Thursday, April 27, 2006

What's happening at the farm

June 27th-
Today it was so hot in the middle of the day, so I walked around and took notes of every plant I have. Here they are:
Brussles sprouts - look good and strong- how big do they get?
Squash and pumpkins look good too- do acorn squash get yellow leaves, or are mind deficient? all of those have it, but none of the pumps or cukes do. some corn and beans have sprouted, I wonder if they are all too close together, & if I can transfer corn and beans if they are.
Potato and onion row looks good, but pretty much covered in weed sprouts. Can I sell these? what are they? Bindweed and sorrel anyone? Chefs? might weed again and put some Basil or dill, and there is a space for something where the beets died. (No water at the time)in there since it could be irrigated easily in the future.
Chinese Licorice small but ok, grown a little, hopefully the root will grow deep - should I water this alot? Long tap root- divide in fall for more plants. I will make tinctures and other products for myself and my family out of these single plants, and study their actions. The following year I will divide and grow the crop from the same mother and then divide those for future rows. It is slow going doing the building of the plant stock, but eventually you have alot of the plant material.
Astragalus- A tonic herb, it resembles like Goat's Rue, but sturdier. I am looking forward to dividing this root out for future, learning and tasting it as my own tincture!
Chaste Tree -Looks strong but, still small- 1st year.
Osha - I am happy to have this wonderful herb on my farm, and hope I can be a gracious host to it.
Lobelia- (Great Blue) spotty with a few blemishes. This the first year of this herb on the farm. A good one for cold season.
True Alkanet- (Dyer's Bugloss) -Anticeptic looks like it needs water.
Red Elderberry- Since I planted it I realize that this is not a medicinal- so it goes to the birds!
Self Heal- Looking great! It will be in bloom for the tour!
Angelica or Hemlock? Or something else? Keep or send to compost pile? & Mullein everywhere. Need to choose how many I want to keep, and where they live next year, then weed the rest. Save until leaves are big enough to harvest and sell. When?
Marshmallow- Looks good, but where are the others? they are not growing as fast as I thought they would. With irrigation (connected June 30th) they will hopefully be able to be harvested this year.
Wood Betony- Good for the solar plexis and for rootedness/grounding. I is about to bloom! This is the first year they have bloomed. I am excited to learn more about the uses of this herb.
Agrimony- Really Elegant & Blooming, and used to kill tapeworms among other things. Again, glad to start learning about the new herbs.
Indigo, True- Looks good, but surrounded by Mullein.
Blue Vervane - Looks good, growing strong. I use this tincture for alleviating stress in my neck muscles. It really works for me.
Slippery Elm- Looks good, small.
Lady's Mantle- in Bloom. Pretty yellow flowers.
Rue- Rue the day! Small, but in bloom now.
Bergamot - Volunteers- probably Yellow Dot, and Lavender, maybe Lemon.
Big Wasps' Nest! - Got stung weeding, but I put Plantain on the sting and the swelling went down almost immediately. I will not be weeding, and will block off that area for the tour until I can figure something out to get rid of them. I will consult with my Island bee keeper friend, Jim.
Motherwort- in bloom, need to harvest. I have 18 this year. It will grow more leaves and bloom again after this harvest at least once. next year I hope they bush out. They are very tall now.
Feverfew-Looks really good, and I will need to harvest the flowers soon.
Evening Primrose- The ones that came back look huge and amazing. They might be in bloom for the tour as well. I wish more had come up from seed this year, but there are some new volunteers by the Primrose plants in the "Lavender Circle" around the Elderberry Tree.
Elecampane - Flowers are out, and since I weeded the chamomile out of the bed, you can see a few new ones! None from seed, probably. I had divided out some of the roots in the fall.
Mugwort- Ready to harvest- Left a few for the birds. They like to perch in it and hide out. I will probably take the flower/ seed head off the top if I remember a ladder.
Spearmint- What was I thinking? No irrigation here! I might try to dig the soil with the seeds out of the row & take it to a moist location ( Need the elderberry- dig out trench to get closer to the water table? Pond in future? Grow Mashmallow and Mugwort,Watercress, and other water loving medicinals there?
="font-weight:bold;">Mullein - In Bloom - Harvest flowers- Insurance for next year (As if I am worried) I will use the flowers along with Garlic cloves to make Earache Oil for fighting ear infections.
Hyssop -ALmost in bloom and ready to harvest by the farm tour. The new row is doing well, and will look better after some irrigation.
Horehound - harvested last week, needs water
Thyme - Also Harvested last week.More soon! Yarrow - This yarrow looks good. The transplanted yarrow from the fall looks good, but needs weeding. The yarrow transplanted a month or so ago needs irrigation and mulch/ nutrition.
The next area has Lavender, Strawberries (yum), Arnica volunteers, Sage, and one Goat's Rue. The others taht I transferes out of there have recovered, but I could prune and mulch them.
Calendula - is small, but already some flowers are coming up and I know more will be blooming during the tour.
Echinacea- Small bed full of about 25 plants from divisions in October of '05 along with about 5 plants that will be in bloom from the original batch planted in November of'04.
Ox-Eye Daisy- This is one of the plants I just wanted to see what it looked like. The description in the seed catalog said it was good for coughs, and I am looking for herbal medicines to make cough syrups for kids, so I started growing it, and it did well. I am looking forward to learning from this plant.
Chamomile- came and went, but plenty of seeds remain, and small plants are popping up all over the place. I love their cheery flowers and soothing smell.
Hops - I have to make my herbal beer...
Calendula & Marshmallow Root- for the whole row very small, but better with irrigation. The Calendula in the field is doing ok, but we will see if it can compete with the grass. I am going to mulch with newspapers and compost. It is only an annual, so it will be tilled in next year and planted with a cover crop, probably a crimson clover and oats.
Cukes- on other side of path doing ok, getting bigger after irrigation.
Catnip & Fennel - Some sprouts on the fennel, but nothing yet on the catnip.
3 Kinds of Tomatoes; a roma, a pear, and a cherry- The whole row!



