Monday, July 28, 2014

What's up at Farmer in Odell

It seemed so far off for so long, but now here we are - just under 4 weeks until the 3rd Annual Livingston County Farm Crawl!  That sounds like a long time, but there's a lot to do this time of year on the farm, plus whatever else life throws at us between now and then, and whatever preparations we have to make specifically for Farm Crawl Weekend.  Four weeks is going to fly by.  Here are some pictures and notes about what is going on here at Farmer in Odell:

At the end of June, I attended a workshop at the U of I Extension office on straw bale gardening.  We'd happened to have just gotten several bales of straw, so we got to work and set up two straw bale gardens.  We planted zucchini, several types of beans, carrots, beets, radishes and parsley.  It's now been a month and here is a picture of one of the gardens.  The zucchini on each end have been growing in this one.  The zucchini in the other "garden" didn't ever germinate.  The only other plants that sprouted are beans and radishes.  I can't blame the straw bales for that, as the seeds never sprouted at all.  We'd been hanging on to older seeds for many years.  We kept them in the freezer for years, but last year I just left them in a box in the cool basement.  I have a feeling that was a bad thing as our germination rate on the old seeds was poor everywhere - not just the straw bales.  In 2015 we're going to start with all brand-new seeds.  Today we gave them some more fertilizer.  I'm hoping that by the Crawl, we'll have flowers on all the beans and zucchini so we can actually harvest some before fall.

These three pictures are of the garden between the driveways - behind the straw bales.  This garden has 9 rows of fencing for things that climb.  We started with peas on 7 of the fences.  Some of those are still producing, but about a month ago I planted pole beans and cucumbers where there were gaps or where the peas were just about done.  Now some of them are simply huge - growing taller than the fence.  Another variety isn't really climbing at all, but they are growing very well.  I'm actually impressed with all the pole beans, and they are flowering, which makes me very happy.  We haven't had enough beans for several years to allow us to can or freeze any for winter.  I'm thinking that this year we will.  The cukes aren't quite as thick as the beans, but we'll get enough for eating fresh, and maybe even be able to make a few jars of pickles.  Between the fences we've planted a variety of other plants - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel, onions, chard, kohlrabi, turnips, and beets.  They are doing well and this week I'll be harvesting our first baby beets and broccoli.  Today I picked and ate a kohlrabi.  Last week I picked 3 turnips which are the size of my hand!  And the chard has been used several times over the past few weeks.  The nice thing about chard is that it just keeps coming back all year :)

Behind this garden (and past the strawberry patch) are the tomatoes and peppers.  They are in buckets which are half buried in the ground.  We did this last year for the first time in order to eliminate the weeding around the plants.  It's done a good job of that, but they don't grow very well in the buckets.  I've since learned that they have a large root system and need a lot of room to grow.  The buckets don't accommodate that and they also dry out fast.  But this year we're actually getting tomatoes from some of the plants.  Here's a picture of the first one ripening.  Today we got about a dozen of these little tomatoes - without the bites.
We have more garden space than this, but I'll move on to a few pictures of the animals.  If I show you EVERYthing now, you'll have no reason to come to the Crawl!  First is York giving you a smile.

Goats eating their dinner, chickens eating theirs, too.  These chickens are our meat birds.  They are a little crowded in the tractors, which means they are ready to take a trip down to Arthur.  They are going to the processor this week so they'll be frozen and ready for you to buy at the farm crawl.  Be sure to bring a cooler with you!  We'll have chicken and eggs as well as some produce available to purchase.  Most of the other farms will also have food for you to buy - so maybe two coolers would be better ;)