Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review of 2015 corns


Because of the drought we planted early, April 19, 2015.  This is year 5 of the drought, and we irrigated before planting!  There was no residual soil moisture, even in April.  I direct seeded 4 corns, Ottofile, Supai Chinmark, Hunhi 60 Day, and Victor Kuyuk Early.  Our corn is always planted on drip irrigation, so I let it run 30 minutes before planting, and then 30 minutes after planting.

These first four photos are from May 15, 2015,
Supai Chinmark
almost a month later.  Note the bird on the green flag just waiting for me to leave.  Bird predation
Victor Kuyuk Early
was very heavy this year, and we never did get a crop of lettuce.  The Victor was especially spotty. Birds or germination? 
Huhni 60 Day

Huhni 60 Day
The boards in the field are what I stand on to plant them.  Remember the soil is so dry, that you can sink 6 inches in just the dust!  We don't even like to till when it's this dry, as the soil just blows away.
The corn is planted on 18" centers, 24" apart and was irrigated once a week, one gallon per plant.

Okay so here we are on June 28, 2015 (Next 4 photos).
Note the Huhni is already tasseling!
Supai Chinmark        
The Victor Kuyuk Early is also tasseling.
Victor Kuyuk Early

Note the tomatillos coming up in the corn.  This variety isn't called Purple de Milpa for nothing!  Also, we haven't really planted tomatillos in 20 years.  They just live here now. 
Victor Kuyuk

Okay, On to July 13, 2015:
Victor Kuyuk and Huhni 60 Day both have silked and the corn is on.


The Ottofile continues to grow, and has just begun to tassel.  The Supai, which is a very short corn is just beginning to tassel.  To put this in perspective, those of you know me are aware that I am vertically challenged.  The Chinmark and I are the same height!  5' and a few inches.  The Ottofile is TALL! 
Supai Chinmark

At the same time the Chinmark began tasseling, it also became very dense and totally shaded the ground.  The Victory was harvested on 8/10/2016, as it dried, the wrappers began to open and the birds began to feast.  It was a very pretty corn.  I tried some out on the chickens and they went nuts too!
Victor Kuyuk

Victor Kuyuk

From 130 ears, I harvested 24 pounds of corn!  Once the birds got at the corn, the ear worms started as well.  I can never figure this out, are the birds trying to get the earworms or are the earworms invited because the birds are nibbling the ends?  I did not eat this corn, but put it all in the chicken's rations.  There was just too much damage to the corn to chance eating it.  The ear worm brings molds, which doesn't bother the chicken, fed in moderation.

I harvested the Huhni the day after.  The stalks averaged 5'6" tall with 3 stalks per seed planted.  This is not a corn to hoe the side shoots on, because each side shoot makes another corn.  This is a prolific corn, and I've grown it before.  I'll add the harvest weight here soon.  This makes a good flour corn.  Good, not great, but it is drought tolerant, and fast fast fast.  As you can see, it's already dry.

Supai Chinmark

The Supai Chinmark is a pretty corn.  It's really fat, and I really had to reset the sheller before I got these corn off the cob.  I also pulled them out of the field before they were completely dry.
The yield on this corn was 16 pounds.  It's a beast to grind, as it's very hard.  I haven't eaten it yet, but it's ground and waiting for me.

Now the Ottofile.  This is a corn that really surprised me. Hard as a rock to grind, but such a delicate flavor.  The corn in the photo was not done yet, and it needed a few more days out in the field.  The yield on the Ottofile was 20 pounds.  This basically does not have a very corny flavor profile.  It's very light.  No one could tell that they were corn waffles!  Now that's a surprise.  Ottofile, or 8 row flint is a wonderful polenta corn.   Longer to grow, longer to cook, this is the white
corn grown by the Mulino family in Italy.  I guess somethings are just worth waiting for.

Despite the drought, it was a good year for corn.  In early, out early.  By August 22, all of the corn was out of the field and hung up to dry, and the water to that field was shut off.  Nice!

Once again, thank you to the USDA Grin project and Mark Millard for making these trials possible.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Review of Papago Corn

Papago Corn

We planted  Papago on July 6, 2014 and boy was it every hot hot and dry.  It was 95 degrees the day we planted.  Every part of this soil is so dry that it is like dust, anywhere without irrigation.

July 13, 2014

Planting corn in mid summer and July is pretty late, even for here.  I prefer to spring plant everything, so that we can take advantage of residual moisture in the soil.  Note that even the weeds have dried up and crisped.  These are one gallon drippers and I turned the irrigation on the day before we planted, and then again as we planted.

