Monday, May 30, 2011

Yikes. It's a good thing we aren't squeamish.

Growing things without pesticides and chemicals means that sometimes you have to get creative when it comes to pest control. 

Pesky little wire worms have taken a liking to the tomatoes in the hoophouse – they crawl inside the stems and suck up the nutrients that the plant needs to grow, eventually leading to their demise.  Bummer! Usually they attack potatoes, but this is a rare case of them attacking tomatoes (how exciting?).

So Amy and Patrick found a creative solution online: stick whole carrots into the ground next to the tomatoes and hopefully ‘distract’ the worms into eating the carrots instead. Like so:


That’s step one (and it worked!). Step two is pulling up the carrots each day and pulling out the worms by hand!  

It helps if you aren't squeamish! Then proceed to do this every day and hope for the best! 
Afterwards (and after a thorough hand washing), we deserved a treat and ate peanut butter cups. I made them and I they were great, but this photo suggest otherwise! Maybe she's still thinking of worms...


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Lovely Spring Recipie

Hi everybody! In my quest to eat local as much as possible, I've been coming up with many alternatives to eating the quintessential spring foods: rhubarb, asparagus, new potatoes... now, even though Skeeter Farm is growing everything under the sun, asparagus is still up in the air for us. Soon, though, I trust you, it will come to fruition. Anyway, as stated before I am all about supporting my local farmers when I can, and my husband and I enjoyed making (and eating) this lovely soup! Give it a try! (Sorry my pic couldn't load properly)

Creamy Asparagus Soup

2 1lbs asparagus chopped
1 large onion chopped
a pat of butter
5 c vegetable broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 c heavy cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Cook onion with butter, salt and pepper until translucent. Add asparagus and thyme and sauteed until tender. Add broth and continue to cook for about 5-10 mins. Puree soup with a food processor, put back on heat and add cream and juice of 1/2 lemon. Season further to taste.

Recipes concerning Skeeter Farm veggies are on the horizon. Stay tuned for some additional ideas......

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Reason to Farm

Hi everyone, I haven't done any blogs in quite a while, but as you might have guessed, the balance of full time work and farming has occupied my time in a big way. And of course, the workload of getting crops started really has distracted me from doing posts lately, but we are ahead of the game now, and I can now start to slow down a bit.

So, my title, A Reason to Farm. I should explain more about this. While doing some planting today I was talking to Amy about my reason to farm. While I didn't get too much into the actual reason earlier today, I will now.
I think everyone has their own particular reasons for choosing farming as a career, or hobby, but my reason to get involved in this local farming venture is because of the food. A simple statement to be sure, but the food is more that just eating the fresh peas from the field. It is, for me, the pride and joy of growing something yourself that tastes absolutley fantastic and healthy. The tomatoes are not imported from Florida, and the kale is not from California. The real flavor and taste is natural and explosive, not bland and unripe. The act of eating in season and local is affordable, challenges the creative palate, and when fresh out of the field you know it has all the nutrients.
In addition, the act of supporting local farmers is truly a great thing for the community. Like people supporting Skeeter Farm, I like to support other local farmers. It keeps people working and food accessible.

On days like this, hot sunny days, when the day consists of 12 hours of planting and potting, farm chores and watering, tommorrow at my day job, I can think of that great productive day and know that I am giving back and doing something great for my local community and that also makes tasting that local tomato even better. Or even local celery!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lil Farm Update

This was written for our May CSA newsletter, but I figure it can do double duty as a blog post:

Setting up the farm

The first season farming at a new site is special because we essentially get to design our farm. What does that mean? Well we design and set up our irrigation, design our field and planting beds, create a crop rotation and figure out where other important farm infrastructure like our washing station will go. It is a season to be creative and it is also a season of hard work because all of the set up happens at the same time as planting.

These times are not without their challenges…

Take, for example, the set up of our hoophouse, which spanned over a couple of months and involved several days of hard work (okay so the boys worked really hard…we just worked hard). The final step was to put on the brand new plastic, which we decided to do in a bit of a storm the day before Amy went on a week-long trip. We were so excited to finally have the hoophouse done and to get our light starved transplants out in the sunlight. Well…just hours after we finished the plastic, the wind kicked up, and needless to say our brand new plastic tore and was flapping madly in the wind. Guess we should have spent some more time making sure it was secure…

(Thanks to Joe for the somewhat heartbreaking photo).

Despite hard work there are several things that we are extremely excited about.

One thing is the new irrigation/water system. Those of you who have been with us for a while may have heard about our water set up at the old farm. The old system involved us dragging a 60 lb gas water pump up and down a steep embankment every time we wanted to turn water on. This often was done in office work clothes in the early hours of the morning. Get this…the new system can be turned on in a heartbeat by merely flipping on a valve. Amazing eh?

Another thing that is really quite exciting to us is the fact that our field is a regular shape (cheap thrills). Seems simple, but after farming in an oval shaped field that was shaded on one side, the new field is a dream come true. With a regular shaped field that is not shaded, we have planned out a 6-year crop rotation based on 6 separate planting beds. What this means is that every 6th year, the same crop family will be planted in the same area. Crop rotation is a critical aspect of managing pests and diseases as well as maintaining high quality soil for our style of farming.

]Speaking of soil, our little tractor, Benny, is having a much better time tilling up this nice sandy soil compared to the heavy clay we have farmed in the past. With only 12.5 horsepower, we were quite underpowered and had a very hard time doing our field preparations. Field prep has gone much more smoothly this year thanks to the big tractors from Fraser Valley Duck and Goose and our little Benny.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another nice blog post about Skeeter Farm!

It's pretty fantastic to have CSA customers who also blog....
We've been so busy in the field lately, there's almost no time to spend on the computer (and I am not complaining at all).

Aimee and Mykol, two classmates of mine, came out to the farm at the end of the season last year to help with our last harvest - thanks friends!

Aimee, 6 months later, posted a nice story and pics of us: