Rain! At least a little bit...

Wednesday was wonderful. 

It was cloudy most of the day. We harvested in the morning. It started misting around lunchtime, rained at 1, and about 1:30 we abandoned the tomato sorting for Thursday and went to plant a couple weeks' worth of transplants in the drizzle. The soil was moist in the top two inches, but there was still some dry stuff below that, so Ben rigged up our new giant water tank on a trailer and gave the transplants some extra water this morning.

Apparently, we may get a little more moisture this weekend, so if it rains on you at the farmers' market - or the beach - or wherever - give a little cheer, because all your farmer friends will be happy.

We will be roasting peppers again this Saturday - more and more sweet peppers, now We will also be roasting tomatillos, and putting together some boxes of "salsa verde kits" - with roasted tomatillos and jalapenos. 

We still have ducks and plenty of garlic scape pesto in the freezer, but we are nearly out of pork. We have hocks, trotters, slabs of belly, and liver, for the adventurous. Otherwise, we won't have more pork until the end of October. 

It rained (it rained!), but the sunflowers would like to convey the message that they would like a little more water, please:

 

See you at market!

-Ailish

Busy. Sunny. Dry.

There's probably a clever saying about being busy that would be apt to describe this week, but I'm too tired to think of it right now! We are busy!

New this week: fresh onions! We have Ailsa Craig (Vidalia type) and Red Long of Tropea, an Italian red fresh onion. Both varieties are sweet and mild, as excellent for salads and grilling as they are for cooking. 

Alsostarting this week, we will be roasting peppers at Crystal Spring Farmers' Market on Saturday! We will only have a limited amount of peppers (and they will be mostly medium-hot peppers), but the Pepper Man will have the roaster going first thing Saturday. 

We are spending a lot of time harvesting these days, and the onion harvest signifies that we are only going to have more to harvest in the upcoming weeks. Soon we will be harvesting and curing the storage onions, new potatoes, storage potatoes, and more! 

We are also continuing to work on the greenhouse project. Today we spread mulch hay in between the future greenhouse and hoophouse to shade some grass seed from the sun - and, we hope, get it to germinate soon! We are surrounding the greenhouse and hoophouse with grass to help absorb the substantial runoff that will flow off those big plastic structures when it rains. 

Below you can see the hoophouse plot in the foreground and the greenhouse in the background (with all the individual beds in wooden frames).

Speaking of rain, there might be a thunderstorm Saturday. Everyone cross your fingers for us!

See you at market,

-Ailish

Hot and Steamy!

We are melting over here on the farm! The weathermen on the radio keep advising to stay inside in a cool place. Hah!

But some things are worth the heat and the humidity. Like really huge tomatoes! Tomatoes are coming on strong. We now have cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, hybrid slicing tomatoes, and even a few paste tomatoes just starting. We will be bringing seconds tomatoes, that is, tomatoes with blemishes or scars, to market and sell them at a lower price. They're still tasty and wholesome - they're just a little ugly.

We're trying to stay with the times (have you heard of the ugly vegetable movement?) and waste less. Though really, the tomatoes that are too squishy to even come to market we don't waste - we feed them to the pigs. And if the pigs won't eat them, we compost them. Nature is pretty nifty that way. 

We are also benefiting from nature's niftiness in the field we are renting in Bowdoinham. It has top-notch soils for agriculture, which means the particle size and composition of the soil encourage good drainage but also retain moisture well. It has made a huge difference for us in this dry year. We have done what we could to get water over to Bowdoinham, but we worried that we weren't getting enough. We have been relieved to discover that the soil is able to hold onto enough moisture for most of the plants to thrive. You can see above the winter squash, on the left, and the brussels sprouts, potatoes, leeks, and onions on the right, from foreground to background. And below is a preview of what's to come: a sweet dumpling squash (like a delicata in flavor) already the size of a softball. Yum!

See you at market!

-Ailish

Full Swing

The time is now...for garlic harvest!

