Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is it summer already?

It's getting quite hot out there. I'm not ready for the summer and I think my plants aren't either. We've had several near 90 degree days, and I'm longing for the days with highs in the 70s. Our lettuce hasn't bolted yet, but I know it's only a matter of time. We'd better enjoy those salad mixes while we can. I have spotted two bok choi  which are ready to go to seed, but the rest seem just fine.

We put some tomato, pepper, eggplant, and basil transplants in the ground yesterday out on Poplar Tent Rd. They seem to like their new home. We also planted some black beans, a few limas, and favas. Sometime later this week, we'll make our first planting of corn. Even if summer's coming early, we'll be ready.

Mike left the irrigation on two nights ago. Luckily, nothing serious happened, except we lost some radishes to splitting. I decided I would eat them. After eating the radishes, I went to play some ultimate. That was not a good idea. Radishes before strenuous activity cause discomfort. Learn from my mistake.

We had our first CSA workday last Saturday. It was really a great time. We picked up rocks, hoed a bit, and put some straw on the onions and garlic. We made a serious dent in the rock population, but I think we'll be picking up rocks for a few minutes every workday for the rest of the year (and probably the rest of my life...). If anyone's looking for some good exercise, please let me know. We're much cheaper than a gym membership.

Next week's CSA will probably (don't hold me to this) include substantial amounts of swiss chard, a bok choi (unbolted, of course), cilantro, and some salad mix. I wish I had some way to put shade over my crops. I might make a little portable shade structure to put over a few rows of this and that to see how it works.

a grapevine reaching up to heaven 
Mike picking up rocks

Liuba and Nicholae planting taters. How do I flip this photo?

Baby Radishes

no tractor, just a little tiller and a few moldovan hoes

the spring garden

a really cool (virus-infected?) collard plant

grapevines at twilight
Enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bud Break!

Most of the vines in the vineyard officially have leaves. Seeing the vines put forth their first tiny tender leaves is much akin to seeing a new littler of puppies or kittens, and often makes me go 'awww.' There is such possibility in those new shoots. Possibility to make a great wine, and possibility for a disappointing and diseased year.

We're doing all we can to make sure that the latter option is diminished. We've sprayed our vines with lime-sulphur during the dormant season to help get rid of anthracnose, black rot, and phomopsis. We then sprayed our vines with neem oil during the latter part of bud swell to keep away some nasty insects and to prevent downy and powdery mildew. We're still spraying by hand, which is a pain and hurts the shoulders, but we should be purchasing a tractor in the next two weeks. That can't come soon enough.

In the meanwhile, we're having someone till up the garden space to prepare it for the summer planting. This is going to take longer than expected, and I should have gotten on this sooner. Everything always takes longer than expected. We'll be putting our beans and corn in the ground as soon as possible and we're waiting on our pepper, tomato, and eggplant transplants to be ready at the nursery. We'll be starting our squash transplant on Friday.

The rain has continued to be perfectly timed, however I am dreading the day that this ceases to be. The produce is coming along well for the first week of the CSA (signup ends April 14th!!! Contact me if you're interested in purchasing a share!). The blackberries are also starting to put out their leaves. The onions are slow growing, and I am scared that they might be in vain this year. We're going to have to give all the plants a little additional fertilizer on Friday to boost their growth.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's a new season!

It's been a beautiful spring so far and all of our plantings have gone according to plan. We've got our broccoli, cabbages, radishes, onions, etc in the ground and they're all looking great. The rain has been perfectly timed for keeping our garden watered. Now we just have to sit back and wait.

We left a lot of our stuff in the ground from last year, and all the greens and roots have bolted. Not only does this give us tons of yellow flowers all throughout the farm, but it attracts a lot of beneficial insects. The bees and butterflies are going crazy out there. If there's one thing I've learned, it's to plant flowers before you plant any vegetables. You won't have to spray near as much!

The vineyard's looking great too. The middles of the rows are full of weeds, but since we don't have any leaves on the vines yet, I'm not really concerned with the height of the weeds. We'll get it mowed soon enough. Plus- the more weeds we have growing in the middles, the more water the field can absorb. And that's always a challenge in the spring in North Carolina- keeping the field free from mud. I think we under utilize weeds in North Carolina. I think when properly used, they can truly improve the winegrowing process, and result in less work for the grower. We just have to adjust our concept of what is a 'maintained vineyard'. But we'll see- I'm only three years into this venture.

While we wait for the buds to break and for the weather to get warmer for our next round of crops, we'll continue to clean up the property. We've had a major effort this winter to restore the fields to their boundaries from 1947. This has taken well over three months of on and off work. We're to the final stages to taking brush to the road (the city is going to regret annexing farms, but we'll get out taxes' worth). I can't wait to see the fields after we're finished with all of this.

So, CSA signups are coming to a close. We're almost at our maximum. Get your money in soon if you want a spot!

I must keep up the discipline of blogging. It might be a challenge when things get busy...