Greens Galore

It may not seem like it, but the temperatures have definitely been getting warmer on average - the greens in the new hoophouse are really taking off. We already had heat, of course, in the greenhouse, so it was the sunny days that really made the difference to the greens there. In any event, we will have tons of greens at market this weekend - arugula, spinach, kale, mustard mix, and lettuce mix, as well as fresh radish bunches!

All these greens require plenty of picking, washing, and packing time, and fortunately we have a couple new crew members to help out with all of it! Here's a picture of the crew harvesting greens in the new hoophouse Thursday morning:

In the bed that is second from left, you can see all the tiny spinach transplants we just put out on Tuesday. They were happy to get in the ground, and given the longer days and warm temperatures, it probably won't be too long before we are picking from them.

I know, I know, it's supposed to snow 3-5 inches on Saturday, but we will be at market with tons of greens, trusting that spring is really just around the corner.

See you at market!

-Ailish

Spring!

It's official: spring is here! Everyone is feeling that, right? 

Just kidding... We still have six inches of snow on the ground, and lots of root vegetables to eat. And managing the new hoophouse and greenhouse for temperature and humidity is a pretty good challenge. On sunny days, they can really heat up, so we've been trying to get the automatic vents hooked up, which will open if a certain temperature is reached. When the vents get opened, however, that usually lets in huge gusts of cold, dry winter air. This not always a bad thing - it can help dry plant leaves so that fungus can't grow, but it can also suck moisture from the leaves and the soil. 

In considering that, we have been watering very heavily, which helps mitigate both the dryness and can also help plants cope with very high or very low temperatures. In fact, if we are going to get an extremely cold night, I try to water everything in the hoophouse (the unheated one) very well, because the extra water seems to help plants cope with the freezing and thawing of their cells on cold nights.

There are some definite signs of spring I should share though. The photo above is some rosemary, flowering for the first time in its life! The plants are going into their fourth year of life, and all of them are covered with flower buds! They are in a hoophouse, protected from the extreme cold, and they seem to be doing very well. It can be difficult in this climate to keep rosemary alive from year to year, so it's really gratifying to see them thrive. 

Also this week, we spent some time in the orchard, pruning out browntail moth nest. Sophie is getting a particularly hard-to-reach one in the photo above. Browntail moth caterpillars make little nests of silk (you can see one if you follow the direction the pruners are pointing in the photo). In the spring, the larvae emerge and do their best to defoliate the tree. They particularly seem to like oak trees and fruit trees. Not only do they harm the trees, the caterpillar grows hairs that contain a substance toxic to humans. It can cause blisters if it touches skin, and respiratory distress if inhaled. If you can cut the nests in the winter, and either drown or burn them, however, you can kill them without spreading the toxic hairs.

Topsham and the towns surrounding us seem to be in the epicenter of an outbreak of browntail moths. Last year was tough, because they are favored by dry conditions. We are trying to get a jump on them this year, at least in the areas on the farm where we will be going frequently. The ones at the tops of the oaks are still making us scratch our heads. If browntail moths have been a problem for you or you want to learn more, please visit http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/insects/browntail_moth.htm

I want to end on a positive note, so I will just say this: radishes! That's right, we will have bunches of fresh radishes (grown in the heated greenhouse!) this week for sale at market. Come and get some while they last!

-Ailish

New Year, New Growth

Get your greens while they're thawed! This past week was fairly warm, which is great for the greens - we actually saw some growth over the past few weeks, and there was a good percentage of greens without frost damage, which is always the goal. Yay! We will have spinach, lettuce mix, and a limited amount of baby mustard greens at market this weekend. First come, first serve!

This meal came courtesy of Midcoast Winter Farmers' Market - the greens and potatoes are from us, the rabbit from Lipovsky Gardens, and (not pictured) we had some toast from the Farmer's Daughter and a slice of cake from Paula C's. I must, however, admit that the wine and the cream that the rabbit was cooked in came via Morning Glory, but we find it fun and challenging to make meals from what we get at market.

We are now entering the office phase of farming. That phase doesn't get much attention, but it does make the outdoor phase possible. We are reviewing everything that we did in 2016 and making field, and crop, and greenhouse plans for 2017. Soon we will need to order our seeds and supplies so we can get a start on the upcoming season - we will start seedlings in the greenhouse in late February!

Ben is showing off some nachos made with pulled pork and greens and tomatillo salsa from us, beans from Fairwinds Farm, and organic nacho chips. Tomorrow, January 6, is National Bean Day! We highly recommend that you eat your beans! (Especially with some smoked ham hocks or pulled pork.)

