Monday, July 25, 2022

FALL GREEN BEANS: The Farm Report 07-25-2022

 The Farm Report


My Grandmom Rhode always planted green beans so she could have a 'fall crop' to put up after school started. Bugs were less, kids under foot were less, heat was less, too. I'm all for that!

So, I got David Bradley out and put a 2-inch cultivator shoe on the plow so I could use it to cut furrows for my seeds. I love to use old machines, and this was another great excuse to use David Bradley. This one was made in 1947.

Here's a good look at the little cultivator shoe. I didn't want to plow up the whole garden plot again like I do in the spring. It isn't necessary, and with the dry weather we've been having, the ground is like concrete - so it isn't possible either.

I keep promising more about the wheat harvest, but for now this is where the wheat used to be. All I needed to plant green beans was a nicely cut trench/drill/furrow into which to put the seeds. The straw stubble will be a fine cover mulch. No need to disturb that.

What Mr. David Bradley lacks in fineness, he makes up for in power. These are 'dirt diggin' machines - as one old timer told me when I was trying to restore this one. He was right.

As fast as I could walk up and down the stubble field, I cut trenches for the beans.

I cut more trenches where there had been onions.

And then I got out the Earthway planter. With that little slit trench cut into the soil courtesy of David Bradley, the planter worked perfectly. Again, as fast as I could walk up and down the slits, they were planted. 

Yes, I did indeed plant a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. Too much? Well, I'll tell you later. But we're so far along in the season now, I don't have a second or third chance anymore. If it turns out I have WAY too many beans, then I'll call the relatives and friends. I'm hoping to have a bumper fall crop of really nice tender green beans to can up and put on my pantry shelf for winter. I likes my beans.

More as we go. All is well at Oakdale Farm.

Monday, July 18, 2022

MATER-RIZER: The Farm Report 07-18-2022

The Farm Report


Here's a specialty 'How-To' for you from Oakdale Farm.

Occasionally - yes, just occasionally - I've been known to get a little behind in my chores. Getting my early tomatoes out of their 'Wall-O-Water' cold spring starter brooder houses and into their growing up tomato cages is one of those places. When the 'maters decide it is time to stop growing roots and push on up into the world of sun and fun, they do it whether you're ready or not. This time (once again) I wasn't ready. This isn't my first rodeo either! So I'm prepared to handle the problem with one of my little inventions. I call it my 'Mater-Rizer' bucket. Mater-Rizer - get it? I can use it to 'rise' my tomatoes into their cages without damage; and I can do it all by myself.

I use a 5-gallon bucket with the bottom cut out to keep the Wall-O-Waters from tipping over in the wind. These are 'old technology' from the '70's. They are just plastic cylinders into which you can add water. The water acts as a solar collector during the day to warm up. Then at night they give off that heat back into the 'maters. The bucket stabilizes the whole works out here in the high winds plains. The little baby plants say a huge thank you and grow like crazy - even when it is cold outside.

So how does it work?

Step A. Remove bottomless bucket and W-o-W.

Step 2. Get the Mater-Rizer and put it around the leggy plant. My Mater-Rizer is just a 5-gallon bucket with the bottom cut out, and then cut in half lengthwise. I used some webbing and rope to make a hinge on one side. Crude but effective. Then, I tied another piece of rope to one side of the 'Rizer to act like a tourniquet clamp. I pull it up tight and cinch up the rope to hold it in place while I work.

Which means while I get one of my concrete re-wire cages and slip it down over the whole works.

The way I make my cages, there is a 6-inch wire spike at the end of each vertical run which acts like a ground stake. I push that all down into the earth as far as I can. In Wisconsin, that was enough. Out here in the Hurricane Wind Tunnel Zone, I have a horizontal wooden rail (tree sapling) tied to a couple of steel fence posts for extra support. Once the cage is staked and tied to the rail, it is pretty 'untippable.'

So after everything is in place and secured, the rest is easy-peasy. I just pull the bucket, ahem, Mater-Rizer, up out of the cage.  As the bucket rises, 

Hey Presto! This leaves the plant behind with no broken shoots or torn up leaves. I've used this setup for years.

In no time flat, my 24 tomato plants were all safely supported inside their cages, sans damage. Now, my little plant friends, GROW and BEAR FRUIT!

A few weeks later, and they appear to have heard the message! Yep! These are the same ones in the top pictures. Tomatoes - UNLIKE ME - love it hot and humid.

Same place, different angle. The drip barrels don't hurt either. I put a little extra Miracle Grow in them from time to time as well.

And that's how we do it out here at Oakdale Farm.

I can only imagine what the people in England are feeling like with temps predicted in the 100F range for London tomorrow; unheard of. At least I have AC to go into.


Friday, July 1, 2022

Summer on the Farm: The Farm Report

The Farm Report 

Summer on the Farm

I'm trying to stay semi-caught up. It has been busy out here! This is the view to the Southwest from the Oakdale Farm Front Porch.

That long white thing out there is a 'horizontal silo' bag. We're big on cover cropping in my corner of the world. The guys across the road cut their cereal rye (often planted by an 'air tractor' airplane in the fall before the corn is picked) just as the grain heads were getting ready to mature. Then they chopped it into silage and blew it into this bag for storage. The cows will like it later on. They were planting soy beans right behind the chopper. Neat!

