Friday Field update No. 17

Hello there everyone, and Happy Friday! I know many of you are expecting to hear from Farmer Chad, but we are trying something a little different this week. Some of you know who I am because of our CSA interactions in Rochester, but for those of you who are confused as to who this strange woman is communicating the Friday Field Update, let me give a quick introduction. I am Mandy Kirby, Farmer Chad’s wife. Chad and I have been together for 4 years and have been married for almost one. Early in our relationship, I can remember Chad telling me he wanted to continue running the farm. After talking only for a minute about his choice, I knew that this was the right choice for Chad. As the years have gone by, I continue to be blown away by Chad’s passion and dedication to his work.

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As for my part on the farm, I do what I can to help out in the summer. When the apple harvest starts, I begin heading back to my classroom and preparing for the new school year. This summer, my job has been to deliver the CSA shares to the fine folks in Rochester, Gates and Ogden. It has been such a great experience too! I love being able to see the excitement in our customers’ eyes when they get their box full of goodies! Not to mention, we talk about different ways to prepare the food and what’s to expect in the coming weeks. Speaking of what’s to come…

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Peaches! I know many of you are just as excited as I am about this fruit being harvested! Chad and I actually live on one of the peach orchards and we have been keeping a watchful eye on them throughout the seasons. As many of you know, it’s very difficult for this tropical fruit to grow in a northern state… Especially in Western New York. One ill-timed bite of frost in the spring can take a toll on peaches and many farms experience that in our region. However, this year is different. We were lucky enough to make it the whole spring with no damaging frosts! Because of this, the peaches are doing very well. The trees are absolutely beautiful and the fruit is delicious! I can smell the cobbler, jam and pies now!

Not quite this many tomatoes yet, but they are in their way! 

Not quite this many tomatoes yet, but they are in their way! 

In other Kirby Farm news, we are approaching the end of picking broccoli, but we are just beginning to pick green beans. There will even be some yellow wax beans in the mix too! We have also started bringing in summer cabbage and… (brace yourselves because this next bit is pretty special) Chad and his team have picked the first 100 POUNDS of tomatoes from the high tunnel! This is especially exciting for me because it offers so many opportunities to spend time with all of the members of my families. Over the years I have learned to appreciate spending quality time with my family in the kitchen. Every year my dad makes red sauce for spaghetti dinners, chili sauce and much more with these tomatoes. I love sharing my husband’s home grown produce with my dad and learning how to make the products last! The Kirby side also has a tomato tradition that I treasure. Each year we gather in Linda’s kitchen and make batches and batches of stewed tomatoes. Everyone has a job and the whole family gets involved. It’s always a blast! One of the best parts of being involved with this farm is seeing the family traditions get passed down (on Chad’s side and mine). I hope that you and your family are able to use our produce to create experiences of your own in the kitchen!

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I hope you have enjoyed this special edition of the Friday Field Update and wanted to thank you all for reading and supporting our farm! Have a wonderful week everyone!

Friday Field Update No. 16

Happy Friday and happy rain! This summer has been a completely different season than last year. I’m sure most of you remember the absurdly dry and overly warm summer we had in 2016. That certainly was not good broccoli growing weather, even for the newer varieties we have that are more heat tolerant. However, this year has been great for growing broccoli so far. We haven’t had to irrigate the field once! And the temperature hasn’t been above 90ºF for very long at all. There has been rain about once a week on average, and the broccoli along with most other crops are loving it. If there was too much rain, it could cause infections in the roots of many plants from being so wet and cold. As long as we continue doing a good job keeping our vegetables protected from diseases that grow on the leaves in wet weather, we should be in great shape.

Honey bee doing its thing on a sweet corn tassel.  

Honey bee doing its thing on a sweet corn tassel.  

