Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We took a day off on this holiday weekend and did no work on Sunday. Monday we were back at it and now the irrigation is finally fully installed in all 3 fields.

This photo shows the onion, leek, beet and turnip bed (and a few radish stragglers which will be harvested any moment now). The 2nd planting of beets went in Monday (Memorial) and the turnips got their initial sowing. The drip tape is watering it all in.

I'm standing in Field #2 (which is in garlic) and looking past the grasswater way can see Field #3 which is in food crop production this year. I've had to buy many seedlings, the most of which I got from my pal Penny at Wishful Acres Farm (http://www.wishfulacresfarm.com/. I trust her growing methods and she is a like-minded farmer and friend.

I have an additional day off from my off-farm job so today we are pickling scapes.
Doing some weeding in a garlic bed, I pulled this strand of quack grass. As much as I despise it, I also am impressed by it's tenacity. Look at the length of that root!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finally some rain...

It finally rained on Fri, 5/25. Our farm rain gauge showed 2.7 inches.

The vetch is blooming a beautiful purple. We really like this cover. It kills easily by low mowing / cutting with the tractor or with hand trimmer. It kills into a thick mat helping to further suppress weeds and we envision it will be quite an addition to the tilth of our soils when we turn it in this fall.
The blue at the lower bottom is an irrigation header line
And it's scape time! We noticed them last week and now several varieties have produced scapes:
Bavarian Purple
Russian Red
Spanish Roja
Polish Hardneck

We harvested some and grilled them for dinner last night. They are so delicious and have much more garlic flavor than the green garlic.

We were walking the farm to document if we had any rain/watershed areas of concern and while standing behind the shop looking at our low growing fields (not yet in production), I happened to glance to the side and only about 4' away from me was a sleeping fawn. I'm sure the mom was somewhere near watching us closely.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The 3 Flat Acres irrigation system is up and running.

We are pumping water up a significant hill to the growing fields. Our flattest land is up on our ridgetop - far, far away from our well.

The white PVC runs up the side of the barn and OVER the barn drive access and then hits the fence line continuing up

We need to replace the barn roof first - until then, we'll be filling from the well.

We are collecting the water in the water retention tanks (~1500 gallons each - only one shown in the photo above), pumping it via PVC up the side of the hill to a PVC distribution array along our mid farm fence line with take-off valves along the PVC. The take-offs are large, flexible irrigation lines (similar to fire hoses) which are then linked to the drip tape in the fields. We anticipate that we can irrigate 3 fields from the barn set up.

This pump is fed from the tanks and sends the water up the irrigation lines
(yes, the stand is black locust)

Blue flexible lines feed the drip lines in the beds

We plan to repeat the entire process on the shop roof to irrigate our summer growing fields. These fields aren't in production yet.

This was a major undertaking. The current (almost) drought that we are experiencing demanded that we fast-track this project. Our garlic was thirsty.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Designers in mags and permaculture

One of our fav designers paid us a visit this past weekend. Julie deLeon and Bill worked together for years and they still collaborate on many projects. She is also a dear friend. Julie is portrayed in the recent edition of Chicago Home and Garden. Her new design firm Groundwork is up and running. She even mentioned Grow Modular as one of her fav's in the article.

She joined us on a day trip to Westby, WI for a day long presentation by Mark Shepherd, the guru of permaculture. We were awed by his knowledge of design, ecology, plants, water conservation, farming and environmentalism. Mark was helping the farmers of Ella Bella Farm craft a farm design in their ~15 acres of former CRP ground. He takes the typical farmer's ideal of flat, empty farmland and turns it into swales, trees, berries and alley cropping. It is a lot to get one's head around. We learned a lot and are not looking at our hilly farm in the same way!

We spent Monday (I took a vacation day from non-farm job) running drip tape in the garlic beds.

We aren't J.D. name brand folks but the drip tape is good stuff.

3 rows per bed = a whole lotta tape. We only got the fields half done!