Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Low-tech germination

Until we build our dreamed of greenhouse, we've found old chest freezers to be a great way to germinate seeds. During the day, a piece of glass over the opening can easily send the temperatures over 100 degrees. At night, we shut the lids. Then a 60 to 100 watt bulb below the plants keeps the temperature quite cozey, between 70 and 80 degrees. Here flats of eggplant and pepper transplants enjoy the extra heat.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot house tomatoes

The tomato plants are ready to go out. Every time we check the forecast though, it seems a better idea to keep them safe in their "hot house" a little longer. Tonight there is even a chance of frost. This after 80 degree weather a few weeks ago.
We have around 20 varieties this year. These include our favorites of Amish Paste, San Marzano Redorta, and Akers West Virginia. We have five different cherry types this year. And we're experimenting with a handful of new varieties, always searching for a new favorite.
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Surprise chicks

We've just had the first of our hens go to setting, an exciting sign of spring. Broodiness in our hens is a chicken trait we are glad for as the mother often does a better job of incubating and raising little chicks than we do. So when we see a broody hen, we'll give her about 9 marked eggs and leave her to her 21 days of sitting.
Just after the first hen had gone to sitting the other day, I came in the barn to the sound of cheeping. After some searching I found a hen in the hay mow with 16 chicks! We had thought the hen had just gone missing. In fact, she had been busy sitting. We were thrilled with this first hatch of spring, the most chicks we've ever had from one hen.Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 23, 2010


Within days of moving to our farm three years ago, we started planting fruit and nut trees. This spring, the orchard is finally starting to look like something. Many of the trees have grown over our heads (except the Asian pear the cow ran over) and some are putting out their first blossoms. This first planting is mostly an experiment to see what we can grow organically. We set out disease-resistant apples, some peaches, an apricot, some cherries, pears and Asian pears, persimmons, jujubes, figs, chestnuts and pecans. Along with these trees, we have grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. We look forward to someday soon taking an edible walk around the farm.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crimson Clover - Food for bees, cows, and garden

Last fall, we sowed most every open space we had to crimson clover. Over the winter, it grew into a lush green mat, protecting the soil. Then this spring, it burst into bloom. But the clover is not only beautiful, it's a great food source for much of our farm. The bees have been busy working the blooms, collecting its nectar and pollen. In the pasture, Elsea and Mary May have been gorging themselves on it, resulting in increased milk production. We also cut some of the clover for hay, a treat for the girls this winter. And in the gardens the incorporated clover will decompose and provide valuable nitrogen for our garden crops.
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