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Newsletter #5, January 2010
Whats Happening On The Farm: If you operate a large scale conventional farm somewhere out west, I've heard that winter is a time for rest. You get to sleep in a bit. You stay inside and relax knowing that your vast acreage of farmland is sitting idly by, waiting for spring. Maybe you take the RV on vacation to Florida.
Not so when you operate a small organic farm like ours. Winter has brought a tremendous amount of work and planning for us here at Fire Ring Farm. We are expanding the entire farm operation this year and we have been hard at work trying to make every inch of our small farm more productive and more sustainable.
The first thing that we are adding in 2010 is new growing space. Many of you know the beautiful old stone wall that marks the farms western boundary. We are installing new raised bed gardens along the length of the stone wall that will transform the entire western edge of the farm into productive growing space. This new field will really increase our production capabilities. We will be adding more than 2000 square feet of garden bed. Get ready for a LOT more delicious veggies.
All this new growing space requires a lot more greenhouse space to start seedlings. Construction is under way this winter on an addition to the farms cabin. This addition will create a new greenhouse with a permanent planting bed and seedling rack system, and an indoor workspace close to the new field. Its passive solar design will also help increase the sustainability of the farm by decreasing the heating emissions of the cabin.
In order to prepare the new field, dig new foundations, and move rocks out of the fencepost holes, we decided to add a tractor to the farm this year. we had been holding off on making this purchase for a number of reasons, some of which included increased farm emissions, cost, and our inability to find the right machine on the used tractor market. But in the end we had to weigh our increasing need for compost against all of these concerns. Instead of ordering compost at high cost and increased embodied energy throughout the transport of this weighty farm necessity, we will now be making and turning our own compost onsite with the new tractor. We need compostable material in bulk, so bring us your tired refrigerator leftovers, your poor unused veggies, your huddled masses of kitchen scraps yearning to breathe free...
Finally, we'd like to announce the birth of a new addition to our farm family. Zephyrus Grimm Stone was born right here on the farm on November 29th. He is happy and healthy, as are his parents and grandparents.
Newsletter #4, October 19th, 2009
Whats Happening On The Farm:The frost has finally come and has unfortunately taken its toll on the basil. However the sweet potatoes were dug just before the frost so they are now safe in their crates curing for the last CSA pickup. It is time to clean up the beds and plant cover crops of oats and winter rye and then grind up the leaves and cover the beds.
Greens (small amount)
Chard & Kale
Maybe Brussel Sprouts
Carrots are growing now!
Hope to plant them out soon.
They are alot sweeter if they
grow over the winter.
We will see!
Information about purchasing
a share will be forthcoming
sometime in December.
NANCY NOTICES: It is hard to believe that this is the last pickup of the season! It feels like I was just planting peas... I suppose I will be in a couple of months! While cleaning up the garden I keep finding little surprise plants that are still producing, such as cucumbers and sweet potatoes! It is really interesting how the plants just keep on trying to please.
Garlic Is waiting to be planted in amongst the beautiful oats cover crop which will protect it from the winter storms.
Beets & Chard
Garden Grows: The Cabbage are heading up! They are slow but maybe with some warm sun this week they will get more energy! The Brussel Sprouts are still small so I may have to deliver these to you later around Thanksgiving. I hope that they continue to grow and their buds get bigger! Of Course the Chard and Kale are very happy now that the weather has cooled down.
Bruce's Corner: I'm currently working on getting all of the farm building resources organized for the winter. We are making more garden beds so we can grow more delicious vegetables next season. It is amazing how much preparation and time goes into that!
Events On The Farm:
Saturday, October 24th will be our last CSA Pickup! Members and Family are encouraged to attend "Soup and Fire!" 5:00pm to 7:00pm
YOUR JOB: Come to the "Soup and Fire!" Bring your ideas for next season as we want to know what you thought about this season and how we can improve on 2010!
If you have any egg cartons please save them and bring them for me. This will make the chickens very happy!
Newsletter #3 Week Of June 28th
Whats Happening On The Farm: The Blueberries have been netted to keep the birds from eating them all. The hail storm knocked a few off but that will just let the ones remaining get bigger I hope. They are starting to turn blue so maybe you will get some this week. Keep your fingers crossed! The Raspberries are also ripening and the currents are showing their true red!
