The sun is shining and the snow is melting. It’s been a long, cold and snowy winter and today we went over to take a look at how things survived the polar vortex and other gems of this season. The hoop house was balmy and smelled kind of like cabbage due to the overwintered kale within. Most of it has passed, probably due to too little sun and water (partly our own neglect), but we tried to revive a few plants that look promising in the hopes that we might get a couple more harvests out of it. The rest we pulled and composted. Under the snow outside lives a bed of parsnips, which we decided to harvest before the ground thaws and rots the precious roots. We had harvested some of these through the fall and early winter and got a good final haul today.
And, although winter isn’t over yet, the bees are still alive! They were out in full force, cleaning out the dead bees, taking a poo, and probably looking for food.
We are approaching the end of 2013. It’s hard to believe because so much has happened this year. We moved to Cleveland, started making plans to expand our farm in our back yard, grew some new crops and had a lot of fun growing and sharing the fruits of labor with our customers. Here’s a look back….enjoy!
Okay, I know….kale sounds gross, right? That’s what I thought when I started growing it. It’s supposed to be good for you, how can it also taste good? Then I started to actually eat it – raw in smoothies, cooked with eggs, quiche, salad…yum! This salad is super easy and delicious and nutritious. You can’t go wrong.
1 bunch kale
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Chop kale. Mix olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper garlic and pour over kale. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves. Let set for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and enjoy.
It’s November 11th and we are yet to have a hard frost, but it’s definitely on its way. Got the garlic planted a couple weeks ago, mulched and tucked in for the cold winter. After attending an awesome workshop by Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association, we also applied chopped up leaves and grass to many beds that had nothing covering them. This will help keep the living biological system going and feed the microorganisms in the soil so it will be super ready for growing delicious and nutritious crops in the spring! We also managed to get our soil samples done before the ground is covered in snow, which sure makes for easier sampling. The quality of the soil at the plot is amazing. It’s night and day from our first soil sample. The soil is now black, crumbly and really easy to sample. During our first few attempts four years ago, we could barely get the soil probe to go down 6″ without hitting rocks and clay. So excited to see the results.
Fall is such a beautiful time of year. The leaves all change color and slowly fall to the ground and the air turns crisp and cold. It’s sad to think it will be at least 4 months before we are getting our hands back in the soil, though we have a beautiful bed of parsnips that we hope to continue to harvest and butternut squash, onions, garlic and potatoes saved for fall/winter soups. Plus all the yummies that we canned, dehydrated, and froze for winter eating to remind us of the bounty of the season.
Last weekend we decided it was time to harvest some honey. We donned our bee outfits (headgear and lots of light colored clothing), lit up the smoker and went to work. The top box was mighty heavy when we finally got it unstuck using the hive tool. The smoke confused the bees and also seemed to tick them off, but we finally managed to get the box disconnected and put the hive back together. We have a Warre hive and do not have frames within supers, so getting all the bees out was a bit tricky. Once we had the box off, we cut the comb from the box and dropped it into a 5-gallon bucket, brushing away as many bees as possible in the process. Then we used the crush and stain method to harvest the honey. Finally, we melted down the wax, which we plan to give to Stem Soaps, which just opened a store front right around the corner! Here are a few pictures of the process. Approximate haul is 8 quarts.
I’ve been a bit negligent in posting pictures of everything growing at the plot, so here are a few taken the first weekend in August. Lots of vertical growing going on!
In early July we plowed a portion of our back lawn and planted a cover crop of buckwheat. It grew magnificently, making a nice canopy over the ground crowding out most of the weeds (with the exception of persistent purslane…argh). Last weekend it started to flower, so we tilled it under. In another week we will plant another stand of buckwheat. Learn more about the benefits of this cover crop here.