Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #19, 6/22/17

What’s been going on!

The second day of summer with a high in the low 80’s just doesn’t seem right but as Betsy is always fond of pointing out, the days now begin to get shorter and frost is not too far away!  Of course this sentiment carries more enjoyment after we have had weeks of increasingly hot weather.

So while we did not get the crazy storms here at the farm that the rest of the area received over the weekend and on Tuesday but all that water did run down the river to us.  Once again the creek backed up onto our bottom field and over the winter squash patch, immature spaghetti squash bobbing on the water, tethered by their vines.  The crest this time was just slightly higher than the April event at 23.8 feet.

The amazing thing, at least this morning 24 hours after the water receded, is the plants look vibrant and green and healthy.  You never can tell and full sun and some heat may show us some different signs but for now looks like there might be winter squash for this winter.

Picture of the Week

P1030494 Look close you can see the pale yellow spaghetti squash floating

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #12, 5/5/17

What’s been going on!

“May is always the worst” I reminded Jennie the other day as she looked worriedly out across the field.  Everything hits at once.  Not only is there the most diversity of crops to harvest and process but all the other farm tasks ramp up too.

The weeds grow with extra vigor, it gets hotter and (usually) dryer so the attention to irrigation becomes more critical and like the weeds the crops that need support are getting so tall that trellis must be built for them before they fall over.  Mowing, weed eating and more crops to plant.

While we plant something almost every week of the year the last big planting projects happen in May too.  This week the winter squash, believe it or not, went into the bottom field that was underwater just 8 days ago!  A quarter of an acre plus and we are doing a tillage/weed control experiment so it adds yet another permutation to think about instead of just putting the plants in.

Now we are headed to pepper planting, in the next two weeks we will prep half the beds with the final tilling, irrigation lines and landscape fabric mulch.  The no-till half will be rolled and crimped to kill the cover crop and then planting slots cut to receive the 2600 transplants waiting patiently in front of the greenhouse.  Never a break in the action and Jennie is doing a great job keeping it all under control.

Picture of the Week

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Rising like the Phoenix, final tilling of the winter squash field on Wednesday

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #13, 6/3/15

What’s been going on!

A gray and drizzly Wednesday, unusual for June but that does not stop the preparations for market or the blueberry pickers from filling buckets.  We used to joke back when we were in the blackberry business that in June our table was comprised of beets and blackberries, tough combination.  Thankfully we now have a much wider array of crops to harvest from.

It is sometimes a hard part of the season as cool season crops are on the wane and the warm season ones are moving slowly without hot days and sunshine.  Betsy is out every day talking to the zinnias and gloriosa daisies, which have been tempting her for a week with some color but refuse to open more than a few a day.  She refers to this kind of harvesting as milking a chicken, hard to get much with so much effort.

Fortunately it was warm and dry enough Monday to get some cultivation done including the tractor cultivation of the winter squash.  Years ago we bought a special implement for behind the tractor to hopefully speed up our weeding chores.  Known as a tine weeder it has springy steel rods or fingers spaced every two inches or so that rake down the beds behind the tractor pulling the small weeds out and breaking up any soil crust.

The problem is that we usually have all the irrigation in place and so we can’t use it without removing all the water lines, it ends up being faster to just do it by hand.  The winter squash are generally the one exception and it does a great job if we can get to it when the soil is the right moisture level.  Monday it was perfect.  We will probably go over it one more time in a week and then they will be good for the rest of the season.

Pictures of the Week

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Freshly cultivated winter squash

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BLT’s anyone?  Tomatoes on the way

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #11, 5/15/15

What’s been going on!

Glorious end of the week.  As I was delivering to one of our restaurants yesterday one of the cooks said “today is one of those days when I really like cooking” and I replied “it is one of those days that I really like farming”.  If the weather was like this all the time we would get bored but it is nice to have it when we do and it helps us get a lot done.

It is one of those transition weeks when we are planting new and taking out old.  Jennie and Lacey have been working hard getting ready to plant the peppers, planting the quarter acre of winter squash and other summer vegetables and flowers.  Lots of cultivating and trellising going on too, with suckering and tying up tomatoes being an important task.

Betsy and I have been the destruction squad, mowing down the remnants of old crops- ranunculus gone, Dutch iris gone, half the lettuce field gone.  The last of the winter cover crops mowed, fields being turned under for new crops and summer cover crops.  It always feels good to renew, especially when the crops you turned under did well and are now making way for more good things to come.

