Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Death of a Hand Model

Regular "farm hand" (top right), post-tomato trellising (left), and washing the tomato hand (bottom right)

Woo doggy, it's hot out there! The start of Summer has brought on a whole new set of crops to plant, maintain, harvest, and wash. We have officially harvested the last of salad mix, kale, spinach, turnips, and other vegetables that either dislike the heat and/or have gotten overrun by legions of Harlequin bugs or the like. I find that the Summer vegetables have a personality all their own. Among other things, they prefer to put up more of a fight when giving up their goodies. The use of spines, itchiness, and hide-and-seek tactics are the new norm. 

Last week saw multiple days of tomato trellising, in which we hand-hammered T-posts into the ground all throughout the line, ran three rows of wire down the posts, and hand-tied tomato vines to the wire using square knots of jute twine. This gets the vines, and thus the fruit, off of the ground. As illustrated above, I had already lost my potential hand model status due to the numerous nicks and cuts and the perpetual layer of dirt (perma-dirt) that comes along with farm work. Trellising tomatoes brought a whole new level of dirty hand to the table, though. Strangely enough, after handling tomatoes for two hours you accumulate a layer of yellow so thick that it appears brown. You don't get a full feel for the amount of plant residue until you wash your hands and watch neon yellow water run down the drain for three minutes.

The new additions to the menu lately have been okra, tomatoes, two variety of beans, and two varieties of squash. Very soon, we should be adding basil, eggplant, and cucumbers.  

Out with the old, in with the new.

Matoes, patty pan squash, and an unusually spiraled okra


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Super Lucky Green Bean Challenge Quiz!

QUIZ TIME: How many beans can be harvested in this square foot before moving on? [Answer below]

Strangely, of all things on the farm, picking green beans has to be with most back-breaking chore of them all. It entails hunching over the plant, methodically shifting it this way and that, and grabbing all the beans you see. These bush beans are prolific little suckers, too. We've already harvested 85# in once session, 120# a few days later, 60# another, 80#, and so on. Side note: green beans are not heavy. The craziest part is that we haven't even been able to get to all of the beans before they get too big to sell. They just keep going and especially with the rain, it is hard to keep up! Needless to say, there have been a lot of green bean side dishes at the Hans-Vallery household as of late. The beans are incredible crisp, juicy, and so very fresh tasting, so I'm certainly not complaining.

If you guessed 832, then you are correct! Git back to work!

Rain or Shine

The shirt that was once white.
Just like the postal service, we work rain or shine. It's hard to complain about the rain, since I'm pretty sure it rained a total of 13 seconds for the entirety of last year. It has also been great for keeping the temperature down and the sun off of my body. The cons are a delay in transplanting (again) and a resurgence of weeds, which we had just about gotten a handle on. It was strange to dig leeks from the damp ground in the sun and stifling humidity the other day and feel freezing cold the very next day while being completely dry in the covered wash area. Isn't there some joke about not liking the weather in central Texas and just waiting 5 minutes? If so, hopefully it goes better than that. 
To the mud field!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Hard/Good Life

Golden Beets, the garlic cleaning circle, Summer Section of the farm, onion field, collards, and a farm dog caught eating carrot pulp out of the compost pile.

This is officially the hardest, hottest job I've ever worked, but the most fun and the most rewarding. 
 I occasionally have dreams about crating vegetables or getting la cuenta incorrect, but for the most part, I feel great! I sleep well, my work stays at work, and I feel healthy and happy. 

The past two weeks have seen a lot of harvest and washing,
 but as the season trudges on we are slowly cleaning out the greenhouse and getting all of our summer veggies transplanted in. Many hundreds of yards of peppers, tomatoes, okra, squash, and melons have gone in recently. The soil is pretty darn dry already, so transplanting has been slow and extremely rough on the hands... more akin to planting in broken up asphalt rather than soil. 

On the harvest front, we have been pulling, cutting, and digging quite a variety: garlic, beets (3 kinds), turnips, cilantro, sweet onions, fennel, green beans, salad mixes, arugula, collard greens, kale, carrots, radishes, daikon, kohlrabi, and more. It's a great selection for the CSA baskets, as well as for the Farmers' Market, which I have been working the last couple of Saturdays.

Oh, and here is the view driving from home base farm to the river farm.

Puzzle Carrots