June 14th-
I have lots of herbs coming up and have been transferring some of the starts into the field. I just planted a bunch of Calendula, Yarrow and Hyssop plants, and I have been moving plants that need to be divided or just need to be in a different place. I hired three guys to help me with some of the work yesterday. Two of them are former Lost Boys from Sudan, and they were happy to have the work, and I was happy to have them there. They worked hard and had a great attitue about it, and then we had a nice lunch together. I took them back to the ferry, and went back to work until sunset. I have been working on the farm so much, my office work has piled up. I am trying to get that under control right now.

I will have the June shares ready this weekend, and have been working on the descriptions and suggested uses. I have Hyssop, Ox-Eye Daisy, Echinacea, Thyme, Rosemary, Horehound, Comfrey, Marshmallow, Motherwort, Mugwort, Lemon Balm ready for harvest. More herbs will be ready by the July farm tour, but the end of July through August is when it will be really in full swing.

I am getting ready for the farm tour on July 8th. It is going to be the same weekend as the Strawberry Festival, and I hope alot of folks come for both events. More herbs will be ready by the July farm tour, but the end of July through August is when it will be really in full swing. I will plan another tour in early August.

I am also still in the process of figuring out the West Seattle Farmer's Market scene. I think it is full until the fall, when veggies taper off. I will go there with my flyers and explain what I am offering with my share program instead of bringing the whole booth. That way I can go to yoga class on Sunday morning, and then head over there with my flyers and maybe some tinctures and oils in a small box or something (waterproof). We will see. But it looks good for the market on Vashon, and I think I will be able to sell there until the end of the market in October.

May 25th-
I graduated from WSU Farm School today! I took the WSU Small Farms program "Tilling the Soil of Oportunity" and it was great! We learned how to write and implement a business plan for our farms. Kudos to Dave Muehleisen & DeAnna Burnett-Keener for their important work.

May 15th-
I had my plant sale Saturday, and it went pretty well. I met some cool people, saw some friends and had a nice day. Then, Sunday I set up a booth at the West Seattle farmer's market and met even more people and sold a share to my farm! I am very excited to see so many people at the farmer's market, and hope to be able to sell there more through the summer.