Picture of the Week

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The long field at the very top of the farm, winter squash going in the ground

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5/18/05 Vol. 2 #11

Wow, what glorious weather!  Summer must be right around the corner.  This week as we were planting yet more Celosia flowers (this is an inside joke at the farm, Betsy always seems to have more Celosia to plant) Rett asked how many folks who had worked for us had gone on to start their own farms.  I had to think about it for a bit and finally came up with at least six (mostly in this area) and another three or four who most likely will someday.  That is out of the twenty plus people who have worked a full summer with us in the last ten years, that’s almost 50 percent!  I always say that only about one percent of the folks that start out to farm actually make it past the first five years.   Now some of my market gardener colleagues would view these new operations as competition but we view it as an indicator of sustainability.  An indicator that we have developed a sustainable farming system that can thrive and hire quality people who can then go on,  take parts of our system and create their own.  An indicator that this kind of farming is truly being embraced and supported by consumers and communities all over the country.  Remember that one of the three tenets of sustainability is the social component and we feel that in the long run it really is the glue that holds it all together.  This is an example of why certified organic is really a narrow view of farming, it doesn’t take into account these sorts of social dimensions.  Rett who is working on his own side market garden project had his first day at farmers’ market yesterday, so another one is launched!

You know that summer must be close when we start planting the winter squash!  We planted 2500 feet of row to six different varieties including acorns, butternut, and my favorite  Sweet Dumpling.  We got the second planting of corn in and cultivated the first planting (not a great stand due to the cold soil temperatures)  More sunflowers and other warm season flowers too.  Finally the late spring cover crops began to bloom and so we have started to plant the no-till peppers and late tomatoes.  We roll down these huge cover crops, which kills them, and then we cut a slit into them and the soil then plant the transplants right into the mulch.  By the end of today all of the peppers will be in the ground and we put the last planting of Cherokee Purple tomatoes in last Friday.  The irrigation rolls out behind all of these new plantings as we are beginning to get dry and these little quarter inch rains just don’t do much, when the hot days come it will become critical quickly!

On a literary note, I knew last week that I had mangled Twain’s quote about cold weather in San Francisco.  The quote actually goes “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”.  Well I had several corrective e-mails and further conversations at market, including one that said he had used that statement about Portland or Seattle.  This all peaked my interest and so I did a little research and it turns out that it is all an urban legend, there has never been any documentation that Twain ever said or wrote this quote.  So I guess we where all wrong!  None the less, the comparison to the generally cool temperatures in that part of California allowing ideal conditions to grow lettuce still holds.

Picture of the Week
Tough love, peppers planted directly into the rolled cover crops.  Better for the soil and the sweet bell peppers

6/6/07 Vol. 4 #12

Just when you think that you have seen it all in 25 years of farming some new wrinkle appears.  We are in a pitched battle with some kind of varmit who is eating all the ripening tomatoes in the little tunnels!  Don’t be messin’ with my tomatoes!  In the past we have found a few things (mostly melons) with tooth marks in them and only one or two a year, but this critter is having a grand old time working it’s way up and down the rows eating or biting into a dozen or so a night.  We put traps in the tunnels a few nights ago and caught a possum and thought OK problem solved but yesterday morning someone had been having a picnic again and the trap was tripped but no one inside!  So now they are getting crafty, maybe a raccoon?  We upped the ante baiting the trap with peanut butter (the universal food used to attract all wild things from mice to buffalo) and now slices of apple.  If this doesn’t get some results then we may have to surround the tunnels with the electric net fencing we use for the turkeys and that will keep them out but also make it harder for us to get in and work.  I am not yet ready to sleep out there with the gun but I mean we are talking about the first tomatoes of the season here!

What a great rain on Saturday night, we had an inch and a half that seemed to all soak in.  Now we can not only let the pond fill back up a bit but we can also get some things planted that just didn’t make sense to do unless there was some moisture in the soil.  Tuesday we finally planted the quarter acre of winter squash (acorns, butternut, spaghetti, sweet dumpling) which should come up nicely now that we had an additional bit of rain last night too.  A bit late to get the squash in the ground as our rule is it needs to be planted in May otherwise we lose the fruit to pickle worms in August.  But it was just too dry the last few weeks to get them germinated and it is one of the crops that I don’t plan on irrigating, especially when we are watering the rest of the farm and running low on water.  So we’ll see, maybe the first of June will be OK and we will slip past the flights of the pickle worm moths.  It is seasonal change here on the farm, cool season crops coming out and the beginning of the harvest of the warm season ones.  Peas and pea fences came down yesterday, the irrigation lines came out of the larkspur and bachelors buttons, soon all will be mowed and turned under ready for the summer soil improving cover crops.

Picture of the Week
Rat Tail Radish Pods