Cover Crop 2015

One of the many things I love about farming is the seasonality of the work. This past week, I have been working on preparing the parts of my fields that are done with their work for this season for next season! I sowed a winter cover crop (rye/vetch mix, Austrian winter peas, fava beans, and crimson clover) to add organic matter and nutrients back into the soil, reduce erosion and suppress weeds.

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Like last year, I broadcast my cover crop seed (put the approximate amount needed into a bucket and walked through the field throwing the seed out by hand). It feels very different this year. Last year, I had owned this farm for less than a month when I threw out the cover crop seed. Here is a picture from September 2014:

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My mom helped and we celebrated the first things planted on the farm. I was so worried it would not germinate and I had no idea how my first year of running a farm would go. Today, it is so weird to see this field with no crops, just cover crop seed…almost like this past season did not happen. Here is the field in May 2015:

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The only reminder being the over-wintering leeks I planted in the middle of the field! Here is a picture taken from a similar spot in September 2015:

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As I sowed my cover crop seed, I could not help but think about everything that has happened in the year since I sowed my first winter cover crop. I am feeling thankful for the past year. Thankful for all the hours, thought and energy my dad put into my dream, this farm and thankful to my mom who is a wonderful, cheerful presence at the farmers market and thankful for everyone who has helped or encouraged me since I started farming three years ago.

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Thankful for all the support of the community and their excitement about local produce options. Thankful for my neighbors who shared recipes they made with my produce! And most of all, thankful that I get to farm again next year!!

I have a new field! This field will help with crop rotations, which is important for pest and disease control and soil health. It will also give me additional space to plant more, so that hopefully, the farm stand can be more reliably stocked next season! In addition to adding nutrients to the soil, the winter cover crop will help loosen the soil. I plan to rotate my brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale etc.) to this field next year!

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I am excited to create my 2016 farm plan this winter. To be a good farmer is to constantly be open to learning. I have learned so much this season and I look forward to incorporating what I learned into next season. I know that when I sow next seasons winter cover crop, I will have learned even more!

All that being said, the farm stand is still full of fresh produce for fall! The weather may be cooling down and the days getting shorter, but the farm stand is still open!

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Winter Gardening

This week, I wrote a guest blog post for the NW Healthy Mama website. Since, I am thinking about my fall/winter harvests, that is what I wrote about! In the interest of time efficiency, instead of writing a separate blog for my website, I am just adding the link here to to that post. It is a fun website to explore!!

http://nwhealthymama.com/2015/07/saturday-garden-tour-welcome-to-island-harvest-farm/

Happy Fresh Veggie Time!!

Cabbage!

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I once worked for a farm manager who thought cabbage was delicious and more people should eat more of it! I thought, cabbage?! Look at all the amazingly delicious vegetables growing and you are most excited about cabbage?! Well, over that summer, I became a convert! I roasted cabbage, I made coleslaw, I made colcannon, I steamed it, I sauteed it and I ate cabbage nearly every day! It is sweet and crunchy and you can add so many different flavors to it!

I will start harvesting cabbage tomorrow! Tonight, I harvested a few for myself (how can I sell produce that I have not sampled?!) I roasted 1/2 a pound of cabbage by cutting it into 1/2 inch strips and tossing it with melted butter before roasting in the oven at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and you have a tasty side to any meal! I also made a quick coleslaw by shredding the cabbage (about 6 cups), adding some chives (since I did not want to harvest any of my green onions…I want them to grow into big onions!) and fresh parsley. I made a dressing with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, a minced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper! Super quick and easy!

Cabbage is a great addition to your summer meals! If you are not currently a cabbage fan, give it a try!

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Island Harvest Happenings

Never a dull day on the farm!

The greens and radishes are done in the hoop house. Today, dad and I started clearing and preparing the beds to get ready for…TOMATOES!! The tomatoes are ready for more space and a new home! We hope to have them transplanted into the hoop house by the end of the week!

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photo by Tracie Howe (www.traciehowe.com)
photos by Tracie Howe (www.traciehowe.com)

Thanks to a grant from the HumanLinks Foundation, I now have an automated irrigation system! No more watering entire fields like this…

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The system was delivered in a bunch of boxes

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Little by little, those boxes of parts disappeared!

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Many wonderful people have helped with farm projects in May! If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me!

My brother and my 3 year old nephew helped make the parking lot!

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My mom, grandma and great aunt helped seed flats!

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The RISE Now Seattle Chapter spent a day building beds, transplanted some lettuce and then we had the first BBQ of the year!

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Ben Laine fills in from time to time as the Island Harvest Weekend Farm Manager, allowing me to leave the farm without having to worry about my baby plants drying out in the propagation greenhouse!

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My dad works on the farm everyday! I am so thankful for his unwavering support, his expertise and the chance to spend my days with him creating this farm!

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The farm stand is Open! It is starting slowly, but will fill up as the weather warms up! Watch the signs by the road for an idea of what is in the farm stand!

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Last, but not least, it turns out that I now have a gorgeous clematis!