May 4th -
I am getting ready for an herb sale on May 13th at 2310 SW Willow St. in West Seattle. That is the date of the large neighborhood garagesale organized by this ama
zing organization Megawatt. They energize people and community to improve the quality of life in West Seattle. I have been potting up plants this week and will continue through this week. I traded work with my neighbor and she tilled a portion of the field that has not been planted into yet. I made 6 new rows, and am waiting for them to dry out so I can comb through for weeds. I plan on planting Calendula in some, and Basil in at least two. I will transplant some of the older plants that need their own rows as well. Well, I am off to the farm!

April 26-
I planted a bunch of seeds to feed us through the year. We will grow our food out on Vashon along with the herbs, and we will put up the food for the winter in the fall. I planted Pumpkins (3 kinds), Squash (3 kinds), Zucchini, Brussels sprouts, Brocoli ( I can't wait to be choppin...), and 3 kinds of Tomaoes, 2 kinds of Basil, and 2 kinds of Cucumbers.
I will start planting in the borrowed greenhouse this weekend. I have some of the irrigation figured out, and am testing the flow and tempting some weeds before I seed. I have transplanted some more herbs to sell at the farmer's markets and will do some more this week.

April 11 -
I can't believe how busy I have been. I have not updated this site. I have been planting seeds of chamomile, calendula, pepperment, and catnip. I have divided plants, and cleaned out an old messy greenhouse near the farm. I just today laid the irrigation tubes. I need to fit a misting attachment to the set upand the timer and filter and pressure regulator. I will start some seeds of the heat loving plants like Basil, Gotu Cola, along with our food like tomatoes, eggplant, & peppers.

I am planning a sale to coincide with the West Seattle Garage Sale on May 13th.

February-
I just ordered seeds and am trying to figure out where I will plant them all! I have a small propagation area at my house, and will plant the seedling out on the farm when they are big enough. I also plan to prepare more of the rows for starting plants from seed right in the field. This is an exciting, anticipatory time of year, when you kind of just have to wait until the land is ready to accept the work. (It is frozen right now).
This year I am going to be at the Vashon Farmer's market on Saturday, and the West Seattle Farmer's Market on Sunday. In the spring I will sell little transplantable plants and window boxes, dried herbs, salves, scented oils; and in the summer, I will include fresh herb by the pound, as well as a CSA farm share, weekly delivery of medicinal and culilary herbs. I hope to find another CSA that wants us to include our herbs in their box of greens.

November-
I have been busy harvesting the roots of Echinacea and Marshmallow and the leaves of Thyme. I already made one beautiful tincture of the Echinacea, and Thyme. Some of the Marshmallow is drying in the electric dryer, and the rest is waiting to become cold medicine.

It has been quite a nice growing season this year. The plants on the farm are putting their energies into their root systems and storing up for their spring time re-emergence.

I am planning for next growing season already. I just harvested echinacea and marshmallow roots and replanted over 100 new plants from the budlets. Also I am getting the new beds ready to be planted right into the ground in the spring. I also am going to build a processing shed and a hoop house.

In September I completed a grant proposal for the USDA. They are funding projects through the SBIR program and I hope to be one of them. I want to use the money to market the Medicinal Herb CSA program. I hope to eventually be growing specifically for clients who need certain organically grown herbs. As you might imagine, I am quite excited about this next step in the farm plan. I found that I really didn't know what to grow when I went to order seed for the next year. I would love to be able to pour over these catalogs with my customer base, and then share the harvest with them in the following seasons. I know that with the right networking, I will find my niche.

The farm tour with the Washington chapter of the American Herbalist Guild on Sunday July 24th went very well. I will be hosting another tour later in the Summer or early Fall. I met many wonderful herbalists and students of herbalism. It is inspiring to meet people who know about herbs, share stories of healing with herbs, and hang out with the plants. I enjoy seeing people come to a greater understanding of the whole plant after finding one of their favorite herbs growing. Sometimes the plants speak to us in colors or textures, and reveal a side of themselves that we can't know as an oil, a tincture or a dried plant part.

July 27th - I planted some of the plants started this year from seeds Sunday after the farm tour. (It was way too hot during the day to plant them Sunday.) The hot weather this week took a toll on them, but I soaked them several times during the day, and in the evening before I left. Today I planted some more motherwort and self heal. I also harvested lots of yarrow flowers, thyme, hyssop, and self heal. I will make tinctures and oils with those tommorow. I picked echinacea for bouquets as well.

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