Farm Update February 17th, 2018

Hello!

We have had some beautiful cloudy, rainy weather the last few days. The total precipitation at the farm was 1.55”. The plants are looking really healthy now and the green manure mix cover crop has all sprouted due to the plentiful soil moisture.

We planted nearly all of the ready seedlings on Wednesday morning and afternoon as the rain was moving in, so they got a nice soaking immediately after planting.

Yesterday’s harvest was a wet and cold one with lots of mud in the field that subsequently has been tracked into all the working and living spaces. We will be doing plenty of clean up once things dry out.

We will see you at the markets!

 

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carrots on the wash screen
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foggy morning

 

Farm Update February 10th, 2018

Hello!

We continue to plant seedlings, another bed portion of broccoli and komatsuna. Additional seedlings we will plant in the coming days include more kale, more rapini, and red cabbage, among others.

This spring and summer we intend to grow more herbs. To that end, yesterday five trays of herb seeds were planted: cilantro, savory, oregano, dill and tarragon. We also transplanted some mint last week and our lemongrass is starting to green up.

We will see you at the markets!

 

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rainbow swiss chard with dandelion
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rapini plants

 

Farm Update February 3rd, 2018

Hello!

This week we tilled up the bed portions that were formerly infested with bindweed. These beds have been covered with weed barrier for 3 years and keeping them covered has eradicated the bindweed. After the bed preparation, we planted a cover crop with a winter green manure seed mix consisting of winter rye, forage peas, red clover, hairy vetch, and annual ryegrass. In a couple months we will chop this cover crop down and incorporate into the soil. This will increase the soil fertility and improve its tilth.

Another project we started this week is the preparation for a new asparagus bed. This involves ripping the soil, opening up a trench with the plow and then mixing in soil amendments to create a rich soil bed for the asparagus crowns. We intend to use compost and cocopeat mixed with the field soil. We will complete the asparagus planting by the end of this month.

Thank you for supporting local, sustainable agriculture.

We will see you at the markets!

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bok choi
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snap pea blossoms

 

Farm Update January 27th, 2018

Hello!

We have been enjoying the warm afternoons lately. The days start out pretty cold and it is shirtsleeve weather by noon. We have had a few mornings in the high teens and afternoons in the high 60s.

The long list of non-harvest tasks that built up during the labor shortage in the summer and fall is finally being addressed. One task that we worked on this week is enlarging the basins around our pomegranate trees in the north orchard. We moved the basin boundaries out beyond the drip line of the trees. Next week we will fertilize and mulch the trees and replace the protective cages that keep the rabbits and other rodents away from the trees.

We are also continuing to catch up with the planting. Another bed of lettuce and greens was planted yesterday and we also put in another bed of salad turnips. This next week we will be planting an array of herb seeds so that we can start to replace the beds of herbs that got cooked last June in the high heat. We lost the mint, sorrel and sage beds and intend to put in a few more herb varieties.

We are still seeking summer interns, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please tell them to contact me at joe@southwindsfarm.org.

We will see you at the markets!

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kale, lettuce, and broccoli beds
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garlic in the warm winter sun

 

Farm Update January 20th, 2018

Hello!

The last few days we finally removed the soil cover and weed barrier from portions of our East Terrace, where we had the invasive bindweed infestation 3 years ago. We will soon find out if we successfully eradicated the bindweed from the beds where it had spread. Having these beds restored and available for planting will increase our available bed space by about 2,500 square feet. We will plant these beds as soon as we amend them with compost and prepare the soil.

Some of the beds in the high tunnel beds are finally ready to harvest – the SWF greens mix beds in particular are growing very well in the increased temperatures and humidity inside the structure. This is the first winter that we have crops in the high tunnel and we are experimenting and learning how best to use the space.

Thank you for supporting local, sustainable agriculture!

We will see you at the markets.

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perspective from within the high tunnel
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red beets

 

Farm Update January 13th, 2018

Hello!

The last few days our hardworking crew planted 30 trays of seeds, including broccoli, kale, onions, cabbage, and various greens. We also planted another half-bed of romaine lettuce in the high tunnel.

This morning we finally burned the last of the huge piles of weeds that accumulated this summer. It was good to see those weed seeds go up in flames!

The row of blackberry bushes has been weeded and prepared to receive compost and mulch, which should be completed next week. We are hoping for a bountiful blackberry harvest this June.

And speaking of June, we are taking applications for summer interns if you know anyone who is interested in working long days in the heat with rattlesnakes while learning how to farm sustainably in the desert. Our internship listing is online here: https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/internships/

We will see you at the markets!

