Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alas, No More....

Varieties we will not be planting in 2011.

Arikara Yellow Dry Bean - Seed supply issue.  Guess we'll have to grab a bunch next time they are available and raise our own seed.

Ireland Creek Annie's Dry Bean - Seed supply issue.

Brussels - Long Island Improved - we haven't seen the improvement we wanted.  Still searching to replace Bubbles, the last Brussels sprout that was exceptional on our farm.

Cool Breeze Cucumber - this one makes Tammy very sad.  It was her favorite cucumber - and after last year's production - it makes Rob very sad too.  But, when the industry decides to stop offering a hybrid, you are stuck.  So - you were wondering why we prefer open pollinated seed when we can get it - here's one reason.  But, it is also an argument for F1 hybrids....

Dusky Eggplant - also terminated by industry.

Lacinato Kale - Perhaps this is a mistake - and if we determine that it is - we will bring it back.  But, we have two kales that produce higher volumes of salable leaves.  This one attracts more insect depredation, the others handle wider ranges of weather.  If we don't like what happens we can order some seed for fall.  This is a good reminder to everyone that terminating a variety at the farm doesn't mean we heartily dislike it.  There are just realities that can cause it to be cut from the list.  In this case, Dwarf Blue Scotch and Red Russian tend to make us happier and there isn't room for three in the current plans.

Eder Kohlrabi - expensive seed, didn't perform any better than other cheaper seed and didn't have outstanding taste.  Good bye.

Cyklon Pepper - loses the battle to Hot Portugal and Maule's Red Hot.

Thai Hot - nice container plant.  A pain for us to pick and not that many people wanting it.  We'll use up our seeds to sell plants to those who want them.  You can keep one alive in a pot well into December or later.

All Blue Potato - hard to pick as they tend to spread the tubers out all over the place.  Skin color is similar to our soil cover -which makes it hard to see them.  Production tends towards a large number of smaller potatoes.  This isn't all bad, but again is an efficiency issue for us at the farm.

Kennebec Potato - sometimes you give up on a variety because it would require having to make an order with yet another seed company.  If we had a decent potato year last year, we would have our own seed potato.  Alas, we did not.

Boston Marrow Winter Squash - flashy, colorful and rewarding to grow.  They tended to be more watery and stringy than the descriptions led us to believe they would be.  Maybe it was the year(s).  Maybe it was our soil.  Other growers like these, but we can grow other things better on our farm.

John Baer Tomato - 6 oz round red tomatoes.  They tend to produce earlier on smaller plants.  Nothing at all bad to say about them, but they didn't do anything to make us want to keep them as opposed to other intermediate red tomatoes we have.

Power's Heirloom Tomato - when the seed supply disappears, you stop growing the plants.  It is that simple.  And, we weren't so sold on these that we will work hard to track them down.

Blondkopfchen Yellow Cherry Tomato - lots of little yellow tomatoes.  They tasted fine.  The plants did fine.  But we just won't (or can't) spend the time required to keep them picked.  If we were going to fight that battle, we'd use Lemon Drop anyway.

Velvet Red Tomato - a cherry tomato with silvery hairs on the leaves.  A nice curiosity.  But, the plants tended to be brittle, the tomatoes were not exception in taste and production was average.  We like curious and different tomatoes, but not enough to stay on the list with the likes of Tommy Toe. 

Long Tom Tomato - can't find the seed and other roma's do as well or better for us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Order to Seed...

Or was that a seed to order?
The seed orders are being placed today!  Always a major accomplishment.

This season, there are over 300 seeds on the seed list.  Happily not all of them are in our order since we do have carryover from the prior year.  We thought people might like to see what new varieties we are going to try this year.

Green Beans: Black Valentine, Painted Pony - both of these are dual purpose as they can be used as dry beans as well.  So, if we can't keep up with picking the green beans, we let them dry and...there you go.

Dry Beans: Kenearly Yellow Eye.  This one says it shells easy.  We can hope.  The problem is - we like Arikara Yellow and Ireland Creek Annie - but we can get seed for either this year.

Pole Bean: Fortex and Gold of Bacau.  We've stayed away from pole beans because of the fencing issues.  However, we're thinking that the increased production and ease of picking might be enough reason to overcome the trellising problems.  Here's hoping the winds don't make a mockery of this trial.

Beet: Golden Detriot.  We tried Burpee's Golden and had issues with germination.  Touchstone Gold was consistent - Touchstone has connections int he seed industry we don't like.  so, we'll do a side by side with Golden Detroit.

Broccoli - Limba - any time the description highlights taste, we are interested.

Cabbage - Early Jersey Wakefield - We had luck in the fall with Copenhagen Market.  Wondering if we just need a different variety for the spring?

Eggplant - Galine.  The industry has taken Dusky out of production.  Dusky was our standard purple hybrid.  So, an opportunity to move away from a hybrid.  Galine comes with taste highlighted as well.  The other eggplant we grow are well known to us, so we can afford to take the risk.

Kohlrabi - Early White Vienna.  Last year we tried Eder for the extra early white kohlrabi.  They didn't go any faster than the purple Kolibri, didn't hold as well and didn't compare for taste.  That, and the seed was extremely expensive.  So, let's try an open pollinated early.

Onion - Redwing and Whitewing.  Always trying to find the onions that like us best on our farm.  We can't get seed for Sierra Blanco (white onion) but will get plants.  If Whitewing does well enough, we'll move to it - much less expensive for the farm to grow.  Redwing will compare with Ruby Ring.

Bunching Onions - Yellow Borretana and Guardsman - let's try them and see what they do for us.  The key on our farm might be in shorter season onions to provide us flexibility if weather is difficult on one end or the other.

