Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do you have Alliumphobia?

Fear of Garlic!

My Johnny's Seed calendar reminds me that today is National Garlic Day.

Celebrate with some garlic! Green garlic is available now from your food co-op or market specializing in local foods.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bread Tray score

Biking home from work earlier this week, I spied 5 bread trays outside of the dumpsters at Feed Restaurant on California Ave. in Chicago. (Bread trays as in the large, plastic, perforated trays in which bread drivers deliver bread.) I figured that I would ride home, get the car and drive back and pick them up. I rode about 3 blocks further and thought, nah, I bet I can balance those on my bike. I only had 2 bungee cords with me and it took me about 30 minutes of stretching, bungee'ing, balancing and re-do's to finally get them somewhat (ahem, stress the somewhat) secure enough for me to uncomfortably ride home. I was the recipient of lots of strange looks but we have 5 trays in which to cure our garlic as well as diverting them from the waste stream.

(Brett, the linebreak issue in blogger is back!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

No photos

Bill had a productive 3 days at the farm but we left my camera cord in Wisc so I can't post pictures.

First, all of the tractor implements are up and off of the ground and on pallets in their permanent location behind the soon-to-be-built shop.

Second, he attended the township meeting for information regarding building permits and was told to go to the county office, which he did the next day. Nothing too out of the ordinary. The soon-to-be-built shop is exempt because it is ag related. The house is an addition so we just need to get a permit when it's time to build.

Back at the farm, he inserted a log into the rafter of the tractor shed that sticks out the back and acts as a lever. Using cables and a turnbuckle, he is now able to remove both the bucket and the arms of the bucket from the tractor. Easy on/off.

Farming-wise, we measured, marked off and flagged Field 1, Field 2, and Field 3. In addition, we marked off the shop footprint.

On the erosion control front, Bill planted native sumac on the large bluffside at the back of the house site. I then overseeded with the slope stabilization mix. I also raked and seeded in rye all along the current house to control erosion and to try to smother out some of the burdock.

Lastly, we hooked up the plow and gave it a try on Field 1. It worked wonderfully. We couldn't help but feel guilty about our soil microbial foodweb and we will use the plow sparingly. After about 3 passes, we deteremined that the soil was still too wet so we stopped. At least we know it works and will wait for the soil to dry out. We are going to stale seed bed Field 1 and Field 3 and green manure Field 2. We predict a summer of fighting quack in the Fields until they are established.

The cats caught a mouse at our church-house. Although we have occasionally seen evidence of mice (although usually in the fall), we had never seen one. The ladies were quite proud of their accomplishment.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Only 20 tomatoes?

I started my seeds today. Looove the block maker. If you are a seed starter and don't have one do yourself a favor. While I was making blocks, Bill and I discussed starting less tomatoes this year. We thought 20 seemed about right. However, after planting I ended up with 36. Since there are over 70 pepper plants on the list, you can see we are experimenting with the 3 Flat Acres dried peppers and blends this fall.

My starter mix is a concoction of worm castings, vermiculite, coconut coir and a bit of organic potting soil

This little implement is amazing!

I use my mother-in-law's old baking pans to start seeds

I sprinkle No-Damp Off on the topUnder the lights they go

Here is the list of what I planted:


Jalapeno - 5

Chile de Comida - 5

Romanian Hot Pepper - 5

Paprika - 12

Czeck Black - 12

Mini Sweet Bell - 12

Quadrato Dasti Giallo - 15

Hot Portugal Pepper - 10


Green Zebra Tomato - 5

Yellow Brandywine - 5

Principe Borghese - 6

Purple Russian - 6

Illini Star - 14


Green Chard - 5

Yellow Chard - 5

Red Chard -5

Red Ursa Kale - 5


Summer Savory - 5

Dill - 5

Clary Sage - 5

Sorrel - 5

Fennel - 5

Basil - 10

Russian Tarragon - 5

Sweet Majoram - 5

Yesterday, in the Chicago backyard, I planted: arugula, purple mustard greens, regular mustard greens and in the cold frame some beets. Need a couple of more pepper varieties (Jimmy Nardelo - yum!), more kale and a couple different types of basil.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Slope stabilization and barn columns - Check!

On Sunday, 3/27, we finished the slope stabilization/erosion blanket project. Turns out that we had only gotten about 1/3 of it done on the first day. At first we were laughing and joking about the project but by 2:30 or 3:00 we were exhausted. Bill is in incredible shape and can climb up and down hills in mud all day long - he is going to be a great farmer!

It will be interesting to see how this turns out. This was a lot of work, effort and expense - so we are hopeful that we can stablize the slope AND get ahead of the invasives. We're going to have to learn how to do a burn because there is no way we can mow this area. Additionally, Bill finished the columns in the barn and has started cabling it together. Using wire rope and come-alongs he is pulling the areas with broken columns back together. I wasn't there when he was doing it (was working at the church/house) but he said it was creaking and groaning. I think I am glad I wasn't there!

One of the new concrete footings

We are in the upper part of the barn and sliding the beam down thru a hole in the floor to rest on the footing down in the lower barn.

This is all the siding from the summer kitchen that I took down a couple of years ago

Most of the beams that you can see in this photo are new

(Great light coming thru the slats!)

Bill is standing on the scaffolding and chain sawing through one of the old oak timbers to install the new beams

Photo of the beam resting on the new footing