Lining up for fall

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Red and Golden beets, rainbow carrots planted for fall.  Cucumbers still coming on strong.

We are prepping up beds on the farm for fall and winter.  Plantings of beets, carrots and greens are going in and we are working on our stale seedbed practices.  Last season we had a number of weeds that overwintered and clogged up the beet beds pretty bad.  This year we are really looking to be as proactive as possible.

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New starts getting ready to go through fall and we will see how far we get into winter.

With each new passing season we learn some more tricks of the trades.  Always trying to do things more efficient, because in the end we strive to have a balanced life.  Not just one filled with meaningful work but also one in which there is time to cultivate meaningful relationships.

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With the new irrigation in place and the cooler weather, germination has been much better.

When I first had the idea of a homestead it conjured up ideas of a place of rest, an oasis.  Often now when I look around I see nothing but work.  The grass is always greener on the other side, but how did it get that way and who watered and cared for that grass?  Sometimes it takes hard work to make that grass green and in the end is it really worth it.  Nature will always reclaim the land, our minds will always wander and in the end everything falls into line.

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The Sun, the soil and the water it needs

 

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Starts hot and then feels like fall, thanks August for messing with my emotions. 

August started off blazing and now it feels like that Fall crisp weather, at least in the mornings.  It’s still warm out there and September to October have often had some hot days of there own.  For the most part I am writing off this Summer and moving onto Fall.  There are days when you question the choices you have made in life.  Well, the first few weeks of August was filled with many of those days.  Time to regroup and move forward with planning a resilient farm in a world that will, most likely only get warmer.

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Some call it dirt, some call it soil – to a farmer it is life.

We utilize cover crops and add organic compost to our soil every season.  When prepping our beds we utilize a practice of minimal tillage, this prevents weed seeds getting tilled up from the depths.  This also helps to reduce the impact to the soil ecology by reducing compaction and minimizing disturbance below 2″.  We cover our beds with giant tarps when not in use to smother out weeds, giving our crops a better advantage and creating less work for ourselves.

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Di-hydrogen monoxide – an essential item needed when farming. 

H20 – chemically know as dihydrogen monoxide or better known as water, is the essential element needed to grow.  We use a combination of drip and overhead irrigation with micro sprinklers.  Our overhead water is as clean as it gets coming straight from our well.  We conserve water on our farm and reuse our grey water for perennial plants.  We have just excavated out our pond and are looking forward to greening up more of the property.  This will help with fire protection, growing more crops and providing forage for our livestock.

 

 

Finding balance in work and life

“There is always something to do but only so much that really needs to be done.”

~ Life

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White Wonder Watermelon.  Take the time to sit back and enjoy a watermelon with friends.

The old work/life balance is a tough one to master.  On the farm there are so many things out of my control that you are forced to accept what mother nature provides.  Sort of.  Here in Northern California we don’t see rain after June usually, and not again until October.  So we have to provide water for the crops we want to grow during Summer.

Red Sails

Red Sails Lettuce.  Growing greens in the heat of Summer is not for the weak.

It can be a lot of work to keep the soil moist in our clay rich soils of the foothills.  There is rarely a time that you can leave the farm for more than 6 hours without having to re-water a crop during the Summer.  Sure, there are timers for irrigation but if there is a problem with a timer it can mean major crop loss in just a matter of hours on a 100 degree day.

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Elenora Basil.  Slightly spicier than the traditional pesto type and loves the summer heat.

There are many days when the work is hard, things don’t go right and you lose crops -which means you don’t make any money.  As time goes on you learn and things become more efficient.  The weather teaches you patience, working with the soil teaches you respect and running a farm teaches you balance.

The heart of the “Mater”

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Tomato season is here! Black Beauty is the darkest tomato out there.

Tomato season is in full swing on the farm and we are picking some amazing specimens this year.  The Blue Beauty has an amazing red color under that dark skin and the Black Beauty just the same.  Both have very dark skin, tender meat that is mostly seedless and an amazing flavor.

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Making pasta sauce with a special ingredient!

 

We grow heirloom tomatoes and look for unique and flavorful varieties.  This year we have some amazing grape tomatoes that look crazy but have a sweet and complex taste.  As well as some Black Pineapple varieties, with a multi color center and a lip smacking flavor, that starts out sweet and ends with the perfect amount of tang.

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Ananas Noire – The Black Pineapple.  A swirl of colors awaits at the heart of this mater.

