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Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Week!

Shroom Time!

I love charts.

Don't mess with gills!

Wowzes! Between hunting, visiting a truly incredible farm, and moving's been busy. It doesn't seem right to be writing my last entry from a plush chair, fully air conditioned cozy house, but that's how this is going down. It's been quite an adventure, I hope you've had fun as well :)

Hold up, did you say hunting? Yeppers, shot me some good 'uns...on the camera. We went mushroom hunting with Ricky (Native American/Naturalist at Burge) on Monday and had a big time. He brought his mushroom recognition book and Erica and I would take turns looking those little guys up. Apparently, mushrooms are mysterious dudes; they can pop up one day be gone the next and show up across the field. On top of that they are super hard to recognize, which can be a problem if you want to go around eating wild mushrooms, which I don't recommend.
You can make them turn blue with your finger, Smurferrific!

Old Man Mushroom, the only one we knew 100% what it was

I'm not edible, if you couldn't already tell by the way I look
We see you little mushrooms!

  The next awesome thing that happened was I visited my lovely friend Erin at Love is Love Farm. We chatted it up while she took me on a tour of the farm. They have a CSA of 115 and farm on 2 acres. Joe Reynolds is the main farmer and a really awesome, nice guy. He worked/interned under Nicolas at Crystal Organic Farm.

We harvested noodle beans, peppers (there were even purple ones!), and green beans. There were other volunteers and a part-timer so it made harvesting a lot of fun. It was Joe's B-Day so Erin made a special lunch.

some girl, Erin, Joe, some guy

So there were lots of good times this last week. Reflection time has come now that my internship at Burge has come to an end. I think I'll miss writing the most, (but definitely not uploading the pics on here...takes...forever). Allergies+Outdoors=Bad. I learned so much about farming and I can't wait to see what my next opportunity will be. I've met some pretty amazing people who I will miss very much but feel lucky to know. Got a great tank top farmer tan, which I'm taking with me. And more than anything I feel happy, happy for the experience and very happy to be moving on to my next adventure. Cheers!

Okay, it might not have anything to do with anything but isn't it pretty!

Oh, and of course I'll miss you guys too ;)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 97-102

 Oh Nuts! Peanuts that is...mixed with peppers, storms, fig surprise, and Operation Celosia Rescue! I thought FarmGirl was going to be toast yesterday working in all the lightening and carrying rakes and whatnot, but as you can see I'm still kicking, no electrocution happenin here.

Now where to begin? Let's chat about some peppers shall we? We have so many peppers Cory has started taking the pepper roaster to the farmer's market. I've noticed most people in the South, especially the oldies but goodies do not care for spicy peppers. But I say, give them a chance because they're interesting little fellows.  Get some of those pepper facts: They are members of the nightshade family (sounds mysterious!), which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.

I'm worth the wait!
Bell Peppers: The misleading name "pepper" (pimiento in Spanish) was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. At that time peppercorns, an unrelated plant originating from India, were a highly prized condiment; the name "pepper" was then applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and so naturally extended to the newly discovered Capsicum genus.

Paprika can be prepared from red bell peppers (as well as from chili peppers). Bell peppers are not 'hot'. The primary substance that controls "hotness" in peppers is called capsaicin, and it's found in very small amounts in bell peppers.  Also red bell peppers have twice the Vitamin C of green ones, so wait for the good stuff folks!

Holy Pimento that goes up high
Did you know that there was a pepper scale?!! Oh yes, it exists and is called the Scoville scale. It's rated by taking an extract of capsaicin oil from a measured amount of dried pepper and added incrementally to a solution of sugar water until the "heat" is just detectable by a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. So for example, bell peppers being the sweet little guys they are with almost no capsaicin, are at the bottom.

Also growing up around farmville (not to be confused with the FB game, the real deal), is eggplant. I've spoken about eggplant before, I know, but they are worth mentioning again. I think I've eaten Asian eggplant every night last week in every possible way. In fact, all this contemplating of eggplant has given me an idea for yet another recipe to try out, eggplant sauteed in soy sauce. Spending all that quality time has really taken our relationship to the next level, I may ask them to move in with me.

Sometimes you have to stick together
Cherry tomatoes agree!

Honey Dew=Happiness

In The Box
-2# mixed Tomatoes
-1# Eggplant
-1# Zephyr Squash
-3/4# Okra
-1 Watermelon OR 2 canteloupe
-1 bunch Okinawa Spinach
-1# Potatoes
-1/2# Purple Onions OR 1 bunch Torpedo Onions
- 1 Red Bell Pepper AND 2 Anaheim Peppers

With okra harvesting we have to suit up before going into battle. I use old sock which I have cut out the tops along with thumb holes. They look kind of hip and edgy if you ask me, I could be a farmer fashion designer. Anyhoodly, it works, and I didn't feel like I needed a cortisone shot after harvesting which happened many times before. 

 We went over fall crop plans and discussed rotations:
Crop Plans Fall 2012

For the first time, we solarized a hoop house! We what a who? Solarization is a tool farmers use to give the soil a face lift. The process kills insect larve, weeds, and disease that lurks in the soil over long periods of time. Here's what it looks like:
First, you gotta clear it out and do some bed prep

Then you watch other people lay compost ;)

Next fertilize that baby and add irrigation


Fun stuff is popping up around the farm like figs! Cory went on an errand and came back with three different varieties of figs from the orchard!!! "Like Fig Newton's?" said intern Jason. Not quite. They are some tasty brutes; making me think it's time to jam out with some figs soon.