One of the crops that we usually have to spend a lot of time irrigating is sweet corn. This steady rain has kept the corn coming along beautifully! In this picture a honey bee is collecting pollen from the male flower parts of the sweet corn. Yes, sweet corn flowers too! The parts you can see hanging down from the tassel are the anthers which produce pollen, lots of pollen. This is why I believe the bees were going crazy for it. July and August is about the time of year(called a dearth) when there are very few flowers producing a lot of nectar or pollen for the bees. Both of these are essential for the bees to grow healthy larvae. They reduce the nectar down to honey, and with special glands turn the pollen into “bee bread,” which is absolutely loaded with nutrients. A lot of humans actually eat bee-collected pollen for it’s health benefits. Back to the corn… It has separate male and female flowers just like pickles do. The female flower is actually the ear of corn when it emerges from the stalk and sprouts it’s silk. The pollen is usually just blown by the wind from the tassel down to the silk in order to pollinate each kernel. And for every kernel there is a strand of silk attached. That’s why when you see some bumpy ears of corn, and there are kernels missing, it means the ear wasn’t properly pollinated. Walking through the fields like this is when you can find real treasures on our farm, and all along Ridge Road as well.

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This is a picture of the first complete arrowhead(technically probably a spearhead, it is a little large for an arrow I think) I have found myself! It is 2 ¼” long, which is pretty hefty. A few days ago I was just driving the tractor along the zucchini, happened to look down, and there it was. I actually got shivers when I jumped down and held it in my hand for the first time, trying to believe what my eyes were seeing. My dad informed me it is one of the largest that has been found on our farm in one piece. A lot of times you can find broken off tips or arrowheads with corners missing. I count myself extremely fortunate to have found this piece. One of our employees consistently finds these arrowheads, and spends a lot of time walking around our farm looking. The best time to look is after a rain in the spring, when the ground has just been plowed. The rain washes away a lot of loose, small dirt particles and leaves larger rocks exposed on the surface. Because of the large amounts of arrowheads we find, we think at one time, centuries ago, there must have been a campsite on our property. To think how much effort was put into creating this little piece of ancient technology, and how much history it holds blows me away. I will not soon forget the day I found this beautiful piece of native american history.

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Quick update on the babies! They’re not quite babies anymore! If you can make it out there is a killdeer adolescent in the middle, right of this picture. I apologize for the poor quality, but these little guys can really run! As you can see, they are doing extremely well and will probably start flying any day now.

That’s all for this week, thank you so much for reading! I will see you here next Friday!

Friday Field Update No. 15

Happy Friday and happy summer! It really is making a presence recently. The rain clouds have finally parted for a spell, and the sun is shining generously. Of course, this means fruits and vegetables are really putting on lots of growth. The peaches are looking absolutely gorgeous and the earliest varieties are starting to color and finish sizing up. We are estimating only two to three more weeks until the first harvest! And there are a lot of them, that’s for sure. I have been debating on calling this the year of the peach. It has a nice ring to it.  

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One crop we are really hauling in at the moment is beets. We seeded a large first planting this year and they sure are beautiful. We have filled several twenty bushel bins like the one pictured here with beets and there are still plenty more to go. They are a huge hit at Rochester Public Market, as well as with some of our CSA customers. I know not everyone loves beets, but those who do are very, very happy. The greens on them are just stunning, and loaded with nutrients. So if you do happen to have some beets to eat, don’t throw those greens out! Boil them like spinach, toss them in a salad with our lettuce, or mix them in with a quinoa or other grain salad. God save the greens!  

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Like I mentioned, beets have been one of the items in our CSA share for the past two weeks. In this picture from week #3, the beets are packed in there tightly with garlic scapes, edible pod peas, a living basil plant, apples, zucchini, and buttercrunch lettuce. This is a full share box, and it is filled to the brim. I absolutely could not resist taking a picture of it. If anyone doesn’t know what a CSA is or how ours works, head on over to the CSA page on our website and there is all the information you need to know. If you do have a question, feel free to call our market or email us!

