Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Everything is lush and green right now here … it rained yesterday morning and it’s currently raining with more in the forecast, so it might get a little soggy again. At least I don’t have to irrigate, and the lettuce is happy!

The pigs like puddles, and apparently it’s fun to run back and forth through the old hay ring that my dad rigged up to provide shade for them (see below).

Our builder finished up the porch on Friday (thanks, Steve), but Elden is now putting up the ceiling in there, so it’s still a construction zone.

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Bean Time

It’s that time of year at Stone’s Throw Farm: farm members are getting a lot of green beans in their CSA shares, and some are starting to come out to pick their own beans for preserving. My nephews were here visiting my parents again recently, and Franklin (almost 6) helped me pick beans one day. All he needed was a “measuring stick bean” to help him determine if each bean was big enough to pick. Apparently he told my dad that next year, he’ll be able to pick all of the beans for me. In the meantime, I’m thankful that one of our farm members is a massage therapist!

Most of my time is spent picking cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and so forth; my mom helps with picking and does a whole lot of weighing and bagging on harvest days (thanks, Mom). My dad takes care of the pigs and the field work so the show can go on.

The recent rains really got some veggies going, and today’s sun should agree with most everything. Too much of a good thing can be a downer, though; Sunday night we got over 2 inches of rain at the farm, and didn’t need a drop of it! The pigs are probably happy that they have a regular pond in their pen now, so that part is positive. They’re getting more damaged produce now (I know the beets in the second video look good from a distance, but trust me . . .), which they also enjoy.

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As usual, I’ve not quite finished transplanting the “hot crops” — tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, melons, cukes, eggplant — and it’s time to start CSA share distributions. All that’s left is transplanting the eggplant into the hoophouse; I couldn’t do that until the peppers were out of the way. We have some sweet corn to transplant, too, but other than lettuce and some Brassicas, we’re getting close to done with transplanting!

I know I shouldn’t take photos on dreary days, but that seems to be when I have time to do so. I did get a few pics of our tomato plants before heavy winds and rain turned them into some pretty sad-looking specimens. It seems like every year, no matter when I transplant the tomatoes, there’s a big storm shortly thereafter. This year’s field tomato plants were not spared a rude introduction to the open air, but I’m hopeful that they’ll prove to be as resilient as the tomatoes have been every other year.

The hoophouse tomatoes are putting on some healthy new growth, the onions look pretty good, and everything else is perking along, albeit slower than I’d like. I’m thankful we had a few sunny days last week in which we got a lot done. Maybe now that it’s officially summer, there’ll be more sun?!?

On Saturday, I treated the piggies to some stale nuts my mom found in her cupboard — I think they like ’em. The pigs kept chewing on videographer Elden’s boots (they might like shoes and boots almost as much as nuts), so I kept trying to distract them while focusing on not getting my hands bitten off. (There probably should be one of those “Do not try this at home” warnings on this video.) I should also note that yes, I was wearing my winter hat on June 20, because that’s how cold the wind was in the fields here.

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HoophouseTraysTomatoPepperPotsOur vegetable starts are doing fine in the hoophouses, but they’d be doing much, much better if we had a string of sunny days in a row. Normally when my mom and I have potted up tomatoes, broccoli, or so forth, we’ve marveled at how fast the plants take off. Not so much this year. (My parents haven’t even moved up here yet due to the weather.)

CloverDrainageFurrowOur fields are still too wet to till — flat land is not advantageous in this situation — so I’m hoping that after the rain we’ll surely get today and tonight, we’ll miss out on all the chances for rain in the next week’s forecast. Our onions are ready to transplant and so is HoophouseFromSouththe first round of cabbage and broccoli. Plus, the longer we have to wait to get started on transplanting, the more of a scramble it will be when we can finally get to work, as more and more flats will be lined up in the ASAP queue.TomatoPepperBabies

On the bright side, the garlic all seems to have come up. I took the mulch off of it just to make sure it was up and wouldn’t have any trouble getting through the

GarlicRowsmulch. It’ll also give me a chance to lay driplines before putting the mulch back, since the garlic is on rather sandy soil this year and could need irrigating later in the summer, though it’s difficult to imagine at this point!


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DorkyHatCompetitionElden and I (and his mom) just spent a week in Anchorage, Alaska, visiting Elden’s brother and family. One of the highlights was on Saturday, when we walked over to a cross-country ski trail to watch some of the Iditarod teams go by. The dogs seemed very happy to be running, and the weather there was awesome compared to what it’s been like in Duluth. (Who knew, right?) For the record, we saw a moose in the distance while driving one day, but our only up-close sighting was of moose droppings. Not exactly a highlight, but you don’t see moose poo every day, either.

mtnsIt was nice to see a pile of CSA sign-ups in the mail when we got home. We still have plenty of Stone’s Throw Farm CSA shares for sale, though, so if you’re looking to sign up, please do so. I’ll post an update here as soon as we’re sold out, I promise.

If you’re a past farm member looking to renew, our early-bird deadline is March 14, so you’ve still got time. You can even renew after that, but I won’t be holding a spot for you after the 14th. It’s not exactly a race, but you don’t want to miss out, either!