August 14, 2014

After one month this corn was looking very good.  This is my favorite of all the drought tolerant landrace corns that I have tried.   This was irrigated once a week (one gallon per corn).  This was direct seeded and it was still a great stand.  Normally I plant to the field and start a tray at the same time.  If the weather is unseasonably cold I may start the whole thing to a tray.  Or if the seed is old.

September 5, 2014      
By September 5 Papago was in full tassel.  Now that was fast!  There was very little incidence of disease in this corn until the very end.  Corn ear worm broke out.  Another reason to plant early.

October 2, 2014
So here's the stand just before I picked the ears on October 2.  I like the tassels to be nice and dry before I pull them out of the field.  Of course we did not have frost yet and the weather was still hot and dry.  We stopped irrigating the week before this photo was taken.  During it's growth period I fertilized it once with fish emulsion and added compost to each plant.  Which is something I do for every stand of corn.  The compost helps hold the irrigation water.   These were planted on 18 inch centers.  There are 75 plants in this stand.
February 5, 2015
Due to the good wrapper, most of the incidence of corn ear worm was at the very ends of the cobs, which I broke off when I hung the corn.  I suspect an earlier planting would help eliminate this problem.  The bright yellow corn is the Papago.  Behind it in white is the Drought Tolerant Hickory King and to the right in yellow/orange is Isola di Este.

And here we are all done.  What I love about corn is that every part is useful.  These cobs and the dried husks we used in the BBQ over the winter.  So all that's left to tell you about is the flavor.

This is the best yellow corn flour!  Superb taste, easy to grind.  I was so impressed with this corn that I sent some to Glenn at Anson Mills and told him he had to taste this!

Many thanks to the Papago Indians for maintaining this corn and to Mark Millard of GRIN for recommending it for trial.  This corn is PI 217410.   This one's a keeper!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Favas & Greens 2015


This year I planted favas  three times.  Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Unlike last year when we had no rain whatsoever, this year  we do have a fava crop!  I didn't take any chances this year and put in irrigation.  In my previous 25 years of farming, I have never had to irrigate fava beans.  I had to irrigate them all 3 times this year.

So, this is what we know:  Halloween favas grow the tallest, Thanksgiving favas will provide seed.  Christmas planted favas are just the right height for plowing under.

Don't forget if you are eating favas, to hull the beans and then steam them and then remove the bean shell casing.

Greens for 2015

I planted a lot of greens this spring.  To the right is Senposai.  Senposai, a cross between Japanese Mustard Spinach (Komatsuna) and regular cabbage, is sweeter than most mustards and great for a salad, stir-fry or pickling.

We've been eating them in tacos!  I think I'll start another batch of these. 

Penne with Senposai & Feta

serves 4
1 lb penne or other short, chunky pasta
2 bunches senposai (about 1.5 lbs)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pitted olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring two pots of water to a boil.  Add pinch of salt to each.  In one, cook pasta until done; drain.  Do remaining preparations while pasta is cooking. Remove stems & center ribs from senposai.  Coarsely chop leaves, & blanch in second pot for 5 minutes.  Leaves should be completely wilted but still bright green.  Remove greens with slotted spoon or tongs & plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.  When greens are cool, remove them from the cold water by the handful, squeezing out the excess water. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add scallion and saute until translucent.  Add garlic & a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  Cook about 1 minute longer, stirring frequently.  Add greens to skillet, breaking up squeezed handfuls.  Saute, stirring often, until water evaporates (about 5 minutes). Place cooked pasta with senposai mixture in a large bowl.  Add olives, feta, & fresh herbs, toss well.  Season to taste.
Recipe from
 Above are collards.  I haven't grown collards in many many years.  This is a new collard for me,  Even'star from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  I'm looking for more drought tolerant, heat resistant greens.
 This is another Japanese green, at type of Choi.  It's bolting, but the flowers are edible too.  It did not like the surge of heat we just had and will have again this weekend.

These are great stir fried.  I've put in several types of chois this season, and I'll be eating a lot of them!

This one is Taisai.  I've been eating this in a version of Shabu-Shabu.

Boil chicken broth or vege broth.  Add a mixture of veges.  (onions, mushrooms, greens, garlic...etc.)  I also throw in very thinly sliced left over beef, chicken or pork (if there is any)!   We've even eaten this with shrimp, but I put the shrimp in before the veges.  At the end I add a splash of ponzu sauce (because I have a lot of it). 