We will be harvesting our garlic tomorrow (Friday). We have approximately a quarter-acre to harvest, and we have five people on the crew tomorrow to get the job done. Today we spent a few hours in the afternoon preparing the hoophouse in which we will cure the garlic. You can see the crew laying out landscape fabric to keep the vegetation out in the photo below. We want to keep the vegetation out because that can raise the humidity in the hoophouse and encourage mold growth in the garlic.

IMAG3815.jpg

For those of you who are growing your own garlic (and you may be aware of this if you bought seed garlic from us last year), we have instructions for how to plant, grow, harvest, cure, and store garlic on our website: http://whatleyfarm.com/seed-garlic/. Just scroll to the bottom of the page. 

Summer is really in full swing. Tomatoes are really starting to come in, and we have the first peppers - all green - both hot and sweet. For sweets we have green bell peppers and shishito (japanese frying peppers), and for hots we have anaheim/numex chili, havasu chili, hungarian hot wax, poblanos, and jalapenos. No, we can't wait to start to start roasting peppers again either, but it will probably be two weeks from this Saturday that we start. 

The greenhouse project is also going gangbusters. All the beds are laid out - see the boxes filled with soil in the photo above - and next week we should be pouring concrete to make the pathways and the pad for workspace. 

Wow. So much going on! But don't worry - we will see you at market!

-Ailish

Flying Colors

Spring is quickly flowing into summer. We have been busier than we can think about; our to-do lists are multiple pages long. Fortunately, we have a new employee starting next week, and we have some likely prospects for more help in the near future as well.

In the meantime, we and the crew are doing the best we can to stay on top of everything and bring you fresh, tasty produce every week. This week, aside from harvesting and transplanting, we have spent a lot of time pruning and trellising tomatoes. The reason we do it is to channel the plants' energy into producing more fruit faster. How we do it is: we cut off "suckers," which are the stems that grow in the little crotch about every non-fruiting branch, and leave only the main stem, which we call a leader. 

Each of those suckers can grow into a main stem, which is a lot of extra leaf matter drawing energy away from the fruit on the leader. When we prune the suckers off, we force the plant to direct its energy into the leader and into the fruits already growing on it. And yes! We have fruit already! Here are some golf-ball sized heirlooms (that will grow to be bigger than baseballs):

IMAG3527.jpg

Edible flowers are starting up again this week. We are easing in with violets and pansies, and we will soon have marigolds, calendula, bachelor's buttons, and more! Sprinkle them on salads, decorate cakes and cupcakes, even infuse some vodka (I am trying out some violet-infused vodka right now!). 

See you at market!

-Ailish

Enter the Summer

That is how it has felt lately! It was 85 degrees after lunch on Thursday. It is pretty rough weather on the young seedlings in the ground, and we are doing all we can to keep them happy and healthy. That often means making some choices; we have to prioritize our long season crops like tomatoes and onions over ones that we plant on a recurring basis, like kale and lettuce. And we try to do all this while bringing our best selection to market. It was a busy week!

The ducks are growing larger by the day, and the pigs too, although they are not quite as fast as the ducks. The yellow ducks in the photo are the Pekin ducks (for meat) and the brown ones are the Golden 300s (for eggs). They look a bit scruffy now as they're at the stage where they trade their baby fluff for adult feathers. Some of them are quacking already!

We will have seedlings galore this weekend, as well as greens, herbs, duck eggs and pork - try grilling some pork chops and ham steaks this Memorial Day weekend!

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

Dog Days of Summer

In which we all work like dogs? I've always been confused by the phrase "dog days of summer." These are the days when we have vegetables aplenty - the summer veggies are in full swing (just waiting on the peppers to ripen!) - and the fall stuff is starting to come in (garlic is curing; we harvested our first leeks today!).

We have been able to hire a couple new folks to help us keep up with the veggies, and thanks to Errol, Sophie, and Willie, (and Erin, Kevin, and Tucker, who've been with us since spring), we have really been feeling like we have been getting ahead this week. We actually had time for weeding!

We still have plenty of weeding and harvesting left to keep us busy, never fear! We keep things fun by listening to the radio while we work and by making fun discoveries - a found a bird's nest in one of our tomato hoophouses while harvesting on Wednesday.

IMAG2567.jpg

See you at market!

-Ailish