Peas, Peas, Peas.
Greens (small amount)
I up-potted the Broccoli,
Brussel Sprouts, Green and
Red Cabbage, and Basil.
I started lots more Lettuce,
Greens, Carrots, Broccoli,
Brussel Sprouts, and Cabbage
so its full again.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
NANCY NOTICES: The first CSA pickup was a success! It was great to see all of you and share the bounty! I have learned a lot about bounty size and I am increasing the amount of lettuce and greens started so that in a couple of weeks there will be more per share! I really appreciate all your support in this learning year and welcome any and all of your comments!
Garden Grows: The Green Beans are blossoming little blue flowers! I have planted the 3rd round of beans and they are just peeking through the soil. All the squash is in the ground ready to climb Bruce's ladders! (See Bruce's Corner!)
The third tire is now on the potato stack and the Potatoes have shot up out of those!
The Tomatoes have also shot up and have been tied up for the 3rd time! The hail storm last Friday hurt them a little bit but they have revived!
Bruce's Corner: I have been busy building ladder supports for the summer and winter Squash to climb. They are covered with chicken wire and are about 8' tall. Why so tall you ask? Well we learned from the peas that tall and sturdy is good! I have also been making more boxes for the lettuce beds and more frames for the one potato bed.
Events On The Farm:
Saturday, July 18th will be our "Ice Cream Social! " for CSA members and family.
Details to come!
YOUR JOB: Come to the "Ice Cream Social!" Bring your bags or containers to put your produce in! If you have egg cartons please save them for me and bring them! This will make the chickens very happy! If you don't have a place for your compost, get a bucket with a lid and fill it with scraps and bring it too! The chickens, worms, and compost pile will love you! We will even rinse the bucket out for you too!
Newsletter #2 June 14-21st
Whats Happening On The Farm: Bruce and Jeremy built a compost sifter so I have been busy sifting the rocks and sticks out of the compost and filling up the last of the garden beds! It is really nice compost! I now have all the beds full except for 2 lettuce beds. I also bought a flame weeder to kill the weeds in the gravel areas and driveway and garden beds before we plant. The flame weeder takes the place of having to use horrible herbicides that are poison to us! Jeremy has become very proficient at it! I am told that I need supervision when I use it so I don't burn the farm up! An auxiliary use for the flame weeder is to start the fire ring fires after it rains and believe me we have had our share of rain! I went and talked with the town planner and found out that we could build a greenhouse on to the annex/guest house. This is very exciting and if things go well in the future we can add a barn as long as we are withing the setbacks of the property. So now Bruce has a big job of miving the resource area up to the east side yard into the Garage in a box!
The first CSA pick up will be Thursday June 25th from 4:00 to 7:00pm. If that doesn't work for you then we will also have a saturday pickup from 4:00 to 7:00. I moved it to the evening on Saturday because there might be Saturdays when we will be taking things to the Portland Farmers Market which happens on Saturday morning. I do need to know which time you are coming so the veggies would be ready.
Greenhouse Gab: The Greenhouse is now full of more lettuce and greens for the 3rd rotation! There are pots of Summer Yellow and Zucchini Squash, Winter Squash - Acorn and Butternut - and they are all getting ready to show their little heads! I started them late because the Cucumber Beetle, Flea Beetle, and the Squash Bug love them and I want to make sure that they are healthy before I put them in the ground! I still have my Eggplant in the greenhouse because the Flea Beetle thinks that they are very tasty also! I am working out a way to cover them in the garden so there will be some for you!
Leeks and Carrots
NANCY NOTICES: Rain, Rain Rain! It is unbelievable the amount of rain we have had! The garden is looking great, and of course there are weeds to pull all the time! I am getting excited about our first CSA pickup and getting to see all of you! We may have a visitor on the first pickup! The Middletown Press called me and wanted to know about the farm and asked if they could come out and visit that day!
Garden Grows: The Tomatoes are 1 and a half to 2 feet tall and starting to blossom! They have had their first tying up the stakes! They have also been pruned to keep the suckers from growing. The snow peas are all covered in white blossoms and the sugar pea blossoms are purple! They have reached the top of their climbing nets and are really full! The Potatoes keep shooting out of their tire beds keeping me busy putting compost up to the bottom of the first leaves!
