Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bad Day

What a day! One of the hens is gone, the door knob on the back door broke, and when I went out to the field to pick what I figured would be about a bushel of various heirloom tomatoes for market on Saturday, I found the tomato section in ruins from what looked like the tracks of every wild varmint in the County, and every last tomato on every single chewed down plant was completely gone. I'm telling you I wanted to sit down on the ground and weep. Looks like the only tomatoes I will get will be from those plants I have in the high tunnel. The squash section was decimated as well, but fortunately I was able to harvest most of the Sugar Loaf Delicata. I was almost afraid to check on the pumpkins, but so far the deer have left them alone preferring to dine on my other veggies -- like my heirloom and Provider beans which are chewed down to the ground. Luckily, my pumpkins are coming in early because I started them are transplants and quite a few of them are mature, so I harvested quite a few of them. Hopefully over the next few days the rest will mature enough to pick and I will be able to get them into the garage to cure. The varmints are leaving the mustard greens and turnips alone, and so far the St. Valery carrots, Forellenschuss lettuce, Bull's Blood beets, cilantro and dill that I have under row cover are all right. My perennial section is devastated. I didn't know deer ate elderberry bushes, but all the elderberries, currants, and gooseberries are chewed down to nubs. The rhubarb for the most part is gone down to the crowns. The only thing that looks like it's thriving is the horseradish. I was so depressed by what I saw that I was afraid to look at the fruit trees. It looks like the animals were the only ones to benefit from the .8" of rain we got over the last two days. I am going to be making serious changes in this field!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another Farmers Market Day

It was a gorgeous day at the farmers market. While we are in severe drought conditions here, I am thankful that we are dry and not flooded as is most of the Midwest. I am almost afraid to "pray rain". Many of the customers today reflected the same thought. I feel so sorry for all people affected by this horrible weather. I have heard that many of the organic farmers in the southern part of Wisconsin have been wiped out.

My market table looked pretty good today. I had Irish Cobbler and Red Norland potatoes, Boston Pickling and Australian Lemon cucumbers, White Egg turnips, Perkins Long Pod okra, Black Plum paste tomatoes, Black Beauty and Golden summer squash, beautiful golden cured Stuttgart onions, Samarkand garlic and some of Tom's sweet corn. I wanted to check yesterday for green beans in Tom's garden, too, and cut some of my good dill and Italian Flat Leaf parsley, but digging up the rest of my Irish Cobbler and Katahdin potatoes took all my energy, and wouldn't you know it, I had people wanting to know where the dill and beans were! Oh well, I'll hope to cut some next week. The melons may be ready next week, too. I hope so. I cut one Hannah's Choice to test it for taste and it seems a tad unripe right now, so I'm thinking one more week ought to do it.

This coming week I want to start cleaning up the field. We'll get the grass cut and raked, pick up all the vegetable residues that may be laying around, till the finished sections and plant an annual rye grass cover crop, prepare the holes for the replacement fruit trees that will be coming, finish cleaning up the asparagus patch, and maybe finally get get a gate put up for the fence. After all, I can't complain about deer getting my produce when they are not properly fenced out of the field!

I am picking my pumpkins as they turn a good orange color and letting them cure in the garage where nothing can get at them. I don't have many, but what I have sure is pretty. I have a couple of Big Moon pumpkins growing. With the drought they certainly didn't get very big, but I like them. I have picked my Blue Ballet winter squash and have that in the garage curing. The Sugar Loaf Delicata don't look at all ready and I want to check the growing requirements for that to see when I should pick them. The cukes are about done, and I doubt I'll see many tomatoes from the field. I know I will have tomatoes from the high tunnel plants though. And in the high tunnel, the okra and peppers are looking great. I even have a couple of eggplants slowly coming.

We have another beaver. When I went out to the field yesterday, I saw a fresh skid line going down to the creek, though the water level in the creek is so low, I don't see how anything will even float in it.

Finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book and really enjoyed it. I like her writing style and think I'll get some more of her books from the library to read.

Well, I'm beat so I'll sign off for now. See ya!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Getting Ready for Farmers Market Day

Friday is my get-ready-for-market day. It's usually an 18 hour day for me. I get up and take care of our Lara, make coffee, fill the water cans and then head out to the field. It is fun this time of year to go out and look for veggies big enough to cut and put in my bushel basket. Despite how dry we are here, there has been heavy dew all summer and I think that has helped the veggies some. This year is certainly better than last year when we had the drought. It is nice being outside so early in the morning and listening to the earth.

Today I had several more summer squash (Black Beauty and Golden), and I took a good look at my Sugar Loaf Delicata and Blue Ballet. I pray I can keep the deer off them. I had a nice batch of Boston Pickling cukes ready to pick, and the Australian Lemon cukes are starting to come on -- those are loaded with flowers. I was able to pick some Black Plum paste tomatoes. My first tomatoes! I am really impressed with Black Plum. It has shown itself to be very strong plant despite the dry weather. It germinated first of all my tomatoe seeds, and it is loaded with tomatoes. I have to admit that I don't think it tastes as good as Roma, but I absolutely love the color. I also thinned my white Egg Turnips and will bundle the thinnings to sell as turnip greens. That White Egg Turnip is another excellent germinator in hot weather. I am impressed again!

