Located at the base of Buckhorn Mountain at 6700' elevation, Buckhorn Gardens is a small, organic vegetable farm 13mi. south of Montrose, Colorado. Our farm is an active part of a 12,000 acre ranch; however, we only manage 3 acres with intensive vegetable gardening.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer has arrived here on the farm. We've been sweating buckets out in the fields, and normally we would be harvesting tomatoes, peppers and potatoes right about now. Unfortunately, our hot-season bounty will be considerably lighter this year, as we believe many of our crops were contaminated with herbicide drift.

About a month ago, we started noticing that the leaves on our tomatoes and potatoes were curling inward. This is one of the signs of a virus known as curly top, so, with much sadness, we pulled up the affected plants. Still, something seemed fishy; curly top usually doesn't show up this early in the season, and it seemed weird that it was spreading so rapidly. So Breigh sent in a few plants to be tested. When the tests came back negative and two soil scientists said the plants looked like they had chemical residue, we started doing some heavy detective work.

It turns out the ranch next door sprays an herbicide called Milestone to control thistle in the pastures that surround the farm. They use hand sprayers and only spray targeted plants, but it's been extremely windy this year, and we believe the herbicide drifted onto our farm. The active ingredient in Milestone, aminopyralid, is a hormonal herbicide that affects broad-leaf plants. It is effective in extremely small concentrations, and tomatoes, potatoes, beans and peppers are especially susceptible. The herbicide also shows up in manure of cattle who have eaten sprayed plants, and aminopyralid is released when the manure is dug into the soil and microorganisms start to break it down. The chemical can then prevent seed germination.

We have pulled up all of the plants that showed signs of contamination, but since we do use manure from the ranch, the question now is whether our soil is contaminated as well. We have sent plant and soil samples in for testing and we are anxiously awaiting the results. Until then, there is a little good news. Studies have found that aminopyralid is not metabolized by humans (that's why it shows up in manure -- it goes right through). It is also not present in milk or eggs of animals that eat contaminated plants.

It's scary that this could happen here at Buckhorn, where we thought we were part of such a safe, closed system. If you care about healthy, chemical-free food, spread the word. This particular herbicide was banned for a period in England and is currently illegal in the state of New York. There is no reason we should be using it here in Colorado. I just talked to a friend of mine who is spending the summer on a ranch in Montana. Her farm rents out goats to graze pastures and take care of thistle. No chemicals needed.

We'll touch base again when we get our test results back. On a happier note, some of us interns made enormous quantities of pesto yesterday with of our genovese basil. At least we have a couple summery crops on the farm. Here's our recipe:

- 1 clove garlic
- 1 large handful pinenuts (or you can use almonds or walnuts)
- pinch of salt
- splash of lemon juice
- zest of half a lemon
- about 2 cups of basil leaves
- olive oil

Process the garlic and the nuts in the food processor until ground up. Add the salt, the basil the lemon juice and the lemon zest and process again. While the food processor is running, add the olive oil until you reach the consistency you like. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saturday's hailstorm put a bit of a damper on the Montrose Farmers' Market, but up at the farm it was fifteen minutes of pure panic! Breigh, Abby, and I were prepping the cucumber bed when we heard the storm coming. We wondered aloud why it was unusually noisy, then took off toward the dome at a full sprint as we dodged the mothball-sized hail. It wasn't enough to get ourselves under cover though -- we had to keep going out in the storm, braving the hail to bring in all the pepper and melon starts sitting outside to harden off. After the storm passed and our adrenaline rushes subsided, we headed outside to survey the damage to our crops outside. The chard, cabbage, and broccoli were hit the hardest, with some holes poked in their large leaves, but everything seems to have made it through ok. Then, to soothe our frazzled nerves, Abby and I went home to make delicious farm-fresh kimchi! You can read about our food adventure on Abby's blog.

