6/3/09 Vol. 6 #11

We finally made it to June, seemed like May lasted longer than usual for some reason.  I spent most of the morning yesterday on the tractor doing defensive mowing of the vigorously growing grasses around the edges of the field.  Defensive because the ticks are amazing this year if you have to venture into that tall grass and because the ground hogs are back and I makes it easier to see them if the grass is short.

Ground hogs are our most feared pest, more than deer.  They can and will eat entire plantings of stuff in a day, deer just nibble here and there, if they get past the electric deer fence.  We noticed last week that some lettuce had been eaten on the edges of the rows in the field and then some lettuce transplants in the flats in front of the greenhouse had been eaten too.  Finally Cov went down to trellis his own pole beans in the bottom field and some critter had wiped out the entire row and had helped themselves to the golden beets too.  Several days later we finally spied both the hilltop and the bottom culprits.  The ground hogs never seem to show up until it is warm enough in the spring, usually about now, and in the past few years we have not seen one here on the farm as they move around from den to den.  We can’t fence them out without huge logistical and maintenance headaches and they just laugh at the traps so I am now on afternoon rounds to see if I can get a shot at them.

In less than two weeks, June 14th,  we will be participating in the second Farm to Fork picnic,  put on by the Slow Food Triangle chapter and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.  The proceeds will benefit new and young farmer programs in Orange county and down at CEFS.  Last time it was great fun as chefs and farms are paired to come up with great food.  There are something like 26 restaurants participating and we are paired with Watts Grocery this time around, should be entertaining and delicious.

While the mower was on I mowed down the early spring flowers (larkspur, bachelors buttons, etc.) soon it will be summer cover crop time.  The blueberry picking rolls on with many hands on deck.  Monday we had possibly the largest crew ever with nine in the field, still didn’t put a dent in the massive crop.  The third planting of zinnias and celosia are going in the ground just as the first zinnia bloom has been spotted.  We ate our first BLT sandwiches on Monday so summer is officially here!

Picture of the Week
Beautiful Campanula and other flowers under the Big Tops

6/17/09 Vol. 6 #13

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.  Good thing we had a rain day yesterday as we are all just now recovering from the Farm to Fork picnic on Sunday.  It looked like a good time was had by all despite the heat.  Not so hot that you just stood there panting but definitely the sweat was running down my brow.  70 plus farmers and chefs cooked and served up an amazing array of small bites from every kind of vegetable pickle to collard green kimchi and barbecued shrimp with bloody Mary sauce to cabrito tacos with heritage corn tortillas.  A pre-event estimate of 650 people were signed up to attend, including the farmers and chefs, not sure if they all showed but a nice chunk of money was raised for the new farmer programs at the Breeze Farm and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

We had fun, as always, working with Amy Tornquist and Glenn Lozuke from Watts Grocery and Sage and Swift Catering.  We presented a beautiful trifecta of Treviso radicchio leaves with a small piece of Glenn’s house made pancetta topped with some of the first tomatoes of the season; a colorful hand held bitter, salty, sweet salad.  Glenn had boned out an entire pig, stuffed it with herbs and hot roasted it, all night, in a traditional porchetta style and it was amazing.  The third part of the trifecta was a lemon ice cream with a blueberry swirl in tiny little corn meal cones, each with a blueberry in the bottom.

Back here in farm land the rain is holding us up from getting things done.  Blueberry picking was canceled for yesterday and I hope we can get a full morning in today.  We began the onion harvest on Monday but it is too wet to continue until maybe Thursday, it is bad to harvest them when wet and muddy, too much danger of ending up with rotting onions later.  We need to cover the last of the Big Tops this week so we can plant the late tomatoes, the transplants of which are really ready to get into the ground.  Looks like we will blast into summer on Friday when it goes straight to the high 90’s, that’ll dry it out for sure!

Picture of the Week
Pig with snout on the left, radicchio salads in the middle, tiny little ice cream cones on the right.