In the high tunnel I pulled about half the basil and planted beets and scallions in it place. I watered the new Cilantro planting and everything and checked out the melons. It looks like the only melons I may get are the Hannah's Choice. I am not sure when to pick them, and I will give them another week. I couldn't find any Charentais, Green Nutmeg, or Moon and Stars in the melon patch outside the high tunnel. I cut a bit of Italian flat leaf parsley and a good swath of Bouquet dill. I found I had a couple of Perkins Long Pod okra pods ready and I was delighted to find several Joe's Long Cayenne peppers. For some reason despite the blossoms I still have no eggplant. I wonder if they are just late in coming or if I will not get any.

By the time I finished watering the high tunnel the sun was over the trees and it was time to go back to the house and take care of Lara again. Boy, when the sun gets over the trees, it heats up fast! The morning mist disappeared in a snap. I was glad to go back to the house. It only took me a couple of hours to wash and pick through everything and make my market bundles. But with the heat and me not having a cooler to keep everything in, I don't know how much I will be able to take to market tomorrow. Last week my cucumbers turned yellow overnight. One of the women at the market (Diane from B's Flambeau Acres) who I rely on for marketing advice told me to sort my cukes by size and not to bother to bring any that turn yellow. She sure was right -- no one bought any cukes that were turning color. This woman is a real diamond -- she is generous with her help and I really appreciate it.

I wonder if anyone will buy the okra. We fried some up to try it out in a little butter with salt and pepper, and it was great! Fresh okra is not at all "slimey".

Well, it's time to lock the chickens up and take care of Lara before I take a shower and then look for some new recipes to take to market. I have a couple of older customers who come by just to get the recipes and chat. We have a lot of fun and it usually draws customers. Last week my big seller was the Samarkand garlic. And next week I should have the Hannah's Choice melons and my Stuttgart onions will be cured for two weeks. I'll check the Irish Cobbler potatoes for next week, too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Heat is On

I haven't been out in the field as much as I should be because of the heat. I just can't breathe well when it is hot and humid. I managed to go out today and water some. I cut all the basil in half and will pick one more time before yanking it. I have beets, spinach, carrots, and short season cabbages to plant in the high tunnel as soon as I pull the basil and the melons finish. The Hannah's Choice melons should be done in about 2 weeks now -- I'll keep an eye on them. I can't wait to try them. I'll have to take a picture of them and post it.

The Black Plum tomatoes are starting to turn red for me, thank God! I watered the tomatoes. I pray RAIN! I wanted so bad to try all the different heirloom varieties I planted and now that it has been so dry, I don't know if I will get any tomatoes worth selling from them. 187 tomato plants I planted! I have a couple of Blue Ballet hubbard squashes, but I'm sure I would have more if I had more water for the garden. I am surprised the Boston Pickling cukes are producing as well as they are. The Sugar Loaf Delicata are running, but I don't know if I'll have any squashes from them.

In the high tunnel, the Perkins Long Pod okra is starting to come on. My Black Beauty eggplant has flowers but no fruit, and there are no blossoms at all on the Round Mauve. Several of the pepper varieties have flowers, and only the hot peppers from Laos have any fruit. I am waiting for these to turn red before picking them. The late tomatoes I put in the high tunnel are twice the size of the tomatoes in the field and are loaded with flowers. They may yield the only marketable tomatoes I get this year.

I haven't checked the melon and pumpkin patches only because I don't want to accidently step on something. Those melons won't be ready till the end of the month anyway, so I will leave them alone until we get close to frost. My beans are full of flowers, but no pods yet.

The White Egg turnips really grew well for me. I will definitely plant them again next year. I do have some Gilfeather turnips that sprouted, as well as some St. Valery carrots, more dill, and Southern Giant Leaf Mustard greens. the Provider green beans are just too dry and I don't think I will get anything from them. The collards are growing well, and I have some Bull's Blood beets growing, but the deer are murdering me despite using over 5 gallons of Deer Off, Liquid Fence, and Deer Away products. They have chewed my pole beans down to nothing. I was really looking forward to trying some Cherokee Trail of Tears.

Anyway, I am already thinking about how to protect the garden better next year. I really think I am going to put up a secondary fence around each growing section. Either that or grow most items under hoops and row cover. Lots to think about!

I have some nice Stuttgart onions curing in the garage, and the potatoes will be done soon. I got a roll of film developed that I found in the bottom of my purse, but the pics didn't turn out at all as the roll was from when I tried taking pics without a battery in the camera. Talk to you soon.

Weird Event

This past Saturday something weird happened. Just before I woke up, I had a dream that I was in a very dark place. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash and a loud sound like an explosion. I remember calling out for Tom. Then I woke up. It was before 5 a.m. because that was when I set the alarm for to get ready for the farmers market. Well, because of the dream, I was wide awake and got up to start a pot of coffee. When I got into the kitchen, I saw that the power had gone out at some point because the lighted clocks on the stove and microwave, and the dish washer were blinking. The odd think about this, however, was that the time on the clocks was 12 minutes AHEAD of what they should have been. I have never had something like this happen before. Tom got up and came into the kitchen while I was adjusting the time on the stove clock and immediately noticed the oddity when he saw the microwave clock. That was definitely weird!