Sunday, November 21, 2010

Seasons of Trades

Our final harvests of row crops happened this week, namely the end of the peppers. We traded 10# of Apple sweet peppers with Marissa of Casalegno Family Farm for a 20# box of real apples of assorted varieties. Our Chile de Arbol (Mexico) and Sha Ema (Bhutan) hot peppers will go to Rolando and Jennifer of Uncle Ro's Take & Bake Pizzas as a trade for a 50# bag of Giusto's Organic "00" Unbleached Pizza Flour. 27# of Jalapenos (Mexico) went to Leon at Everett Family Farm for his CSA in a trade for a case of hachiya persimmons, as well as winter squash and sugar pumpkins. While we were at it, a dozen duck eggs went to Farmer Kiki for two 4oz heart-shaped pieces of her delicious farmyard goat cheese.

With our annuals out, the last of our bell bean and oat cover crop went in. It went in just in time too, because as I was out making swaps on Friday morning, the skies opened up. We've had 2.87" of rain since, bringing our yearly total to 6.93" according to the Vantage Pro2, and the rain continues to fall. The hardest rainfall on Saturday night (a rain rate of 6.62"/hr) was accompanied by thunder, lightning and small pockets of hail. Needless to say, our cover crop seeds should be well on their way to being imbibed by the time the sun comes out next. We are also very lucky to have a neighbor so dedicated to native plants that he had 10 extra gallons of hand-picked California Brome grass seed on hand to trade for bell beans and used T-tape for his planter boxes. We will sow the grass seed on our avocado slope in the areas in which the tar plants currently dominate.

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, we made our first pumpkin pie yesterday morning and have a pair of Tofurkys on hand for the big day. We give thanks for the many successes we had this season and for our wonderful community of friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A quick update...

Daniel was elected President of the Friend's of the UCSC Farm and Garden Board of Directors this evening. He is very honored and excited by this opportunity and looks forward to working closely with CASFS staff to move the program forward. Thank you to everyone who attended the Annual Meeting, and for those who missed it, our monthly Board meeting falls on the first Monday of each month at the Gatehouse. Daniel continues to be grateful on a daily basis for the skills he learned going through the Apprenticeship, and continues to blog on a semi-weekly basis at He is also grateful for his beautiful family, fresh peppers, sunsets, and the 3.91" of rain that have fallen so far this year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall on the Farm

The blur that was this summer is rapidly receding into life's rearview mirror. Last week, we pulled out the last of our tomatoes, using the final harvest to make a final round of pizza sauce for Estelle's third birthday party. The first shots above are of the fabled Morelle de Balbis (Litchi Tomato), which was still blooming and cranking out strawberry-sweet fruits as it met the steel cutworm of winter. Images that follow include this year's abundant olive crop, heirloom pink popcorn, Doyenné Du Comice pears, and a pomegranate still ripening in anticipation of the Thanksgiving feast. I also noticed today that the leaves on our fuyu persimmons just started their turn to orange.

Following the first two storms of the year (2.82" of rain collectively), our cover crop is germinating everywhere besides our upper garden, where we still need to rip out and process a couple hundred pounds of peppers. We slice, blanch and freeze them for use until summer returns. Last year's grape cuttings put on tremendous growth this year and have yet to show signs of slowing down. The Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence' cuttings that we planted are also filling out nicely and pushing blossoms.

On the animal front, our koi produced quite a few progeny this year. Estelle had us move them to a second pond system, dedicated solely to "baby fish." At night, it comes alive with the sounds of the tree frogs, and soon the adorable coast range newts will arrive to lay their eggs as well. The ducks, cats and dog all seem happy that the heat has transitioned into fresh shoots and wet smells.

Last but not least, we made the trek down to Natural Bridges last weekend to welcome the Monarch butterflies back to Santa Cruz. Their numbers typically peak in December, but there were already quite a few fluttering about. Hopefully their numbers will parallel this year's steelhead numbers in the San Lorenzo.