Week 7 share

Notes from the farm. Good news – it rained! A farm saving rain. Not enough to recharge ponds, but enough for this week.

The well drillers were here on Friday – a father and son both named Clarence. When I told the elder Clarence that the well they dug for us ten years ago was still giving us over 65 gallons a minute he nodded his head and laughed and attributed the success of the well to the mysterious workings of his dowsing rod. “The water is there, you just have to know how to find it,” he said, pointing to the dusty ground. “Some people believe in the rod, some don’t,” he added. The younger Clarence, who did most of the talking, identified a site on the top of our back hill as a promising well location. It’s convenient because it is where our son, Nate, might like to build a cabin one day, but, to me, the location is not an intuitive one. Because surface water is found at the bottom of hills, and not the top, it seems logical that subsurface water should be found at the bottom, too. But Clarence explained that while gravity, which is the primary force governing the location of surface water, is also at work under ground, the vast network of cracks and fissures and dams in the bedrock below our feet play a role that cannot be guessed at above ground. “We don’t know if we are standing on a porous substrate that allows water to flow freely downward or if there is impervious rock  just a couple of feet below us that has dammed water at higher elevations” he explained. He pointed out that our first well – the 65 GPM well, which is on high ground – was dug to a depth of 480 feet. And he said that he dug a well for my neighbor in the valley below us to a depth of 350 feet and still found just 12 gallons of water. “We found a high elevation pool over at your place, but you never know.” The cost of the well, he said, would be $10/foot. Plus the cost of well casing and the auger bit. And there would be the pump, the pressure tank and the generator. “All together, we can do it for under $10,000, maybe under $8,000.” Then Clarence said he’d be back with his dowsing rod once we’ve cleared a way through the hedgerow large enough to accommodate his drilling rig. When he returns, I’ll try very hard to believe in his dowsing rod.

– Ted Blomgren, Windflower Farm

Week 6 share

For those days when you get your goodies home only to realize your crisper is still full of odds and ends from last week’s share, universal pesto is the answer:

2 cups anything leafy & green (chard, kale, mustard mix, spinach, bok choy, etc)
¼ cup toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc)
1-2 tablespoons umami (miso paste, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, etc)
2 tablespoons allium (garlic scapes, scallions, chives, onion tops, etc)
2-4 tablespoons lemon/lime
½ – ¼ cup oil
salt & pepper to taste

Blend into paste. Keeps well frozen!


What’s new on the farm. Dry conditions continue to consume all of our attention. Every two or three hours we switch some plumbing or fire up a new pump. The wet weather system predicted for late last week – scattered storms that would deliver heavy rainfall up and down the Hudson Valley – missed us completely. And there is little chance of rain in the current ten day forecast. The walk in to the pond follows a now well-worn path and – the silver lining – it’s a refreshing escape from the sun. The path is the length of a city block and follows along a creek, over logs, through ferns, around fox dens. When I arrive at the pond’s edge, the frogs all jump in. It’s as though the life guard has given the all clear signal to the kids at the community pool. Starting the pump had been a headache, but the new Honda GX390 we installed last year has proven to be a reliable motor and the new cast iron impeller a significant improvement over the cheaper plastic models we’ve used in the past. With all the practice, I have finally learned how to set the choke and throttle so that it starts with a single, gentle pull. Small satisfaction. The middle pond still has plenty of water, but the back pond is now dry, and without rain sometime soon, we’ll start to experience losses. Vegetables are more than 90% water. We are a little desperate here, but are trying to keep up. Northeastern farmers are used to irrigating, but, unlike California’s vegetable farmers, we are unaccustomed to providing all of the water our crops need. We don’t have canals or federal irrigation projects. The farm is getting a little weedy, and we are behind in our plantings, but, so far, we are keeping established crops watered. We will keep you posted. Now, off to climb on the Sherpa – there are two pumps to turn off for the night.

Have a great week, Ted

Week 5 share

Sugar snap peas are delicious raw in salad, or dipped into hummus–just trim them first and then you’re good to go!

We have begun practicing the siesta here at the farm. We were indoors watching the World Cup after lunch yesterday, when temperatures were in the 90s, and then out planting beans in the relatively cooler evening hours. Irrigating happened all day long, but that was largely a matter of my turning valves and operating pumps. It is early Sunday morning as I write this, the Medinas are harvesting collards and Swiss chard and Jan is harvesting some of the longer lived cut flower varieties. They will cool their harvests, dunking them into tubs of cold well water, in the case of the greens, or into buckets of fresh water in the case of the cut flowers, and have them in their respective coolers before the day heats up (we will harvest your salad greens tomorrow). We will then turn our attention to onions, cucumbers, kohlrabi and squashes – vegetables that are less immediately sensitive to the heat. Processing the onions and kohlrabi – removing stems, roots and bad leaves and bunching – is something we will do in the shade, the Medina’s Mariachi music in the background, something cold to drink at hand.

You are invited to our open house at Windflower Farm on the weekend of August 25 – 26. There will be farm tours, a potluck supper, live music, a bonfire, camping (or staying at a nearby B&B or motel), breakfast prepared by the farm crew, a county fair, swimming in the Battenkill River and the camaraderie of your fellow CSA members from throughout New York. More details to come, including information regarding transportation.

I hope you can join us. And I hope you have a happy fourth of July.

Best wishes, Ted

Week 4 share

Green things for days. Don’t let kohlrabi intimidate you–just cut in quarters, peel, chop out the tough core, slice into matchsticks, and toss into salad!

What’s new on the farm? We received our first real rainfall in over a month! And we are all greatly relieved. I had made initial inquiries about having another irrigation well dug, and the estimate came in well outside our equipment budget for the year. Still, this weekend’s rain will barely get us through the week. Even our bigger pond is now perilously low. So, I think we’ll use the week to rework the budget.