Moving on to one of my favorite crops: the pickle. I believe I have clarified our terminology before, but allow me to refresh your memory. There are two basic types of cucumbers in my mind and on our farm: pickling(pickles) and not pickling(slicing). For me, the only ones that really matter are the pickling cucumbers. Why? Because they can be sliced like a non-pickling cucumber, but also stay nice and crunchy when you pickle them! That is the major difference here. For some reason I don’t exactly understand, the pickles maintain their delicious crunchy texture much better than the slicers, but can still be sliced and eaten raw! So why do we even need slicing cucumbers? I haven’t the slightest idea…

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These beautiful little darlings are the blossoms that pickle plants produce. There is a difference, can you see it? Like many other vegetables, especially cucurbits, there is a male and a female flower. Fascinating, right?! You can tell which one is female because of the baby pickle that is just beginning to take shape at the base of the flower. The male flower only exists to provide pollen in order to grow the seeds inside the fruit (pickle). I know, cucumbers sound like they should be vegetables, but in reality they are a fruit. This is because they are something the plant produces, not part of the plant itself.

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Time for the mystery vegetable!! Or fruit? You tell me! This tall and ferny beauty is loaded with tiny yellow flowers and some little green balls too… hmm...interesting. Let me know what you think it could be in the comments!

Thank you for reading all about my life as a farmer, I truly appreciate it! See you back here next Friday!

Friday Field Update No. 13

Happy Friday and happy Summer! The longest days of the year are upon us. Which is great for us, we now have plenty of time to get everything done that needs to be done, especially if we fall behind on some planting(which never, ever happens).

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Yes, the summer is upon us, and there are about 15 hours of daylight now. All this sun certainly makes the flowers go crazy! Especially the perennials. I was watering in the greenhouse yesterday and I looked out the front and noticed how many beautiful flowers were blooming. So many colors. And that’s when I noticed this gorgeous monarch butterfly swooping through, having a late breakfast on our echinacea. I have been seeing a lot of different butterflies recently. That’s always a good sign. I also couldn’t resist including this picture of a snail this week. I’m sorry it’s not really farm related, but I thought it was fun. I think he/she really enjoys the cool, wet environment that our drip-tape creates.

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These are aphids. I’ve noticed a lot of them enjoying this specific weed, which is lambsquarter. That’s fine with me, as long as they stay off my crops! If you look closely at this picture, you can see tiny drops of silvery liquid below the aphids. Those tiny drops of sugar-rich liquid are actually called honeydew. They are secreted by the aphid when their mouthparts penetrate the plant. This causes some sap to flow out of the plant, and some of it is actually pushed right out of the aphid. Sometimes you can see hundreds of ants pouring over these aphids, and at first you might think that they are chowing down on them. But if you take some time and observe, the ants are actually “farming” the aphids and collecting the sugary honeydew as a foodsource. They will even protect the aphids, and fend off predators like ladybug larvae.

Zucchini plants so thick and green you can't even see the plastic. Some rolling storm clouds above from this past week

Zucchini plants so thick and green you can't even see the plastic. Some rolling storm clouds above from this past week

Our high density orchard with powerful clouds looming in the background.  

Our high density orchard with powerful clouds looming in the background.  

Rain certainly has made a presence this year. Honestly, at this point for me on our farm with my vegetables, I am not complaining in the least. We may be seeing some fungal problems in the peas from prolonged cold and wet soil, but everything else is doing really well, and we haven’t needed to irrigate very much at all. There is one problem with the fact that the irrigation isn’t running: we aren’t fertigating (adding fertilizer to the irrigation system). So even though the plants are staying nice and wet, the rain water doesn’t have all the nutrients that our crops need, which we were planning on spoon feeding them through the irrigation. This means that even though it may be wet enough under the plastic, I will be running the irrigation anyway. This allows us to add fertilizer, but I will add it at a higher rate so I don’t need to use as much water, because the plants don’t need it. The frequency of these rain showers has been nicely spread out that it gives the fields enough time to dry out so I can go in with the planter and seed a few different crops. Then, usually within one or two days, there will be a nice rain that will help water the seeds in, ensuring that they are making proper seed-to-soil contact, and also have plenty of moisture to germinate. This next picture is a beautiful shot of one of our pickle seeds resting graciously in the perfectly prepared furrow, like a little nest. 