Bruce's Corner: I've been busy putting up supports in the garden for the Tomatoes and Cucumbers! They look really neat! Now I am challenged to make supports for all the squash that Nancy needs to grow! I have a few different ideas to play with so we will see what works out the best!
Events On The Farm:
Saturday, July 18th will be our "Ice Cream Social!" for CSA members and family.
Details to come!
Your Job: I need help trying to figure out how to make it easy for you when you come to pick up your produce and also be green friendly at the same time. I would like to avoid using plastic bags to bag everything in so I am hoping you will bring reusable containers to put your produce in. If you have any ideas on this I would love to hear them! If you have extra egg cartons that you could bring that bout be great! So get your bags and coolers ready! I also need to know which day you are picking up. Please email me.
Newsletter #1 - June 7th
Honey Bee Operation
Whats Happening On The Farm: In order to keep the lettuce and greens production going all season, 7 new 4x4' beds have been placed under the pole mounted solar panels. Not only will it be cool and shady in the hot July and August months, but it will also be easier to rotate the lettuce/greens crop to keep it fresh and diverse for you!
The Honey Bees are a buzzin' in their hives! Nucs (a small colony of bees complete with Queen, Drones, and Workers on their own foundation) were purchased this year from Jones Apiaries here in CT! They were picked up Saturday the 16th of may and are now getting established along the west stone wall. We now have 3 hives thanks to Gay Smith who is letting her new hive visit us this year. Since this is the first year for the bees there probably will not be any honey, as they have to grow the hive and store food for next winter. Their job this year will be to pollinate all the fruits and vegetables we are growing!
We have been discussing pick up times for your share. I think that the best times would be either Thursday at 5:00 to 7:00pm, or Saturday morning, 10:00am to 12:00 noon. I would need to know which time you are coming so the veggies would be ready. I will give you more info on this closer to the start date. I am aiming for June 25th. (20 days away)
The Greenhouse has been busy since the first of March! Soil blocks have helped grow all the Tomatoes - 2 kinds of Slicing Tomatoes, Paste Tomatoes, 2 kinds of Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Bok Choy, Parsley, Basil, more Lettuce, and Beets! Not to mention Cucumbers, Nasturtiums, and Marigolds as well! Did you know that Nasturtiums and Marigolds were edible flowers?!?
NANCY NOTICES: Well I started this newsletter in May and it is now June. Time keeps moving so fast and soon it will be Summer! The Spring was a cool wet one - great for growing those cool crops like lettuce, peas, and onions! Things are starting to warm up and the garden is getting full of wonderful veggies! The Blueberries have bloomed and now the little green fruits are hanging on! I am emailing you this now on a rainy day to get started and get into the groove of a weekly notice. Please feel free to email me any ideas, questions, or concerns you may have about the CSA and what we are doing. I want this to be a good working system for all of us!
Garden Grows: The Shallots look so dynamic with their little tufts of green hair like tops! They like the cool weather and the new drip irrigation!
The Radishes are up as well as the Beets! Lettuce, Spinach, Chard, and Greens are also showing their heads! 180 Leeks were planted along with lots of onions! The beds are getting prepped for the Tomatoes, Peppers, Summer and Winter Squash, and Cucumbers! The Potatoes are started in their tire rings too! You will need to see this potato operation when you stop by!
Bruce's Corner: Whistling Gardens!! Yes, I have made the gardens whistle! How might you ask? I have been busy installing drip irrigation in all the raised garden beds! When the job was completed and we turned the system on, as the water initially starts to flow through the pipes it makes a whistling sound! It does it every time it starts up! One has to get up early now if they want to hear it because the time for watering comes at day break. The irrigation is exciting but is also why we have had so much rain.
Events On The Farm:
Saturday, June 20th will be our "Summer Solstice Celebration Picnic!"
More information will follow in the next newsletter.
Your Job: Your job right now is to be getting your bags and coolers ready for the first pick up which will be at the end of June! I know that seems far away but it will be here sooner than you think!