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WHAT'S GROWING AT LOST CREEK FARM?

NOVEMBER 2009

November 14 dawned clear and sunny for the final Saturday Farmers Market downtown. We had a fabulous day with lots of beautiful produce to offer. While we will miss all of the sights and sounds of Saturday and all of our friends, I must admit that we are greeting the close of this very satisfying market season with sigh of relief. Especially David, who has put in countless 80 hour weeks throught the year.

With the end of market and CSA seasons, you can find our produce at Sundance Natural Foods, Capella Market and the Growers Market Food Co-op as well as at Ratatouille Bistro. Contact us if you are interested in purchasing bulk quantities of storage items such as beets, carrots, onions, potatoes or winter squash directly from the farmers!

Heartfelt thanks to Jennifer Surdyk, John Ely and Leaf Bowman for all of their hard work on the farm this year.

We wish you all a peaceful winter. See you next year.


EARLY OCTOBER 2009
Yikes! To the detriment of this October update, Mari is steeped in bean and grain harvest and processing while David, Jen and John continue the daily work of harvesting, seeding, planting, weeding and watering to supply our CSA, markets and commercial sales. Thanks to Keith & Rachael at Nettle Edge Farm for the use of their combine to process wheat. One 270 foot bed produced 79 pounds. Cookies have not yet been made. However, we have been enjoying fabulous cornbread made from this years' flour corn. One 270 foot bed produced approximately 300 pounds. Check back soon for photos of all of these and for more information on the bean harvest.

SEPTEMBER 2009
It is the time of year that it seems all we do is harvest. It is very gratifying to arrive at CSA bringing 16 different kinds of beautiful summer produce for members to choose from. Last week everyone struggled: Do I take melons or corn? Heirloom tomatoes or green beans? Red bell peppers or eggplant? It was rather comical. Couples negotiated, kids pleaded. Spontaneously and without coordination, Mari brought homemade chevre soft cheese and Laura made a pear torte to share. Everyone feasted. Cheers to the bounty of summer and the seredipity of CSA. (Click here or the tab at left to learn more about or join our Fall CSA!)

heirloom tomatoes
onions

Yet, it is not all about today's bounty. In addition to harvesting the long awaited, carefully tended, ripe produce we also have to keep up with all that is necessary to ensure a constant supply of future vegetables. This is hard. In fact, it is maybe the hardest thing about farming. Amidst a summer harvest in full swing (a full time job itself!) we need to keep seeding and transplanting things we won't harvest for months, anticipate the weather during those months, prepare any trellis needed, have enough seed on hand to compensate for germination failures, have bed space available, which means another crop must come out, is there a next bed of it ready? And on and on. David is daily challenged to fit in the immediately necessary tasks as well as those required for future harvest.

It is a labor of both love and pain. Just because you put in the work and do your best doesn't mean all goes well. For example, we started onions from seed January through March - those same onions you see flattened by hail in the June entry, below. We have been watching and tending them, weeding and watering since. Finally in August they matured beautifully and we began pulling them out of the ground to dry in the field a few days before bringing them indoors to cure. A few weeks ago there was a 100 degree temperature spike at the farm and we lost every single red onion. The part of the bulb that received direct sun all day literally cooked; it became reduced and translucent like onions in a pan. We donated 3,151 pounds of no-longer-saleable red onions to Food For Lane County and associated gleaning groups. I think David sat down and cried.

A glimpse of September life at Lost Creek Farm - the agony and the ecstasy.

blossom

AUGUST 2009

Beans! Grains! Chickens! The harvest of each of these is still a ways off, but we are growing more and more excited as we witness the plants and birds changing so much everyday.

The bean and grain field in January.

The bean and grain field in late July.

Here are a few of the many beautiful grinding corns we planted in addition to wheat, barley, rye and triticale.

The barely and wheat did especially well this spring and are ready to dry and harvest. Hmmm. Now we have to figure out how to hull it all.

We planted a variety of beans including kidney (above), black, canneloni, garbanzo and peregion heirloom beans. About half are from seed Mari has been saving and growing out year after year.

The garbanzo bean (above) is such a different looking plant than all of the other beans. Mari has never had good luck growing it and is hoping for a change of fortune and many beans this year.

Cute chicks! We opted to try a new variety, said to
be more active and self-sufficient than typical hybrid meat birds. Here they are one day old (born on Mari's birthday!)

Here they are one month old. Our daily source of recreation and amazement is watching them double in size overnight. They are discriminating but enthusiastic consumers of our leftover produce, favoring (so far) corn, lettuce and summer squash.


JULY 2009

Now that most of the evidence has grown out or been tilled in, the freak June hail storm has become little more than a memory. Sometimes we ask ourselves did that really happen??? Looking back at the pictures it is almost unbelievable how devastated the plants seemed as compared to the thriving farm we see today.

As the weather finally begins to feel like summer, we leave crisis mangement mode behind and focus on doing what we love. It has been intensely warm and sunny recently after a prolonged cool start to the year. Soil moisture is holding well in the fields and for that we are grateful. This early July update provides a look at a few plants and their natural protection from the sun - something we humans seem to lack (as we can't help but notice on long, hot days in the field.)

july broccoli july cabbage july cauli

Broccoli

Cabbage

Cauliflower

july acorn july zucc bathwater

Acorn squash

Yellow zucchini

Farmer's July bathwater!

JUNE 2009

Back in the March 2009 entry I wrote “You never know as a farmer what your fate will be. Sunny, warm days this time of year make us delirious and, in turn, a few days of frost have us chewing our fingernails in anxiety. As market season approaches we worry, despite our best efforts, what will we bring given the influences of weather and insect?” Well, its clear to me now that I had no idea what the extent of possibilities really were. On the early afternoon of June 4 we experienced a devastating hailstorm landing us on the front page of the Register Guard. Click here to read the story. The storm was severe with marble-sized ice balls and estimated 50 mph winds. The damage was extensive.