A freshly laid pickle seed, waiting to be tucked in so it can begin it's life.  

A freshly laid pickle seed, waiting to be tucked in so it can begin it's life.  

That’s all for this Summer Solstice week. Thanks for reading and see you back here next Friday!

A load of white salad turnips for the CSA this week. These are so juicy and delicious, very different than a normal turnip. Make sure you try some if you haven't already!

A load of white salad turnips for the CSA this week. These are so juicy and delicious, very different than a normal turnip. Make sure you try some if you haven't already!

 

Friday Field Update No. 11

Happy Friday! The end to another week and the beginning to a beautiful, SUNNY weekend! 

I would like to start off by apologizing for skipping last week. It was a very difficult and busy Thursday/Friday. And those happen to be the days that I write this blog post. I prefer to write it at the end of the week, so the information I share with you is as up to date as possible.

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So, back to my excuse. Here is a little peak into an apple growers life in the spring. There is a fungus called scab. It creates a horrible “scab” on the leaves and fruit of apple trees. It is made up of pure evil. If you have apples, you will have scab, if you don’t protect them. It is everywhere. You cannot escape. Luckily, resistance is not futile! As long as you give up on having a social life, you are good to go. Scab works like many other fungi: spores. In the spring it exists as a structure called an ascocarp. These ascocarp grow ascospores and when they are wetted(mostly rain), release the spores to infect green apple tissue(leaves or fruit). In order for us to avoid an infection, we need to have a spray on the trees that creates a protective barrier so when the spores land, they are killed and have no chance to cause an infection. However, when it rains it also washes off the protective barrier. So when the next rain event happens, we need to have our trees covered again. So goes the almost endless cycle of scab spraying. Right up until around this time of year. Last Thursday and Friday we needed to cover the apples for the rain event Saturday night, but it was windy both days. That means we put in a normal work day, and then when the wind finally died down in the late evening, after dinnertime, sprayed the apples. There. That’s my excuse. I’m sorry I chose apples over this.

On to less depressing and stressful topics! We picked the first strawberries of the year Wednesday! When it finally stopped drizzling… These are some of the most beautiful berries you will see during the season because they are mostly what I call the “king berry.” In the field, the berries grow in a cluster, starting as blossoms. The king blossom is always first, and when it matures is always the biggest berry out of the cluster. Therefore, I call it a king berry! They are big, beautiful and so refreshing after a winter without homegrown fruit. Harvesting may be a difficult and sweaty job, but at the same time it eases the mind, and makes all that hard work of growing the crop feel like it was worth something.

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Other good news, the raspberries are sprouting lots of beautiful leaves, they seem very happy. Just like I promised, what appeared to be lifeless twigs are now bursting with fresh, green leaf tissue! Yesterday we added mulch at the base of each plant to prevent the weeds from going crazy.

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The string beans we seeded on the plastic have popped up and spread their wings to take flight. What I love about watching seedlings germinate is what happens to the seed itself. If you look closely you can see that the lowest pair of bright green leaves are actually what used to be the seed. I don’t understand exactly what has happened, but maybe it has actually turned into leaves; growing chloroplasts and digesting that beautiful sunshine.

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Can anyone guess what this beautiful, green, leafy veggie is in the picture above? The first one to comment and get it right on Facebook or the blog gets a gold star!

Well, thanks for reading! I hope your week is as sweet as these strawberries! See you back here next Friday!

Bonus picture below: Pickle transplants making a pickle forest!

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Friday Field Update No. 10

Happy Friday, and welcome back to my little corner of the internet. Today’s topic is my mortal enemy: WEEDS. But first, an adorable family picture!