Despite the unpredictable weather, we managed to have a productive week of planting. After much weeding, we transplanted eggplant, summer squash, winter squash, pickling and slicing cucumbers, over a hundred tomato plants, and five kinds of basil. We've all been working long hours to get all the crops in as soon as possible, but the days of planting rows and rows of vegetables are some of the most satisfying. Many thanks to CSA member Gail for coming out to plant summer squash! We're planning a big final push to get everything weeded and planted on Saturday, so this weekend would be a great time to come out and get your work day in.

A warm welcome to our fourth full-time intern, Mindy! Mindy is a Ridgway native who has been volunteering on weekends for over a month. We're so glad to have her around all the time!

The Telluride Farmers' Market Kicked off last week, and we had a great time. We sold out of all our root crops, and had to pick more beets, carrots, and turnips to have enough for the Montrose market. We'll be there every Friday, so come check out the market and pick up some extra treats to supplement your CSA share. All of the interns will rotate working at Telluride, so you'll have a chance to meet the whole Buckhorn crew!

Now that the days are so hot, we've been having lots of salad for farm lunches. Here's a quick and easy salad recipe using our root crops and herbs. Items available in this week's share are in bold. Enjoy!

Beet and Radish Salad

8 small beets or 2 medium beets
8 radishes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped mint
1.5 tbsp chopped chives
salt & pepper to taste

Trim and roast the beets in foil until tender (about one hour). When cool, peel and cut into wedges. Cut radishes into bite-size pieces and combine with beets. Make dressing by combining olive oil, lime or lemon juice, mint, and chives. Toss dressing with beets and radishes, season with salt and pepper and serve!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Many thanks to the 4th and 5th graders from Ridgway who came out to help last week! These students come out twice a year to help us with projects on the farm. Last fall they came out and planted cloves of garlic, and this week they weeded those same beds of garlic. The garlic they've been working on is now over a foot tall! The students also used teamwork and wheelbarrows to move huge rocks away from the fence line, and planted more than sixty trees along that fence. The trees are part of our edible landscaping effort and will someday produce wild plums, chokecherries, many colors of currants, and Siberian peas (a legume similar to lentils). We're looking forward to our next visit from the Ridgway students!

This week we also welcomed a new intern, Abby. She spent some time farming in Central and South America, so she's been a great help right away. On her first day working, we all went to the new greenhouse and planted more tomatoes. The greenhouse is looking good -- it's really starting to fill up! The holes in the black plastic are where we are going to plant peppers.

The weather is getting warmer, and the crops planted outside are starting to recover from the cold May nights. The broccoli, cabbage, kale, and chard are looking good, and this week we began picking spinach from the beds outside in addition to the beds inside the greenhouse. The potatoes I wrote about two weeks ago are starting to come up already!

We've got lots of root crops in the CSA share this week, but still have plenty of greens including some new greens selections. This week we'll have a few bags of a braising mix including beet greens, collard greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, and kohlrabi greens. We've also got turnip greens for those of you who want the greens without the turnip! And for those who are looking for a new way to eat all these greens, here's an easy and delicious warm salad dressing adapted from a recipe by The Seasonal Chef. They suggest serving over turnip, mustard, or collard greens, but arugula and perpetual spinach would work as well.

Warm Pecan Dressing

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey or agave nectar
1 tbsp. Dijon or stoneground mustard
2 tsp. vegetable oil
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped or broken

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey or agave, and mustard. Heat oil in a saucepan till hot but not smoking. Add vinegar mixture and pecans and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Pour over chopped or torn greens -- I used 6 oz. collard greens and 6 oz. turnip greens -- and toss well so all the greens are slightly wilted. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We got the plastic on the greenhouse last week, and the 74 tomato plants inside are looking happy! Last Thursday morning was remarkably devoid of wind, so we took a little break from harvesting to get the plastic cover over the high tunnel. On such a calm day, it only took five of us to get the plastic up and well secured over the frame. After Jon and Evan finished up the doors and sides, we were ready to transplant tomatoes. The beds had already been dug by the crop mob, so all we had to do was amend the soil, lay down drip, and put down red plastic over the beds. The red plastic helps tomatoes grow by reflecting far-red light up into the plants, which triggers the release of a natural growth protein in the plant. We lay down sheets of red plastic over the beds, cut holes where we want to plant the tomatoes, and drop in the tomato starts. Next up in the new greenhouse: peppers!

