Garden Update

With the sowing of green beans on Friday, the garden is finally complete. If I weren’t moving this fall it wouldn’t be “done”, I would continue with succession sowings, planning for fall crops and cold-frames to carry us into the winter with hardy greens. But things being what they are, the green beans are it for this year.

potato patch 2016
Some sexy-looking potato plants!

The garden turned out to be about 120 feet by 30, broken up into 3 sections. The greens, legumes, and root crops in the first third of the garden, tomatoes and peppers in half of the next third, and the “squash neighborhood”─consisting of not just summer and winter squashes, but also cucumbers and some pie-pumpkins, in the other half of that section. And finally a full third of the garden is planted with potatoes. Everything is looking really great!

My commitment to being able to produce the food needed to feed my family was one of the driving forces behind Runamuk, and one of the main reasons I conceded to give up Jim’s farm. It’s hugely important to me to be able to produce my own food for my family and to be able to serve my community as a local farmer. Making a deal with Dirt Capital Partners wouldn’t have left me time for either.

So far this season Paul and I have harvested head and leaf lettuce (decided I don’t want to play with leaf lettuces anymore─pretty but too tedious!), spinach, arugula, kale, snap peas and garlic scapes from the garden. I’ve sold extra head lettuces, garlic scapes and parted with a couple pounds of my snap peas at the Madison Farmers’ Market, but the rest we’ve eaten or stored for winter.

Rhubarb sauce on hot pancakes!
Rhubarb sauce on hot pancakes!

We’ve also done some foraging and harvesting to feed ourselves: fiddleheads grow along the riverbanks, and Paul caught us a couple of bass from the Sandy River, Jim had a well-established patch of asparagus, which we gorged on and even sold or bartered some at the farmers’ market, and the farm supports a beautiful rhubarb patch that fed us too. We ate rhubarb til we were sick of it, sold a little at market, and sold 30 pounds to North Star Orchards.

Note: When I worked at the orchard last fall and winter I helped the Dimmock family package their holiday gift boxes, which were  artfully assembled with a variety of apples, farm-produced jams, and locally produced food products like cheeses, maple syrup , and chocolates. The rhubarb will be made into jams that the Dimmocks sell in their farm-store, or in these gift-boxes. Check it out!

Processing snap-peas for freezing.
Processing snap-peas for freezing.

It’s as important to make time to process the food, as it is to make time to grow it in the first place, but I’ve made a start on it. I’ve put 3 quarts of blanched and frozen snap peas in the freezer (decided to try stringless snap peas next year), and made 3 quarts of scape-vinegar (2 made with apple cider vinegar, and 1 with kombucha vinegar).

The stirrup-hoe knocks down over-grown weeds in a flash!
The stirrup-hoe knocks down over-grown weeds in a flash!

Everything has had at least one dose of fish-fertilizer following transplanting, and the tomatoes have been staked and pruned─they’re looking fabulous; mostly paste tomatoes to be put up for the winter. I love the heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, but with my commitment to producing my own food the need to ensure a harvest has compelled me to take on some hybrid crops. Several varieties of hybrid tomatoes, cucumbers, and squashes bred for improved disease resistance and/or increased production have made it into my garden along with my favorite heirlooms.

Now we’re on to the weed-and-water stage of the season, where maintaining it all becomes crucial. I haven’t done too bad keeping the weeds at bay. Sometimes they get tall in the aisles, but I can whack it all into shape rather quickly with my stirrup hoe. Othertimes it’s a more painstaking and time-consuming process, as when it came to weeding the carrot-bed recently.

Things are growing strong─I’ll post again soon to keep you informed; stay tuned folks!

First week of CSA is successful

Week One of the Runamuk CSA went off–not quite without a hitch–but successfully anyway.

A lot of my spinach was still too small for picking, and the arugula never really amounted to any size.  I conferred with a gardener friend of mine who suggested that arugula might perform better in the fall; so we will plant it again late in the summer.  Anxious that there wasn’t enough spinach and arugula for all of my share-holders (a hoop-house would greatly enhance our early-spring productivity, but that’s still a couple years away!), I spent all day Tuesday baking bread.  Which was well-received by all of my share-holders. Read more