Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happiness is...

Happiness is... 905# of Organic "Wonderful" Pomegranates at 34 degrees for Frog Hollow Farm's Happy Child CSA, Persian Banana Pumpkins & Buddha Hand Citrons for the Penny Ice Creamery, an abundance of Hass Avocados, jars of tomato sauce canned for the winter, the salty crunch of freshly cured Manzanillo olives, wet dog noses, baby tree frogs, and even a fuzzy tarantula stealing cat food!

ps- The hunt for the best burrito in Santa Cruz is over... Vivas Organic Mexican Food takes the title hands down, and there's a reason that guacamole tastes so fresh!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer ~> September

Yet again our summer has come and gone without a blog post. As the above photos attest, this was not our intention, but such is the blissful haze of summer: nights are quickly days, days blur with nights... And thus September, both children are back to school, and the time and space to empty a camera's flash card presents itself. Enjoy!

PS- Santa Cruz residents can enjoy our Organic Hass Avocados exclusively at Staff of Life Natural Foods Market! A loud shout out and thank you to Kitty and the entire Staff of Life produce team for being such great supporters of local farms and farmers.

PPS- There was a nice mention of us early this summer in a Modern Farmer article about the Penny Ice Creamery.

Monday, May 20, 2013

When the Circus Comes to Town...

We rolled out the heirloom tomato big top this weekend. I always enjoy the carnivalesque nature of the production... sledgehammer pounding the sleeves that anchor our tension wire posts. We plant each rootball a foot deep to encourage adventitious rooting from their stems.

We did a few things differently this year, hopefully improving on experience. First, we planted our San Marzano paste tomatoes in the western-most row. Traditionally, some heirlooms on the west face of our planting get sunburned. Not only will the paste tomatoes be less susceptible to this issue, even if there is some sun scald, it will not effect our yield since these will all be sauced anyway. Another thing we did differently this year was to shuffle our varieties rather than planting each variety with its kind. That way, should one bed out-perform another, each variety is sure to be well-represented in the mix. Also, in addition to the heirlooms, we planted Johnny's epic Sun Golds on the ends of the middle two rows for the children's enjoyment!

Without further ado, our heirloom varieties for 2013 (in the rotation order in which we planted them)~>

Virginia Sweet
Gold Medal
Marvel Stripe
Dagma's Perfection
Mortgage Lifter
Paul Robeson
German Pink
Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain)
Ananas Noir
Sunset's Red Horizon

With a sunny 88 degrees today, the race is on like Donkey Kong to the tops of their cages!

Friday, May 17, 2013


We harvested our Encore Mandarins this week. They are our final commercial variety of citrus for the year, although we're still enjoying an abundance of stragglers.

Our summer crops are enjoying this warm spring. Tomatillos, basil, pumpkins, beans and sunflowers have germinated and are taking off. Onion and kale transplants are in the ground, and 84 holes for heirloom tomatoes are dug and prepped with compost. We will transplant them tomorrow. They are already 2.5' tall in their 4" pots!

Interestingly, we had a fantastic set on our stone fruit this year, particularly the Italian Prune Plums, but a very weak set on our pears. Gigantic pears it is. Grapes, kiwis, avocados, citrus, persimmons and pomegranates are flowering now, and all are loaded with bees.

Next up Hass Avocados!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's Growing On

Despite the unseasonably dry weather we've experienced this spring (32.30" ytd), our plants are truly on their horse. We had a wonderful spring flush all around after successfully fertigating our trees with California Organic Fertilizer's Fish Gold 5-1-2 using our 885x Mazzei injector. We've also applied Phytaset QC (Liquid Calcium & Boron) to our kiwis, grapes and pomegranates to enhance fruit quality, size and storability. We will continue applying both in splits until our fruit has fully sized.

We completed our harvest of Gold Nugget Mandarins this week with a season total of ~600#. They went to Little Bee Pops, The Picnic Basket, and Frog Hollow Farm's Happy Child CSA. We're also nearing the end of our Genoa Lemon harvest for the year. We've picked and shipped over 500#s to date. Many thanks to our local and Local Harvest customers!