Encounters with wildlife are a regular feature of life here on the farm. Just the other day, standing waist deep in our larger pond as I moved the irrigation inlet to deeper water, I was stared down by three large bullfrogs concerned with what I was doing to their pond, which is now several feet below normal.

Perhaps the more interesting encounters have to do with moose, bears and coyotes, but smaller animals also get my attention. I have a small motorcycle – a Kawasaki Sherpa – that I use to scout crops and tend irrigation pumps and valves. I don’t have a license so I’m mostly limited to farm roads. Late Friday night, I was heading down the narrow ravine road a little faster than I should have when I spotted a skunk in the road. I was heading to the pond to shut down the irrigation pump. The skunk was going the same direction I was headed but well below me. The road was steep and gravelly, and I was not going to be able to stop in time. I did not want to be sprayed, nor did I want to hurt the skunk. A small pond was to my right, and a swamp to my left, so turning off the road wasn’t an option. There was nothing to do but hit the throttle. As I approached, I could see its tail stand straight up. Although I passed within inches, it somehow missed me. I made the mistake of telling Jan about when I failed to make a jump over the large irrigation pipe and took a header last week and she has threatened to hide the keys to the Sherpa, so I haven’t told her about this latest episode.

The fun never ends here at Windflower Farm.

Have a great week, Ted

Week 3 share

In the share this week (sorry we slacked & there’s no pic): lettuce, mustard mix, kohlrabi, radishes or japanese turnips, garlic scapes, scallions, zucchini squashes, and kale/choy/koji/chard

What’s new on the farm.

It may be hard to believe, but we have not had a meaningful rain for a month. The farm is parched, and temperatures are ramping up. You’d think it was August the way the lawn is already burning out. Although we expect droughty stretches in summer, spring usually provides the farm with adequate rainfall. So, it seems odd to us that we have been irrigating around the clock. Like most vegetable soils, ours are coarse textured, which means they drain very well. That’s a benefit early in the season, because a well-drained soil warms sooner, and warm soils provide crop nutrients and good growth sooner than cool soils. But our coarse soils are working against us now – some crops are wilting, others are slowing down.

There is little cause for concern at the moment. So far, we are keeping up with our irrigation schedule. Although our back pond is already running low, our middle pond has deep reserves, and our well also appears to have ample water. We have two irrigation reels and miles of trickle irrigation lines to do the job, and most of it is fully functional (although a reel broke down last week, the parts needed to fix it arrived on Friday, and it should be working in the sweet corn by Monday morning). Moreover, the forecast for Monday is calling for afternoon showers. So, there’s room for optimism.

Working with water provided a cool respite from today’s heat. The middle pond is a world away from our manicured vegetable fields. Nestled at the base of a ravine and surrounded by dense woods, the pond is a cool, wild place. As I refueled the pump, I was in the company of tadpoles the size of marshmallows, snapping turtles and Great Blue Herons.

It will be a huge relief when rainfall comes, but with some effort we can fill these gaps between rains. Here’s a look at today’s irrigation activities. Back pond: we irrigated a field of leeks, a field of cabbages and collards and a block of small greenhouses containing peppers, tomatoes, ginger and basil. Middle pond: we irrigated a field of melons, cucumbers, eggplants and cutting flowers. Front well: we irrigated two blocks of cutting flowers, a broccoli field and a bank of small greenhouses containing flowers, more peppers and more tomatoes. If we water every day at this pace, we can irrigate the whole farm once a week.

Here’s hoping for rain. Cheers, Ted

p.s. It is now Tuesday. Monday’s rain never materialized, although heavy rains fell to the north and south of us. We have managed to repair our broken irrigation reel and have used it in the corn and in a newly seeded block. Rain is expected on the weekend. Cross your fingers!

Week 2 share

Another delicious delivery of farm-fresh vegetables arrived at the garden. As usual, lots of yummi greens. Did you know, you can make a pesto from just about any greens. Just chop it up finely, add some roasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds, oil, salt and pepper to taste.

CSAShareDelivery2-06142018

What’s new on the farm.

It’s Sunday. Nate is painting a piece of farm equipment he has built, Jan is working in her flower garden and the Medinas are harvesting strawberries.

I’ve just come in from planting green beans with the John Deere and Multiflex seeder I purchased last year. It’s become dry and my tractor kicked up a cloud of dust as it pulled the seeder along. I sprinkled black bacterial spores on the white bean seeds. Once the spores awaken from their slumber, they’ll colonize the bean roots and provide them with nitrogen they have “fixed” from the air. I’ll irrigate these tomorrow as part of a block that includes a new carrot seeding. Three 350’ beds of beans, each bed with two rows, or just over 2000 row-feet. I will repeat this every ten days or so through early August. It is part of a regular seeding I’ll do that includes radishes and greens.

On my way back to the barn, I peeked under the row cover where arugula, a salad mix and radishes have been growing for the past 30 days or so. All three of these will be in your shares this week. We’ll pull them root and all and then bunch and wash them. Bunched, we’ll be able to send them without a plastic bag. For your part, all you’ll have to do is cut them midway up the stem, rinse, dry, and serve.

The locusts finished blooming here a week ago. They grow in groves and produce a powerfully sweet fragrance. The wood is famous for long lived fences, but they are also valuable to farmers as an indicator plant: old timers will tell you that it’s safe to plant your garden once the locusts have bloomed. Last week, believing the threat of frost to be behind us, we planted sweet potato slips, the last of our field peppers, chiles and eggplants and uncovered our cucumbers and squashes.

Have a great week, Ted

Week 1 share

Small but mighty to start with, here’s what farmer Ted sent down for our first distribution of the season: