This week at the farm, we finally got our tomato seedling in the ground, after putting up a 9-foot (!) trellis inside the high tunnel. We also planted the second round of summer squash seeds (zucchini and 3 kinds of patty pan) in the high tunnel. We are going to experiment with growing the summer squash on trellis to minimize the space needed to grow squash. Should be interesting to see how it works.
Today we are digging garlic. The curing process will take place in our pumphouse on top of the water tank on a drying rack and on just about any other shaded horizontal space we can find on the farm. Last year the entire loft of the Tiny House was filled with garlic, but that space is already full of household items now as the ground floor construction occurs.
We will have plenty of fresh garlic for sale this week and for months to come.
This last week we have been spending a lot of time and effort preparing the soil in the high tunnel for our summer crops. As you can see in the image below, we will have seven beds in the tunnel. We have applied compost and coco-peat. Next we will till these amendments in to the soil. After that we will put up the trellises; everything growing in the high tunnel this summer will be trellised to optimize space utilization.
The weather at the farm has been spectacular this last week – cool mornings and sunny, warm afternoons. Everything is growing rapidly as a result.
We still have space in our summer CSA program and this week at the market we continue to reserve spots and accept payment. If you know of any family members, friends or neighbors who might be interested, send them our way! The forms are available at the markets, and in the CSA box on the right sidebar of this website, and here. We will stick with a 50-share program this round, so please let us know if you are interested in a spot. The summer shares will include potatoes, blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, chiles, flowers, cucumbers, melons, okra, squash, salad mixes, among many other delicious ingredients.
We finally put the cover on the high-tunnel!! Thank you to all our volunteers that helped with all the construction phases. Without your assistance, we would not have been able to get it constructed. I am so relieved to have the greenhouse film on the frame and attached. We will finish a few remaining tasks for the construction by the end of the day.
The next steps will involve preparing the soil under the high-tunnel for planting, putting in the trellises, and then planting the tomato, chile, sweet pepper and cucumber seedlings. After that we will procure a large piece of shade cloth and put it over the plastic to create some excellent growing conditions for those summer crops.
Another crop we will be planting very soon is potatoes; we are going to try a Kennebec variety this round. With some luck we will be harvesting some tasty spuds in about 90 days from now.
We had a minor setback on the high-tunnel construction Thursday morning. The day dawned clear and windless. We started early laying out the greenhouse film ñ a sheet of 6 mil plastic 150 feet long and about 50 feet wide. While we were pulling it up and over the frame a very slight breeze started stirring. Within about 10 minutes, the wind changed direction and increased considerably. It picked up the cover like a big sail and blew it off completely as we yelled and scrambled to limit the damage. It was probably pretty funny to watch, but not too funny to experience. Fortunately no one fell off the ladders and no one was hurt. The cover was slightly damaged, but only on the edges where it was attached to the ropes.
We will make a second attempt this upcoming Thursday morning and are seeking volunteers to help with task. We will start even earlier this time so that we can get the cover on and secured before the breeze comes up.
On a happier note, we now have a crew of 4 working at the farm, so our workdays are a bit shorter and the harvests not as intense. One more intern will join the crew by the end of March, so we will be in good shape for the spring planting season which is upon us.
I guess it is still winter; it was 29° this morning at sunrise. Good thing we covered the asparagus beds last night! We should have a few pounds at the markets this week. It is now starting to come up more rapidly. No roadrunner damage this week. I have seen it walking around in the field, but it has been leaving the asparagus alone.
Our labor shortage should be ending this week – two additional interns and one HelpX helper are scheduled to arrive soon. In the meantime we have had timely volunteer help from a few of our CSA members. Harper harvested the Tuesday before last and Jack & Ellie helped by harvesting all day in the wind last Saturday and also plan to help us this Saturday. Thank you so much volunteers!! And thank you Bobby (currently our lone intern) for all the extra work lately.
We plan to finish the high-tunnel this upcoming Thursday, if anyone is interested in helping. We will send you home with some fresh veggies. Please email or call if you are interested email@example.com or 520-909-4903.
As a reminder, the Rillito market will open at 8a and close at noon again this Sunday due to the horse racing season. Parking will still be free for farmers’ market customers.
It is WARM out in the field today as we are harvesting! The temperatures are making a lot of the brassicas bolt (send up flower stalks). Some of the broccoli raab went from no heads to flowers in two days. The entire tatsoi bed portion bolted, as you can see in the image below. The yukina savoy is starting to flower.
We are continuing to work on the high tunnel and are making good progress. We hope to complete it within the next ten days or so. Then we will prepare the soil in it for our spring plantings of tomatoes, peppers, chiles, and cucumbers. We will put shadecloth on it for the spring and summer to lower the temperature inside the structure. The productivity of the summer crops should increase inside the high tunnel.
Starting this Sunday, Feb. 12, the Rillito market will open at 8a and close at noon due to the horse racing season. Parking will still be free for farmers’ market customers.
Yesterday we completed most of the frame for our high tunnel greenhouse. Many tasks remain to finish the greenhouse. As mentioned last week in the newsletter, we are seeking Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday volunteers to help with the construction for the next few weeks. We will start around 8a and work until around 4p. If you are interested in volunteering with the construction, please let me know.
We have had a few warm days this week and more are on the way, according to predictions. This is helping our crops to grow more quickly. Most of our bed space is planted out and we should see increasing production in the following weeks. That will be reflected in our market stands at Rillito and Green Valley.
The next few Saturdays (starting 28Jan) we will be completing the construction of our high tunnel greenhouse. We will start around 8a and work until around 4p. If you are interested in volunteering with the construction, please let me know.
It has been a week of chilly mornings – lows in the low 20s and one morning in the high teens. Consequently the plants are growing slowly and we won’t have any salad mix at the markets this week. We have two beds growing, though, and if we get the predicted warm weather next week, we should have plenty to sell in a week or two.
All week there has been a friendly roadrunner hanging around the farm. It will come up quite close to us if we hold still long enough.
Our first succession of broccoli plants all have heads now, as is the cauliflower and broccoli raab; we should have these at the markets. The parsnips are finally getting decent-sized roots. These were planted in September and take about 120 days to mature. We are really excited to have these available – looks like about 2 weeks until the first ones are large enough to harvest.
Thanks again supporting sustainable agriculture in southeastern AZ !
We have been transplanting many seedlings the last few days in the waning days of fall. These transplants include fennel, red Russian kale, red cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kohlrabi, and broccoli raab, among others. These will be harvested in the months to come.
Soon our high tunnel will be complete and we will be able to plant out the beds inside it, which will improve our productivity of greens in the winter.
Our greens production is back up – not back to normal amounts, but there is enough for our CSA shareholders , some for the markets and a bit for our restaurant customers. We hope to have greens continuously from now on.
The other thing that is up is the weeds. WOW are they ever cranking. We are not keeping up with clearing them out, but we work on it some every day.
We received some good news from the NRCS and USDA this morning – our grant application for a high tunnel received final approval. The funds were obligated in the spring, but it has taken awhile to get the approval for engineering aspects of the project. A high tunnel is a greenhouse structure. Ours will be 30 feet wide by 150 feet long. This will allow us to extend our growing seasons and increase production. Our plan is to use it as a greenhouse in the winter and as a shade structure in the summer. We hope to construct the high tunnel this fall before the weather turns cold. We will host some weekend and weekday work sessions. If you are interested in helping with the construction, please let us know. We will also keep you informed as our construction planning proceeds.