Harvest day went incredibly smoothly this week, thanks in large part to our great volunteers! Christel, Lisa, Rachel, and Sarah all came out to help pick, wash, weigh, and bag greens. With the weather getting warmer, it's all the more important to get the greens picked and clean early in the day, so they can go in the cooler before the heat really hits. With all these extra hands to help we had a nice easy harvest and got to take our time enjoying lunch with friends.

Another big timesaver during harvesting is our new washstand. We'd previously been washing greens inside the dome, in a low, two-basin sink. The new washstand is outside and has two three-basin sinks. No more bending low to wash pounds and pounds of salad mix! We also bought a second salad spinner, so now with twice the sink space (and our wonderful volunteers!) we can almost double our greens-processing throughput.

This week in the CSA we are adding in a few bags of collard greens to choose from, and we'll have some fresh basil and cilantro available as herb selections. We've also got quite a lot of carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips, and leeks! Evan, our resident chef, came up with an interpretation of green goddess salad dressing featuring herbs and leeks from the farm. It got raves at a recent potluck, so here's the recipe, with items available from Buckhorn in bold.

Green Goddess Dressing (version 2.evan)

2 c. Extra virgin olive oil
4 oz.
Oregano, de-stemmed
2 oz.
2 oz.
Basil, de-stemmed
4 ea.
Egg yolks
1/4 c. Vinegar (I like apple
cider vinegar, but any will do)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste (approx. 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Juice and zest of half an
3 ea. Leek tops (the green part), blanched
Sugar to

Gently warm the oil until slightly hot to the touch but certainly not hot enough to burn. Pour over half the herbs, and infuse for as long as possible (preferrably overnight but at least for a few hours). Strain. In a blender, combine egg yolks, salt, pepper, vinegar, citrus juice, and citrus zest. Blend on high for a few seconds. While blending, slowly pour in about half the oil in a thin stream. Add the leek tops and remaining herbs. Continue blending in the remainder of the oil. If at any point the dressing becomes too thick to blend, thin or "loosen" it with a small amount of liquid (vinegar, lemon juice, water, etc. - a tablespoon at a time) with the blender running, and continue adding the oil. Taste the finished product, which will be very thick, and adjust the seasonings as you like. You might find a little sugar useful here. Since salad dressings tend to used in relatively small amounts, they are generally very strongly flavored and seasoned. I enjoy Green Goddess because it derives its potency from fresh aromatics rather than an overabundance of vinegar.

About blanching: To blanche a green vegetable, bring very salty water (approximately 1/2 - 1 cup salt per gallon of water) to a full, rolling boil that you can't stir down. Plunge the leek greens into the water for 15 to 30 seconds, until the green becomes very vivid. If cooking something other than leeks, simply leave it in the water until it attains a texture that you enjoy, almost never any more than two minutes. Strain out the greens; plunge them immediately into ice water, and chill them well. The leeks have now been blanched. If I were condemned to perform one and only one task in the kitchen for eternity, it would probably be blanching green vegetables in a huge pot. Nowhere else in the kitchen is proper technique so readily and noticeably apparent.

Buon appetito!

Rest in Peace Raja

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We got a lot of planting done this week! Potatoes were the big project. Several weeks ago, we chitted all our seed potatoes, which is a method of sprouting the eyes by exposing the potatoes to a moderate amount of light and warmth (we used the shady side of the grow dome). Once the potatoes had some good growth going, we sliced them into pieces with each piece having one or two sprouted eyes. After letting the cut edge of the slices dry up for a day or so (this helps prevent disease in the potato plant), we were finally able to plant. Eight rows of potatoes went in -- we had so many potato pieces to plant that we ran out of space for the fingerling varieties! Breigh is deciding where to fit in the fingerling potatoes and we will plant those later this week. Here are some of the varieties we did manage to get in the ground:

Yellow Finn: These pear-shaped potatoes have yellow skin and moist, firm yellow flesh. They are a great storage potato so we planted a lot of them!

