2016 CSA Signup Time

CSA_2016

Click the flier above to learn more or sign up for this season’s CSA program!

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Help High Wire Expand!

We’ve started a Kiva Zip loan campaign here. Follow the link and loan as little as $25 dollars to help High Wire Farm install a new deer fence and purchase a few tools. Every dollar will be repaid!IMG_0089

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Hello Blogness, My Old Friend.

A little of what’s been going on around the property this spring – between surprisingly sunny days, a comparatively large absence of mice invading the green house, and several machines that won’t cooperate – it’s been an interesting one so far! Enjoy the photos.

Bonnie and Clyde look for something to eat that isn't their own poop.

Bonnie and Clyde (aka “Cheese and Quackers”) look for something to eat that isn’t their own feathers/poop.

Me on my 1953 Ford Jubilee, Anniversary Addition.

Me on my 1953 Ford Jubilee, Anniversary Addition. (I make no claims towards promoting “peace.”)

 

You will see a picture of my garlic every year. Thai Fire!

Just accept that you will see a picture of my garlic every year. Every. Year. Thai Fire!

Ju-Ju being a big huge help spreading mulch.

Ju-Ju being a big huge help spreading mulch.

People pay, like, $3 a bunch for daffodils at my work. I barely notice as I trod through them daily. Just kidding.

People pay, like, $3 a bunch for daffodils at my work. I barely notice as I trod through them daily. Just kidding…I consider them the majestic heralds of spring.

Covering a direct seeding of carrots last week, I again had the thought that agribond fabric would make a cheap wedding dress. I'm in the wrong business.

Covering a direct seeding of carrots last week, I again had the thought that agribond fabric would make a cheap wedding dress. I’m in the wrong business.

Rents in Sandfrogcisco are getting pretty ridiculous, despite the amenities. (That's my heated sand bed for seed starting

Rents in Sandfrogcisco are getting pretty ridiculous, despite the amenities. (That’s my heated sand bed for seed starting.)

And I'll just end on this kid, because he's pretty much the bee's knees around here.

And I’ll just end on this kid carefully helping me put “two seeds in evwey tway, uncle dwew”, because he’s pretty much the bee’s knees around here.

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Farm Subscription Signup Time!

Here are some photos of previous years farm shares, to get you excited about what’s to come. Click on “2014 CSA” at the top of the page for more information on how to sign up.

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Projects

I told myself I’d try to post on this blog more often this year, but so far, there has been too many projects to tempt me outdoors – plus, the weather has been amazing. Last year at this time, I was hunkering down in my greenhouse full of starts that were ready to go into the ground, while it rained nearly every day until June. Now, I’m a bit behind with my transplants, and I have open fields with nothing to plant! So goes the life of a farmer.

I was, however, able to get some tomatoes started in the greenhouse, and they’ve taken off with the warm weather. A  few nights of freezing temperatures last week had me draping the adolescent plants with row cover (shown in between the plants below) to protect them from frost damage. Even inside the greenhouse at night, plants can be harmed or killed by temperatures of 34 degrees or below.

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I am experimenting with a few growing techniques that are new to me this season, as well as growing some things I’ve never grown, such as sweet corn, okra, tomatillos, sweet potatoes, and a handful of new varieties of old favorites (purple carrots, flowering kale, sprouting broccoli, orange cauliflower, and two new varieties of garlic,  to name a few.) All in all, my head is spinning with the effort of preparing for this season, and dealing with unexpected set-backs related to the very un-Oregon like spring weather we’ve been having.

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Red and green okra, just showing their first true leaves (the third, smaller greenery emerging from the stem) in the hotbed inside the greenhouse.

As always, my garlic and shallots seem to be doing very well. Last fall, I planted the seed with the help of some friends, covering half of each bed with a 2-3 inch layer of chopped-up leaves mowed up from the lawn around the property. I waited to see if the seedlings would have enough strength to come up through the soil and the thick layer of mulch – happily, all or most of them did. Ironically, the area I left un-mulched just in case actually germinated slower it seemed, and some didn’t even truly come up until early this spring. All of the plants look healthy now, and I’ve been helping them along with a dose of liquid balanced fertilizer every few weeks, to make sure they bulb up nicely. The mulch has done a good job of keeping weeds down, and the soil moist during this unusual dry spell.

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Two varieties of strawberries that should be in full production this season, plus marrionberry canes just to the left, which also should start producing. Beyond is a freshly tilled field, slotted for sweet potatoes and direct seeded carrots.

And, I’ve been building bridges! Well, one bridge, anyway. With the patient help of my stepfather Michael, I was able to cobble together a sound structure for getting in and out of the main gate to the farm. Wood poles sunk into concrete in the ground support my new 6′ wide by 15′ long bridge, made of pressure treated 2″x8″ lumber. Scratch that project off the list.

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Detail of the sloped approach and support beams.

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The finished product. No more dumping wheelbarrows full of tools or compost, trying to struggle down and then up the swale to get through the gates!