See you at market!

-Ailish

 

Greens and Other Goodies

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I was so tired and out of my normal routine last Thursday I completely forgot to write a blog post. I wanted to write about our Thanksgiving feasting. Of course, many of our vegetables were featured, but we also gobbled up some delicious turkey from Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham. You can find them at the Brunswick Winter Market at Fort Andross as well. 

Greens, greens, greens! We hope to have a fair amount of greens up until the new year. We are limited by the cold somewhat, as well as the daylength (which means that most plants do not put on any growth between mid-November and mid-February, even if they remain alive). This week we will have sweet and tender kale, chard, spinach, and lettuce mix. 

We are experimenting this year with some fun and funky non-traditional wreaths for all your festive occasions. We will most likely have them only at the Brunswick Winter Market on Saturdays, but you can also find some at Cully's Gullies Christmas Trees just down the road from us if you miss them at the market. Ben will be down with John Cullen at Cully's Gullies selling Christmas trees every weekend in December until Christmas. 

We have made a lot of progress on the new greenhouse this - this is the one that will be heated. The kit got delivered on Monday and it's coming together really well. I'll post some pictures in next week's blog. 

I'll end with a photo from harvest this morning (below). This was after a couple hours of harvesting in the rain, and it felt like a really good sign.

See you at market!

-Ailish

Greens and Garlic Galore

The work on the new hoophouse is proceeding apace - in all of Ben and Nick's spare time. But they have gone from three bows to 23, which is nearly half of what we need for the hoophouse. Below you can see them fastening the bows and their support trusses together.

It's that time of year again! We are going to give ourselves a big pat on the back for getting the SEED GARLIC ready by mid-September. We will be bringing seed garlic to market starting this weekend until we sell out of it! Feel free to ask us any questions, but please also refer to our Seed Garlic page. 

It is also the time of year when the cooler begins to be positively stuffed with produce. We are getting into some fall veggies: we have lots of greens, radishes, turnips, winter squash, leeks, potatoes, cabbage, and more! We will have one-pound bags of lettuce mix, spicy mix, and arugula for sale for $12 each for all salad-lovers out there!

The Harvest Moon is the full moon tomorrow night on September 16th - and the waves of fall harvests are just beginning. Enjoy the bounty!

See you at market!

-Ailish

May Showers bring Seedlings and Greens

We didn't really get our "April showers" - but we are catching up this week with May showers! This has been a great week for transplanting - it has not been too hot or sunny, so the plants don't wilt while they wait to go in the ground, and they have gotten rained on pretty much every night, so they get plenty to drink after they are in the ground. 

We have all of our high tunnel tomatoes planted - 850 of them! (We are going to also plant about 100 paste tomato plants outside, unprotected, once the nights are consistently 50F or above). We had to commandeer the market truck for field use in order to transport all of the tomato seedlings back to the field (bottom right photo). We filled up the two 'Rolling Thunders' (the higher tunnels to the right in the top photo) and the middle beds of the three farther caterpillar tunnels (to the left in the top photo).

And in other news, the DUCKLINGS ARE HERE! Yes, 175 fuzzy, adorable baby ducks are now cheeping away in their makeshift sauna in what is the (adult) ducks' winter house. They need an air temperature of about 90 F to survive when they are so small. They arrived on Wednesday, from Metzer Farms in California, just one or two days old! Laura picked them up at the post office first thing Wednesday morning. We are increasing the laying flock with 150 new Golden 300 ducks, and we are also trying out meat birds, with 25 Pekins. We will keep you posted on that! This glamour shot is of a little Pekin. The Pekins are yellow and the Golden 300s are brown, so it is easy to tell them apart!

This week's featured recipe is a Nettle Frittata. Ben made it for us for lunch Thursday. Yum! 

We will have pork, duck eggs, herbs, spinach, lettuce, nettles, seedlings and MORE at market this week! Wow, it must be spring! And those markets are - the Brunswick Farmers' Market on the Mall in Brunswick (Tuesday and) Friday 8-2 and Crystal Spring Farmers' Market, Crystal Spring Farm on Pleasant Hill Rd, Saturday, 8:30-12:30!

See you at market!

-Ailish

First sunburn of spring

Is anyone else sunburned yet? We are.