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If you look at the top of our website, you will find it says we are a farming family and this is the start of my own little family. I thought it would be nice to share so you could get to know me a little more. This is my lovely wife Mandy, and our ferocious canine Obi-Wan Kenobi (we call him Obi for short). Last night we were picking out some flowers to plant in our containers. We kinda just pick out whatever we like and then try to find some way to make it all look good. It’s really quite fun. Having Obi around always makes things more stressful- fun! I mean more fun. He’s a pure angel most of the time, but can turn into quite the devil...

A rather large weed erupting from our pea field. 

A rather large weed erupting from our pea field. 

Tiny tomato plant that grew from the seed of a tomato from last year left on the ground. It is now a weed. 

Tiny tomato plant that grew from the seed of a tomato from last year left on the ground. It is now a weed. 

Ok, back to the real devil at hand. Do you know what a weed really is? Have you ever taken time to think about it? I learned the true definition only a couple of years ago. A weed is any plant that is undesirable. That means that weeds are dandelions or quack grass growing in a strawberry field. It also means it is a tomato plant growing between the rows of tomatoes that we are actually cultivating, like in this picture. This tiny tomato plant will just be in the way, not getting enough water, getting stepped on, and possibly causing disease. Even if it did grow well, it is increasing our population(number of plants in a certain area) which is not what we want. It’s hard to believe that a tomato plant in a tomato field is a weed, but in this case that’s all it is.

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High tunnel update! The plants are doing marvelous. As you can see, they are really filling out the space. Fortunately for us, we have been working with Cornell Cooperative Extension employees for the past couple years with their High Tunnel research. They have been sending samples of our leaves into a lab to get them analyzed in order to evaluate the nutrition of the plants. This has been extremely beneficial for us. With these foliar samples taken every other week, we can really fine tune the fertilizer we are feeding the tomatoes in order to give them exactly what they need to make ripe, juicy tomatoes. Our first foliar results are in and they look great! We are right on track to producing a great crop of early tomatoes in our high tunnel.

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Over in the Strawberry field, things are happening. We have awesome looking green berries, plants still blooming, and a friendly bird nest. I haven’t identified the bird that laid this beauty yet. It is similar to a killdeer, but much smaller. Maybe a plover? But yes, green berries! Look how big that one is. They will be ready soon I hope, I can’t wait!

We are finally able to plant some of our more sensitive transplants now that the threat for frost is ninety nine percent gone. With mother nature, there is never a 100% guarantee. We planted our first planting of zucchini, and lettuce. This wagon is full of pickling cucumbers. They are on the wagon not to be transported quite yet, but to harden off, as we call it. When the plants are growing in the greenhouse, they are happy as a clam. No brutal wind to knock them around and a nice, consistent water to feed them and quench their thirst. If we were to put these plants out into the field right away, their survival rate would not be very good at all. By leaving them in their trays, and limiting the amount of stress we expose them to, we can help smooth their transition into the field, in order to keep our plants happy and healthy. Just the way we like them.

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Ok, that is all for this week. Thank you so much for reading and hope to see you back here next Friday!

Friday Field Update No. 8

It’s been a crazy week! We planted Raspberries today which I am super excited about. We started going to public market with hanging baskets and other annuals on Thursday and Saturday mornings, and for a few Sundays also. We have also been ramping up our market and greenhouse for mother’s day. Lot’s going on, like usual. Here are a few pictures I took this week with some interesting info.

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A gorgeous full moon over our farm a couple nights ago. I learned this is called the flower moon due to the abundant blooms this time of year. You can just make out the apple blossoms past the sweet corn under the row cover. The closest trees are peaches and plums.  

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Look at these crazy worms I found! Just kidding! They’re seeds. Calendula seeds to be specific! Calendula are beautiful, large daisy shaped flowers that have edible petals. They are one of the seven edible flower varieties I am trying out this year. I seeded all of them earlier this week and very eagerly await their germination! The lemon gem marigolds popped up after only two days. This didn’t surprise me because they were seeded very shallow, with only a light dusting of soil over the seeds. The red runner bean however, was seeded one to one and a half inches deep.