 

I love to make a homemade pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes and herbs from the garden.  With a medley of heirloom tomatoes there are so many wonderful recipes to make this time of year.  We will have tomatoes at the farmers market in Grass Valley on Tuesday at the Pine Creek Shopping center.

 

 

 

Party on the Vine

Friday night feast.  The bounty has arrived – tomatoes are ripening, basil is a plenty, and the temps are high.  The work day starts early and finishes late.  Life is good on the farm.

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Cooking with all things from the farm…

Our crops are in high demand at local restaurants and there is always something to be done around the farm.  Each day brings new challenges and excitement.  At the end of a long work day, it is always satisfying to cook a meal that is made from your own harvest.

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Stuffed squash.  

We will be offering a weekly box of produce coming soon.  This will be very limited to only 10 shares a week.  Each box will contain a seasonal selection of goods.  When in season may include: Heirloom tomatoes, Free Range Eggs, Spinach, Cucumbers, Arugula, Radishes, Zucchini, Beets, Kale, Microgreens, Head Lettuce, and more.

Send us an email at: sonofsomethingfarm@gmail.com to be placed on the list.

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Mt. Cucmore.  You really have to stay on top of these guys!  

 

 

Turnip the beets.

I have never had a fresh turnip before I started farming.  To be quite honest I never really ate that many fresh vegetables before farming either.  Sure I would eat vegetables but not fresh from the field, picked moments before biting into type of vegetable.  There is something so different from a vegetable at the store to the one you grew in healthy, happy soil.

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White turnips are sweet, mild and crunchy.

Once you taste the difference between a carrot or any other root crop grown from a local farm there isn’t any going back.  Sure, it sounds dramatic but the thing is your senses know the difference.  The senses start to crave this fresh taste because they know that there is real nutrients in these foods and the body wants them.

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A homegrown salad consisting of arugula, spinach, turnip slices, our own eggs from our small flock and topped with radish micro greens.

I’m always looking for great ways to mix up our greens to make a healthy and tasty combination.  This year we are introducing our new Sierra Super Greens mix.  This blend of baby greens consists of rainbow chard, spinach, red russian kale and beet greens.  It is truly a powerful combination of nutritious and delicious that looks great and tastes even better.  Perfect for smoothies, as a salad and even sauteed – a very versatile mix.

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Sierra Super Greens – makes ya feel superfull!

Only a few more days till our first farm stand of the season!  This coming Tuesday, June 12th (and all Tuesdays till October) from 4 till 7 p.m.. Our farm location is at 10567 Gautier Drive, Auburn CA 95602 – there is parking along the street.  It will be a hot one but we will be in the shade.  Can’t wait to see you all.

 

 

 

Farm Stand is opening!

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Farm Stand is opening Tuesday, June 12th.  We will be open from 4 to 7 pm (not 3). 

We decided not to do a farmers market this year and then at the last minute a new market opened up.  It was in a great location and during the midweek, which was perfect for the farm operations.  Last year we did a weekend market and felt we were losing out on all the fun weekend events so we decided to focus on a work/life balance this year.  Unfortunately the market has been postponed till the end of June.

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The farm is expanding, just a little but we would love to show you where you greens come from.

We love having people out on the farm to show them how we grow and to share our story.  I always like to think of our farm as a microcosm of the world – I moved home to help my dad with health issues, he had lots of junk that needed to be reused and there was a front lawn that was going to waste.  These are some of the biggest issues I see facing the world (health issues, reusing/recycling of whats already here and waste of resources) and here was an opportunity to make a positive difference.

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Where it all began.  There was an old pickup truck at this site before I started planting perennials.

I love looking back over old photos of what the property looked like before I started working on it.  Come take a look at what we have done and where we are going.  The farm stand will be open this next Tuesday from 4 to 7 pm and we will have it every Tuesday till October.

 

Starting to get the blues.

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Salad greens in rows with tomatoes trellised in the backdrop. 

