who will paint a design on them. I am leaning strongly towards hiring a sign painter rather than someone who uses computer aided design to create signs. Not to mention, I feel vinyl is more toxic than paint (I am probably very wrong on this, I should ask my brother who knows his paints and toxins). As a person who was raised by real artists and has more than her share of art talent (which means you would think I could design and paint the damn signs myself but I keep running into creative blocks so the task keeps not getting done) I would be more comfortable using an artist and not a technologist to do the signs. the down side is there are not many sign painters left in the world-this craft is being destroyed by the vinyl sign industry which is sad.

Friday, April 11, 2008

127 Yard Sale Info

I see several people have come here via the keywords "world's longest yard sale". We are planning on participating once again. I am hoping to get more vendors this year. Just $10 a 10' x 10' spot per day or $30 bucks per spot for the entire 4 days if paid in advance. You supply your own tables, tents etc.. We will supply the spot and port-a-johns. Email me if interested. We had thousands come through last year and the year before. Everyone made money and had fun too boot.

We have started a tradition of having a big cookout for all the vendors Saturday night with a bonfire by our pond. That has been a lot of fun for everyone.

It will be August 7 through 10 2008, the first full weekend that month.

Planting Update

Eugene planting leeks. they are so small you can't even see them in the picture
The Pepsi cup is not full of pop but rather a bit of water and powdered kelp and leek seedlings

So far this spring we have planted the following in our market garden
strawberries, 2 kinds of leeks (with 2 more beds to plant of King Seig, our huge beautiful leeks), 2 kinds of sweet onions (with several kinds of yellow and red still to go. Should have 10 to 12 beds of onions when we are done), shallots (we probably will not sell any this year. instead will use this planting to build up our seed stock for the 2009 season), garlic (3 kinds planted last November), shelling peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, scallions, lettuce (many kinds, mostly heirlooms), arugula, spring mix, spinach, asparagus, 3 kinds of kale, 3 kinds of broccoli, cilantro, perennial herbs (these had already been in the garden but were in a very weedy spot so we dug them up, pulled pounds of switch grass roots out of the herb root balls and replanted them in what we hope is a better spot)-oregano, French tarragon, garlic chives, regular chive, winter savory, sage and thyme. I also have basil and parsley started but not planted in the garden yet.

Soon we will transplant cucumbers, zucchini, French melons, tomatoes and basil into the two hoop house we have erected for them. the hoop house will mean we get these items 4 to 8 weeks earlier than if we waited until our last frost date (officially May 15th but the reality of the past 10 years is last frost can be as late as May 31). We have lots of seedlings in our germination room and also in the cold frames just waiting for us to get the time to put down mulch and irrigation tapes (which might be today as it is too wet to till, transplant or direct seed anything that is not covered by plastic in the garden)

We still have leeks in the ground from last year. The plan is to dig all of them up for the farmers market next Saturday, Apr 19th. Than we will be out of leeks until august when the first leeks should be ready to harvest. We also have a few potatoes from last year that have not yet sprouted. Some may just make it to the market as well. As will the garlic from last year I had to put into a refrigerator to keep them from degrading any more. In spring garlic wants to either sprout or rot but keeping them cold tricks them into believing it is still winter.

In the cold frames we have celery, celeriac, two kinds of lettuce (that should have been transplanted yesterday but instead we spent the day transplanting hundreds of leek seedlings. This is a lot like planting grass one blade at a time), a second planting of broccoli, parsley, and pots and pots of of onions and leeks.

Inside we have more lettuce, around 350 peppers seedlings, cuke and zuke seedlings, early tomato seedlings (we have around 35 right now, 3 kinds, yellow taxi, Matina and early Girl.) In a week or so I will plant another 1000 or so tomato seeds, around 25 different kinds, for our main crop along with the eggplant and more zucchini, cukes, melons and basil. It will be a full house until late May/early June when we start transplanting them into the garden.

That's the planting Update for April 11th.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dogs and Peepers

It finally got warm enough for the spring peepers and toads to start their mating wail.

This new noise has got the dogs all upset. They stand on the deck with ears cocked trying to figure out from which direction the noise is coming. Than they leap off the deck and go bark at it.

They have been doing this all night. In a day or two they will get used to the noise and not be bothered by it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Boulder Belt is NOT in Colorado

Just a note to my Colorado visitors. I am happy you have come to read this blog but know
Boulder Belt IS IN OHIO

I see from my blog statistics that I have a lot of hits from people in Colorado looking for all sorts of local foods. I am not local to you people in the SW USA.

Not to mention, yesterday there was a message on the answering machine from a person in Boulder Colorado looking for hens (and no we do not raise hens, not for eggs, not for sale, not for anything). I have also had a call from a lawyer asking my opinion as a CO farmer about fighting cocks, Coloradians looking for raw milk, CSA's, etc.. He was rather embarrassed when I told him I was in Ohio. I was even told by a farming colleague that he has gotten calls from Colorado enquiring about his organic livestock feeds due to people reading this blog.

Sorry, but I cannot help you. But you can help yourselves by carefully reading the side bar where such information as location are situated (my location is clearly spelled out in my bio on the top of the side bar).

All I can say is get a clue about geology and know that Colorado and especially Boulder Colorado does not have the monopoly on Boulders and that people in other parts of the USA and the world at large can and do use the term BOULDER to describe their localities.

At first this was funny to us here at the farm but now it is getting tiresome.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Look for Spring

Changed the look of the blog. How do you like it?

