In preparation for the forecast cold snap, we completely tore up the two green houses. Last last week we harvested several hundred pounds of green tomatoes, which are currently ripening (fingers crossed) in our root cellar. While we wait (and hope and pray) that those turn red, we're working on finding some recipes for green tomatoes. Those will likely be making their way to you CSA members in a few weeks.
Now that all the tomatoes, squash, cucumber, melons, and other miscellaneous veggies have been uprooted from the green houses, it's time to get the beds prepped for their winter residents. We have begun doing this in the past couple of days. First we soak alfalfa pellets, which we then spread on the beds to add nitrogen to the soil. Next we spread a layer of dry, crumbled leaves to add organic matter. If we're lucky, we can put down some pine needles as well, which are naturally acidic and benefit the alkaline pH level in our soil. The next layer is one of cow manure and compost, which contribute more organic matter and nitrogen to the beds. Our next step was to use the small rototiller to mix up all the aforementioned ingredients. This is a step that we will skip in the future. It chops and thus multiplies the roots of weeds we worked hard to eradicate. Second, it destroys the "structure" of the soil, which in turn compromises the diversity of micro-organisms that benefit the plants. Further, after time it can cause the formation of a "tiller pan," a layer of hard packed soil just below where the blades of the tiller reach in the dirt. This is the last thing we need in our clay-ridden soil. Newer beds, like the ones we are working in, do benefit from the rototilling, so we decided to use the contraption again this time.
What will go in these beautifully prepped beds? We have over a dozen flats of transplants readily waiting in the dome. These little plants include cold-hearty greens like kale, chard, arugula, spinach, and perpetual spinach. We are also going to directly seed lettuce and our special "lettuce-less bliss mix" (a label coined by Darren mere minutes ago). After these crops are planted and transplanted, we are going to use an Elliot Coleman technique to aid in their protection from cold. With hoops of wire and long strips of remay and plastic we will basically create mini hoop-houses over the rows of veggies. This should double up the warmth kept around the greens as they grow.
The last bit of exciting farm news is that we are now hosting a billy goat to breed with our oldest and best-milking goat, Belle. The other two goats, Fanny and Chev, have gone away so that Comanche and Belle could have the barn to themselves. Comanche (ko-MAN-chee) smells pretty bad, so we have special "goat clothes" that we wear to the barn to milk Belle now.
That's all there is to report from the farm this week. See you all tomorrow or at market, be well!