Now a week later we are relieved to see the natural recovery that is occuring. Some crops were a complete loss, others we began anew from transplants. Several crops will be set back a month or so but do not appear to be a complete loss. Plants with something of a protective wrapper leaf like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage weathered the storm the best and we will count on these plants, and those that were sheltered in greenhouses, to carry us and our employees through until we are back where we started.

A huge THANK YOU! to everyone who attended our post-storm work party and to all the farms and individuals who supported us with plants and cookies and more! We are very pleased with what we were able to accomplish together. Thanks to everyone's donations of time and materials, we are in as good shape as we could hope to be.

Broken zucchini with hail craters in the fruit.

A former red leaf lettuce.

These onions were a foot tall.

Broccoli strafed by ice.

Lettuce and leafy greens fared the worst. This poor chard is absolutely shredded, blown to the ground and has battered stems.

Hail at 6pm, still sizeable several hours after the storm.

MAY 2009

Since the tomatoes have received so much diligent attention of late (see Early May 2009 entry) we thought we'd share some pictures and stories.

There are TWO 200ft x 30ft greenhouses nearly full of tomatoes! We planted almost exclusively heirlooms this year due to their absolutely unbeatable flavor. Mari says once you've tried them you'll never go back. Some of the unique varieties we are growing include Kellogg's Breakfast, a rich-flavored and truly orange tomato and Black Krim, a medium sweet heirloom with accents of green and black and purple! We also have Gold Medal, a yellow slicer, Rose, a dusky pink tomato (currently leading the pack in plant growth), Cherokee Purple and many red varieties as well as several colors of cherry tomatoes.

Below you can see our trellis system. David likes to prune the tomatoes down to two main stems and as they grow we wrap the twine higher and higher up the vine to provide support, anticipating the appearance of heavy fruits.



Tomatoes mid May 2009.

Tomatoes mid April 2009. Big difference!

The cherry tomatoes have very nice size.

We've had zucchini at market the past several weeks.

EARLY MAY 2009

Not much is growing, that's what. The gray, rainy weather has dramatically slowed plant growth. While the outdoor crops are enjoying a nice drink, the ground is so mucky we can't work well in it - it is hard to weed and transplant and our tools gum up. Consequently we are working almost exclusively in the greenhouses. Good news for all you tomato lovers - boy, are those tomatoes getting some good attention these days!!

APRIL 2009 - MARKET SEASON!

All of our hard work comes to fruition. Look at those beautiful greens. Visit us at the markets to sample! CSA members, you can start enjoying your 10% off! Click here for more information about becoming a CSA member.

Things to come in the near future . . .

Beets!

Broccoli!

Butterhead lettuce!

And things to come in the far future . . .


Basil!

Tomatoes!

Eggplant!

MARCH 2009:

The first plants are in the ground! Believe it or not, two of the three huge greenhouses pictured in the
Winter 2008-2009 entry are full!


At right, cabbage as far as the eye can see!

(Shhhh, don't tell, we are secretly (or not so secretly)
cabbage lovers!)


Below, 2 and 1/2 weeks later. Wow.





The cabbage is tucked into a layer of "plastic mulch" on the ground and then covered above with a blanket of translucent heat cloth ... and is in the greenhouse!


Even when your produce is locally grown, certified organic and tended by hand by people devoted to this labor of love, a surprising amount of resources are required to grow these plants and food generally as we know it.


Lettuce in the greenhouse. You can see the drip
tape we use to irrigate laid out on the bed.
The tape has tiny holes every 6 inches through which water emerges and drops directly where
it is needed; a nice way to conserve water.







The same lettuce 2 and 1/2 weeks later!

You never know as a farmer what your fate will be. Sunny, warm days this time of year make us delirious and, in turn, a few days of frost have us chewing our fingernails in anxiety. As market season approaches we worry, despite our best efforts, what will we bring given the influences of weather and insect?

I am pleased to report that we are just plain happy about the way everything has gone this year and have very minimal nail-chewing about the approach of the first Saturday Lane County Farmers Market on April 4th!!

PS: Come say hi on April 4th (and check out our fingernails.) CSA members, you can start enjoying your 10% off! Anyone interested, click here for more information about becoming a CSA member.

FEBRUARY 2009:

February sees the completion of our warm water propagation bed, a long-awaited dream come true.
And it was so easy!



Here you see the exposed tubes containing warm water which recirculates through the system.





Tubes partially covered with perlite and plants.



Above, the propagation bed in final form,
covered with plants and plastic. This photo
was taken three days later than the one above.

And, the same same plants one week later. Wow. These plants are ready to go in the ground.


JANUARY 2009:

In addition to the bodacious greenhouses you can see in the winter 2008-2009 entry, below, we also built a 100 foot long greenhouse for starting plants. The first round of seeding began in early January: kales, cabbages, lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, spinach, chard, cilantro, tatsoi, scallions, and (dare I say it?) basil.

Here you can see the first seedlings emerging! Winterbor green kale wins first place for germination.



WINTER 2008-2009

We built three 200 foot long houses over the past few months. It was a frosty day when many generous friends came to help us cover the frames with plastic. Thank you Alan, Deb, Shane, Missy, Melissa, Clint, Ann, Amber, and Isaac!

Before . .



 

 

 

 

 

And after . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

These greenhouses will allow us to grow a wider selection of vegetables beginning earlier in the year and will extend the harvest later into the season.

Check back for monthly updates on what's growing!