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Sign up for Farm Stand Credit!!

Introducing Island Harvest Farm Stand Credit Program

Island Harvest is offering a Credit Program through the farm stand to provide a flexible, convenient way for you to purchase your produce. This model eliminates the need to make exact change or pick up a CSA box on a specific day, and allows customers to choose their produce freely. You can use your credit to buy anything that we offer here at Island Harvest. When you come by the stand, write down purchases in the Credit Program logbook to keep a record of what you have bought and your remaining balance. If you don’t use your credit by the end of the season, no problem! It will roll over for the next year. You can sign up for farm stand credit any time, starting today!

I am offering five levels of credit:

For $25, receive $27 in credit

For $50, receive $55 in credit

For $100, receive $110 in credit

For $200, receive $220 in credit

For $500, receive $550 in credit

To Sign up, send a check to:

Island Harvest Farm

825 Arrowhead Rd

Camano Island, WA 98282

Or stop by and ask for Rachel!

Questions? Email Rachel at islandharvestfarm@gmail.com

My farm stand is located on the farm at 825 Arrowhead Road, 1/3 of a mile north of the Camano Center on the corner of Arrowhead Rd and Lindsay Rd, just 10 minutes from Stanwood.  We are open from dawn till dusk and I hope to start stocking the farm stand in early May.

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My propagation greenhouse is full of tiny starts soon to be transplanted and many crops are planted in the ground, including peas, fava beans, beets, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, leeks, onions, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, napa cabbage, broccoli raab, mustard greens, radishes, kale, chard, green beans and yellow wax beans.

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Happy Spring and I hope to see you soon!

 

Yippee! Planting day!

Today, I woke up to blue sky and a perfect day for planting!! Fueled by the promise of fresh vegetables and over-caffeination, I raced around this morning gathering seeds that need planting, moving flats of seedlings outside to harden off and found the best ground ready for planting!

We started with potatoes! Dad and I took turns using the wheel hoe to dig a furrow for the potatoes…so much easier on your back than digging with a shovel!

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Once the furrow was deep enough and all the big rocks removed, in went the potatoes! Here are the Rose Golds:

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We also planted Huckleberry Gold, Yukon Gold and German Butterballs!

Next, we planted half a bed of carrots, an orange and a yellow variety. The very delicious Carrot is a diva that will grow into funny shapes without a nice fluffy, rock and clump free bed. The carrot is worth the extra effort, so we dug out the paths, adding a little extra depth to the bed and went through by hand to remove rocks and clumps and roots left behind by the cover crop. The second half of the bed will be planted in a week or two.

We finished the day transplanting three varieties of kale and one variety of cauliflower. This bed did not get the same attention to detail that the carrot bed enjoyed. It was measured, the path walked out and we raked it once to get out the really big rocks (There is quite the rock pile growing, I wonder if the Whidbey fighter jets that fly over can see it yet).

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Tomorrow, if it stays dry, we will plant more outside (chard, spinach, radishes)! If it rains and storms as predicted, there is another bed that is waiting to be planted inside the hoop house and more flats to be seeded!

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2015 Vegetable Challenge!

I was recently told that there are over 200 produce items available at the grocery store, but the average person only eats about 15 of them. Next time I am at the grocery store, I plan to count everything in the produce section or perhaps I will start with asking someone who works in the produce section.

Anyway, it got me thinking! I looked at my seed list and I have everything divided into 39 categories (these are not official categories, just my categories) with 155 different varieties!! The 2015 Vegetable Challenge is to pay attention to how many different things you eat from the produce section or buy from a local farmer and then see how many you can eat in 2015! I would love to hear about new favorites and good recipes!

Today, we planted two beds in the hoop house! The tiny white tags tell you that we planted 2 varieties of lettuce plus a lettuce mix, 2 varieties of radish, 3 varieties of mustard greens and 1 variety each of spinach and arugula!

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If you are interested, here is my list of categories and the number of varieties per category…

  • Basil: 1
  • Bush Beans: 5
  • Fava Beans: 1
  • Garbanzo Beans: 1
  • Beets: 5
  • Broccoli: 5
  • Brussels Sprouts: 4
  • Cabbage: 8
  • Carrots: 8
  • Cauliflower: 3
  • Celery: 1
  • Chard: 1
  • Chives: 1
  • Cilantro: 2
  • Dill: 1
  • Popcorn: 1
  • Cucumber: 7
  • Eggplant: 1
  • Fennel: 2
  • Kale: 3
  • Leeks: 3
  • Lettuce: 11
  • Melons: 5
  • Mustard Greens: 7
  • Onions: 3
  • Peas: 1
  • Peppers, Hot: 2
  • Peppers, Sweet: 5
  • Potato: 4
  • Pumpkins: 1 baking; 3 jack-o-lantern
  • Radicchio: 1
  • Radish: 3
  • Rutabaga: 1
  • Shallot: 2
  • Spinach: 3
  • Summer Squash: 10
  • Winter Squash: 9
  • Tomato: 22
  • Turnip: 1