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…and we’re back!

8 Sep

We’re back to school, and have some exciting new things planned for the greenhouse. Due to the construction on the building near the greenhouse, we won’t be able to start work inside for a while yet, but we’ll keep you posted, and be sure you keep checking back. 

Best,

Amelia

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Building Windows!

16 Mar

So I just got in from working in the greenhouse with Andrew on building windows. Were building them above the doors for ventilation in theese hot spring days. It was 77 in there this morning! The window’s arent quite done yet, but they sure are getting there. I’ll upload pictures when they’re are fully done.

in other news, we planted in the bed named a Aphrodite for the Greek goddess. We hope this offering will please her, along with the rest of our CSA customers.

peace,

-Arlo

My Trip to MOSES

11 Mar

So on February 25th, at around 5am, Arlo (that would be myself) carpooled over to La Crosse.I traveled with our very own Farmer in Residence, Andrew, and 5 other people to the Midwest Organic Farming Conference. We arrived around 8 o’clock, just in time for registration, and as soon as we got through the lines, we were immersed in gruff, callused farmers, dread-laden hippies, and anyone else who you think might show up to an organic farming conference.

The Conference is basically an array of workshops, three a day, with lunch, dinner and a keynote speaker involved in the schedule. when we arrived, the first workshop I went to was Cover Crop Benefits and Technique, Which I found extremely interesting and helpful. The speaker was explaining how great using cover crops (crops planted and then either tilled or killed and flattened on the soil to give the soil nutrients and organic matter) is for your soil and farming.

There was a break in which got snacks and coffee from the array of a snack bar containing all-organic products. It was all incredibly delicious. After we stocked up, we journeyed to the  next workshop. The second was on Cold-Climate winter production. This I found incredibly helpful in the greenhouses situation. one of the bigger differences between us and the speaker was that he was producing on a very large scale, so he has heated structures. He could grow year round, but he had a lot of useful things to say.

Again there was a break and we ate a scrumptious dinner, and tried to decide what our third workshop of the day would be. The third workshop was called Tillage With a Purpose, talking about the pros and cons of a no-till farming system.

After the third workshop we ate the provided dinner, which surpassed the lunch by far. It was really fun to sit and talk with strangers across the table and get into conversations. After dinner we went to a theatrical production about old farmers trying to figure out to do with their land after they die. After, we went to hotel and got a great nights sleep.

The Next day we got up and ate breakfast at the conference, and went to a workshop about powering your farm with renewable energy, which is something I’ve always been interested in.  The speaker was talking about the different options for renewable energy that are available for farmers and everybody else.

The keynote speaker that day Tom Stearns, from an orginization in vermont called High Mowing Seeds. He spoke about the vitality of re-creating our food system. After the presentation there was a follow-up discussion, which I attended. He explained about what he did in Vermont, and the audience asked questions while he answered them.

The last Workshop that I attended before the drive back was a workshop with two people explaining about efficient ways of transplanting seedlings. It was incredibly informative and well-layed out. They brought different ways of quickly planting seeds, on of which involved a vacuum. They also explained about the germination chambers which I had never heard of before. It was solid last workshop.

Every year, its always really fun to go and experience this massive amount (2800+) of people to come and learn about this broad style of farming. I enjoyed it an incredible amount, and I hope to have the privilege of going back net year.

If you want more information about the conference, visit: http://www.mosesorganic.org/conference.html

Peace,

-Arlo

How to pick seeds for winter production

6 Jan

So you’ve decided that you want to grow some vegetables for winter production. You’ve decided vaguely what you’re going to grow (for example, a gourmet salad mix). What’s left now is choosing your varieties. Continue on for the rest of the article

Vegetables Can Freeze, part 3: Carrots & Radishes

5 Jan

Radish "D'Avignon". Photo courtesy of Johnny's Selected Seeds.

Here we are in the third installment of “Vegetables Can Freeze.” Today’s topic: radishes and carrots. Will they survive a brutal freeze? Can they take the extreme cold of our Minnesota winters? Will they emerge stronger from their experience?

Well, yes. That’s why we’re writing about them. Both of these root crops have the virtue of a short season and improved flavor when grown in the cold.

When you think about the perfect carrot, usually it’s pretty far from the versions you find at your local grocery store, no?

Radish "Tricolored Easter Egg." Photo courtesy of Johnny's Selected Seeds.

Tough, woody, and soapy tasting–these carrots are gross and very common. But where can you find a tender, sweet, crunchy carrot that is actually a bright orange?

Why, in an unheated high tunnel, of course! Each time a carrot root freezes, some of the starch that is a part of its makeup is converted to natural sugar. This is why parsnips should be left in the ground until after a freeze and why potatoes shouldn’t be stored in the shed over the winter.

Carrot "Mokum." Photo courtesy of Johnny's Selected Seeds.

The same goes for radishes. Cold weather makes them crisp and sweet, which is especially great along with their spiciness.

So now I think that we’ve covered about enough on the vegetable thing, so the next “Vegetables Can Freeze” post will be about selecting seed for winter production.

Vegetables can freeze, part 2: Asian greens

14 Dec

Mmmm...mizuna.

Well, folks, you really loved the first “Vegetables Can Freeze” post. Really loved. As in, in two weeks, it had more views than any other post!

So in response, we will now offer a brief overview of the crops we’ve decided to plant in our greenhouse, along with some basic information. And today’s post, as you may have guessed, is about Asian greens.

"Jimmy, you must eat all your komatsuna before you can leave the table."

The three varieties of Asian green that we will be planting in the greenhouse this winter are as follows: mizuna, bekana (a type of Chinese cabbage) , and komatsuna. First and foremost, we chose these seeds because of their cold-hardiness and quick growing time. They will all be harvested for baby greens in a salad mix. Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog reports that they will go from planting to harvest in 21 days for baby greens, although it will take longer if grown in winter harvests. They have a variety of textures and flavors, ranging from delicate and sweet to juicy and spicy.

As is true of any other salad green, they are sweeter and tenderer when harvested young. And as you may have remembered from the last “veggies can freeze” post, greens grown during the winter are sweeter and tenderer than their summer-grown counterparts.  So it all equals up to super tender, juicy, beautiful salad. In March. Start stocking up on your favorite dressing now!

Did you like this post? Check out some of our other informative stuff here!

The first real planting of the season

10 Dec

Half of our greenhouse is laid out in beds for winter/spring production.

So, today was a pretty big day for the greenhouse. We finished rototilling the east half, added fertilizer, patched the plastic (poly patch tape is a school’s best friend), laid out the growing beds, and even got around to the fun stuff: planting garlic.

We all smelled like gasoline from the tiller,

And you thought you had rock problems. These came out of 480 sqare feet of dirt.

but in the end, it was a great morning.

We planted two varieties of garlic, neither of which we know the name of. Our farmer-in-residence, Andrew, says that we’ll be growing it only until it resembles a green onion. This will keep its season short, and should go nicely with rest of our “salad CSA”.

Some of our broccoli plants are growing florets!

Up for next Friday’s work day is a planting of one of our Asian greens. They’re brassicas, so they’ll do especially well in the cold. We’ll also mulch the garlic bulbs, but only if the ground freezes over night. It may sound contradictory, but we want the bulbs to grow slowly.