 To the right here are several new lettuces and little green onions.
 More Choi!
 The chicken hospital is now closed and thankfully I have my oven back.  Sandra was over and raised her eyebrows over baby chicks in the oven.  Hey it was the only place both safe from cats and warm enough for them.   All of the patients recovered thanks to Zack and have been returned to the flock.  Here's the up and coming laying flock.  The leetle bitty yellow chick in the front giving you the eye is a rooster!  He pecks my shoelaces when I get in the pen.   Now I can get back to baking bread, as I couldn't use my oven for two weeks!

Look at those Greens Go!
This rose has taken full advantage of being next to a compost pile.  Now, this has never been irrigated! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Charming Chervil

I always love it when I find a new herb for the farm.  Here's the fennel and chervil.  Chervil is wonderful.  Fennel is one of my favorite things to eat.  But, it has to be put in baskets because it's also the gopher's favorite thing to eat.  I'm going to have to make a whole lot more gopher baskets before we get to zuke, cuke and melon season.  Our baskets from 3 years ago have finally worn out.  To the left are some of the new greens for the season.  Upland cress, and Evenstar Collards...and even a few Ottawa Chinese Cabbage.   Many thanks to Oxbow for the chervil!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Fine Tomato Season

Leo Surveys His Empire

A 'nuther long hard day at the farm.  To the right of Leo's foot is the beginning of the tomato row.  To his back left next to the herbs is another row of tomatoes.  Oh no that is not all that is not all.   There's yet another and another.   Onions, chervil, leeks, fennel all were planted too.

The weather report says it's going to rain.  Here's the fringe tree.  Look at that sky.  Does that look like rain?  Only if it's raining blossoms.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Keep Planting!

As fast as I can!

Leo always says that the day after daylight savings times the pace quickens from 4/4 time to 2/4 time.  Think Punk Rock and you'll know how frenetic things are at the farm.
 Today I started on the hedgerow.  At least one of them.  These are all quinces, courtesy of Steve, hence they are Steve's Hedge.  As you can see, Spatz is assisting, as you never know when I'll turn up a gopher hole.  That trip to Chinatown in The City.  Yes, San Francisco, is there any other? Besides yielding some interesting veges packets, and some very expensive green tea, brought one more bounty, Smoke Bombs.  Now as we all know, Smoke Bombs are nothing more than sulfur.  They don't hurt plants and they don't kill anything.  But while I was planting this row, I turned up a massive gopher hole.  This is a hedge of quinces. 

I promptly went to the barn and got a smoke bomb, lit it, burnt my finger and stuffed it down the gopher hole.  The gopher popped up  at another hole to see what in tar-nation was going on and was nabbed by a feline.  Hah ha ha... Evil laughter.  Go cats, go.  Get those gophers.  Bite off their heads and nibble their tiny feet.               

 The gophers have taken half the peas, so I will replant. Again!  This is the third time.  Gregg has sent us some lovely purple peas from his experiments, so over the weekend, I will put up another trellis, dig in baskets and plant them out.  Note in the above photo, the Fringe Tree is blooming.  So beautiful, so transitory.  Ah, spring.
 The Garlic that Joseph Lofthouse of Lofthouse Gardens sent is really beautiful and disease free.  It's coming right along.  The favas behind them are now more than waist high and we should have those before long too.
Behind the favas, the kale, broc, cauli, chard, beets and carrots are also rearing their heads.  In the background you can see the chicken cook.  That big windstorm on January 1 took the roof and a couple of the windows.   Oh boy, something else to add to the list of what must be done this weekend.

It'll be a frenzy!  Pick up the pace, pick up the pace, there's corn and tomatoes to plant.  Flowers to transplant!  Peppers to pot up.  And I need to get this chicken house scrubbed and repaired because....
it will be time to move these chicks from the little red house on the prairie in two weeks into the big house.  Yes, and I have to make it lion proof as well. 

So get out your tizzy's for me to get in.   And just think, on the East coast, they're still sipping wine in front of the fire and reading paperback novels.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

87 Degrees Farenheit! 30.55 Degrees Celcius!

Folks It's only March!

What happened to March coming in like a Lion and out like a Lamb?  We are way past lamb here.  This is "Lamb Chop!"  The wisteria is blooming.
 The potatoes are not only already planted but we've already hilled them twice!   Note the Pussy willow catkin the right of the photo.  Every tree in our yard is blooming, the oaks, the maples, the achoo.
And the rose that ate San Martin is in her full glory.

So, will there be a spring?
The mulberry is blooming, the roses are blooming.  Yikes!  June in March.