Surprise in the Mail

This morning I suddenly heard the sound of lots of birds chirping.  I looked out the window expecting a flock of birds to be passing by or filling a nearby tree but I couldn’t find anything. I stepped outside on the porch and it was so much louder.  The skies and trees were empty so I started searching around for a nest somewhere on our porch.  Since we use our porch for the farm, there are a lot of places to look like on top of the cooler, and behind it, but I couldn’t find anything. The chirping was was …

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sukkot

Sukkot is one of my favorite Jewish Holidays, and it is wonderful and fun for kids.  You get to build a club house and decorate it with all of your awesome art and crayon creations. You can eat, play, and sing in it, and, if you are lucky, camp out under the stars. From a farmer’s perspective, the holiday makes lots of sense.  Sukkot falls during the peak of the fall harvest. I find it very natural to feel a direct connection to our ancestors who built sukkot long ago. And from a mother’s perspective,  shifting meals outside is a …

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Rosh Hashana’s Perfect Timing

honey from Israel The Jewish Holidays bounce around the calendar quite a bit and some years I join the chorus complaining that they came too soon, when we are still in summer mode and just not ready.  But this year Rosh Hashana seems to have perfect timing. The holiday starts tomorrow evening, less than a week after the official start of fall.  We just finished packing our largest set of orders for Israeli Harvest, our small business that supports Israeli farmers.   On the farm, our fall crops are starting to look stronger and we have already had a few cold …

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Rain, Floods and Standing Water

Finally, we are getting a chance to dry out after the flooding rains soaked our basement, flooded some of our fields and even toppled a few of our young apple trees whose roots had nothing firm to hold. Our problems were tiny relative to others nearby who lost their homes and businesses — but still, it has not been an easy week. The rains on Thursday were so powerful that water started to pool near the foundation of our house, nearby rivers overflowed their banks and we were stunned by the photos of flooded homes and shops in our town …

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tomato time

We try to eat at least somewhat seasonally in our house, switching from fresh vegetables to frozen in the winter and following the fruit that is coming from Florida rather than  further afield.  Most of the year I skip over my fresh produce section in the store because there is minimal organic and we either have fresh vegetables from the farm or are working through our frozen stash. Of course, I make exceptions but it always feels particularly strange and a little like a betrayal to buy tomatoes from someone else’s farm, especially from an anonymous supermarket source . Plus, …

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Late May Farm Update

The farm news is we are in a major summer crop planting push and are working to empty the greenhouse and put thousands of plants in the ground (peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, basil, other herbs etc.)   We recently  mowed down most of our cover crops, but here is a photo of the rye, winter pea mix that is still standing.  You can see that the pollinators love this planting.  The Austrian Winter Pea flower is beautiful, it looks like a sweet pea flower but is so much easier to grow here in Maryland where the summers are too hot for …

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Now Starring (drumroll please) the Cover Crops

On a farm, cover crops usually play supportive roles at best.   Unglamorous crops like clover and vetch never get the shiny magazine spreads reserved for trendy heirloom tomatoes or the newest hydrangea cultivar.  They just quietly hold down the soil, fix nitrogen, provide food for the pollinators and create biomass to enrich the soil.  It sounds like enough to me for a starring role, but cover crops are almost always considered second fiddle to the crops. But right now, the cover crops are having their moment to shine. The crimson clover is topped with dramatic red blossoms, the vetch is covered in …

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Bringing in the Heavy Hitters

When I wrote, Eulogy to a Greenhouse in February I promised to add updates as we built our new greenhouse.    In the past few weeks, we have made some progress and the new structure is taking shape. We now have all of the side bars in place and more than half of the top bars.   The side pieces actually went in very easily thanks to the awesome High and Heavy Hitter made by (I love the company name)Wheatheart that we were able to rent from our local extension office. If you like machines you can click on this link to see a …

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First Green

If you look closely at this picture you can see thin, green lines of sugar snap peas coming up in the beds.  Even though the germination looks pretty good, we are a long way from harvest.  These tiny shoots are very attractive to deer and groundhogs and now that they have emerged from the soil, we need to scramble to protect them. It’s hard to imagine that if all goes well, in just a couple of months these plants will be tall enough to require six feet of trellis which we will piece together from old tomato stakes and flower netting.  …

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Last Taste of Winter

In dozens of ways, we are gearing up for spring on the farm.  We are signing people up for our CSA, caring for trays of seedlings, preparing the ground for planting, popping onion sets into the cold soil, building a new hoophouse and seeding trays in the chilly hoophouse.  At the same time, we are enjoying the last of the winter as spring weather is making a slow and faulty entrance.  Last week, we had a dusting of snow on our daffodils and our winter coats are still in easy reach. The farm pace is not yet frenetic and we …

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