Farm, Journal, Update

Kale’s Not Done Yet

After the excitement of planting my own cover crop last Monday I took the rest of the week off from our little farm project. I had a multiple course alumni dinner Friday night, so it was nice to focus on just that event.

Now that the tomatoes, peppers and green beans are out I went by today to examine what I had left. I ended up harvesting 33# of chard and 10# of spinach, both of which were absolutely beautiful.photo (1) I’m not sure if you remember, but the spinach was planted by some sweet volunteers from the fraternity I cook for. They were so excited to see the final product walk through the door and couldn’t wait to taste it.

By some miraculous turn of events, the kale has made a comeback. Maybe it took leaving it alone for a month?? Who knows?? Since we promoted it so heavily at the beginning of the school year I am very glad that we can get another harvest out of it before the season is finished.photo

I had my second to last class of the Beginning Farmer’s Program this past Saturday. I am so sad to see it coming to an end. While we were in small groups discussing business plans and marketing, it came up how it is very hard to make money as a small vegetable farmer unless you find your perfect niche market and it is also incredibly labor intensive. One person in the discussion group even said, “and why are we doing this again??”. I sat there for a minute and thought to myself how fortunate I am to work for a company who provides me personal security while sharing the same dreams and interests. People do this for passion and the love of good food. I did laugh to myself thinking how I was an art major in college, switching to hospitality (because I didn’t think I could make a successful career out of it) and then ending up in culinary and farming, sitting in a class listening to a guest speaker say how hard it is to make this work. I love a challenge :).

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Farm, Journal, Update

Harvesting & Prepping for Next Year

Things are winding down for the season. As expected it is very sad to see the bare spot where the tomatoes used to be. I ripped out my tomato plants Saturday and am in the process of taking down the trellising, drip tape and plastic we put up in June. It now makes sense to me the importance of biodegradable ground cover experiments the U of I is doing on raised beds :-).
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Our spinach is coming up nicely and we had a great first harvest of our third bed of salad greens and nice second harvest of our second bed. As I was harvesting the third bed of greens I couldn’t help but notice the silky texture they had to them. They were so delicate and beautiful. I couldn’t wait to serve them.

The green beans are coming in strong now and I hope to pull 40# this week. So far they are the running favorite of my boys.I am racing the days to still try and get a cover crop in by the 15th of October. If I can pull it off it will be very beneficial to next years growing season. Fingers crossed :-).

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Farm, Journal, Update

Clearing the Tomato Jungle

photo (1)Adios tomatoes!! We have had our ups and downs like any relationship but I loved you and enjoyed every delicious flavor you had to offer. I had to take a moment and sit in my tomato jungle before saying goodbye, although I was completely busted by my farmer friend Jeremy. It was a little embarrassing actually because I laying in the middle of my plot enjoying the cool sunny day and trying to get one last picture of this season’s tomatoes when he pulled up. I am pretty sure he thought I was injured waiting for someone to drive by and find me. LOL.

photo-1Kevin and I pulled another great harvest yesterday. In fact, it was one of the biggest days of the season. I mentioned that I cut the tops of the tomatoes, well they were all ready yesterday. We also had a huge harvest of green bell peppers and green beans. We got a little over 700 lbs of produce off of our little plot of land in one day. I know that may not be a big deal to most farmers but I felt it was HUGE for us. It was hard to walk after I sat down for a bit last night. Kevin and I were like two little old people trying to shuffle around. It certainly was a great way to end one of the last big harvests of the season. We are not finished, by any means, but we will now be able to focus our efforts on to lettuce, spinach, a small amount of peppers, green beans and chard.

I am racing the clock to try and get things finalized to plant a cover crop by October 15. We still have a lot of things to do. Now that the tomatoes are finished I will harvest as many green tomatoes that we have a place for and tear down the plants, removing the tomato clips and preparing the rows to remove the trellises. Once the trellises are removed then we will roll drip tape and pull plastic, preparing that side of the plot to be mowed and tilled. Never a dull moment and no rest for the weary!! It will be a little depressing seeing a bare spot where the tomato vines and trellising used to be. It will also be heartbreaking to uproot our pepper plants that have fought so hard and are now looking more beautiful than ever. Until next year!
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