Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Nuts! The Farm Report 9-25-2018


The Farm Report: 9-25-2018

Rather, Carpathian Nuts! or Persian Nuts! or California Walnuts! By whatever name you call 'em, they are delicious and they are dropping right now. They have a milder flavor than pecans - and make Better-Than-Pecan Pie as far as I'm concerned.Click Here to see the pics in Google Photos.

Unlike our typical midwestern Black Walnuts, Juglans nigra, which drops the nut gooey husk and all, the husks on these Carpathian Walnuts, Juglans regia, crack open into quarters like a flower opening when they are ripe and ready to fall.  

This nut is ready to drop. All I have to do now is get to it on the ground before the squirrels do! 


Well, as you might remember, I turned in my Official Organic Gardener's card for this year due to short help and bad weather - and maybe a little bad attitude, too. Here is one happy result. I sowed the ground around my melon patch with oats and rye grasses. Then, after they were up and the weeds were suppressed - without any tilling on my part! - I killed the grasses around the melons  with (No! Don't say it!) Yes. I used a selective grass-killing herbicide.  Result: Grown in place straw-like mulch and a nice clean melon patch.

After the sweet corn patch was put to bed, I immediately tilled it up and seeded it with a cocktail of buckwheat, oats, soybeans and rye. The buckwheat sprang up within about 3 days. 

Here is the same spot 1 week later. Amazing! 

The patch after about 5 days. 

Same patch about a week later. Cover crops were 'invented' by the Romans, and good farmers have been using them ever since. We do it on a commercial scale in our fields now. Except, I plant by hand and the field guys use an airplane. They plant the seed right over the standing corn before it is harvested. The idea being that the seed has a chance to fall to the ground and get a foothold. Later, when the corn has been harvested and the light let back in, the seed is ready to go - and grow for the winter. Next spring, it is part of the soil, including all the nutrients it has gathered and held over the winter. It works. My bank agrees.... and so does the garden.

The Thanksgiving lettuces are in the greenhouse. Zoey somehow feels the need to stand guard. Maybe she's afraid the chickens will get the lettuce. 

So where are they? In these Walmart sweater pans. I'm growing the lettuces using a passive hydroponic system. No pumps, no water falls, no nuttin' except plant, water and fertilizer. The system was origianlly designed by Dr. Bernard Kratky at the University of Hawaii. The roots grow through the 'net' pots into the water. As the water level drops, the 'air' roots develop. Lettuce loves this system. Not all plants do. 

View from below. The little 'net' pots hold the plants until their roots develop. 

So there were a few tomatoes this year. Waste not, want not, they say. So I picked a basked full and headed for the shop kitchen. 

At least we can make some decent chili this winter! Canning tomatoes has always been one of our most fun times with the garden. We like to play with our food. (I put a few cayenne pepper into the brew, too. But I won't tell if you don't.) I have another cayenne pepper story that involves Zoey, but I can't tell you here.

In Memoriam

When General Anthony McAuliffe was asked to surrender during a battle in WW II, his response was 'Nuts!' So it is with me. I am not going to surrender. Even though we have been surrounded and attacked - again.  Coyotes broke into the High Security Maximum Detention Area during the last 2 nights. They dug under and pushed open the chain link gate, after pushing through the electric fence wire strands! The Two Henriettas survived, but only 'Big Daddy' and his little pullet 'Sweetheart' made it through from the Replacement Platoon. Churchill said, "Never give in, Never ever ever give in!" And I ain't, but it is a disappointment. Here's to better news next time.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

September Song: The Farm Report 9-14-2018

September Song: 

The Farm Report 9-14-2018

Click here to see the pics in Google Albums 

"You were my September song, you lasted way too long." So the chorus of the old song goes. The view from my shop window shows the season's change. September is a ripening month and the month when we move away from the heat of summer into the glorious colors of autumn and the harvest.

Hurricane? Schmuricane! Hurricane Florence is upon us, but phttt. It's nutin'. Downgraded to just a Category 2 as I write. Let me tell you what a REAL hurricane was. It is spooky, but EXACTLY 15 years ago, Joyce and I were in Williamsburg, VA doing some research at historic Colonial Williamsburg. I had been commissioned to build an authentic reproduction of a chest and we were there (ostensibly) to make measured drawings and photos. As our plane lifted off from the runway in Omaha, Hurricane Isabel spotted us and pointed its evil eye right at our destination in Williamsburg! It was a category 5 hurricane. To put it short and sweet, there ain't enough tea in China to get me to EVER again be in, around, or near a hurricane. Our room was on a second floor and the building manager said we would be fine (while he caulked the thresholds of the first floor rooms against flooding) - "unless the roof blows off." We could not escape; we weathered the storm in place. Never again - ever. 165 mph wind means SUSTAINED wind, not gusts. Here's what it is like: Tie down an airplane on the runway and run up the prop to top speed. Get a fire hose and have somebody hold it in front of the prop opened up spraying water full blast. Then, go stand behind the prop and see how you like it. Oh, and the heat is in the 90's and the air pressure is so low your body swells up. And you don't know whether you'll live or die. I found the experience less than fun. And my back went out, too. I'll say no more....

"Oh how I hate to get up in the morning! Oh how I'd rather stay in bed." Irving Berlin's WW I song seemed to be playing in O.J.'s mind the other morning. He's a hard sleeper sometimes. Maybe he stayed out partying too late the night before?

The garden was a bust this year, mostly. The tomatoes didn't like the high high temps, and they suffered from herbicide drift. These ones are the first and only from the season. Many of the plants just died. 

Usually, one tomato makes a huge handful. This year, these three scrawny fruits are the best examples I have to show.

The late broccoli is sweet.

The cayenne peppers are good. 

The plants in the cups are the Thanksgiving lettuces started just 2 weeks ago. I'm looking forward to cool mornings in the greenhouse.

We did get enough tomatoes for one batch of homemade tomato/cayenne juice. Zoey loves tomato scraps. Between fresh tomato scraps and fresh raw sweetcorn, these are the only times I ever see her snap or get grouchy at anything. She's guarding her 'mater stash! 

Zoey is usually so calm. But not when somebody is tryin' to get her leavin's!!! Henrietta tried sneaking away a taste. Nope! The Replacement Platoon had already been scolded and sent away packing. 

 After a half-hearted "Get Away!" snarl, Henrietta got the drift and decided to leave, too.

But when it was all over and done with, O.J. decided to just lay back down and dream sweet dreams about ground squirrel stew or mousie pies. Oh how he hates to get up in the morning, and Oh how he'd rather just stay in bed. Some days are like that. Otherwise, all is well at Oakdale Farm.