Now I've got my eye on that plastic. It is a one-way material as I understand it. Could this be a new 'tarp garden covering?'

Happy Birthday, Annie Oakley! She's officially a 3-year old now. It shows; she's so much calmer and easier to live with. They're a great breed, but Oh Boy Oh Boy! do they have high energy and a HUGE need for running off steam outdoors - EVERY day.

I'm still workin' on the storm damage. I'm really missing not having my front porch ceiling fan, too. 

I've taken it all down and it is in the shop for repairs. This is about the 4th time this fan didn't make it all the way through the winter. I'm going to rewire it this time so it is easy to just unplug and lift off the moorings for winter. I'm more stubborn than brilliant, but I'm beginning to get the message....

Oh Sure! Now you'll sprout for me!!!

After trying all winter to sprout sweet potatoes for slips, with limited luck, I bought one from the store to - wait for it - EAT. Laying on my kitchen table in wait, this happened. Of course.

So we broke off the new little slips and put them in a pot of water. The very next day; repeat, the very next day, this is what the roots looked like. Give 'em heat and you can't stop 'em from growing. Cold? Nope.

For the first time in about 20 years - since I lived in Wisconsin where I grew champion hybrid tea roses - I have a winner system!

It looks like this: Hybrid tea roses in 10 gallon grow bags. One per customer. The bags are sitting inside tires with the top rim cut out. I put a piece of plastic down inside the tire underneath the bag. It works like an old fashioned waterbed liner. Roses take a lot of water. Then, if you look closely down the middle, you'll see my drip irrigation main line. There are little side drippers going off to each bag. That whole shebang is on a battery operated timer. Bingo! Roses! This fall after freeze up, I'm going to haul the roses inside the greenhouse for their long nap.

Typically, we went from cold and wet to by-God HOT and dry. The garden is marching along though. I just set up the sprinkler system you can see in the background yesterday, and today it is raining. Of course.

Spuds galore!

You can't beat new potatoes about the size of a golf ball and a pot of peas in white sauce - with more butter than Julia Child would have used. You've gotta die from something.

And speaking of dying! This is the Greenhouse July 4  Sweetcorn row. Those plants are the ones I started from seed in March inside the greenhouse in plug flats. That yellow stuff is the electric fence wire protecting them. Try stealing my sweetcorn, and you might die!

Laser/Taser/Sparkifier/Shockeroo. Call it what you want, but this is the only way I can have sweetcorn here for myself - instead of the raccoons and the coyotes and Annie! SHE was going in and getting ears from MY sweetcorn patch, too.

Better living through electricity, I say!

It isn't hard to hook up. Red Hot to the 'hot' wire, black to the ground rod - which is also the corner post. 

Do Not Touch - or even think about peeing on the fence wire!

This is the Oakdale Farm nod to Ukraine. I planted some hard Durham Spring Wheat last April. It will be ready to harvest in a few weeks. It will be delicious in this winter's bread and baked stuff.

I want to do a whole blog to show you how I cut and harvest the grain. I've figured out a way to thresh it that is cheap, easy, and very effective. It involves electricity and motors. Stay tuned.

I've mentioned my shop cat, 'Miss Kitty' before. She's not very much in love with an audience. She's reclusive. Like me? She and Annie spend the nights together in the shop. Annie adores her and thinks she needs full time protection and care.

'Could I have a little privacy here?'

'I'm trying to clean myself.'

Miss Kitty has black feet. I've never seen this before, but she has black on the bottoms of her feet; all four of them. 

Outside, in the smoker, I've been making Summer Sausage. It turned out really good!

And for the bug fans out there. While I was waiting for the smoker to come up to temp and get busy, I sat down on my front bench for a little break. I kept seeing all these little tiny bugs. Eventually, I got my specs out and took a good look. Great Caesar's Ghost! They were little tiny praying mantis bugs. Must have been a nest of 'em underneath the bench. There were hundreds of them. Biggie size the pic and you'll see that they look just like they do when they're big - only this day, they weren't.

"Is there anything dumber than a dog?" said O.J. She never learns.

Annie wants to be O.J.'s friend in the worst way. That's how she'll be his friend, too - in the worst way!

It was like he was saying to himself, 'First, we need to get her head around square where I can really bop her when I'm ready.

'That's right, Annie.'

'Now I'll just make her think I love her - NOT.'

'Then I'll just hop over here to get on the other side because I'm right handed and a roundhouse blow behind the ear is always a good thing. That's right, Annie. Nice and square to the jaw.'

Annie is 3 now. She's played - or has been played - by this game before. A lot! See those ears? She smelled a rat!!!

'Did you see that, Tim? He was going to swat me, wasn't he!?'

Yes, Annie, he was.

But it is summer officially, so nobody gets too worked up. O.J. especially.

One thing you can learn from an old survivor Tomcat is this: When it is hot, just go slow and make yourself as long as you possibly can. Summer will pass, then times will be better.

Happy Fourth of July, and Cheers until next time, from Oakdale Farm.