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Do you notice anything unusual with this picture? There is more than just flowers and pottin soil. A gray tree frog! There have been a lot of them so far this year. I think they have been really enjoying all the rain. You can find these little guys in the craziest places. I saw a little green one hopping around the floor of one of our other greenhouses. They certainly are beautiful creatures.

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Water is essential for plants to grow, however it also can cause many different diseases if there is too much of it in the air or ground. I found these dew drops in the tomatoes first thing in the morning immediately after we removed the row cover. Plants are constantly giving off water vapor, called transpiring. And if you leave them in the confined space under the row cover too long, all that humidity may cause some nasty things to happen. That is why we have to remove the row cover, and open the peak vents on the end walls of the high tunnel even if it is cold outside. Our large greenhouse is monitored by a computer that will turn on the fans in order to reduce humidity or temperature. Even if it is bringing in cold air, we have to do it in order to get rid of all that problematic moisture.

Thanks for reading and see you back here next Friday!

Friday Field Update No. 5

PEACH FUN FACT. These are strong independent blossoms, and don't need a pollinator like honeybees, or other native nectar lovers. Similar to tomatoes, all these flowers need is a little breeze and they are good to go, unlike apples and many other fruit. 

PEACH FUN FACT. These are strong independent blossoms, and don't need a pollinator like honeybees, or other native nectar loversSimilar to tomatoes, all these flowers need is a little breeze and they are good to go, unlike apples and many other fruit. 

We don't like to count our eggs before they hatch, but I will share this bit of news with you. For the first time in three years, the majority of our peach blossoms are still alive at the end of April! Again, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but we are very excited to see some of the early peach varieties in full bloom at this moment. It is interesting to watch different rows bloom at different times, based on when that variety will mature. These flowers are a good sign that the ovary of the flower is still viable(not frozen), and will produce a fruit. We are not out of the woods yet, however. There are still many hurdles to overcome until harvest, but at least now we are mostly in control of the situation. The blossoms are still in danger if nature decides to send a heavy frost our way.  

Early yellow Shiro plums!

Early yellow Shiro plums!

Along with peaches, the earliest sweet cherry and plum varieties are in full bloom. Right outside the window of my house, actually. It's only a matter of weeks now until the bird squawker is blasting it's cacophonous distress calls(scaring the birds as well as ensuring I wake up with the first rays of sun). These calls imitate a bird in pain, or imminent danger. It tells the other birds to "Run while you can! Save yourself!" This is a very useful tool when the cherries are ripe and juicy. It helps us fend off the Robins, Starlings, blackbirds, and many other pesky birds while we harvest what we have worked so hard for!

Beautiful morning sun gracing our first pea planting. 

Beautiful morning sun gracing our first pea planting. 

As the fruit trees blossom, we are hard at work getting the vegetables in the ground. Planting season is finally upon us, and I couldn't be happier! Sowing seeds in the ground and helping bring so much life and nutrition into this world are some of my favorite parts of being a farmer. The first planting of beets, peas and sweet corn are in the ground. I just checked on the peas yesterday, about a week after I planted the seed and they are already halfway to the surface! Peas, along with the beets, are great at germinating in cooler soil temperatures like we have in the spring. Sweet corn has a little more difficult time with colder soil. However, we can use row cover to help warm it up a little bit. The row cover we use is a very large, white cloth-like material that holds in the heat while keeping out the cold by slightly insulating the ground. This is extremely effective on a cold day when the sun comes out, warming the ground and the row cover even more. More sweet corn, beet and pea plantings soon to come along with lots more veggies and fruits. 

I want to apologize for the lack of a Friday Field Update last Friday. I decided to take a holiday blog break, thank you for understanding. Also thank you for reading this week and see you back here next week!

Donut peach blossoms! 

Donut peach blossoms! 

Friday Field Update No. 4

Oh Spring... I thought only March was supposed to enter like a lion. Then today happened. Nature sure does the darndest things.  

