Everything has a season. The cover crops are planted. The hay is put down. The last of the trees and bushes planted. In the last 2 weeks, we have planted paw paw, elderberry and figs.
The cover crop is a mixture of austrian peas, daikon radish and clover. We’ve also planted clover in areas where we cleared brush and limbs. If all goes well there should be plenty of clover for the bees next year.
The first deep frost has come and gone. The fig tree leaves and the elephant ears show the passage of the frost. Many of the young trees we planted have dropped their leaves. It was good year and its nice to be able to take a break.
It takes a lot of help and input and learning to make a farm work. I thank everyone who helped make this year a success!
This week we had a large brush pile to burn. Camping out on the farm to made it easy monitor the burning brush pile and have a relaxing evening. Thursday morning I got an early start on preparing the rows in the back field for planting elderberries, figs and persimmon. It was nice watching the sun rise as I worked.
We were able to turn the rows that the figs, elderberry and persimmon were planted in. The first picture shows the steam coming off the freshly turned soil. We try to minimize tillage. The approach here is to turn the soil once, then run the harrow and finally the disc through it. Then a cover crop was planted. The fall cover crop consists of daikon radish, austrian peas and clover. The trees and bushes were then planted in the same area as the cover crop. This approach helps prepare the soil over the winter for the trees and bushes when they bud out in the spring. Doing this while monitoring the burning brush pile helped make effective use of time on the farm.
Every year the bees make the trek up to the mountains where they spend a little over a month at Troublesome Gap. We have a campsite on Troublesome Gap. It is a remote area and the bees have access to sourwood and locust flowers. This gives the honey a unique flavor and color that varies each year depending on how soon or late the different trees and bushes bloom.
The honey has a crisp color and flavor. If you have camped on Troublesome Gap, adding a jar of honey to your pantry is a good way to bring home some of the uniqueness of Troublesome Gap and enjoy it all year.
The goji berries are here! It is amazing that we have a small crop of goji berries this year. The goji berries we planted this spring. Our test plantings of moringa are also doing well. We have been busy putting in cover crops and working hard to improve the soil. We work hard to have great soil to make the farming easier.
The clover we planted last week is really coming up strong. All that rain helped. We were worried the storm would wash away the clover seeds but the hay seemed to help hold the seeds in place.
It was almost 100 degrees! We were very much appreciating the shade in places.
The areas disturbed by the skid steer were also areas that we wanted to improve the soil. We planted clover and native pollinators in those areas. The clover also has the benefit of improving the soil, prevent erosion and help control the water flow in those areas. The pollinators are good for the bees and other insects. The deer is a win with the deer. The pollinators and the clover add beautiful flowers. This was also a way that we could add vegetative matter (i.e. clover) under the oak trees control water flow and erosion, with minimum soil disruption under the oak trees. From a permaculture perspective, this is function stacking at work.
We placed hay on the disturbed ground to help hold the seeds in place and hide them from birds looking for an easy meal. We are supposed to get several days of rain this week so that should help give the plants a good start.
We hope to stay busy over the next few weeks preparing beds and planting cover crops.
Goji Berries – Elderberries
We harvested what should be the last of the elderberries. We had a first goji berries. We only picked a handful of goji berries, but it was nice to finally taste goji berries from our farm.
It is definitely warm out. We started the day out with a sprinkle or two and a nice breeze so it wasn’t too bad of a day to work on the farm. We picked tan cheese pumpkins and cushaw squash after weeding sweet potato beds. The first fig fruits are developing, but it is still going to be long time until they are ready to harvest. Most of the fig fruit is still at the small bud size right now. We are continuing to pick elderberries.
The moringa that we planted as a test is doing great! Getting the moringa plants to make it through the winter may be a challenge, but one step at a time.
We have started harvesting the first of the elderberries from the food forest area. I am excited to have them.
We also have sunflowers in bloom. We grow sunflowers every year. It wouldn’t seem like summer without have sunflowers to enjoy.
Our figs were decimated by the warm spell in February that was followed by typically cold weather (for Feb). However, they are coming back with zeal. We’re even seeing a few young figs starting to appear. It will be a race to see if the figs are ripe or if the frost gets them before they ripen
Our goji berry plants continue to grow. No hint of fruit yet, but very rapid growth. They are loving the warm weather and intermittent thunderstorms.
There is a plethora of crazy bugs and beetles on the farm. Having a diverse ecosystem is a win for everyone and all the plants.
The goji berry plants are really growing. Nice to trellis both goji berries plants and the raspberries. We actually sampled our first blueberries on the farm today. That was a nice treat and milestone. It was nice having a few blackberries as well.
The onion harvest was wonderful. The sweet potatoes are not planted and the drip irrigation for the potatoes. The irish potatoes are growing. It will be time to harvest them soon.
The black berries are blooming and growing. We’re looking forward to picking and eating black berries. The warm spell in February followed by a deep freeze really did a lot of damage to the fig trees, but those are coming back nicely.
The elderberries are growing and blooming. We are hoping for a nice elderberry crop this year. We had to replant some of the winter squash and pumpkins, but they ones that came up are finally starting to take off.
My wife and I love spending time outdoors. Having a farm and garden is a great way to do that. It also means we have more nutritious foods. Many of the people we have met on this journey like similar things and that makes it even better. I’m a mechanical engineer turned weekend farmer, so I’m just smart enough to know that there is a lot that I don’t know especially when it comes to farming, permaculture and food forests. Come on the learning journey with us!
We would love to share what we are learning so that you can grow at least part of your own food. It is within your grasp to grow part of the food that you eat. You can improve your food security and enjoy higher quality food in the process.
We also have limited opportunities for you to camp out on our farm, enjoying the serious peace and quiet. Sometimes we hold classes, usually on Food Preservation. Join us for those too.
Meet the Farmers
I’m a mechanical engineer turned weekend farmer, so I’m just smart enough to know that there is a lot that I don’t know especially when it comes to farming, permaculture and food forests. I’ve been heavily influenced in my love of farming and permaculture by my Mom and Dad and also by people like Jack Spirko (TSP) and Dan (Plant Abundance)
Connie has her certificate in Sustainable Agriculture from CCCC. She really enjoyed the classes at the community college and learned a lot. The program was a mixture of classes and work on the school farm. What she learned has really added to our technical proficiency on the farm.