Greentree Naturals Newsletter Spring 2011
The spring ahead time change is always a good signal that the seasons are transitioning. It is a subtle transformation from winter to spring because it is still cold and there are plenty of snow covered mountains surrounding us; but it is melting. The rivers and creeks are rising with the snow melt and our driveway has turned into a mud pit. This is the first year in 24 years that we have had to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk in to avoid making ruts in the muddy spots. Once the snow started to melt, it was as though the earth melted with it. One morning after an all night rain, I went outside to observe my van sinking into a giant mud pit in the driveway. It didn’t sink very far, just enough to make giant ruts in the parking area when I attempted to get out of it. I have talked with many of my neighboring rural community and the consensus is this is the worst spring break up any of us have experienced. The pot holes in the roads are getting large enough to make you cringe each time to drive over one. I suspect that many of us will need to get a front end alignment on our rigs once it’s over (anything with four wheels is referred to as a “rig” here).
We recently moved over 1,200 seedlings out of the attached greenhouse; they are now out in a hoop house where they will harden off and adjust to being outside. The next day, I went out to check on them and a mouse had eaten quite a few of the baby cabbages and broccoli plants. We set out a number of mouse traps and I sprinkled cayenne pepper all over everything. This should help unless we managed to have some Mexican mice out there that happen to love hot stuff! We have four cats that are supposed to be helpful with the mouse populations. Only two of them hunt with any kind of enthusiasm.
It’s seeding time, so we have plenty of baby plantlets growing now. Some will be transplanted into the garden; others will get potted up into larger pots and sold at the farmers market. We are trying a few new varieties this year, which we always do. It’s good to think outside the box when it comes to growing vegetables. Why grow the exact same thing every year? Of course, once we’ve found a favorite, it stays on the list forever. And sometimes the new trial variety turns out to be not so great. Last year we tried out a new red cherry tomato that really didn’t taste all that great and wasn’t a very productive plant.
This year, we are trying out a golden snow pea and a purple podded snap pea. Both of these will be specifically for using as a garnish with the restaurants and caterers that we work with. They love having something unusual on the plate, and I love having people say “I’ve never seen anything like that before!” Sometimes growing something different will encourage people to try out a new vegetable. We have often found that children that typically hate green beans will enthusiastically devour purple beans raw. It is my thinking that perhaps the only green beans they have ever been fed were out of a can. I know that I hated beets for most of my life, having only eaten canned beets. Fresh is so delicious and earthy tasting that it is now a favorite vegetable. I have also had CSA customers tell me that they have broadened their vegetable palate after eating all the farm fresh varieties that we provide them.
I completed teaching a twelve week on-line course in Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching, the second of April. This has been a most interesting experience. I’ve learned a bit about on-line “stuff” that was new to me, and found myself challenged to build a bridge with my students due to the distance and lack of one-on-one exchange, which is one of the things that I so love about teaching. I would do this again, but perhaps make some significant changes that would enable more time chatting and communicating with the participants.
My Planning the Garden Workshop on CDhas been selling well and we have received some excellent reviews about it. I am happy about the way the CD came out and feel that the information in this will inspire and assist lots of people to take the time to plan out their gardens. This workshop on CD format is the first of our Organic Gardening workshop series that will be developed. We are gearing up for our on-farm organic gardening workshops which will begin May 9th. My goal is to develop the on-farm workshops all into a CD format so we can outreach beyond our local community. We are also going to have a Hoop House Construction / Season Extension workshop on April 30th (see the What's Happening On the Farm page for details). I will be presenting at a Small Farms Conference in Spokane, Washington on April 16th with the topic of “Season Extension”.
It would seem that we rarely run out of things to do here. I am always perplexed when people tell me that they get bored. This is a foreign concept to me as there is always something to do and more things on my lists than there are hours in the day to get them done. I am not a hyper personality; I just like to accomplish something every day. For example, when we sit down to watch television, it is rare that I am not doing something while I watch. Lately, I have been wood burning designs on gourds that we grew. I used to do this as a craft for arts and crafts shows and got out of it. I was feeling a need to do somewhat creative that did not involve teaching or developing how to guides, and gourd crafts seem to meet this need. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on my Oklahoma heritage with Native American type designs.