Every year I am extremely grateful for many things about the land we grow our crops on. In the spring especially, I enjoy being able to work our ground behind the market extremely early. This is because the land is very porous due to the large amount of gravel it contains. Having well drained soil is why I am not worrying too much about our fields getting too wet from the alarming amount of snow that fell today. Our fields are experts at dealing with all this spring precipitation. 

Beautiful Spring view of the new Strawberry patch planted last year. 

Beautiful Spring view of the new Strawberry patch planted last year. 

I always find it fascinating when someone says they don't know why strawberries are called strawberries. I suppose not everyone grows them, so not everyone knows that you are supposed to cover them with straw for the winter to help insulate the plant and it's roots from the harsh cold. But low and behold, this is where you get the straw in strawberry! In the late fall after a few hard frosts, we go out and spread straw over all the plants. Then, in the spring, you know its time to rake the straw between the rows (that nice comfy cushion to kneel on when you're picking) when the forsythia is in full bloom. We let nature tell us when it's safe. This will probably be happening within a couple weeks!

Garlic coming up!

Garlic coming up!

Right next to the strawberries you can see our beautiful rows of garlic. Garlic is planted in the fall, and over winters in the ground, similar to tulips and daffodils. The tips of the plants appear to be burned, and we think this is from the cold, cold temperatures. However this happens every year and it doesn't seem to cause any problems. If you look closely, you can notice lots of holes in the black plastic we use to cover the rows. Sometimes severe wind can damage to the plastic, but these appear to be caused by our friends the deer. We have an abundance of them, and last year they ate our corn plants, cucumbers, zucchini, and apple trees. Pretty much anything we planted down there they helped themselves to. Such fun. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday Field Update No.2

Spring is finally here! And with it some more typical spring temperatures. With the deluge of snow Stella dumped on us, the fields are soaking up all that meltwater. I'm hoping that extra moisture is not going to delay the pea planting too much, which we prefer to get in the ground in the first week of April. It is only about a week away after all! We also put the beets in at that time. Both of these seeds germinate well in the cold soil, and are hardy plants that can do well in cooler Spring months.

Sweet Cherry buds getting ready to bloom.

Sweet Cherry buds getting ready to bloom.

Unfortunately the tomatoes have not been grafted yet. That is scheduled in for the next couple days. I will have lots of photos and details about that in next week's update, don't you worry.

Inside our germination chamber, a baby pepper plant emerges.

Inside our germination chamber, a baby pepper plant emerges.

Grafting was delayed partially due to the large amount of annual and perennial shipments we received this week. Managing this and actually getting the job done right demanded most of our time. We filled hundreds of flats worth of plants, which means we had to have all those flats prepared and ready to go. These come in many different shapes and sizes as many of you know, and we fill them all ourselves. We are very meticulous on how we go about this process. Each pot and cell needs to be filled right to the top with loose soil. This is important so the roots can easily grow and breathe. Airflow to the roots is just as important as water. Also, consistent soil level is crucial for all the plants to grow evenly which makes the enormous and endless task of watering more manageable. The machine we use is actually homemade, constructed back when we first built and opened the greenhouse in the early nineties. This is actually one of my favorite jobs on the farm. 

Thanks for reading, and catch you back here next week!

Where to Find Us This Spring

We will be out in the world, sharing information about our CSA this Spring. If you would like to meet us face to face and ask questions about Kirby's CSA, here is where you can find us! We would love to see you!

  • Tuesday April 4th, 12pm, Gleason Works (Employees Only, including  Conifer, CCCSR and Triline)

 

  • Thursday April 13th, 12pm, General Code in the Great Room (Employees Only, any businesses in Building 1)

Friday Field Update

Our baby rootstock plants, taking the transplant very well. 

Our baby rootstock plants, taking the transplant very well. 