We seem to be entering a nice stretch of warm, sunny weather - it will dry out the fields so we can get in and start preparing them and planting in them. It is also great weather to pull out the first crop of spring weeds and let them dehydrate in the sunlight. We have been able to get plastic laced onto two of our three-season high tunnels so far, and we have two left to do. These seasonal high tunnels are the destinations for all the tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings currently crowding up the greenhouse - all those tall pots in the distance in the photo are one nightshade or other. We need to make room for four times that many pots starting next week!

We also use our two year-round high tunnels for tomatoes in the summer. Those are a particular high tunnel set up that rolls on a pipe track, so we can move it to different sections of field and get many uses out of it. Right now, one of those is covering all of our winter spinach, and the other is covering some early onions and spring spinach and lettuce (see below).

We are having a great PORK SALE starting this week. We have done this before - it is a $250 box of pork cuts for $200! In fact, we will give you 20% any assortment of $250 or more. And if you want to customize the cuts - contact us at whatleyfarm@gmail.com!

See you at market!

-Ailish

We Keep Telling Ourselves...

That Spring is right around the corner! And it is, even if it hasn't felt that way the last few days.

We have received all of our potting mix (see below) from Living Acres in New Sharon. We have five more pallets of it - this is all we can fit in the greenhouse at a time. We use the potting mix to make soil blocks for our farm seedlings and to fill pots and packs for the seedlings we sell at market.

IMAG3318.jpg

We just had a new heater installed in the greenhouse, so we will jump into seeding next week with onions and some flowers. This week, even, Ben direct-seeded some early greens such as arugula, spicy greens, and leaf lettuce. You can see the furrows in the photo below, which are created by the seeder (photo below that). The seeder drops seeds in one long, straight line, and it also packs them down as it goes. We use this Jang Seeder for all our direct-seeded crops. 

Our recipe this week is for Kohlrabi Hash Browns. The recipe was given to us by a customer, Karen, who made the recipe for a class at the FARMS Community Kitchen. Ben and I made them last night, and we found that for extra crispiness, make the patties fairly thin. Yum!

See you at market!

-Ailish

Greens and Winter Recipes

On Thursday, we harvested the last of our greens for 2015! Salad mix, spinach, and flat and curly parsley will be available Friday at the Midcoast Winter Farmers' Market in Topsham (1-5) and Saturday at the Brunswick Winter Market (9-12:30). 

It took some time to wash - there were mountains of salad mix! The salad mix is from Salanova - a variety of lettuce grown as heads but bred to be cut apart into salad-sized leaves. We cut the heads to harvest, so once we cut them, they're done. Spinach, we pick by leaf from around the crown of the plant. We leave the crown of the plant in the ground and protect it with row cover, so once we start to get daylight lengths more than 10 hours in February, and daytime temperatures under the row cover (inside the hoophouse) of about 40 F, the plants will start to grow again.

Daylight will start to increase again Monday, December 21 - not long now!

The last of the parsley was out in the field, protected by just two layers of row cover. If we had had snow this fall, we probably wouldn't have parsley now because it would have been flattened. As you can see, however, this parsley did fairly well under the row cover. Each clump is about 8" wide.

We will have pork available in 2016 - we are getting it back from the butcher this Saturday!

Ben made a delicious stuffed squash recipe for lunch yesterday. We have posted it here on the website. It uses frozen roasted peppers, which we have available at the market in 3 varieties - Carmen (super sweet), Krimzon Lee (sweet and medium hot), and Ancho (medium hot - classic chile relleno).

See you at market!

-Ailish

Frozen Fingers

Well, no, but that is what it feels like. 

We keep harvesting greens in the winter as long as we can get them without incurring frost damage - if you cut a leaf while it is frozen, the cell walls break; when the cells thaw out, they die. While the temperatures can still rise above freezing (and we use hoophouses and row cover to help with that), however, the plants usually thaw by around noon. 

We are pleased to say we will have salad mix tomorrow, Saturday and with hope, the rest of December! We use a variety of lettuce called Salanova, primarily, to make our salad mix. Unlike baby lettuce, which you sow in a row and cut before the leaves get about 4" tall, Salanova grows to full-sized heads. We cut the heads and then cut the leaves off of the core of lettuce. Salanova has been bred particularly for getting a baby-sized leaf lettuce that has the strength and taste of an adult lettuce. We like it and we hope you do, too!

whatleyfarmparsley

We also hope to have curly parsley and flat parsley until the end of December. We will have the very last of the cilantro on sale tomorrow!

See you at market!

-Ailish