Peas - Blizzard, Golden Sweet, Alderman -  Blizzard is supposed to be easier to pick than Oregon Sugar Pod II -but it had better taste good.  so, we'll run a trial against OSPII.  Alderman is a shell pea that gets very tall and is highly productive.  See our arguments about pole beans.  If we conquer the trellising, we may appreciate the relative ease of picking.  Golden Sweet?  We just liked how it sounded.

Potato - Purple Majesty, Rio Grande - The first replaces All Blue.  All Blue was nice and reliable.  But, a horrible pain to dig - and didn't always give us very big potatoes.  Purple Majesty is a shorter season and bulks up faster.  Rio Grande is a russet and replaces Kennebec.  We have always grown Kennebec but our supplier does not carry it.  If we'd had a decent year we would have kept our own seed.  But, when a crop fails, it fails.

Radish - Misato Rose, Hailstone - Misato Rose may also be known as Red Meat - a fall radish that will be as big as a turnip.  Our friends at Scattergood sold us on trying it.  Hailstone will attempt to replace Philadelphia White Box (unavailable seed two years running).

Winter Squash - Uncle David's Dakota Dessert - fabulous name - almost enough to entice a trial.  But, the fact that it is a buttercup style squash *and* it has other grower testimonials was enough to earn it a try on the farm.  It runs in tandem with Burgess Buttercup this season.

Tomato - Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry, Topaz, Violet Jasper - we continue to look for the yellow heirloom cherry tomato that doesn't readily split and is easy to pick *and* that meets our taste requirements.  Several meet the latter condition including Lemon Drop.  Topaz and Violet Jasper are akin to Red Zebra and Green Zebra.  These were popular with our CSA last season, so we are adding more colors of the rainbow to these salad sized tomatoes.  No, we will not drop the Zebra's - we like them.

Summer Squash - Superpik - our prior straightneck yellow was Multipik -which is no longer available.  This is reported to be its replacement.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun with Music

We had the opportunity to see String Fever in concert last night and enjoyed it very much. 

Since both of us have played cello, it may have had more initial interest to us than others.  But, the music selection was widely accessible - with arrangements of orchestral works, movie themes and popular music.  Making it all the more interesting were the electric string instruments.  The five string cello looks like alot of fun.

If you are curious, take the link above to go to their page.  Then, go to their videos link and at least watch their rendition of Bolero. 

Monday, February 14, 2011


It's time for more GFF terminology!  YAY!

For our first blog batch of terms, go here.

Mentor crop - often we plant successions of a crop (to spread out the harvest).  The planting that was put in earlier is often our 'mentor crop' if it is doing well.  When the new succession pokes their little heads up out of the ground, we point to the earlier crop and say, "See - that's what YOU'RE supposed to do."

Breezy - Do you wear a hat?  Well, now you don't.

Scout - the early tomatoes that often precede the main crop by 2-4 weeks.  Most tomato varieties in our fields will set a couple of tomatoes early and ripen then well before the main crop.  We figure they are checking out our farm before encouraging the rest to grow and ripen.

Door Warden - one to three of our turkeys tend to stand (or sit) in the door area of their shelter as a guard until we come to close the door at night.

Windy - That's when you close building doors so things don't blow OUT of the buildings.

Honeydew list - the list of melons we intend to grow in the coming year.

High Wind Warning - Look out!  Wasn't that the neighbor's cow blowing by?

Dumb Truck - ok, it's a new term - and we learned it from an advertisement in a free farm magazine that lists such things for sale.  There is evidently a unique Dumb Truck (only 1) for sale.  Funny that it looks like what most people would call a Dump Truck.  From now on, it is a Dumb Truck!

Nibster - Both of the little feline type creatures that live in our house are nibsters.  Nibster is what you get if you shift your right hand to the left one spot (as a touch typest).  See if you can figure it out.

Misplaced - Things that were not properly anchored or put away prior to a period of wind.

High Speed Internet - Oh, wait.  That one belongs in our myth list on the farm.  Put it between "weed-free" and "on-schedule".

Monday, February 7, 2011

There's Snow Business Like...

We've had a few nice and snowy Winters the last couple of years.  But, this year, I was commenting to Tammy that the snow piles by the side of the drive are looking a bit more like some of the piles we saw when we lived in Minnesota than they have in prior years.  That, of course, got me to thinking about various snow related events that amused me (for some reason).

  • We lived in Duluth for one Winter.  Sometimes, the lake effect snow can result in very light flakes that accumulate rapidly.  One such snow was coming down earlier in the season.  We thought we'd go out and shovel as it came down.  We shoveled towards the road and stopped for a second, looking back to admire our work.  The problem?  We could see very little evidence that we had done *any* shoveling.  hmmmm.
  • That same snow - as we stood for a couple of minutes contemplating hard work that had accomplished little - Tammy noticed that 2 inches of fresh snow piled up on the bill on my cap as we talked.
  • Of course, not people to let an opportunity like this go by - we jumped into the snow.  Unfortunately, we had a hard time getting out.  The snow was so light and fluffy - we couldn't easily find any purchase to get back out! I believe our solution was to roll back towards the driveway where it was not as deep.  See - our shoveling DID do something. 
  • There were record snows in SW Minnesota while we lived there.  As a result the piles on the side of the drive were sizable.  Unfortunately, Rob had surgery on a wrist during the peak of that Winter.  Upon coming home from surgery, we found that the drive was now only wide enough to get out of one side of the car.  Rob got to squirm on his back from one side of the car to the other side - and then out onto the snowy driveway.  This is how you learn how turtles feel when you tip them over onto their shell.
Happy February