There are also soybeans trying to join the party, beans, peas, and peanuts! You may not know this about me, but I'm a peanut girl. Not a day goes by that I don't eat something with peanuts in it. Me and George Washington Carver could have been besties.
 Peanuts are rich in antioxidants and a good source of niacin, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. Loaded with nutrients, they are known to fight malnutrition in developing countries. When they are not saving the planet, they can also be used for paint, varnish, cosmetics, insecticides and soaps, to name a few.

They are going to be ready in September, but this is what they look like as peanut babies:

Super Heroes in the Making


Another event worth mentioning, I tried to save the gorgeous Celosia's (they were in the hoop house we were clearing out) from eminent death. I don't know how well it worked but Operation Celosia planting (Part 1?) was a success!

You know it wouldn't be a decent post if I didn't mention bugs at least once! I made friends with a praying mantis this week. He was hanging out on the truck, and I recognized him from a Reading Rainbow episode I watched as a child. I remember promising myself I'd meet that bug one day, and that day was Monday. Epic.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 92-96

Morning Glory, get outta here!
Hello there! This week was a roller coaster of hard work, sickness, yoga, bees and pumpkin checks. I was ready for Friday to roll on around to get a break from 12 hr days. But enough whining, let's talk farm.

Tilling it up

On Monday I learned to use the tiller in the sweet potato field. It's a heavy dude to lift in and out of the truck, not too bad to push though. It was not as effective as I would have hoped it to be and was barely tilling up the shallow roots. What you gotta do is lift the tiller up and down while you go, to really get those culprits out. One of them was called morning glory, but between you and me it was anything but glorious in the sweet potatoes. They had to go!
Strawberry Field
Remember those strawberry plants that were oh so good in Spring? Wells, the runners from those guys have had time to develop and create mini strawberry plants! When you see them start to develop roots they are good candidates for transplants (didn't even have to be wait-listed).  You take them off the runners and if you have a lot, like an insane 7,000, then you can put them in a bin with wet paper towels so they don't dry out. When potting the little guys you need to barely put the roots in the soil, just enough to cover them up. Cory was MIA during this, so the process instructions were askew and therefore, led to unsuccessful potting. We'll be doing a lot of these little guys and we still have about 6,950 to go, so more to come!
Runner with New Growth
Finished Product
Bee Hive
Started out Tuesday with a bee hive visit! Hello Mister Bees! A super needed to be added to give the bees more space. If they don't have enough space they start shopping for new real estate (swarming) which cannot happen because we want that sweet honey. You have to add a queen excluder so that lady doesn't get all up in the new super right away, causing a swarm to happen at a faster rate. We used the smoke to calm them down; well, it sends them into panic "is there a forest fire?" mode. They try to protect themselves by burying their little heads in the honey comb. So I guess I shouldn't say calm them down, I think that'd be pretty freaking scary thinking you were about to be torched. The smoke distracts them from stinging us, would be a more accurate description.
Suiting up
Holding the Super with Frames

With all the smoke and nature going on my allergies showed up yet again and protested me working on Tuesday, so after a battle with my nose (Nose Wars 2012) in the tomato field, it won and I went home. I came back later to pint cherry tomatoes and then called it a day. "You look awful" was the response I got from CVS cashier and intern Jason; thanks for that. I was rather drained the rest of the week so Cory let me do the delivery.

Thursday we pretty-uped the hoop houses and planted more turnips, beets, arugula, and carrots. A lot of weeding, prepping, and trellis action happened as well. The fun part of the day was the yoga! Andrea came to the lodge where we cleared out a space so she could give yoga instructions while we looked at the sunflower field in the background! She's going to come every week hopefully, in exchange for a CSA box.

In the Box

-2# Heirloom Tomatoes
-1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
-1# Chinese Eggplant
-1 Sugar Baby Watermelon
-1 Tasty Bite Cantaloupe
- 3-4 Ears Sweet Corn
-1/2 # Okra
-1# Squash Or 1# Cucumber
-1 Herb/Zinnia Bundle

Stone Cold Killah

There's a new bug in town, called the Mutilidae, velvet ant, or cow killer ant. They come in a variety of colors like orange, blue, gold, black, white, or silver. Ours are a scarlet red; their bright colors serve as an aposematic signal to stay the hell away. They are a species of wasps actually, the female's do not have wings and resemble ants. They are known for their extremely painful sting, facetiously said to be strong enough to kill a cow, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant is applied to some species. I've read that they make noise when alarmed but it's hard to hear over the screams of whoever it bit (how pleasant). One crawled over my hand. I hope that never happens again.

Asian Pears
What you never knew you didn't know on Asian Pears. Grown throughout East Asia, many names including Pyrus pyrifolia, Sand Pear, and Apple Pear (because of its appearance and texture). The fruits are generally not baked in pies or made into jams because they have a high water content and a crisp, grainy texture, very different from the buttery European varieties. They are commonly served raw and peeled. The fruit tends to be quite large and fragrant, and when carefully wrapped (it has a tendency to bruise because of its juiciness), it can last for several weeks or more in a cold, dry place. Tastiness.

We ended the week with market harvesting which went a lot smoother with 5 people as opposed to the 3 we had last week, thank goodness. Lots of peppers coming in: Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapenos, Shishito's, Pepperoncini's, and a couple Red Bell peppers. Nothing too spicy coming through yet, mostly sweet. We made bouquets again and I'm sad to report this could be the last week for one of my favorite flowers celosia. It's located in a hoop house bed we need to solarize to rid the soil of insects/insect eggs. Farewell, beautiful unusual flower, hope to see you again soon!

P.S. I'd like to do a pumpkin watch update, they are doing so well! Trying out a new technique by building up mounds to give the pumpkin roots more space to grow. It's used for melons, so we're trying it out with the lil pumpkins! Love.