Friday, April 30, 2010
I don't know - it seems as if there are more carpenter bees than usual this year....Someone told me last week that they're glad that the carpenter bees have been so busy - because they drive out the wasps(!) I don't know if this is true - I have not taken the time to observe this; I know that our little greenhouse has been FULL of the bees this spring - and I would love to think that we can still USE the greenhouse and not worry about wasp nests under every single 2x4 and in every stray plastic pot...
But I DO know that we joke all the time about the porch swing just collapsing one day - there will be virtually nothing left of the wood...and i have other friends who are paranoid about their houses - or porches - or carports...also collapsing. Really, you look at the amount of sawdust and try to translate this into what may be left of the structure involved...
Although I steer clear of these bees when they are being territorial about the redbud trees, I don't think I've ever known anyone to be stung by one - have you?
Monday, April 26, 2010
He then proceeded to almost kill himself by spending forty kabillion hours out there...every single speck of free time when there was also daylight.
And, like I said - almost everything is in the ground at this point.
So, the question is... what the heck is this?or this??
can you imagine what the setup looked like in the beginning?
How many flats of plants we actually seeded and how many teeny tiny plants have been carefully set, one by one, into the ground?
Some of these are 'remainders' and some signify the final push of planting.
I haven't been completely absent for the big push, but cannot fully engage until the semester is virtually over (this week -yea).
So let's hear it for the one who does the heavy lifting (and I mean that literally).
Look to be a very good season...IF we get some rain in the near future. Otherwise, it's out with the pump and big hoses. I personally would like to see the pond remain untouched for a little longer - but we'll do whatever is necessary.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Tonight we have a combination of things WILL likes to take pictures of , and things I like to take pictures of...unfortunately, we have no pictures from this day, Sunday, whereupon there was much setting out of herbs and peppers and then some re-potting and some planting of flowers on fencelines...sometimes one is just too busy to go GET the camera when one thinks 'man, I wish I had the camera!'
And, by the way, I hear thunder in the distance but that doesn't fool me...although I would love to be fooled and actually GET some rain (!)
But I digress...
The garden is shaping up very quickly - thanks to our CSA Members and their hard work last weekend, coupled with Will being stressed about everything getting into the ground!
Above we have onions blooming, and a scattering of cilantro (volunteers)
And can you say 'SWEET CORN'? It may look small from this viewpoint, but it is green and strong and we are excited about this. PS: the(other) corn planted by our families last week is already up and the germination is very, very good.....
Here are some of the young tomatoes...not as small as they appear here, and I know Will was trying to get a picture of the first little tomatoes set on the vine...but you'll have to imagine them at the very edge of the bottom of this picture(!) see the little yellow flowers?
Now on to the 'Here Today Gone Tomorrow' pictures...below, the Lady Banksia Rose and the Mock Orange (nice, yes?)
And the Irises I bought for Will last year....he planted them in this bed, just to make sure they got established, although they will be moved later... but for the moment, they can be seen from the favorite 'porch-sitting' spot.
And, through the front yard fence, a craziness of bleeding heart and our precious old-fashioned roses brought from Washington Parish 20 years ago...hauled around and finally planted on this piece of property...
And, finally. This we call our 'Under The House Rose'. It would seem it is the very same old-fashioned rose as the picture above, but we did NOT plant this here...maybe it migrated in some mysterious way...but it literally is under the house...and grows up from there...very nice though, don't you think?That is all for today...We are working hard on getting the entire garden planted. We are getting very close...
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
while I post WAY too many pictures of the red clover
this is important...
and this is very beautiful
but you know how it is with clover
it is expensive
and many times you don't get much of it
and then , after a year or two
its gone and you have to plant it again
if you want to go through all that
I'll be thinking the bees are VERY happy about this
Will is partial to the white ball clover
and of course that is a beautiful thing too
I, for one, am a big red clover fan!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
We had members from last season, who just walked out and started working - they know the garden, they know how to weed and plant and mulch and anything else...and their stamina is amazing.