German Butterball: Also a good storage crop, these potatoes have deep yellow flesh with an almost flaky texture and buttery flavor.

Red Pontiac: Also known as Dakota Chief, this potato has deep red skin and white waxy flesh.

Sangre: Developed in Colorado, this red-skinned potato is excellent for boiling and baking.

Irish Cobbler: This is an early-maturing variety with smooth, cream-colored skin and white flesh.

All Blue: This gorgeous purple and white streaked potato keeps its color when cooked and is high in anti-oxidants.

In addition to all the potatoes, we also transplanted kohlrabi and scallions, and seeded beets, carrots, turnips, radish, lettuce, and arugula in the beds outside. Next up will be planting lots of bell peppers, hot peppers and tomatoes in the new beds prepped by the crop mob! These beds are inside what will be our third high tunnel, and before they get planted we have to get the plastic over the greenhouse frame. We're planning to do this on Saturday, weather permitting -- please let us know if you'd like to come and help! The more hands we have the better, especially if the wind picks up at all.

This week's CSA share will have all the choices available last week, plus the first few bunches of beets and carrots. We will have more of these delicious root crops in the coming weeks, so don't despair if you aren't able to get a bunch with this week's share -- we'll soon have plenty to go around!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A big thank you to the 20 or so people who came out to the first Western Slope Crop Mob on Saturday! The group together dug and weeded 1750 linear feet of beds, and laid down weed barrier in the walkways between them. These beds are now ready to be planted with veggies for the coming year!

In addition to hard work and good spirits, the group shared a feast of chili and Jon's amazing kombucha. The crop mob brought together a range of folks from the community, including CSA members, non-members, and fellow farmers alike. Thanks to our friends at Tomten Farm and Circle A Garden for joining in -- we love the cooperative spirit between the farms in this area. Circle A Garden will be hosting the next crop mob on Sunday, May 16. Directions to their farm can be found on their website. Hope to see you there!

Breigh and I were unable to be at the crop mob as we were working at the Montrose Farmers' Market on Saturday. We bring fresh vegetables and herbs to market, and lots of starts so you can grow your own as well. Right now we have an incredible variety of tomato, pepper, eggplant and herb starts, as well as lots of basil and strawberries. Soon we will also be offering window boxes planted with a mix of herbs for a quick and easy herb garden. We're at Oxbow Crossing every Saturday morning; drop by and check out the market! This week Jinelle will be manning the Buckhorn booth; it is her last week here as an intern so be sure to wish her luck. She and her dog Sheba are off to Iowa to do prairie restoration for the Fish and Wildlife Service. Jinelle has been a presence at Buckhorn since the beginning and we will all miss her.

Spring is the busiest part of the season, and the loss of our greenhouse coupled with the unseasonably cold nights have set back some of our crops and frost-damaged others. With Jinelle's departure and lots of catch-up to do, we are in need of a new intern! Please let us know if you think you or someone you know would be a good fit for our farm. In the meantime, every Friday and Saturday are workdays at Buckhorn! Please come by anytime between 10 and 4 to help us with weeding and planting for the upcoming season. Don't forget, all CSA members need to come out this season -- one six-hour day for a partial share, two for a full share. We're looking forward to working with you!

The CSA share this week includes everything we've offered in the previous two weeks, plus some head lettuces, broccoli sprouts, and delicious hakurei turnips. These sweet and juicy turnips are great raw or cooked, and the greens are highly nutritious with lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. As a choice in the herb category, we are also offering bags of nasturtium flowers and leaves. Nasturtiums are also high in vitamin C, and lend a great flavor and gentle spice to foods -- including Arugula Pesto! See recipe below; bolded ingredients are ones you can pick up in your CSA share or at the Montrose market.