In other news, we were featured in the Community Alliance for Family Farmers' (CAFF'S) E-Newsletter this month. We are grateful to Ashley and Sadie for including us in their Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaigning and for assembling a Production Proposal for us.
Grow on!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In Bloom (Our 100th Post!)

Our Genoa Lemons are off-the-hook delicious right now. We delivered 3 cases of them to The Penny Ice Creamery today. Last year they made an outstanding sorbet with them. They are now available for purchase from Local Harvest as well. Recently, The Penny made a Cardamom Orange ice cream made from our Washington Navels that was so good that I must confess to eating the entire quarter pint Nancy brought home for me in a single sitting.

While we're still hurting for rain, we have had quite a colorful spring around here. The flowers are enjoying the warm nights and warmer days. We've already broken 80 degrees on a couple of occasions. Although it's tempting to start planting things out, we have our fingers crossed for some heavy April showers.

In other farm news, we are switching from solid to liquid fertilizer on the majority of our trees. We hooked up four different fertigation stations and can move our Mazzei Injector from one grove to another via camlock fittings. While the liquid is a bit more expensive than the pellets, the time and energy saved in applying it will more than cover the cost. It will also allow us to be more precise and timely with our applications.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tastes of Spring

Last week we delivered 90# of Meyer Lemons to The Penny Ice Creamery, and then picked the remaining 1150# for Frog Hollow's marmalade, bringing us to a total of 2550# for this year's harvest...not too shabby for 3 year old trees!

Today we harvested our crop of Tango Mandarins, which will be made into marmalade for The Picnic Basket. Tango is a relatively new release from UC Riverside. It is a seedless mutation of the renowned W. Murcott Afourer Moroccan Mandarin. They bought more Washington Navels for their fresh squeezed orange juice too.

In other news, our Genoa Lemons are ripe. Genoa is an heirloom Italian lemon, first brought to California in 1875. It has a zesty rind and classic old-world lemon taste. They are available for local pickup at $2.00/#, and we will be listing them on Local Harvest soon. Our first crop of Xing Xiang Chinese Oranges is nearing maturity as well.

The high pressure ridge over the Gulf of Alaska has persisted in pushing moisture east since our last update. Our first rain in two weeks is falling as I type this. Though our grapes are just leafing out and our Italian prune plums are in full blossom, we welcome it with open hearts.

One final note, the Brekenridge Brewery is currently holding a naming contest for the Belgian whitbier they made with our Buddha's Hand Citrons. You can read about it in the Denver Post (they posted some hilarious photos of the brewing process as well) and can submit your entry here. The winner receives a year's supply of beer and other assorted prizes... must be 21 to enter!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Darling Clementines & Buddha's Brew

We did a ton of business last week, literally.

First we sent 90# of Washington Navel oranges to The Picnic Basket. Order orange juice.

Over the weekend, we picked 1200# of Meyer Lemons for Frog Hollow's Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Farmer Al's returning next Wednesday for another load... pretty incredible when you realize they hand-process all the lemons.

Then we harvested 725# of our Algerian Clementines for New Leaf Community Markets Westside location. They can be found in pyramids at the front of the produce section.

And finally, we packed 40# of Buddha's Hand Citrons off to Brekenridge, CO to the Brekenridge Brewery. I'm stoked to see the label they come up with for their Buddha's Hand Brew!

In the meantime, the plums are already flowering, the pomegranates are leafing out, and our tomato starts are seeded in their plug trays. January/February's high pressure ridge held off the humidity until this weekend. We finally got .34" of rain today, which more than doubles what's fallen all month and brings us to 29.03" on the year. Hopefully the total will double by this summer.

The uncertainty over this year's rainfall has led us to turn our CSA customers over to Route 1 Farms this year. They are a much larger operation and are much better suited to cope with climactic fluctuations. We have known Jasmine and Jeff for a long time, and are happy that they will continue to make high-quality, locally-grown, organic produce available to mountain residents. We will provide our fruit and other specialty crops to CSA members through them this summer. Please visit their website directly to reserve your share now!

Here's to a long, wet spring!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Citrus is On!

Our Algerian Mandarins are ripe. We harvested 150# of them this week for The Penny Ice Creamery. Algerian is the classic "Clementine," and it's taste and texture remind me of my childhood. We also sold The Penny a case of Bergamots. I've got my fingers crossed for an Earl Grey Bergamot Ice Cream.

