Sunday, August 26, 2012

A few more flower photos

Here are a couple more shots of flowers I created for Katie and Rob's wedding
 Photo credit goes to the talented Stacey Hedman at the West Mountain Inn in Arlington.  
Thanks again to Katie and Rob for providing me with this opportunity!

Friday, August 24, 2012

CSA Week 10

In your share this week:
1 hot pepper (serrano)
head cabbage
1.5 lbs potatoes
bunch beets
bunch kale
cukes (slicing and picklers)
summer squash, zukes, and patty pan
onion (red and yellow) and shallots (pink on the outside)
head garlic
green and purple mixed beans
1 bag lettuce mix
Herbs: fennel (bronze, foliage), parsley, thyme, dill, basil, lemon basil
your lettuce is loving these cooler nights
flowers: statice (mixed colors and white), white ageratum/flossflower, white and green zinnias, bunch of 3 large sunflowers

Some other notes this week:

No chard!
 It took a little bit of figuring (and mostly just keeping myself aware), but I've found the chard-eating culprit!  (I am sad to say that they won-- and that, over the course of the weekend, the culprit tag-teamed up with the local deer population, who is getting more brazen as fall comes on.)

  The mystery was this: normally, when you have a severe pest infection that is decimating a crop, you can quickly identify the pest due to its plentiful quantities-- aphids, green stink bugs, tomato hornworms, japanese beetles-- these are our region's types of bugs capable of such destruction, and that thrive in large numbers.  Alternately, you can do some simple tracking to eliminate deer from the lineup-- our clayey soil does a good job holding their prints.  However, in this case of mystery chard infestation, I could see no evidence of insects.

Another unusual characteristic was that on any given plant, the larger, more sturdy leaves were the ones being decimated entirely, while the smaller, more fragile and young inner leaves appeared to display no evidence whatsoever of the pest.


Well, I had also been revelling that this seemed to be a particularly good year for birds-- we had great populations of bobolinks early in the summer, as well as redwing-blackbirds and lots of sparrows.  And, notably, the late summer migration of goldfinches, who are easy to spot for their shock of yellow, their cheerful song, and... their swarms.  Aha!  Seems that the goldfinches were landing on the ribs of the larger, more structurally sound chard leaves, and chowing down.  The smaller leaves were too pliable, and not able to support their weight-- thus the size discrepancy for the "pest".  And, I had certainly noticed that when I went down to the field, they'd cheerfully clear out of the scene-- leaving no evidence of bug infestations!

For all the good that they do in mitigating real pest/insect populations, some sacrificed chard plants seem to me like a square deal.  In the meantime, the deer moved in and munched the remaining inflorescences down to mere nubs-- and so, we'll have to settle for beet greens in the meantime.  That is, until the deer discover the similarity of the chenopods' leaves...

In more broad-scope news, to follow up on a recent post about The Gleanery: they have reached their Kickstarter crowd-funding goal!  Hooray!  Can't wait for this operation to continue moving along, and looking forward to opening day!

Also, here's a link to an excellent clearinghouse of information for folks interested in small farms and sustainable farm systems-- the Farm to Plate initiative by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund:
This is an impressively comprehensive listing of whatall's going on in Vermont Sustainability.

Finally, it's back to school for this farmer.  Students arrive tomorrow, and then Sunday we start off and running with a hike up Stratton, swimming and getting to know this year's student body.  Monday: Classes begin!  Our remaining two CSA shares will continue as normal, and occasionally, you may need to retrieve part(s) of your share from the mini-fridge in the workshop.  I'll keep you posted with notes on the table.  Our final share will be either Thursday, September 6, or Tuesday, September 11.  Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good ideas...

Gleaning (i.e. mindfulness, waste minimization, being resourceful, treasuring ephemeral abundance, thinking ahead while putting the time in now, etc. etc.) is a good idea.  Check out this new project idea, a gleaning restaurant/reprocessing kitchen in Putney, VT, which you can support if you like:

Talk about commitment to valuing local foods, all year long!  Putting food by is not for everybody, sure-- but making that work available to a broader range of folks and more eyes in the community-- Brilliant!  Good luck, The Gleanery!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CSA Week 9

Well, I missed a week in there...  So today is week 9 for Thursday shares.  In your share this week:
 1.5 lbs potatoes
slicing and pickling cukes - lots, and plenty more if you're up for pickling adventures!
pattypan, yellow crookneck, and costata romanesca summer squash
bunch scallions
bunch shallots
1 red onion
bunch kale
bunch chard
bunch beets
bunch B-grade radishes, hit or miss on these.
bag lettuce mix
1 head romaine lettuce
1 head garlic
 Herbs this week include: genovese basil, lemon basil, sage, thyme, parsley, oregano, and bronze fennel leaves.
 Your share this week
Flowers include lots of statice, white and mixed sunset colors, sunflowers, copperhead amaranth, and green and white zinnias

Some notes on your share this week: B-grade radishes are debateably worth it.  Check through them, and use if you're feeling it-- they have some serious punch-- and savor the moment of "ah, these are thoroughly out of season with the heat, drought, etc."  It burns a little.

Lettuce is very happy right now, though passing quickly.  Beets are mostly for greens, and while not as sweet as I'd like, the roots are moderately sized.