Arugula Pesto

2 cups arugula leaves
2 cups nasturtium flowers and/or leaves
1 cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or whatever mix you like!)
3 to 5 stalks green garlic (or garlic cloves)
1.5 cups olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
handful of grated parmesan or other cheese (optional)

Blend and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I didn't knock wood after writing last week's blog post -- the 65 mph winds last week did eventually get the best of our high tunnel, Polaris. After holding strong most of the day, the tracking that holds on the plastic sheeting finally tore away from the greenhouse frame. Once the tracking came loose, the wind caught the 100-foot plastic sheet like a sail and pulled it up and away. Breigh, John, Darren, Jinelle, and friends Eric and Eliza managed to catch and hold the sheet to prevent it blowing away entirely. That's no small feat with only six people in high winds! Unfortunately, the plastic was torn by the wind so it can no longer be used to cover the greenhouse. We are reusing the plastic by cutting it into strips for the mini-tunnels that will cover individual beds. This method of protecting the plants was proven effective the night we lost the cover off Polaris -- the low that night was 19 degrees, but with those beds covered in their mini-tunnels of Reemay and plastic, we didn't lose any of those crops.

Despite the mishaps of last week, we are progressing with our planting schedule and getting things in the ground outside. This week we've transplanted hundreds of broccoli, cabbage, kale, and chard starts, and they are looking good outside despite the cold weather.

We've been fortunate this harvest day to have some great helpers: Kassie, a farm friend and former intern, and her mother Dee have been visiting this week and helping us get all the greens harvested, washed, and packaged. The CSA share this week will be similar to last week, with plenty of salad mix, asian greens, and root crops. Check out our recipe for Sweet and Gooey Parsnips for a quick and delicious way to prepare this great vegetable. This week we are also offering radishes and mustard greens as choices in your CSA share.

The baby birds are getting big! The geese and ducks are growing particularly fast. They are now living inside the meat bird pens, where their tractors are shifted every few days so they have access to fresh grass. Hopefully we will be able to let the ducks and geese wander loose before too long!

Our first farmers' market of the year is this Saturday in Montrose. The Montrose Farmers Market has a new location this year and we are hoping to see a great turnout in the new place. The market is held from 8:30 am - 1:00 pm at Oxbow Crossing. Please come out and support your local farms -- and then, drop by the farm to join the crop mob!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our first harvest day of the spring CSA has been busy and windy. Once again we have to thank the volunteers for getting that inflated double layer of plastic on the greenhouse -- we are getting gusts of 60+ mph today but the high tunnels are holding steady! Through the wind we've been picking, washing, and bagging goodies all morning for the CSA pickup t0morrow. The share this week will consist of your choice of greens (choose from kale, chard, spinach, arugula, and perpetual spinach), root vegetables (choose from scallions, radishes, parsnips, green garlic, and leeks), asian greens (choose from Chinese cabbage, bok choi, mizuna, and tatsoi), and herbs (choose from oregano, thyme, rosemary, lemongrass, sage, and marjoram).

Don't forget to bring a bag or two to take it all home! The share also contains a great salad mix including mustard greens, pea shoots, vitamin greens, arugula, minuta, cress, mixed lettuces, and baby greens of spinach, kale, chard, and beet greens.

We'll also have some of our eggs for sale for $4.50 per dozen. Our chickens are fed only non-GMO feed along with plenty of weeds, vegetable scraps, and grubs from the gardens. This highly varied diet gives their eggs the bright orange yolks and great flavor that are often lacking in eggs from the supermarket. The turkeys get all that plus an extra treat -- since turkeys don't scratch up the soil, as chickens do, they are allowed to roam in the garden during the day and eat as many grasshoppers as they can catch! Grasshoppers are chewing holes in the greens, so we appreciate the turkeys helping us to keep down the pest population. Our other form of grasshopper control is to set out dishes of NoLo Bait near where the grasshopper damage is the worst.

NoLo bait is not harmful to humans or any animals other than those in the grasshopper and locust family. It's not a poison, so it takes time for the grasshopper population to dwindle, because it works by infecting grasshoppers with a spore that will only grow inside the grasshopper's body, decreasing its appetite and eventually killing it. The spore is transmitted between grasshoppers and eventually takes hold of the population enough to keep the damage down.