In other news, the mason bees are finally moving into the little house we’ve provided them on the outside wall of the coop. The females lay their eggs along the length of these paper tubes, separating each one with a wall of a soil and pollen mixture. Apparently the females can tell which eggs will hatch as male, and which as females.  The males are laid towards the front of the tube, just in case a hungry invader breaks through the final, thicker layer of caked mud at the entrance. This way, the valuable females will have a better chance of surviving to breed next spring, when they’ll hatch after wintering over in their cozy tubes to get a head start on pollinating early-blooming fruit trees that non-native pollinators like honeybees will shun because of cold temperatures. I’ll post more photos and info about these little guys (and gals) as things progress.

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These bees like their houses filterless.

Well, despite a few setbacks, this season is shaping up to be as successful as it is challenging. I’ve signed up the equivalent of 15 shares to my “farm subscription” program (CSA) this season – about twice the number I had last year. I’m planning on doing two markets per week, and selling to a few new restaurants. Hopefully, I’ll get around to installing my irrigation tank and lines this fall, and with my refrigeration unit nearly finished, I’ll be all set up to farm at my full capacity next season!

And finally, meet our new Director of Pest Management, Ser Bronn!

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The Build(up).

Whew. Don’t let anyone tell you farmers have the winter off. I’ve been working steadily on several projects around the farm, as well as a few peripherally having to do with developing stronger food security here in Cottage Grove. I’ve recently taken on the role of Farmer Liaison with Sustainable Cottage Grove (www.sustainablecottagegrove.org), in order to create a collective of growers in this area, with the initial aim of supplying the local Coast Fork Farm Stand with produce for much of the year. For more about that, click here. I’ve also been shaking the dust from my graphic design skills, and developing some print media related to getting the word out about the Coast Fork Farm Stand’s Community Cooperative, as well as working on media for my own farm. All in all, it has been a busy winter, indoors and out.

My excitement for the coming season has been steadily increasing, starting with the arrival of my seed packets last month. I’ll be growing a whole bunch of new varieties of old standards this year, as well as a few fruits and veggies I’ve never grown before, including sweet potatoes, marionberries, sweet corn, kohlrabi, okra, tomatillos, and leeks. I’m also looking forward to having a full crop of strawberries this year, and maybe even some asparagus. My Farm Subscription list continues to fill up, as of now I have about 5 spots left out of 15.

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The 10’x20′ structure on a cement pad.

Mostly, I’ve been working on building some refrigeration for the farm, erecting a 10’x20′ structure with an attached covered storage area for tools, etc., as well as fashioning a few homemade tools to make seed starting a bit more efficient. The cooler will be run with a through-the-wall air conditioner, and a device called a “cool bot,” that connects to the thermostat on the unit, essentially tricking the air conditioner into operating at full capacity. This is much cheaper to install and operate than a standard walk-in cooler with fans.

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1 1/2′ rigid foam insulation on the outside, to be covered by wood siding.

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3 1/2′ Roxul bat insulation on the inside will be finished with tile backer board and caulked to be air-tight. This should keep my little veggies crisp, cool, and happy.

Recently, the lovely Ellie Larson was nice enough to take a few photos of the new seeding tools in action, as well as the seedling mix creation process, one rainy day last week. Here are a few images, enjoy!

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Screening the main ingredient of the seedling mix, coconut coir (the ground up husk of coconuts, a renewable alternative to peat), into finer particles for uniformity in the mix.

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The second ingredient, my very own compost, being screened through an even finer mesh. Compost gives the mix a little heft, as well as controlling diseases that can kill newly emerging seedlings before they ever make it to the field.

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Ingredient 3: Perlite – a kind of naturally occurring volcanic mineral (though sadly, non-renewable). This helps create air spaces in the mix to prevent compaction, which can cause seedlings to rot or simply never emerge in their trays.

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And finally, a little nutrient and mineral boost in the form of blood meal, calcium (ground oyster shell), and greensand. Though seeds have all the nutrients they need to sprout and support a seedling for a short period of time, its always good to have a little back-up power, in case another wet spring keeps them from being transplanted into the field at the ideal time.

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Mix it up, and we’re ready to go!

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Filling trays with damp seedling mix.

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Using my newly made “dibbler” to put little indentations, or dibbles, into each tray before seeding, so that the seeds are placed at just the right depth for optimal germination.

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…what to plant…

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…and how much?

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The trays are full of seeds, a little mix is added on top to fill the dibble holes, and the excess seedling mix is carefully scraped of the top.

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Now its time to use the other new handy tool that I call a “tamper,” because it presses the mix gently down, creating the needed soil-to-seed contact for proper germination. The trays are then placed on benches in the greenhouse where they are watered daily until the seedlings begin poking up.

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Close-ups of my finely crafted tools: Every one of those squares were cut, glued and nailed on, and then sanded so they’d sit perfectly in the trays.

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Making sure the dibbler screws are all at a consistent depth.

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These are double sided – one side for each tray size I use in the greenhouse (72 and 128).

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Farm Subscription for 2013

There’s been a lot of interest in my Farm Subscription plan this year – I made this double sided flyer, with the intent of handing them out to folks around town, but I may not even get to printing them before all the spots are filled.

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I start seeding in the greenhouse next week, which means I’ll hopefully be paying a little more attention to this here blog, as well. Can’t wait for my second official season of growing!

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