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young napa cabbage
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paisano

 

Farm Update January 6th, 2018

Happy New Year!

We are back at it after a nice break. Today we completed the fall treatment of the asparagus beds – a bit late but finished nevertheless. We should have a pretty good asparagus harvest this spring with two beds that we can fully cut and one bed that we should be able to harvest very lightly. We will prepare and plant a fourth bed later this month.

We continue to plant apace. In the high tunnel we recently planted a partial bed of baby romaine lettuce, with the remainder of that bed to be planted with more romaine tomorrow. Today a half bed of arugula was seeded. Tomorrow we will transplant kohlrabi, spigariello, fennel and rainbow Swiss chard.

We are looking forward to delivering delicious, healthy, sustainably grown food to  you this year!

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new greens bed basking in the warmth of the high tunnel
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purple prickly pear cacti

 

Farm Update September 30, 2017

Wow, that was a quick month! October here we come.

The grasshopper population is still increasing and now they are chewing on just about everything. The last week we cleared quite a few of the weeds in the east terrace and thereby eliminated a lot of hopper habitat, so many of them moved to the squash and into the high tunnel. We should be able to get them under control this following week as we eliminate most of the rest of the weeds and use neem oil derivatives to slow down their reproduction and development.

Removing the weeds has also opened up beds for planting, so we have been applying compost, preparing the beds and doing some direct seeding. The spinach is in and yesterday I planted another bed of greens mix.

We had a few mornings in the 40s and one in the high 30s over the last week. These cool morning temperatures really slowed down the ripening of the tomatoes. In just a few weeks, the weekly harvest plummeted from about 400 pounds down to less than 100. There are still many green tomatoes on the vines, so we will have them for awhile. Once we get the new cover on the high tunnel, the tomatoes (along with the sweet peppers and chiles) will have a warmer environment in which to grow.

As we have been mentioning the last few weeks, we will be selling CSA shares for our fall & winter CSA season that will start on November 12 and continue until mid-March. The fall & winter CSA program is now about 1/3 subscribed. The forms will be available at the Sunday market, and in the CSA box on the right sidebar of this website,

We will see you at the market!

delicata squash and blossom
new spinach bed

Farm Update September 23, 2017

We are finally starting to put together a fall/winter crew of farmworkers after an entire summer without full time or even part time helpers. Full-season interns and HelpXers will start to arrive in late October and by mid-November we should have a full crew. Various short-term wwoofers and HelpXers will come and go throughout the winter season

Thank you so much to all the volunteers that have helped and continue to assist me through this difficult time. I would not have been able to make it through the summer without your help. Although I am not out of the proverbial woods (desert?) yet regarding help on the farm, I can at least see the edge of the trees (cacti?) now.

This week I ordered the materials to complete our high tunnel. This includes roll-up doors on each end, a new 12 mil woven cover, and additional tie-down straps. These should help to prevent another dust devil disaster like the one at the beginning of the summer that shredded the old cover. We will also be improving the structure by replacing the 1”x3” ribbon boards with 2”x4”s. Once all this is in place we will have a large greenhouse for the winter that should extend our tomato, chile and pepper season, along with allowing us to have a steady supply of greens regardless of the winter low temperatures.

If you are inclined to volunteer, we will be needing a fairly large crew when we install the new high tunnel cover. Additional information will be included in succeeding newsletters as we approach the day.

As we have been mentioning the last few weeks, we will be selling CSA shares for our fall & winter CSA season that will start on November 12 and continue until mid-March. The forms will be available at the Sunday market, and in the CSA box on the right sidebar of this website, and here.

The first set of CSA share income is what paid for the high tunnel materials. The next thing we will do with the share sale income is to replace our old battery bank with a new and better one. Thanks for your support!

We will see you at the market!

sweet potato bed
five beds of winter squash, butternut and delicata

Farm Update September 16, 2017

It is a little chilly this morning, the temperature as I write this is 58 degrees. It is starting to feel like we are easing into fall; another summer is winding down.

The Rillito farmers’ market will be having a chile festival this weekend and we will be selling sinahuisa, jalapeño, poblano and Aleppo chiles.

As mentioned last week, we will be selling CSA shares for our fall & winter CSA season that will start on November 12 and continue until mid-March. The forms will be available at the Sunday market, and in the CSA box on the right sidebar of this website, and here.

We will see you at the market!

baby patty pan squash
freshly picked shishito peppers