Our other main pest problem right now are the flea beetles snacking on the smallest and most tender leaves in the greenhouse. We are addressing this problem by mixing flour and cayenne pepper and sprinkling it lightly on the greens.

The flour deters the beetles from eating the leaves since it gums up their mouths when they take a bite, and the cayenne gives it a kick to make it even more unpleasant for them. Hopefully they will get tired of it and leave our tatsoi alone. We do rinse the greens twice after harvesting, but you may see a small amount of flour left on some of the arugula and salad greens. Don't worry! It is perfectly edible, though you may want to give the greens an extra rinse if you are unable to eat wheat.

Belle's second baby finally got her name -- Blue and Creme are our two newest dairy goats! We hope you will come say hello to them at the Crop Mob this Saturday. Please get in touch with John if you are interested in coming. There will be good food and some good hard work! Hope to see you there,


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Calling all locavores, foodies, wanna-be farmers, csa members, sustainability activists, local community members, local community builders, and food activists to the first...
Western Colorado Crop Mob!

While not everyone can start their own farm this is a way to become an active participant in the local food movement. Some people may decide to plant a garden, others will buy organic, or shop at the farmers market, but if you want to be more involved this is your chance.

What is a crop mob?

A crop mob is a group of people that descend on a local farm and knock out large projects while, at the same time, meeting others interested in local food and ultimately having a good time. My friend Stu calls it an "old fashioned Amish Barn-Raising but without the barn" - though we're not ruling out a future actual barn raising. We are forming a loose group of mobbers, there is no commitment involved, just come when you can and be ready to get your hands dirty. Join the group by sending me an email or becoming a member of the Western Colorado Crop Mob facebook group http://www.facebook.com/?sk=2361831622#!/group.php?gid=114351791921970&ref=ts.
These are the tenants of a crop mob:
No money is exchanged..
Work is done on small-scale, sustainable farms and gardens.
A meal is shared, often provided by the host.
This is not a charity. We crop mob for crop mobbers

This is not my idea, it is happening elsewhere in the country- check out cropmob.org or a ny times article about it at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/magazine/28food-t-000.html

So now the gritty details on the first crop mob.

May 1st
Buckhorn Gardens
Buckhorn rd.
Bed Digging Party
Lunch will be provided, please rsvp at jon.clayshulte@gmail.com

Hope to see you there


Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Spring!

We've woken up to snow on the ground for the last few days, but spring is still here on the farm -- and with it, spring projects! A huge thank you to everyone who came out to help with doubling the plastic on the greenhouses. With the help of many friends and community members, we were able to add a second layer of plastic to the two high tunnels (not a small feat in the high wind!). Inflating the space between the two layers with a small pocket of air helps slow down wear and tear on the greenhouse and will keep our high tunnels in good shape for years to come. The air pocket also helps insulate the greenhouse further, elevating the minimum winter temperature an additional four degrees. Those four degrees will protect the crops and extend the growing season, which will pay off in the winter and spring CSA boxes! We couldn't have done it without all our wonderful volunteers and neighbors, and we are so grateful for your help!

Springtime is full of babies, and we have got a ton. Baby chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese are living under heat lamps inside the dome, and are being transitioned to a heated chicken tractor outside as they grow feathers. In addition to their chick feed they also get snacks of pond weed, weeds, and grubs from the garden -- it is amazing how quickly they grow! We also have four baby goats this year. Belle, the herd matriarch, had two baby girls who we will be keeping as milkers for next year. Her older daughter is named Chevre, so we'd like to name these two girls after cheeses, too. The black and white doe is going to be called Blue, but we're still trying to think of another good cheese name for the white doe. Any suggestions?

With a full barn, we've got a full intern house to match. Jinelle has returned to pass on her knowledge to the new interns, and John is also back to take on new projects. The new interns are Alyssa (the new blogger! Hello!), and Evan, whose culinary degree will come in handy as he contributes recipes and cooking hints to this blog in the coming weeks.