Every year, around this time of the season, I start getting this longing feeling.  The feeling that garden fresh tomatoes are not that far away.  We primarily grow salad greens but we do grow a few select varieties of flavorful, unique and nutritious tomatoes.  We choose varieties based on ripening time, fruit size and most importantly…flavor.  This year we have the following tomatoes:

  • Atomic Grape – Elongated, large cherries in clusters. The color (and flavor!) is a full-blown assault on the senses—lavender and purple stripes, turning to technicolor olive-green, red, and brown/blue stripes when fully ripe. Really wild! Fruits hold well on the vine or off, making this amazing variety a good candidate for market growers. Olive green interior is blushed with red when dead-ripe. Crack-resistant fruits are extraordinarily sweet! This release from Wild Boar Farms won best in show at the 2017 National Heirloom Expo!
  • Black Beauty – a dark, meaty, very rich-fleshed tomato with extreme anthocyanin expression (same antioxidant in blueberries and blackberries). So dark that some tomatoes turn solid blue-black on the skin. Deep red flesh is among the best tasting of all tomatoes. Rich, smooth and savory with earthy tones. World’s darkest tomato!
  • Blue Beauty – a cross between ‘Beauty King’ and a blue tomato. Fruits are modest beefsteak-type slicers, weighing up to 8 ounces, and the flavor is as good as their outstanding antioxidant content! Gorgeous, deep blue-black shoulders make this unique among slicing types.
  • Black Pineapple – the multi-colored, smooth fruit (green, yellow and purple mix) weigh about 1½ lbs. The flesh is bright green with deep red streaks. Superb flavor that is outstanding, being both sweet and smoky with a hint of citrus.
  • Solar Flare – this 6-10 ounce beefsteak is red with gold stripes and has very meaty flesh with luscious sweet red tomato flavor.
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Blue Beauty from Wild Boar farms is one that has a high antioxidant content.

To trellis or not to trellis, that is the eternal farming question.  We trellis some, others we let sprawl…I guess it really comes down to how much room you have and how much time do you have.  I find that with trellising tomatoes I am able to grow more in a closer area and utilize the vertical space.  During harvest this means less work picking tomatoes as well and there is something satisfying in trellising a plant.  As to which is more efficient you’ll have to figure that out on your own.

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Nice little May shower we had here on the farm.  

Our tomatoes are started from seed in late January inside the house and the heat from the wood stove helps with germination.  Around late February to March the seedlings are potted up after having spent some time under lights to help them from getting leggy.  I move them outside to the greenhouse and they’ll stay there until they get hardened off and transplanted the first week of April.

 

 

Arugula, Spinach & Kale – three of my favorite things.

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Fresh cut arugula is delivered 20 minutes away to local restaurants and is generally served that evening.

Baby arugula is a staple on our farm.  We grow this peppery mustard green in small batches but consistently produce it almost all year around.  I like to use arugula as a substitute for making pesto.  I call this, the poor mans pesto:

  • Almonds
  • Olive oil
  • Shavings of Mozzarella cheese
  • Sweet, baby arugula harvested fresh from the field.  Blend it up and call it pesto!
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Bay spinach just cries to be eaten amidst a salad in downtown Nevada City on a spring day.

Fresh local spinach from a small farm is the way to go.  When you buy our greens or are eating them at a local restaurant we supply, you can know that they were picked and delivered moments before you arrived.  Well, maybe not that quick but we do deliver twice a week so you never know.

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Red Russian kale at the most tender of stage.

With a little morning dew on the tips of these bay kale leaves, you know that the farmer is not far behind.  We grow, as I’m sure you figured it out, baby greens.  Salad greens, as the sophisticated salad connoisseur refers to greens utilized in a salad, are best when young and tender.

 

 

Son of Something Salad greens

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Almost there little guys.  Red butter Salanova getting bigger every day.

We pride ourselves on growing high quality gourmet salad greens.  Spring mix, Arugula, Spinach and Red Russian kale are staples on the farm throughout the season.  Our spring mix provides a good mix of flavor, loft and texture.

 

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Our first little caterpillar tunnel getting those greens off to a head start.

We have plans to build several more caterpillar tunnels so we are able to grow more year around, utilize them for shade in the summer and to keep leaves from landing in the crops during the fall.  Any extra work you can eliminate on a small farm greatly improves your success.  Weeding and sorting through crops does not make a small farm any profit (it does make for a nice looking farm and product but there are other ways to mitigate those issues).

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New starts and a new succession almost every week.  Green Crisp Salanova does really well on these cool spring days.

Being proactive on the farm pays off in more ones than one.  You have to be very efficient with every task and set your farm up for this.  As a small scale farm we can mitigate weeds through no till practices, stale seeds beds and be highly productive at the same time.  Look for our produce at local restaurants like Heartwood in Nevada City, South Pine Cafe both in Grass Valley & Nevada City, Watershed in Grass Valley (due to open this Summer) and other fine restaurants in the local area.