It’s the Friday Field Update, with Farmer Chad!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Our greenhouse sure is repping it's green, I hope you are! In this brand new weekly post, I will keep all of you updated with a brief overview of the happenings during the past week on our Farm, along with some pictures, maybe a video or two, and some fun facts.

Another winter is coming to a close (maybe…) which means our greenhouses are filling with green again! From Superbells to Tomatoes to almost every vegetable we grow, the heat is pumping and the oxygen is flowing.

What I am most excited about this past week is our high tunnel tomatoes. High tunnels provide several great benefits to growing tomatoes. They protect the fruit and plants from the damaging elements, especially water. High tunnels also hold in a little heat to help extend the homegrown tomato season, which for us is mainly the spring so we can get those awesome tomatoes as soon as possible! Lastly, they are still grown in the earth so they maintain that excellent field flavor.

This will be the third year we have grown tomatoes in the ground under cover, but this is the first year we will be grafting all of our plants. Growing any crop in the same soil repeatedly is not a good idea. This leads to a buildup of soil-borne diseases which can be really nasty. However, it is no small feat to move a high tunnel. So in lieu of moving the tunnel, we graft the plants. We select a variety of tomato that will provide the fruit we desire as the top half of the plant (scion), and the variety that will give the plant a vigorous and disease resistant bottom half (rootstock). So even though we only need 400 plants for our tunnel, we grow 800 for the grafting process. 400 scion plants and 400 rootstocks, with a little extra of course, in case we have any casualties. We cut the tomato plants in half and attach the top half of the scion variety to the bottom half of the rootstock variety, and let them heal together. Last week we bare-root transplanted the seedlings, and this coming week we think the plants will be ready for grafting! Stay tuned next week for pictures.


That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more of our farm activities next week!

NEW! Smaller CSA Share Option

In response to requests for a smaller CSA share, Kirby's is offering a new option this season! 

Our brand new Quarter Share is designed for anyone that doesn't need as much produce, but still wants to be a part of our CSA. Quarter Share boxes will basically have the same contents as our Half Share, but with half the amount. As far as what's in the box, we might not be able to fit everything in every week (examples below). However, we know that variety is important, it's one of our main focuses, so we'll do our best to make sure you get a little bit of everything.  Read on for pack list comparisons!


The following comparisons were created using 2016 packlists.

Quarter Share

June
2 Heads Lettuce
1/4 lb Rhubarb
Pint of Strawberries
5 Garlic Scapes

 

July
1/2 Pint Blueberries
1 Pint Sweet Cherries
1 Pickles
1 Kohlrabi
1 lbTomatoes

August
1 Cantaloupe
1 lbs Carrots
1 Pickles
1lb Tomatoes
2 Peppers


September
1 Quart Apples
1 Cabbage
5 Assorted Sweet Peppers
1 Eggplant

 

October
1 Quart Apples
1 Cauliflower
1.5 lbs Onions
1 Delicata Squash
1 Garlic

November
1/2 lb Brussel Sprouts
1/2 Gallon Cider
1/2 oz Mulling Spices
1 Acorn Squash
1 Sweet Dumpling Squash

Half Share

June
2 Heads Lettuce
1/2 lb Rhubarb
Quart of Strawberries
5 Garlic Scapes
1 Cilantro Plant
1 Bunch Radishes

July
1 Pint Blueberries
1 Quart Sweet Cherries
3 Pickles
2 Kohlrabi
1 lbTomatoes

August
1 Cantaloupe
2lbs Carrots
2 Pickles
1lb Tomatoes
4 Peppers
1 Watermelon

September
2 Quarts Apples
1 Cabbage
5 Assorted Sweet Peppers
1 Eggplant
1/2 Gallon Cider
4-5 Beets with Greens

October
2 Quarts Apples
1 Cauliflower
3lbs Onions
3 Delicata Squash
3 Garlic

November
2 Quarts Apples
1 lb Brussel Sprouts
1/2 Gallon Cider
1/2 oz Mulling Spices
1 Acorn Squash
1 Sweet Dumpling Squash