July 2016


We planted the seeds in early March in the greenhouse, snow on the ground. We harvested them Tuesday, no snow! It all started with 53,000 onion seeds and 90 seeding flats. We seeded four per cell, watered them and tucked the flats into germination chambers where they were kept at 80 degrees until they germinated. Then out into the greenhouse where they continued to grow. They were planted into the fields in late April, watered and weeded and watched until this week. When we saw the green tops begin to brown and fall over we knew it was time to harvest.

Planting onions on a chilly April morning. We plant into black plastic mulch for weed control and water retention as we drip irrigate. Drip irrigation tube is under the plastic.

Planting onions on a chilly April morning. We plant into black plastic mulch for weed control and water retention as we drip irrigate. Drip irrigation tube is under the plastic.

Abby and Barb pulling onions and laying them out. Note lots of tall weeds between the beds of onions, no weeds in the beds!

Abigail and Barb pulling onions and laying them out. Note lots of tall weeds between the beds of onions, no weeds in the beds!

Laying on the bed, waiting to be picked up.

Laying on the bed, waiting to be picked up.

They’re gorgeous. Matt (worker share) Abigail, Barb, Becky and Jasen (worker shares)

They’re gorgeous. Matt (worker share) Abigail, Barb, Becky and Jasen (worker shares)

The tractors (see another tractor to the left) move bulk bins along and the pulled onions get placed into them.

The tractors (see another tractor to the left) move bulk bins along and the pulled onions get placed into them.

Taking the onions out of the bulk bin and laying them onto the ground in one of our empty hoophouses.

Taking the onions out of the bulk bin and laying them onto the ground in one of our empty hoophouses.

Garlic is unique in that we plant it in the fall for harvest the following year. We form raised beds which are covered with a very thin layer of plastic mulch. Holes are punched into the plastic and each garlic clove is planted by hand. The best garlic bulbs from the prior year are saved for planting. The bulb is broken apart into its individual cloves. Each clove is planted separately, which becomes next year’s garlic plant. The whole field is then covered with a protective layer of straw mulch for the winter.

Planting garlic last October. Each clove is a seed.

Planting garlic last October. Each clove is a seed.

In the spring, garlic is the very first plant out of the ground, poking thru the straw mulch.  Garlic has shallow roots so it needs lots of water; which we provide with a drip irrigation system that is installed in each raised bed. Any extra needed fertility is added in the fall when the beds are made. A few weeds make their way thru the mulch systems which we then pull by hand.  In early June the garlic sends up its seed heads, called garlic scapes. The scapes are harvested and delivered to you. If the scapes are left on the plant, the garlic bulb will be much smaller because the plant is putting its energy into producing the seed head, which it sees as its way of reproducing itself. It has no idea we are going to do that for the garlic, as described above. So why not plant the seeds from the seed head you may ask. You can, but the result will be very small garlic bulbs.

Tonny in the garlic during the scape harvest.

Tonny in the garlic during the scape harvest.

Mid July is garlic harvest season. Garlic is harvested all at once, making the job a big deal on the farm.  The garlic bulbs mature to a certain point, after which they will begin to lose all their protective layers of “skin” and become undeliverable to you. So all the garlic comes out of the ground; it is placed in a dry place with fans blowing air over the moist bulbs, thereby curing the garlic for long-term storage.

All hands on deck for garlic harvest.

All hands on deck for garlic harvest.

Garlic harvest, like many tasks on the farm, is tedious and slow. Each garlic bulb is hand harvested, the dirt must be removed from the roots, and the outer skin is removed to make the garlic pretty and clean.  Sometimes the soil is a bit too wet and sometimes a bit too dry, each condition giving the harvest crew extra work; but occasionally the soil is just right making the job a little easier. The garlic first has its tops  mowed off to make harvest and curing easier. The garlic beds are then undercut with a tractor operated lifter which loosens the garlic for pulling. Then the hand harvest begins.

David undercutting the garlic to make it easier to harvest.

David undercutting the garlic to make it easier to harvest.

Garlic, like our potatoes, is a seed crop for us. In addition to delivering garlic to you, we sell garlic to other organic farmers for them to plant. So we grow lots of garlic and several varieties. We have experimented over the years with many varieties. We start with a small amount of garlic, and if we like it, we “grow it out”; meaning we keep all the garlic to replant over several years until we have enough to deliver to you and sell to other farms. This year we will be delivering four varieties, Musik, German, Italian Red and Chesnok Red. Each garlic variety has subtle differences in flavor and cooking qualities; all of them are great. We will be including garlic in your share thru the end of the season. Enjoy.

David

What a perfectly lovely day. Hundreds of people came out to the farm to harvest basil and make pesto. It was such a perfect expression of community coming together around food. The event was captured by Julie Garrett. She produces a weekly segment called Five Minutes on the Farm. She was a Fairshare CSA Coalition staff person for several years and is now doing this work to show off CSA farms. Enjoy the piece. It’s only 5 minutes!

See photos and read more about Julie’s day with us at the Pesto Fest

 

We worked all day. It was a wonderfully productive day. The temperatures were not too hot and it remained overcast all day. This is perfect for vegetable harvest. Typically we only harvest in the morning because the afternoon sun is too warm for the vegetables, but we celebrated on Monday by harvesting all day! We harvested salad mix, lettuce heads, chard, zucchini, broccoli, kohlrabi, fennel, turnips and pearl onions. There was even time to weed the sweet potatoes and pumpkin fields and wash the salad mix. Vegetables don’t celebrate holidays so we can’t either, not if they fall on a weekday during the harvest season. Well we can celebrate, but not by taking a day off from working with the vegetables. David and Jesse baled hay and cultivated. And, we also transplanted 6,720 broccoli plants. What would have happened if we had decided to take the day off and have a picnic? I probably don’t even have to tell you. The work we do is quite different from most other jobs and that’s why we love it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy but we do get all of the winter holidays off!

Barb

 Swiss Chard harvest: 8 members of the Cambodian crew. I’m not going to name everyone because you can’t see faces very well.

Swiss Chard harvest: 8 members of the Cambodian crew. I’m not going to name everyone because you can’t see faces very well.

Fennel fire works! Vicki and Matt (worker shares), Abby, Eric J-Mo, Becca

Fennel fire works! Vicki and Matt (worker shares), Abby, Eric J-Mo, Becca

Lettuce head harvest: Becky, Eric, Abby, Georgia, Becca

Lettuce head harvest: Becky, Eric, Abby, Georgia, Becca

Kohlrabi harvest: Sarah (worker share), Georgia, Abby

Kohlrabi harvest: Sarah (worker share), Georgia, Abby

Washing salad mix, Georgia hard at work picking out any weeds that may have slipped in.

Washing salad mix, Georgia hard at work picking out any weeds that may have slipped in.