Blood Suckers

Spent the late morning and early afternoon with M. at the Newton Hills Hoedown watching a couple bands perform, including one that his dad is in.  It was really a perfect day for a festival–mid-80s with a nice breeze to keep the heat from building up.

Didn’t get out to the farm until about four o’ clock, and while we enjoyed the relative peace of a bug-free late spring, the mosquitoes are out in force now. We were swatting and swearing with wild abandon at the feisty blood-suckers while attempting to get some work done.

The first project on my agenda was to mow the weeds (yes, mow them–it had got that bad), then mulch down around them with a few of the bales of straw left from Mike’s spring delivery. The mower had to be checked out first, as the last time I used it, it started belching smoke and didn’t stop until long after the mower quit running.

H. graciously did the honors while I stood there ready to dial 911 in case it blew up.  It didn’t, so we dragged it across the farm to the hill on which the squash and melons are planted, and I started cutting a wide swath around the patch, pausing every once in a (short) while to use a pole to lift the safety skirt, so the mower could discharge the wet, heavy grass pulp.

When that was done, and I’d donated more than my share of blood to the aforementioned mosquitoes, I went around dusting off the leaves of the squash and pulling the weeds that were too close to mow. In the process, I found a squash bug, squashed it (pun intended), and then added to the maintenance checking the underside of each squash and melon leaf for eggs.

I only found one cluster, which I also squashed. The patch being clean, I pulled the truck down to the main garden and loaded, with much effort, four very wet, heavy, falling apart bales of straw, dusting off all the fallen mulberries I could (no need for mulberry seedlings in the squash patch) and checking for critters before I heaved them into the truck bed.

The Western garter snake had babies (see, I told you that big one was a “she”), and there was a young one in the straw pile, plus plenty of beetles and spiders and all sorts of sprouting fungi. I hauled the half-rotten bales back over to the squash patch, and donated even more blood as I cut them open and laid flakes around the plants.

All this didn’t take that much time (though it got me plenty dirty, sweaty, and itchy), so I spent the last hour or so in the main gardens weeding around the basil and tying up tomato plants to their trellises.

The broccoli is still growing–a couple of the heads that weren’t ready for cutting Thursday are ready now–I took the biggest one and am eating the whole thing by myself for dinner, as H. headed to a party I was too tired to attend.  The second broccoli row in the east garden will have some heads ready for next week’s market.

Dinner was pretty simple–I cut up the broccoli into big florets and soaked it in salt water (removes critters), then heated some olive oil in the Dutch oven and added a few chopped garlic scapes and a couple tiny carrots too small to bunch for sales.  Then the broccoli went in, everything got tossed, and I slapped the cover on, turned off the heat, and let it steam.

At the end, I added some leftover sausage and cabbage from last night plus a little red wine, heated the whole thing through, and downed it all promptly.  We don’t always eat fancy at Flying Tomato Farms, but we always eat good!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul on June 29, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Thought you and K would enjoy this! I’ll be studying for the bar :[

    Organic farmer, author, teacher, Eliot Coleman will keynote the Seed Savers Exchange 29th annual Summer Conference and Campout at Heritage Farm, Decorah, Iowa, July 17 to 19.

    Other featured speakers include Barbara Damrosch, Coleman’s wife and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, and the one and only Mike McGrath, host of the popular nationally syndicated show “You Bet Your Garden” on National Public Radio.

    This year’s annual conference will also include workshops on various aspects of farming, a panel discussion, demonstrations, heritage seed swap, lots of good local food, inspiring conversation and, of course, the fun-filled, floor-shaking barn dance.

    With nearly 40 years experience in all aspects of organic farming — including field vegetables, greenhouse crops, rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, and range poultry — Coleman still practices what he preaches. He and Barbara operate a year-round commercial market garden, in addition to conducting horticultural research projects, at Four Season Farm.

    Coleman is author of “The New Organic Grower,” “Four Season Harvest,” and the new “Winter Harvest Handbook,” which is due out this spring. Articles about the couple have appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, House and Garden, Mother Earth News, Gourmet, Organic Gardening and Downeast.

    He has conducted study tours of organic farms, market gardens, orchards and vineyards in Europe, and combines European ideas with his own to develop a line of vegetable growing tools through the Research Department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

    Damrosch has worked professionally in the horticultural field since 1977. She writes, consults and lectures on gardening, farming and landscaping and currently writes “A Cook’s Garden,” a weekly column for The Washington Post. Damrosch is author of two books, “The Garden Primer” and “Theme Gardens.”

    With Coleman, Damrosch was host of the TV series “Gardening Naturally” on The Learning Channel. She served as a regular correspondent on the PBS series The Victory Garden from 1991 to 1992. She has served as a horticultural consultant to a number of companies, including Time-Life Books and Smith & Hawken. From 1979 to 1992, she owned and operated her own firm, Barbara Damrosch Landscape Design in Washington, Conn.

    Mike McGrath
    Featured Speaker

    McGrath offers “fiercely organic advice” to gardeners as host of “You Bet Your Garden” on NPR, with tips on everything from fending off pests to wrestling with weeds and dealing with plant pests. His vibrant personality and vast knowledge keep his listeners coming back for more, week after week. He is also garden editor for WTOP News Radio in Washington, D.C., and contributing editor and columnist for Greenprints magazine.

    Going to work as an editor for Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa., in 1984, McGrath served as editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine from 1991 to 1997, when the magazine was the largest circulation gardening magazine in the world. From 1993 to 1997, he also appeared monthly as a regular gardening expert on the weekend edition of “The Today Show.” He has authored several books, including “Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost,” “Kitchen Garden A to Z” and “You Bet Your Tomatoes!”

    McGrath enjoyed two brief stints at Marvel Comics. He was an editor of Marvel’s British line in 1971, and a writer-editor in the “Marvel Bullpen” in 1979. He resides in Lehigh County, Pa., with his wife and two children, where he enjoys his organic garden and rooting for his hometown team, the 2008 World Series Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Schedule of events >>
    Kids schedule of events >>

    Directions to the farm

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on June 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Shoot! I don’t think I can make it that weekend–I’ve already scheduled picking up M. Wonder if I could go for one day and night….

    Thanks, Paul!

  3. Posted by Heidi on June 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Sorry to have missed you at the Hoedown! We arrived around 5pm and stayed for the evening and camping festivities. 🙂

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