We interns (and Breigh, of course!) have been working to dig out the outside beds and prep them for planting. So far we've got onion, leeks, shallots, spinach, and peas planted outside, and are hoping to get in broccoli and cabbage soon. In the meantime, our high tunnels are bursting with greens, so look forward to your first CSA box of the spring next week!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A pomegranate blossom in the dome

Hi Folks

Our winter CSA was a great success! Even with December being the third coldest on record all of our greens and vegetables grew unfazed in our unheated high tunnels. The coldest night recorded back in December was 11 below, however it stayed a cozy 22 degrees under our mini hoops. Pretty amazing! All thanks to the awesome Colorado sun. During the day the soil is heated and at night the mini hoops covered with an agricultural blanket and plastic hold in the heat that the ground has collected all day. Under our mini hoops we grew kale, chard, perpetual spinach, salad mix, lettuce, carrots and beets. In the dome we grew chinese cabbage, bok choi, scallions, turnips and radishes. Next year we will grow more carrots however if we grow beets again we will need to start them earlier so they have more time to bulb up.

We grew greens and root crops all winter long under the mini hoops in our high tunnels

We grow our radishes in grow tubes to help use all that vertical space in the dome

Now we are gearing up for our summer CSA which starts end of April/beginning of May. We have started onions and shallots for transplanting outside in April. Peas, scallions, beets and carrots have all been seeded in the high tunnel and are already up. Kale, chard, spinach, tatsoi, mizuna and head lettuce are being transplanted this week. Next week we will seed turnips in the dome and greens in the high tunnel.

The dome this winter filled with lots food

With the left over veggies from the winter CSA, I have been making lots of yummy kale chip and nutritious kimchi.

Friday, January 8, 2010

One of the many handsome residents of Kauai

After a well needed vacation from the farm, Darren and I returned home this week to sunny Colorado. Fortunately for us, Darren's sister (who lives on Maui), had her wedding there on the winter solstice. John and Jinelle, our trusted interns did an excellent job caring for the farm and harvesting for the winter CSA. Our night time temperatures have been averaging from around -5 degrees to 12 degrees here at night, but all the veggies are growing strong, especially now that the days are slowly getting longer.

While on the Islands; we visited farms, met farmers, and shopped at farmer's markets. For a wedding gift, we bought a CSA share through Neil at Sanctuary Farm in Kula, Maui. We found his information on Localharvest.com and like our farm, he farms without the use of tractors and chemicals and follows the philosophy healthy soil means healthy plants equals healthy people. Neil gave us a great tour of his small but very productive farm. His orchard was breathtaking and he fed us some of the best fruit we had on the islands! Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures of his beautiful farm that over looks the valley from a couple thousand feet up.

After Maui, Darren and I finished up our vacation on Kauai, the garden island. On our day of arrival we headed over to the Koloa Farmer's Market, man what an experience. The market starts at noon, but you should get there at least 15 minutes earlier to get in line before Branch (maybe the market manager) blows the whistle signaling the opening of the market. Its quite a show waiting behind the cones, getting a spiel about the market from Branch, walking down the road with hundred other people to the market, then rushing in to your favorite vendor before they sell out.

Darren and I also enjoyed many hikes around the islands. On Maui we hike up into the Haleakala volcano at 10,000 feet and walked through bamboo forests. On Kauai we trampled through mud in one of the most beautiful places I had ever been to, the Napali Coast. Darren found morel mushrooms, however not enough for a meal. We hiked with a neem tree farmer, an iron man competitor and many wild goats.

While hiking, Darren and I enjoyed munching on thimble berries

And lots of sour guava

Taro, definitely not my favorite

I called these giant asparagus stalks, but I have no idea what they are.

The silversword only grows on the Haleakala volcano on Maui

Longans, we couldn't eat enough of these, there awesome!

The Koloa farmer's market. I especially liked the bumber stick, No Farmers, No Food

Looks like the stuff we're growing