We had new members and in many cases their children...all were eager to get in there and work; no matter what the job. I was a little anxious after the first couple of hours...I did not want them to overdo it in the beginning of the season. But everyone was energetic and happy to be there. These people are just wonderful. It's one thing to be out in the garden when everything is lush and the produce and herbs and flowers are everywhere. It's quite another to be dealing with planting and weeding and construction! And so I admire their ambition and their willingness to contribute to what will be the summer garden.
Heck, we had one lovely young woman who came out just to work!. She's not a CSA member, but wants to know more about what is involved in the growing process. Fabulous.
Here is what our little community accomplished:
Two women set to work on harvesting lettuce. They carefully and beautifully snipped lettuce and laid it in the wheelbarrow to be brought to the carport and bagged. Meanwhile, one young man pulled all of the larger heads of lettuce from another row and set aside those that had not bolted. These were bagged and left in the shade by the garden. Oh my, so much lettuce!
Three or four folks were busy with the difficult (and seemingly not as rewarding) task of pulling big flowering vegetable plants up...this is a sweaty and tiring thing to do. But no one was complaining.
Two parents (from different families) helped to oversee two absolutely cute little girls in digging up all of the carrots and setting them aside. The girls stayed excited about this all the way to the end! - and there were may, many carrots. They loved laughing at the funny shapes carrots actually come in - certainly they all didn't look like the ones you buy at the grocery store...
Several women were busy on the other side of the garden, carefully pulling weeds away from permanent herb beds and, after that was done, helped mulch the whole business!
Two or three young guys helped load the truck with hay from the barn, then set to tossing bales out by the garden...one particularly impressive young man spent almost the whole morning picking up piles of detritus that had been created and hauling them, one wheelbarrow at a time, to the compost pile. I couldn't believe he kept this up for as long as he did.
The men got shovels and completely dug out the mint beds, setting clumps of mint buy the fence for future replanting. This was some serious manual labor! And a job I had not counted on having completed on this farm day...I am very grateful. thanks, guys. Afterwards, two of the teenagers pulled the hoses around and made sure the mint was watered.
One of the last big jobs was the building of the cucumber fence. This requires many hand, stakes, bamboo poles, lots of twine, netting, and everyone working at once to make sure the fence is straight and tight. The result was impressive.
Finally, four or five adults and kids carefully planted the second round of corn, laying the seeds about three inches apart. We're talking four 75 ft. rows here. That's a lot of bending down and carefully depositing seeds. Backbreaking for the big people...the kids are closer to the ground, so they don't have to bend down quite so far!
One thing I want to say about this wonderful morning. Anyone who wants to see good parenting at work should visit us when our member families come to the farm. It is just so heart-warming to see all of these kids - little ones, pre-teens and teenagers - ALL of them - pitching in and working and smiling and eager to do whatever was asked of them. Makes one know that the future is in good hands. Excellent work, moms and dads...
Monday, April 05, 2010
When it was all said and done, the garlic and strawberries were weeded.
I always worry that we'll wear folks out. Don't want to do that. It's hot out there, and the work is something one has to become acclimated to. Thankfully, those who stayed to help called time when they had had enough. We're glad they had not gotten the first message. We do need the help. Everyone went home with lettuce and cabbage and some with carrots as well. There aren't many berries yet...it's the beginning. But I did manage to snag a few for Monday morning breakfast. We got quite a bit of planting done by the time the weekend was over. Red beans, Horticulture beans, zinnias, Bright Light chard. Probably things I'm forgetting. It's beginning to snowball, but that's a good thing.
