Community Supported Agriculture

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Feeding the plants

Something exciting happened today. A few special plants came up, ones that I had forgotten I planted, and haven't really tended. It's comfrey. I've read about it as a plant with many uses, but last summer we learned about its amazing capabilities at helping other plants grow. Comfrey grows a long tap root deep into the soil, and pulls up all kinds of trace minerals from the depths that other plants' roots don't reach. It puts those minerals into its abundant leaves, and here's the awesome part: you can harvest the leaves, mix them in water, stir them often for a month or some, and the leaves will disintegrate into the water, leaving you a potion of trace minerals that you can give to your other crops. People buy expensive things like fish emulsion, or kelp, since they both can add a lot of nutrients to your plants and keep the garden happy. But comfrey will grow quickly after you chop the leaves off, and it spreads itself by root. I don't think we'll get a cutting this year for our farm, but I will plant more comfrey plants down by the bay, where their roots will soak up washed-away nutrients we applied. (lots of fertilizer we use can get washed away in a good rain). It gives us a second chance to use those nutrients we initially applied, plus the comfrey will pull up all kinds of good stuff from deep in the ground. In 5 years, we won't be able to use the land by the bay for crops anyway, since there will be a buffer zone in place as part of the maine farmland trust regulation. Hopefully by then, there will be a nice border of comfrey in place. I encourage any gardeners out there to get comfrey root cuttings, and plant them in an out of the way part of your garden. They're quite nice to look at as a bush, and their leaves make a wondrous potion for folier sprays.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We're certified!

The above phrase is open to interpretation. But we're happy to report that MOFGA has given us the official news that our crops are organic. It doesn't come as much of a surprise. Now that I think about it, I do remember doing some rather organic-like things around the farm.

A quick update for any of you interested in helping out at the farm, Sunday, Monday and Thursday are excellent days to volunteer in exchange for food. Let us know ( if you'd like to get dirty. Bring your swimsuit if it's sunny. The bay is nice and warm, and the sand dunes not far.

Friday, June 18, 2010

If you don't ever visit the part of the farm where the weeds are, do they not exist?

This week it's almost the solstice. Summer is just around the corner, hot days, short nights, and full season crops await us. I'm happy this week to report that the farm is doing ok. We've managed to get a lot of crops in the ground, do some weeding, and harvest twice a week and go to market twice a week. The peppers are the latest thing we did a serious planting of. They look really good, most are flowering, and I caught one with a tiny fruit on it. People ask if we grow fruit. I forget that we do... we grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, and even a few melons. All of those crops flower first, and either are self-pollinators and make fruit, or need the help of insects to pollinate the flowers and form real fruit. All of those crops take a long time to come, but they're just around the corner. The Maine season is so short, that before I know it, we'll be harvesting squash and glad that we transplanted all of those onions in late May.

It's hard for me to have lots of projects in my head at one time. But I think we have only a few major plantings left, and then I can focus on the weeds on our farm. Potatoes are left, and then cabbages for the fall, and carrots and beets for the fall, etc.

I went to a concert last Sunday, it was fun, and chatted for a while with someone who had some farming in his past. Someone asked him where he kept his weeding tractor or tool, and he just held up his hands, waiving his fingers. I was thinking about that a lot this week. Weed management is a huge component to good organic farming practice. Without chemicals to spray for weeds and for pests, you're left using other tools that may be at your disposal. some people use tractors, others hand tools like a rake or hoe, and some of us just crawl around on all fours through the beds, pulling out each weed we see. Luckily, my vision isn't all that good, I'm rather near-sighted, and can't see all of the weeds off in the distance.

But as I mentioned before, the solstice is in a few days, and after that, the crops will fill out more, blocking sun from the weeds, and they will hopefully be more manageable. And as Pete's friend Jeff would say, what we're here to do is to grow vegetables, not to eradicate all the weeds on this farm. I hope any of you reading this remember that bit of wisdom as you're weeding your garden or farm. Have a good week.