Cukes and zukes are abundant now, but are on the edge of dropping off.  This summer has been hot and heavy-- and then past.  It has been strange, and harvest windows seem narrower to me than previous years. With the heat stress, the plants are also more susceptible to insect pressure.  Notable this year: slugs, snails, and green stink bugs.  Green stink bugs are new for me this year, and man.  Unlike most garden pests who feed (i.e. damage) within a specific crop family, green stink bugs are generalists.  So, beans, peas, corn, cukes, tomatoes, cherries, peaches... it's all fair game with these nasty guys.  They are voracious.

Next week, you can anticipate tomatillos and some of the first hot peppers (!!!!) and cabbage.  Also, more basil for pesto, and lots of flowers that are coming on.  Thanks for checking in!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rob and Katie's Wedding Flowers

I had the great pleasure of growing, procuring, and preparing flowers for Katie and Rob's beautiful wedding this past Saturday.  Here are some early shots from the process-- more to come later!

Friday-- lots of prepping, stripping, sorting, figuring and arranging...  Gus hard at work cleaning echinops.
 Big props to Anna Johansen of Anna Blooms in East Dorset and Tom Wheeler of Wheeler Farm in S. Wallingford for their gorgeous flowers and greens.  Their flowers, combined with homegrown GPF flowers and others I procured from three generations of Brakeley gardens in Middlebury, and Jane's gardens in Rupert, rounded out the mix.  Huge thanks to you all!
 Burt nesting in the middle of the chaos, strategically placing his ball under our feet when were weren't paying attention-- bigtime OSHA no-no.
 Brakeley buds
 L-O-V-E mugs for the guest book table, and the bridal bouquet (center) with her bridesmaids' bouquets in back.
 Outdoor "altar" arrangements mocked up
 Meet Gus, Floral Extraordinaire.  Football?  Lacrosse?  Floral arranging?  Check, check, and check.  What a guy.  Saturday snack break.
 Bridal party bouquets in my lap on the drive down to the West Mountain Inn in Arlington...
 And one FULLY loaded car headed carefully down the road!
 Altar arrangements: two big, two small.

 L-O-V-E mugs in place!
 Katie's collection of milk glass in an arrangement around the seating "chart."
 Table shot-- Katie's dad's maple syrup and Echinops stole the show here...
Looking down the barn.  What a gorgeous event, and big congratulations to the bride and groom!  More photos to come...

NOFA and RAFFL Hand Tools Workshop/Demo

Some photos from a recent gathering at Alchemy Gardens in West Rutland last week.  NOFA Vermont and RAFFL (Rutland Area Farm and Food Link) hosted Johnny's Seeds representatives to demonstrate techniques and to let farmers get their hands on some useful small tools.  Row seeders, hoes, rakes, bed forks...
 Later, they gave a demo on setting up an affordable high tunnel, including tips on small efficiencies to help with setup, like...
 Using 6' T-posts to help with spacing
 Using two 6' T-posts, with teeth-nobbins pointed at each other for gripping the plastic at either end of the house.  T-posts are simultaneously hammered in at a forty-five degree angle, then stretched apart to accept the plastic that has been pulled taut over the steel skeleton.  Once all is tight with the plastic, everything is tied securely with P-cord up the length of the T-posts.
 How to blindly chuck the 500' spool of P-cord at your partner on the other side of the house without ended friendships, nasty knots, and concussions?  Before you tie off the beginning of your P-cord, run the loose end through a spool of duct tape.  Then place the spool of P-cord on a long-nosed screwdriver, using the screwdriver as an axle.  Pull off some slack off the P-cord spool, and toss the duct-tape roll as a (less concussive) counterweight over the ridge to your partner.  Ta-da!
 Clever idea-- let your plastic roll easily off the spool on an axle created by two garden forks and an extra piece of steel.
Don't forget to cover the bolt-ends with duct tape to prevent tears in the plastic.

With several dozen farmers and friends in attendance, the event was a great success in what is increasingly a steady stream of workshops down in Southern Vermont.  Thanks so much to the generous hosts and presenters, and be sure to check out NOFA's, RAFFL's and Johnny's websites for more upcoming events.

CSA Week 7

This is a bit overdue, but here's a quick update from last week.

CSA shares look similar this week to last, and we'll add to that a nice succession of lettuce mix, parsley, and kale.

Some of you have been wondering, as this time of year begs: just what DO you do with big zucchini and pattypan?
Zucchini for breakfast?  New school/traditional remix.

How about the old breakfast classic, Toad in the Hole, with zucchini instead of bread?  This could also work well with smaller zukes if you slice them on the bias/diagonally.  Simply slice your zukes (or pattypan, for a fun flower shape), cut a hole out of the middle, and toss in a hot frying pan with oil/butter.  When the zuke is about half-cooked, crack an egg into the middle, let cook, flip, and presto!  I added chopped scallion and lots of salsa Lizano for kicks.

Other ideas for big zukes: grate and freeze for wintertime zucchini breads, cube and cook into seasoned lentils (thanks, Koala!), eat fresh with dip (think Turkish yogurt dip-- plain greek yogurt mixed with finely chopped garlic and fresh dill.  YUM.)  Zuke latkes, shoestring zukes marinated in balsamic vinagrette... Have at!