About Our CSA
We are entering the fourth season of our CSA (Community Support Agriculture). What began as an experiment for the creative marketing of our produce has developed into a fulfilling experience for us and our members, one that we so look forward to each year. What you will find below is an explanation of how we operate the CSA, the cost, length of season, expected commitment, etc. We ask that you read it carefully before responding. We have dedicated members that stay on year after year, but for a number of folks, it is challenging to come out every Saturday for nine weeks running and to have time to participate. For those who love the quality of the vegetables, herbs, and flowers – and who like the experience of planting, harvesting, and interacting with others who have the same likes, it is a very rewarding experience. Please read on…
What is Community Supported Agriculture? (CSA)
Community supported agriculture is a movement that got its start in this country in the mid-1980’s, driven by a desire by neighborhood groups to re-connect with local growers and producers. The CSA movement is enjoying increasing popularity and availability with each passing year. The goal of CSA is to involve the vegetable-eating-public more intimately with “their” farm. Why do I use “their” in that description? Because in CSA, members buy a share of the farm which, in effect, provides them an ownership stake in the vegetables produced. In that respect, the farmer and consumer become partners. There are many benefits from this relationship to the farmer and consumer alike. For the farmer, it provides a guarantee of sales so he can plant to supply his contract. It also minimizes the time required to market the produce, freeing him up for what he does best, which is…farm. For the consumer, it guarantees a steady supply of farm fresh produce for a fixed price, encouraging healthy eating, and promoting a sense of participation and community around the farm that has been long lost in the age of industrial agriculture. For both the farmer and consumer, it promotes a bond based on trust and mutual interest. For those interested in information on CSA and farms that have set up these systems, the web has worlds of information available with a simple word search.
Why did Port Hudson Organics decided to become Port Hudson CSA?
For most of you who have spent any time visiting our farm and talking with us, you are aware that Thais and I both work full time, maintaining our little farm, bee hives, yard, and other farm-related activities in our “spare” time. This means that virtually every waking hour that we are not at work you would find us in the field or manning the produce tent (or carport). As we expanded our farm-related enterprises to areas such as biodiesel, berries and bee hives, the farm demands finally exceeded our available time. So in 2009, in order to continue our farm sustainability effort and reduce our time commitment (primarily the time spent selling), we tried a concept that is becoming increasingly popular across the country in the “Eat fresh, Eat local” movement, that is, the CSA farm. In the spring of 2009, we enrolled (what ended up to be) 25 CSA member families, and were blown-away by the success of the venture. Member enthusiasm, assistance, and clear appreciation for the unsurpassed quality of our produce resulted in an excellent experience for everyone involved. Since then, we have expanded our enrollment to 40 member families, which is a comfortable carrying capacity of our one acre garden. At this point in our lives, with regular jobs and other commitments, we have no plans to expand further.
What kind of vegetables are grown and how are they distributed?
We grow a wide variety of Spring and Summer vegetables (generally about 20 different varieties). At any time during the season, you can expect around 12-15 different offerings, and 6-8 culinary herbs. We also grow cut flowers, usually zinnias and sunflowers. Each week members will receive a selection list by email (An example selection sheet from last year is attached to this email). Members will make 7 selections of vegetables and 2 selections of herbs from the list. Members can check off their first and second preferences and we will make every effort to supply the members with their selected items. In cases where we are short on a particular item, say, yellow squash, we will substitute another available vegetable (for example, zucchini) from member’s second choice selection if at all possible. Members are free to make notes on their list if there is a particular vegetable they do not want (for example, zucchini) and we will try to honor their request. The amounts (pounds or numbers) of vegetables or herbs per selection were based on an approximation of equal value based on the prices we have charged for these items in the past. And as last year’s members know, the amounts of produce on the list are the minimum amount you will receive. Often, when there is a surplus beyond what has been selected, we will throw in some “lagniappe”. Members should note that there are a couple of exceptions on the selection list: a bouquet of flowers, when available, counts as two selections from the herb list; similarly, watermelon, when available, counts as two selections from the vegetable list. Each week, a basket with all of your produce and herbs will be made up with your list attached. Blank lists will be available for you to fill out for the following week.
Can I select more than one of a particular item?
Yes, if you want 6 pounds of tomatoes one week, you can simply put the number “3” next to the selection “2 lbs. tomatoes” on your sheet and pick four other vegetable selections to make a total of seven selections. If we have enough tomatoes to satisfy your request, we will provide that amount. If we are short, we will attempt to at least provide you with one selection of tomatoes and make up the rest of your basket with other choices. We will let members know each week which vegetables we expect to have in abundance. For example, due to space considerations, we have limited plantings of corn and each planting is generally available for only one Saturday, so we will be encouraging members to select as much corn as they can from the list on the weeks that corn becomes available (we try to send out weekly emails on the state of the farm). Of course, members will also be given preference for the purchase of additional vegetables if, for example, you want to freeze a bushel of corn when it comes in and there is surplus available.
