Sunday, October 30, 2011

Farm News for October 30th

Hi, Kimberly here. Well, well, well...three holes in the ground (bah dumm dum! that's one of my favorite bad jokes). But seriously, well, well, well, that was quite a one-two punch nature gave us early this year!! Though I am grateful that it waited until after market closed yesterday to begin again, and that we didn't get the two-feet of snow that areas of Connecticut received.

The cabbage in the front bed was done anyway,
but behind it are broccoli covered in reemay
and snow which we hope will survive.

Carrots peeking out from the reemay
just before harvesting.

We were able to harvest some carrots on Friday to bring to market, the reemay we put over them on Thursday kept the greens looking suprisingly lovely, and since they are underground even if the greens take a hit we should still have some for our last CSA distribution on Tuesday. Possibly even beets, for the same reason. What we had in storage in the garage (winter squash and onions) went into the house on Friday afternoon to be shielded from the repeated cold nights.

Some broccoli was harvested (a bit on the small side in an effort to get something out of the bed in case it was killed by the weather), and we noticed that the cabbage worms had infested it. The bright side of that is it's proof that we grow without pesticides, but I know most people don't consider them good eats so I'll also pass along that I hear that the best way to get rid of them is to boil the broccoli in salted water, they should float right to the top. Personally I pluck them off while I'm chopping it up, and bring them outside for the birds to eat (I don't like to boil food generally since nutrients leach away; I steam instead). A funny story from a couple of years ago, when I was helping run a large CSA distribution in Brooklyn: one young woman asked the week after we got broccoli about the small bugs on it. I mentioned the cabbage worms, and she said, no, no, much smaller than that. She added that they were also bright green and didn't move much and washed off easily, so she didn't mind them but was wondering what they were. I wasn't sure, I hadn't seen any small green bugs, so I promised to ask the farmer. About 30 minutes later, though, still at distribution but having that exchange run through my head, I realized she must have been referring to the cabbage worm poop.

In the greenhouse: some lingering snow
on the roof, and the tomatoes looking
sad and withered (though it's hard
 to tell because my camera lens fogged up)

Anyway, Clemens isn't sure what will survive the next few days, and so Solstice Hill Farm may not make it to the indoor Delmar market this year. On a personal note, my last day is scheduled to be this Tuesday, the last CSA distribution day, and so I will be heading back home to NYC for the winter this Wednesday. It has been a great pleasure getting to know all the CSA members, and all the regular customers at the Delmar farmers market, and on behalf of everyone at Solstice Hill Farm I want to thank all of you for supporting the farm this year, it wouldn't have been a success without you!!

P.S. to the CSA members: We would greatly appreciate your feedback, so please do remember to bring your completed survey with you on Tuesday.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Farm News for October 16th

Hi everyone, Kimberly here. The cold weather seems to be settling in after that beautiful week of warm, sunny weather; I guess that was Indian Summer, and winter really is on its way! The geese that fly overhead in ever larger groups are confirming this prognosis.

On October 6th, Clemens and I took the morning to attend the NYS Assembly's hearing on hydraulic fracturing natural gas drilling ("fracking") and stayed while they grilled the NYS DEC commissioner, Joe Martens, and his staff. (The photo above featuring your farmer, Clemens, is from the Times Union's coverage of the hearing. You can also catch a glimpse of us at the YNN coverage of the hearing.) I think they did a really solid job of raising all the questions, issues and problems. Many anti-fracking activists were there, and the hearing went well into the night as the Assembly allowed the public to comment and testify for the official record.

We at Solstice Hill Farm are very much against fracking because of its use of known carcinogens and other pollutants; how can one trust the drinking water near where that kind of drilling is taking place, or make a committment to farm organically nearby?! We encourage all of you to learn more about fracking, and to contact your local and state public officials if you are against fracking. Here are a couple of sources of information and how to get involved:
Catskill Mountain Keeper
Schoharie Valley Watch
Sharon-Springs-Against-Hydrofracking Facebook page

Back at the farm the broccoli  and cabbage are coming in nicely, the peppers in the field are hanging on nicely so far, and the kale and chard are still going strong. The greenhouse tomatoes are doing well, too. However, the peas we planted in the field for fall harvest are not faring so well; the deer came through and ate the tops off almost all the plants. The deer also methodically ate all the heads of lettuce in the field. Deer fencing is a top priority to put in place before the 2012 growing season!

This year Clemens and Jenny experimented with drying beans. We pulled up the first plants a couple of weeks ago, and strung them up with rubberbands and rope to hang in the garage. By hanging they should dry out so the pods become papery. The kids are looking forward to when they come down, when they can be stepped on in a large bunch to easily pop open the pods and gather the beans inside. The first batch were calypso beans (also known as orca, or yin yang, beans, see the picture for the reason why) and the batch last week were the gorgeous orangey-tan with deep red swirl tiger's eye beans.

We are also still working on preparing the field for winter. Clemens acquired a few large wire spools and welded a bar so it could be attached to the tractor. We were then able to put the spool on the bar and roll the irrigation system's drip tape onto it for reuse next year. This week we will also be taking the clips off the field tomatoes for reuse next year, too. The reemay has been rolled up and just needs storing, except for the few strips being used for the arugula out in the field.

This past week we also cut down a number of trees on the road up to the farm in preparation for the heavy equipment that has been hired to widen and regrade the road. The equipment will also be used to clear out the big roots from the land near the greenhouse which was cleared of stumps this year, as part of opening new farm land.

I've been updating the website and have posted a number of pictures in the Gallery, please check them out!Lastly, as this CSA season winds down we are very eager to get your feedback on your experience, and are planning a written survey which you can fill out anonymously. Of course we'd love to hear what you loved, but equally important are any ideas you have on what would have improved your experience. Thank you again for investing in the farm this year!