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It did feel like fall for a bit, with cool nights and warm days, but then it warmed up and it hardly feels like fall. It’s at least starting to smell like fall, though — I walked the little trail my dad made in our woods on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed the aroma of decaying leaves. Despite a couple of frost warnings, the temp hasn’t dipped below 32 degrees, so I’m still picking cherry tomatoes and peppers, and I even picked eggplant out of the hoophouse yesterday. The onions and squash are curing and the cover crops are doing great. I’m running the air conditioner in the walk-in cooler and holding off on harvesting potatoes and root veggies. We’ll enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

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treeline_04-22Thank goodness for the sun. When that beautiful globe shines on us and it warms up, however, I think it’s difficult for some non-gardeners to understand that everything is not quite back to normal (the next few cold, wet days should increase understanding, unfortunately!). It takes a while for the ground to completely thaw and to soak up all that moisture, and then I imagine the soil temperature will still be below normal for a bit. We have made some significant progress at the farm, though. We’ve gone from this on the 22nd …

treeline_04-29 … to this on the 29th.

west_fields04-26 From this on the 26th …

west_fields04-29 … to this early on the 29th …

onion_beds04-29 … to this. And, thanks to another warm and windy day on the 30th, I didn’t see any snow or ice in the fields at the end of the day. The soil is very saturated with water in most places, but I can’t see standing water in many spots. That’s very good because this particular pic is a shot of the beds where the onions are supposed to go this year, and unlike the weather, the onions are right on schedule — ready to go.

onions04-29Here are some of those onions in the greenhouse. My neighbor (and farmer extraordinaire) Rick complimented me on these onions yesterday, and I credited the Caretaker Farm soil mix. (It’s the same mix I’ve been using every year and I’ve never had onions so nice at this point, but I’ve never done them all in plug trays, either. Rick inspired me to do that.)


Here you can see an onion plug with roots clearly ready to get out of the confines of their tray. Hold on, little onions!


The first round of lettuce is ready to go, too. I’d normally have them in the ground by now.

The other thing that some folks don’t understand (understandably so!) is that there is always work that can be done at the farm. I remember when a new Food Farm intern asked me if we ever got a day off due to weather; I smiled and explained that those Food Farmers could get pretty creative about finding tasks for us. There are a million things on the to-do list that normally just don’t get my attention. Some of them are little things; for example, a week or more of not-very-sunny weather, combined with rich, moist potting soil and warm temps in the greenhouse results in icky green stuff (yes, that is the scientific term!) growing on top of the soil in the pots and trays. This should all be scraped off. There are big things on the list, too — organic certification, anyone? My tendency is to put off the big, complicated things in favor of checking off many little tasks. The initial certification forms might not be quite finished yet, but I have a lot of potting mix all ready to go, stockpiled in the greenhouse. It’ll all get done eventually.

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I expected to be spreading compost in the fields right about now, not shoveling snow, but there’s no way around it — no matter what the calendar says, it’s still winter here. This weather will shorten our already short growing season and condense our ordinarily rushed spring schedule into what I can only imagine will be a frenzy of field prepping, seeding and transplanting when we finally can work the soil. (Right now, I’d just like to be able to SEE the soil.) I’m already anticipating a delay in our first share delivery in June, but Stone’s Throw Farm members will still get a full season of produce. I’m hoping the seedlings in the greenhouse will see some much-needed sun today, and the snow will end eventually!


Look at these big piggies! And notice that there’s NOT a foot of snow on the ground where they are . . . sigh.

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Our spirits were pretty low yesterday morning at Stone’s Throw Farm — and in Duluth where Heather-Marie was stranded and Elden checked in for updates. We had received over 6 inches on Tuesday and overnight, and the rain kept coming — we got another couple of inches yesterday. The veggies were in standing water, and the pigs’ bedding was soaked. I dug a few little trenches to drain some of the standing water out of the veggies, even though I knew I was sending some of our precious topsoil into the ditch along with it — exactly what I don’t want to do.

My parents and I made some makeshift platforms to put under the pigs’ sleeping huts so their bedding might stay dry. As we were finishing up, my across-the-road neighbor Rick Dalen of Northern Harvest Farm came over to see if he could help. Rick took some photos of the flood, which you can see on the Northern Harvest blog.

The sun came out today and things already look better at the farm, though only time will tell. Farming is a risky business and it’s really wonderful to have our CSA members sharing the risk with us! If the carrots drown or the lettuce gets shredded, these brave people have agreed to eat beets and kale instead. Obviously, if we have too many failures, our members won’t want to renew, so it’s not like CSA farmers get a free pass. We do enjoy a little more security than market farmers, though, and with a diversity of veggies in the field, we hope that even if some crops fail, others will thrive and we’ll all eat well.

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Pigs like grass, grass likes rain, wildflowers like rain, veggies like rain, but veggies do not like sitting in standing water. Veggies do not like hard rains, or hail, or high winds. But we’re doing okay, all things considered.

Please come out to farm and see for yourself on July 14th during the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association’s Festival of Farms tour of 3 Wrenshall farms from 2-6 pm. A pig roast precedes the tour at noon at the Free Range Film Festival barn. The LS-SFA event is part of a larger Barn Dance Weekend.

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