How will the CSA Baskets be distributed?
Members choose to come to the farm either Friday evening or Saturday morning each week during the season. Once you arrive, you can choose from a variety of garden activities in progress and lend a hand. This can range from planting and/or picking vegetables; washing, weighing, and bundling produce; cutting and arranging flowers; cutting and separating herbs to order; helping to pack baskets with weekly selections; sitting under a tree with other members and stripping beans off of plants. Occasionally there is a bigger project at hand, such as erecting the cucumber fence or helping to mulch rows with hay. There will be weeks when you are not able to help due to your schedule, but we find that most of our members help out almost every week. We find that most stay for an hour or more, and when you leave you bring your weekly basket with you. Many find this outdoor activity in the garden a respite from their work week in an office!
Members are asked to pick up their CSA baskets each Saturday by 10:00 AM. This is probably the biggest commitment you will make as part of the CSA. We understand that it may be difficult to come every Saturday for 9 weeks, but there are a couple of strategies you can employ to make this easier. (1) you can buddy-up with one or more members in your area and go on alternate Saturdays, each delivering or holding the other’s basket for pick up at their house; (2) you can send a family member or close friend; or (3) you can come Friday afternoon to help with the harvest and bring your basket home with you then (we had a lot of members take this option last year and it worked out great, as we do a lot of harvesting on Friday in advance of the Saturday bedlam).
What if you have a crop failure or natural disaster?
Although farming is inherently risky, we do not feel that members should share in the financial hit if things go badly awry. In the case of an individual crop failure (for example, watermelons), it will simply not show up on your menu of choices (though it will break my heart – I really love the watermelons). In the case of an act of God (flood, hail, asteroid) well, if an asteroid hits all bets are off; but otherwise we will make any other accommodations you find acceptable, including a refund based on $30 a week for any unfulfilled weeks. All CSA membership funds will be placed in a separate savings account not to be touched until after the last CSA market basket has been filled, just in case. The Port Hudson CSA is somewhat unique in that respect, as many CSA’s expect the consumer to share the risks, including that of catastrophic failure.
What time commitment is asked as part of the CSA?
CSAs, by definition, include member support. Each week, literally hundreds of pounds of produce must be harvested, hundreds of bunches of herbs must be clipped and tied, and dozens of flower bouquets must be picked. Without member support, this is logistically impossible for part time farmers. Hence, we ask members to commit to help in some fashion (picking, sorting, filling orders, etc) according to their abilities every other weekend or so (we are not rigid on this). We have found that members enjoy becoming involved in the process. Learning about how food is grown and harvested is an uplifting and educational experience. After all, that is why we do it. And it is an integral part of CSA farms across the country. We are assuming that you found us because you appreciate this connection, and we hope that you can find the small amount of time to required to experience that connection.
What is the cost?
Cost of the CSA membership is $325. This covers 9 weeks of farm fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers of your choice. This comes out to about $35 per week, probably more than you would pay at the grocery store for conventionally-grown produce, but less than you would pay for organic produce at Whole Foods. The quality of the produce, however, cannot be approached by any supermarket, and the experience is priceless. Also, membership in the CSA includes a pint of our farm honey when it becomes available.
So that about covers it. If you want to experience first hand the pleasures of seeing, smelling, picking and eating truly wholesome food, please respond quickly to this email. We would appreciate some information on you and your family, and why you want to join the CSA. We will let you know within a few days, and will ask for payment at that time. We ask that you understand that we have about twice as many families on the waiting list as we have openings. However, if you do not make in into the CSA this year, we will give you first shot at joining next year if you are still interested.
Thank you so much for your interest in our little farm. We hope to see you this spring.
Will & Thais PerkinsPort Hudson Organics CSA