Bay Branch Farm

a vegetable farm in lakewood and cleveland, oh | we grow food


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2017 – a look back

Merry Christmas! It’s a cold and windy day, but the sun is shining and the hoop house is up to 58 degrees. Not sure if our kale will survive the coming nights of temperatures in the single digits, though. We don’t currently have supplemental heat, so we’ve peeled back the row covers to get the plants and soil some direct sunlight. I’m super grateful for the high tunnel as we are enjoying a fresh green salad as part of our Christmas dinner, along with roasted root veggies from the farm that were harvested and stored before it snowed.

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It’s been a decent year – our best yet from a revenue perspective, which is good since Spink is now full-time on the farm. Some of the accomplishments from this season include:

  • New tool shed to store the tractor, its implements and hand tools
  • New, larger hoop house (moved to our house from the other farm site and extended to 28′ x 12′) in which we grew cherry tomatoes and basil
  • New irrigation system – an 1100 gal. tank – which still needs to be worked into our rain water catchment system
  • New 30′ x 72′ high tunnel though the USDA EQIP program – all built we just need to wait for warm weather to cover it with plastic

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Still lots of projects to do come spring. We are enjoying a little R&R over the holidays and then will begin planning in earnest for 2018. Hope you and yours have had a wonderful year. Wishing everyone peace and joy in 2018!

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Soup weather and other savory ways to use winter squash

Today’s featured vegetable is butternut squash! This season we grew 7 squash plants which supplied us with an abundant crop of beautiful squash and way more than we can eat. Thankfully we grow for market and were able to sell some before the end of market season. Additionally, our customers received a squash in their final fall share. However, we still have several on hand. They store well so I’ll be able to use them throughout the winter months.

SavoryButternut squash is extremely versatile. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes. I used to focus on soup since it’s one of my favorites but lately I’ve been seeking out new ways to use this delicious ingredient. Most of these recipes are equally good with other winter squash too.

My mother-in-law shared an easy recipe for roasted butternut squash and apple that is absolutely delicious. I particularly love the tips that this blog includes about how to safely peel a butternut because it can be daunting to tackle the tough outer skin without a little prep work first.

We attended the Young Farmers conference at Stone Barns last year and the food was out of this world. I adopted this recipe of roasted butternut squash on toast slathered in goat cheese and sprinkled with arugula, pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinegar.

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This is another I can’t wait to try. It sounds so tasty. Butternut squash fettuccine alfredo! Um, yes please!

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I love pumpkin roll and a quick internet search shows that butternuts can be used in place of pumpkin. I also plan to make butternut squash muffins. This recipe has oats and candied ginger!

What are your favorite ways to use butternut squash?


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Fall update

Last weekend was our final farmer’s market of the season. It’s nice to have weekends back, to take a moment to breathe and start planning for fall projects. We pulled all the tomatoes out of the hoop house a couple weeks ago, transplanted some kale and direct seeded some mixed greens. Not sure how this will fare with the shorter days. So far, the sun has continued to shine and the day temps are in the low 70s, so we hope these plants can get established, but we may have gotten them in too late. Summer planted fall crops, such as leeks, parsnips and kale, are going strong so we should have some additional fall offerings for our customers. Here are a few pics of how things look right now.

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Leeks, kale and parsnips continue to grow

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Pole beans drying on the vine for dried beans

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Herb spiral with parsley, fennel, cilantro (not pictured), and lovage

 


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What’s hiding out there?

Things on the farm are cruising along. The summer weather has been pretty amazing. Cooler temps, fairly steady rainfall (about 1/2″ a week) and sunny days. I love seeing the new growth on things like red peppers – they almost look fake on the plants because they are so bright red! Butternut squash are often a surprise because the patch becomes jungle-like in the summer and then you discover the bounty in the fall when the leaves die back. We also have some awesome looking melons coming in. Our farm mentor gifted us 5 plants and we put them in and now we cannot find the markers to know what’s what!

What’s growing in your summer garden?


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Farm update

A quick update on the farm. It’s been an amazing season so far weather-wise. Been getting rain on a weekly basis and lots of sunshine (mid 70s to 80s) and cool evenings. I love it! Garlic is almost ready to harvest, potatoes are getting close and beans are starting to flower. And, our paw paws are producing fruit!!

What’s growing in your garden? What are you enjoying the most this season?

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View from the back of the plot

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Paw paws!

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Gold beets killing it!

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Chard: had to strip the outer leaves, which were riddled with holes. Not sure what got to it. Hoping this allows it to recharge and come back stronger. 

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Trellised cherry tomatoes have been amazing in the larger hoop house


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Spring 2017 – what’s growing?!?

Spring is here and things are really cranking up on the farm. It’s definitely the busiest time of the year for us: prepping beds, soil blocking, transplanting, weeding, watering, and all things in the dirt that come with being soil farmers. Here are a few updates of some of the crops coming in. Lots of row cover and bug netting over the tender greens to protect from pests (mostly flea beetles and leaf miner).

View of the plot in Lakewood. Pole beans planted last week barely visible at base of trellis.

Argentata chard – tastes like spinach (more so than the bright lights variety)

Ovation greens mix – so yummy!

Eric trellising the tomatoes in the hoop house. Cukes and basil also growing under protected culture.

3 rows of potatoes – Red Norland and Yukon Gold


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Germination chamber

Last year Spink built a germination chamber complete with grow lights. Unfortunately, the lights (LEDs) produce too much heat and the chamber has no way to cool down, so he made some modifications and now we just use it to germinate seeds and then move them to heat mats to grow a bit before hardening off and transplanting outside. The germination chamber can hold up to 12 – 1020 trays on 2 shelves (with option to add another shelf in the future). There is a heater inside (white plate) plugged into a temperature controller, a small fan to keep air flowing inside, and a humidifier outside with cold, moist air pumped in to the side via a drilled hole. The entire chamber is insulated.

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The inside of the germination chamber (6′ x 3′ x 2.5′).

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The temperature and humidity controls.

When we realized the lights make it too hot, Spink built a chamber on top of the germination chamber for the starts to go once they pop up. This is where they go to be under lights. Lights can be moved up and down depending on the height of the plants. In the picture below we moved the lights down closer to the seedlings. This is where they stay for about 3 to 4 more weeks before potting up again or transplanting outside, depending on the plant.

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Once seeds germinate they are moved under lights and onto heat mats.