Mizuna Bee

It was a beautiful spring day yesterday and while waiting for some compost to be delivered to the bed where we would plant lettuce I saw this 3 banded Italian Honey bee working the flowers on some mizuna that had been over wintered. It took a bit to get a shot, she was quite active trying to find a flower that no one had already visited. At one point I was running down the bed cursing the slowness of the focus on my digital camera but finally i got a few nice pictures and this is one of them.

Friday, April 04, 2008

No Gas Market Garden

It has occurred to us Bouldarians the past couple of days that we have used no gas in the planting and maintenance of the market garden this year. All the beds have been prepped either with the big broadfork or the wheel hoe and than raked. No tiller needed.

Eugene is finding that by doing everything by hand means a lot more finesse. Machines tend to compact the soil and break things like irrigation lines and young plants if one is not careful. Using a hoe, shovel or broadfork is a lot easier on the soil and the environment.

If we could get over our addiction to plastic food grade buckets, row cover, hoop house plastic, plastic seedling trays, and the landscape fabric we would would be pretty durned sustainable along with driving a V-8 Dodge Ram Van (though we do not drive daily and always combine trips) and using the grid for electric and natural gas. As it is, for Americans, we are quite sustainable but I believe we can and will do better.

At any rate, I hope we can continue with gas free farming for a while yet. Eventually the BCS will have to be used for something like mowing the hillside and likely a couple of new beds will be opened up this spring and that is a lot faster with the plow and tiller (like 5 hours to open a bed by hand, 30 minutes with the plow and tiller). And the grass will grow and while we do have a reel mower to use it the grass has to be short and doing 2+ acres with one is not realistic. So the gas mowers will have to be used to keep the grass neat and well kept so the neighbors do not look badly upon us (and they will too-it's the American way).

Rain Day Musings

It's raining today. Not a heavy rain but there was enough rain overnight to make the fields too muddy to work in so we have done other things like completing our state and federal income tax returns and writing appropriate checks (the self employed almost never get refunds from the IRS). This means this summer we should get hundreds of dollars in free money from the gummint. I thought the Democrats were the ones to hand out free money. Crazy world.

Went to town to buy things we need like food and envelopes. Also went to the post office to send out an order of garlic powder and to pick up any mail in the PO Box. We had a box of brown turkey figs waiting patiently for us along with a plea from the Farm Bureau to join up so they can promote our farm. Of course that costs money and Boulder Belt seems to be on their web site anyhow so why pay money? Especially to a group who has a history of not being on the small farmers side but rather on the side of big business. Local Harvest has an incredible website that does a great job of promoting Boulder Belt Eco-Farm and they do this for free (though I have been known to contribute to their cause which gives us even better promotion).

Scored some $1 a bottle Santa Cruz organic strawberry lemonade at Kroger's. I love marked down organic food. Made up for the $1.39 a can organic black beans (which I get because they are the only canned beans without a plastic liner in the can leach pthalates into my food).

Made arrangements to give away a sewing machine that was given to me and which I have never used. It has been taking up space for over 5 years and when I saw a request for a sewing machine on Freecycle this morning I sent the woman an email saying she can have mine. I really need to get some stuff together and post it on the several local Freecycle groups to which I belong. Time to get rid of useless (to me) items. Of course, many of these items make good fodder for the 127 yard sale and that is likely where they will end up. That way they will make us a bit of money, but I will probably lose Karma points.

I don't know what I will do with the rest of the day. I know some pepper seeds are beginning to germinate and there are several trays of lettuce to go out to the cold frame so they can be put in the ground next week some time. And I should start more lettuce plants for transplanting in 3 to 4 weeks.

Yesterday after planting asparagus all morning I spent a great deal of the afternoon planting broccoli seedlings while Eugene planted snow peas and snap peas and got the area ready for the new strawberry plants. Oh and talked to some guy who stopped by wanting us to sell his eggs for him. We are not licensed to resell eggs, dairy or meat products. Though I suppose now that we have retail refrigeration it would not be too hard to get an RFE (retail Food Establishment) License. Than again the store building has no running water and that is likely a requirement. The solution, of course is for us to get back into the pastured laying hen biz and raise our own eggs and sell those. Just need a coop for the girls and a supply of new egg cartons. Oh, and the commitment to never leave the farm for more than 18 hours ever again.

Soon it will be time to start dinner which is salmon with some veggies from the freezer. I am thinking wax beans and perhaps some boiled potatoes (which are not frozen) and brownies with walnuts for dessert.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Planting for the Future

This morning we got up nice and early with big plans to plant the 250 asparagus crowns that came via UPS 2 days ago. Yesterday Eugene deep forked and than hand dug trenches in 5 50' beds and I made up a cocktail of dry amendments to put in the trenches along with compost ahead of the asparagus crowns.

Got to work putting down the amendments and than placing the crowns every 12 inches when I discovered we had an extra 35 or so asparagus plants. This surprise meant Eugene got to trench a 6th bed while I ran back to the barn and made up more dry amendments and than kept filling up wheelbarrows of wet compost and brought the compost back to the asparagus beds and than put shovelfuls of compost on top of the crowns. Finally we had enough area trenched for all the crowns. Put the last 35 of them in the last trench along with the compost and dry amendments and they were ready to be covered with dirt.

In 2 years we will be able to start harvesting the spears for the next 15 to 20 years. So a lot of work today for a lot of asparagus for decades to come. Now we have a total of 535 asparagus plants. 250 we planted 2 years ago and the 285 planted today.

That's planting for the future