We still have Buddha's Hand Citrons in season. They are terrific as candy or jam. They are available for both local pickup and mail order. Please contact us if you're interested.

In other news, our ducks are now three weeks old. They have progressed from their starter feed to their grower feed and are putting on feathers through their fuzz. We let them out for longer stretches each day under the watchful eye of Sartaj. They are still quite vulnerable to hawk and cat predation. As their "peeps" turn to "quacks" the later should be deterred.

Our baby koi pond is teaming with California Coast Range Newts (Taricha torosa torosa), as it does every year at this time. I just looked into their historical biogeography and found the following on Amphibiaweb: "Based primarily on mitochondrial DNA evidence, [Tan and Wake (1995)] propose that Coast Range newts and Sierra newts differentiated about 8 million yr ago (mya), when Sierra newts existed in the uplifting central Sierra Nevada, and Coast Range newts inhabited the present day San Diego area. Roughly 5 mya, Coast Range newts expanded their distribution north to Monterey, while Sierra newts spread north and south in the Sierra Nevada. Only relatively recently, after the central California inland sea subsided, did Coast Range newts expand north of Monterey to their current distribution." I also learned that they live up to 20 years and have a strong homing instinct to return to the same places to mate each winter, in one study from over two miles away! It's very cool to think we may be observing the same animals year after year.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Satsumas & Pie

It was a truly wonderful weekend on the farm: 72 and sunny every day. The Narcissus are in bloom, and all of the spring bulbs are pushing.

We moved our 2 week old ducks out to their coop. They had outgrown the brooder we had set up in our living room. They are too small to turn out unattended on account of the cats and hawks, but we take them out to graze every day.

Yesterday they joined us on the Citrus Slope, as we harvested 450# of Owari Satsuma mandarins for New Leaf Community Markets. They are currently available at their Westside and Capitola locations.

Today we made a pie with pumpkins from our stash and ate it with The Penny's riff on our kiwis. It is divine, as is the Meyer Lemon Poppyseed made with our lemons that's also currently available! Yuzu and Owari Satsuma flavors coming soon...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Darling Ducklings

We've had the ducklings out on the lawn the past couple of days. They were quite unsure of themselves at first, but were splashing happily by the end of their session today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another Week, Another Harvest...

If you're in Santa Cruz and looking for dessert, you picked a good week. We delivered a case each of Buddha's Hand Citrons and Yuzus to Ristorante Avanti today. The Penny is fashioning a Yuzu flavored ice cream as well. They are also working their magic on a couple of cases of Owari Satstuma Mandarins. The scoop is that last week's kiwi ice cream is off the hook too. It should be in the bins by next week or so. In addition, be sure to ask for fresh Meyer Lemon lemonade and keep an eye out for our Bearss Limes if you visit The Picnic Basket when they re-open this weekend. 

In other news, it's been cold and dry around here lately. An arctic blast brought us lows of 34 degrees a couple of nights ago. Brrrrrrrr deluxe, but we're grateful that there was no damage to fruit or trees. Psyched to get back to the mid-60's by the weekend. Our ducklings have doubled in size over the past 7 days. We had to replace all of the shavings in their brooder this morning because they went a bit bonkers and repeatedly toppled and dumped their quart sized waterer last night. We stepped them up to the two gallon waterer after the renovations.

Fuzzy and warm thoughts to all!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Colors of Fall & Winter

Our fall flew past in a blur of orange leaves and orange persimmon pulp.  Winter's rains (27.88" to date) have brought us bumper crops of citrus.  We harvested two cases of Hayward Kiwis and the season's first case of Meyer Lemons for the Penny today.  Our mandarin harvest begins next week with the Owari Satsumas.

We also picked up a half dozen, downy yellow, day-old Pekin ducklings from Metzer Farms this afternoon.  The sounds of their sweet 'peeps', pecks and fluttering are filling our living room as I type.  It's hard to believe these tiny balls of fuzz will be laying large, white eggs by Summer Solstice!

Wishing everyone a Bountiful and Blissful 2013!