Well I’m still here. We have been very busy trying to keep up on the farm and I have lots to say. We didn’t over-winter (again) so coming back to market has been delayed. We have a new 10’x12′ greenhouse up top by the house which we were able to put our potted citrus trees in, and our peppers from last summer. There are still a lot of additions to add to it like vent springs and more framing to make it’s frame stand up better to winds, but we are working along.
We purchased two barrow registered Berkshire piglets last fall from our friends Joe and Amanda Gardner. We raised them as feeder pigs for our family and friends. We (mainly me) built a small 4×8 shelter for them down below by “Garden 1” and we let them roam in “Pasture 4”. Raising pigs is fun and in a lot of ways they act and respond like dogs. I enjoyed calling them over and watching them run from long distances to come see what I had to feed them. When they spotted me they would run to the fence and grunt excitedly. The kids too enjoyed their presence. At night, as a family we would all bundle up and go down and lay on the pig house roof. We would bring my iphone which has an app on it that shows you the constellations wherever you point. Keep in mind these were winter pigs so some of those nights were freezing and blankets were dragged along. I’ve always wanted to raise Berkshires since I tasted the meat 15 years ago in a really nice restaurant. It has been everything I had hoped. Sadly they were not pets and when the day came….it came quickly. I know there are a lot of people who don’t eat meat for personal reasons so I want to be discrete and respectful about their deaths, but let you know that we made sure that it was quick and was done by a paid professional. We gave them good lives, top notch feed, yummy scraps and lots of love and attention. I spent time with them EVERY single day. I would rather raise my own animals, give them loving lives and know where my food is coming from, than buy in a store from an animal in the masses from God knows where.
We planted Candy Apple Purple Onions, several varieties of garlic and Lancelot Leeks at the bottom of Garden 1 last January in hopes of a June Harvest. We need to get out there and weed all the grass growing through the straw mulch we put down.
This year we will be in “Garden 2” butted up against the vineyard and although I have my reservations about the management practices of our neighbors am hoping for a good year here. We put down a cover last year for the insects with a beneficial we got from Peaceful Valley Harvest. It came up last but fast. We disked this winter once and are contemplating again although we hate to mess with the soil too much. We will need to turn it one more time before we plant in the next few weeks.
The pump in the pumphouse for the farm broke twice. The first time it was the main discharge threads coming off the main pump. We think it froze because we had the power off and the male threads gave out. The second time the schedule 80 union cracked after the first foot off the pump discharge. I just charged it again a few hours ago and it’s holding….as I too am holding my breath. Because of all the ups and downs watering the fruit trees and the onions has been a challenge.
Speaking of fruit trees I planted some more! I planted 4 Montmorency Sour Cherry’s, a Bing and a Stella Cherry. I learned the hard way last year that sweet cherries don’t can well. I want to make my own pie filling and my own dessert toppings. I put them all in baskets again because for whatever reason the squirrels and gophers all love to eat the roots of our fruit trees.
Lastly I will get to the bulk of my attention this winter….the tomatoes and peppers. Last year I experienced a bout of powdery mildew which pretty much spread to all my tomatoes and I had no production last year. It was horrible and humbling. I have learned that it is a wind spore so catching it is like catching a cold. We sprayed as much as we could with organic anti-fungals but it only slowed the mildew. It was my first crop loss so coming out of it is like coming out of a dark fog with caution and hope. We have been sanitizing everything in stages and the sheer work of making sure is exhausting. Getting the nursery stock to the greenhouse with just a few weeks out to planting and seeing healthy plants has been a years worth of prayers answered. We are excited as always to offer new varieties and rare heirloom varieties from all over the world. This year we have an emphasis on peppers from Eastern Europe and South America. Tomatoes from Eastern Europe and China. I am growing a few from some of my breeder friends including Blane Horton and Dean Slater. They are always keeping me in touch with the exciting world of tomato breeding. We are also doing more dwarf varieties which are container friendly. They seem to be the upcoming rave in the tomato world.
Those are the big points for now. Hope to blog soon on the big planting days! Stay tuned!