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.

2015-09-17 001 033

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:

078  074

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:

00002_Tracie_Howe_Photography

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:

  2015-09-23 001 052

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.

2015-08-14 001 006   IMG_2926(1)

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!

2015-09-23 001 048  2015-09-17 001 056

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!

2015-09-23 001 035 2015-09-23 001 007

 

Advertisements

Cabbage!

2015-06-22 001 012

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!

00006_Tracie_Howe_Photography 00005_Tracie_Howe_Photography

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.

2015-04-20 001 003

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.

2015-04-19 001 0022015-04-15 001 005

Happy Spring and I hope to see you soon!

 

Let the Farming Begin!

The deer fence is officially complete and now that we have learned to keep the gates closed at night, there have been no more deer sightings inside the fence! Cross your fingers that this trend continues! With our largest infrastructure project behind us, we have moved on! Here are some of the highlights from the past few weeks…

The hoops are up for my 20ft x 96ft hoop house and the plastic will go on soon! I just might direct seed lettuce, radishes, and mustard greens inside the hoop house to be harvested before the tomatoes are transplanted in late May!

2015-02-02 001 016     2015-02-12 001 008

I seeded some flats! Here are some future onions, leeks, and shallots. If you look closely, you can see that they started germinating yesterday!!!! I just love it when seeds germinate!

2015-02-17 001 034 2015-02-25 001 001

When the sun is out, I must keep a close eye on the temperature…it heats up fast! Last Monday, I had all the doors and windows open.

2015-02-17 001 036

I got 6 hens about a week ago! They are a cross of barred rock and light brahma. Chickens are pure entertainment and the eggs are so delicious!

2015-02-19 001 016  2015-02-19 001 004

My cat, Bob, has decided to leave the hens alone…I was worried for a few days!

2015-02-19 001 014

Currently, we are constructing the roadside farm stand that I will sell produce out of. This means I get to use lots of fun power tools and a fancy stapler!

2015-02-25 001 024  2015-02-23 001 007

2015-02-25 001 022 2015-02-25 001 021

Here is what it looks like so far…

2015-02-25 001 015

And I start each morning drinking coffee and taking in the view.

2015-02-21 001 008

Dramatic End to Deer Fence Saga!

Yesterday, as we stretched the last section of fence, I spotted two deer…INSIDE the fence. After chasing them for an hour, one jumped a short section of fence leaving the other one behind. I left all my gates open, hoping the remaining deer would find the way out overnight. No such luck…

2015-01-27 001 008

We knew this deer could not jump any part of the fence, so the plan was to herd the deer around the perimeter of the property and out the one gate.  For this to work, we needed to create a barricade to keep the deer from continuing on past the gate…we lined up 3 cars and the tractor and covered them with tarps.

2015-01-28 001 008

Some friends headed over to help and we needed them! On our first try, the plan nearly worked, but the deer turned at the last second and took off in the opposite direction of its gate to freedom. Every time we successfully got the deer up to the front of the property near the gate, it would turn and sprint back to the shelter of brush and trees. More than once, the four of us thought we were herding the deer through the brush, while the deer had snuck past us and was on the opposite side trying to find an opening in the fence.

It became clear that the biggest flaw in our plan was the deer felt more comfortable on the backside of the property in the brush and trees than in the open fields near the road where the gate is. New Plan! We cut a hole in the fence at the back corner of the property and after a few tries, the deer found the hole and was gone! We patched the hole and our fence has passed the test!

Getting that deer on the outside of the fence was a dramatic end to a huge project! The deer fence almost four weeks to build and 8 rolls of field fence (2,640 ft). This project took me to parts of my property that I had not yet seen and it turns out that building an 8 foot fence is a good way to meet your neighbors! Working near the road gave me a chance to chat with some neighbors who were out for a walk!

NEXT PROJECT: Construct hoop house! I ordered a custom made hoop house kit from Steve’s Greenhouses (http://stevesgreenhouses.com/) and it has been patiently waiting in the barn for the deer fence to be done! The hoop house will be 20ft by 96ft!