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.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Chicks Come Home to Roost

They're here!


I got a call from the post office at o'dark thirty.  My chicks were ready to pick-up.  Well I was still in my p.j.s.  So I threw on my clothes and went to warm up the chicken house.  Oh no, the door won't close.  WELL that won't do.  Seems the rain has swelled it.  The door will have to come off and be trimmed.  It's dark outside, and now I'm running around with a flashlight looking for chick alternatives.  And where do all baby pets go, when they can't go home?  In the kitchen of course.  Once I had 2 baby lambs keeping warm in a roasting pan in my oven, until Leo could get back from the vet with syringes to hydrate them.

I knew right where everything was, as I was prepared for chickens, just not in the kitchen!  So I had to scope a box.  Lucky for me, my brother had just got a brand spanking new smoker and left the box near the recycling.  Home, chickey home, well until Leo comes home and takes a saw to the coop door.

There are 3 cats at the back door, saying why can't we come in and see the birdie num nums?
And what do new hatchlings get fed at at the farm?  Well they get the same thing we do,  fresh ground corn, lentils, quinoa, whole grain rice, and flax seed.  I also ran out and got them a fresh egg, straight from under one of the older hens.

These lovely chicks came to us from Sandhill Perservation.  There are some Dorkings, Ameraucana, Kraienkoppe, Rhode Island Reds, Wellsummer, and Jersey Giants.

Only 2 died en-route.  Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a.m.  The rest are bouncing around, and Zack, the original Chicken Mommy is currently chick sitting.  I'm guessing of the 25 that are here, there are at least a dozen hens.   It'll be nice to have plenty of eggs again.

"No Mountain Lions need apply".

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Isola de Este

Finally off the cob!

Oh yeah that's a lot of corn.  This is a polenta corn and there is about 20 canning quarts full or about 32 pounds.  It takes a long time to clean corn.  This batch took about 4 hours to remove from the cob, winnow and get into jars.  From here, the jars will go into the freezer for about 5 days.  When the come out,  I'll crack and then grind some every week.

And of course I get a lot of help when I'm taking corn off the cob.  To the right in red is the sheller.  Spying from underneath is Oatis.

When I get done, there's a lot of cobs and husks.  I set them aside and we use them in the BBQ.  They're as dry as paper.  Then the ashes with the charcoal go back in the field.

Of course not every cob gets selected.  These were the ones that did not make it into the seed crop.  I put all the seed from the bowl into jars.  Then I processed this lot.  They went into a separate jar.  I
will probably eat these first.

I did not select these because some were off colored.  See the purple corn kernels?  Highly dubious and all...suspected mild pollen drift from Taos Blue or Kaana Pango.  The cobs with inferior germination (spotty germ) were also not chosen.  They make a lot of chaff that takes a lot of extra time to winnow out.  Finally some of these little corns were tassel ears.  I don't know if by not keeping them it will eventually eliminate tassel ears.  I'll check with my experts.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

More Winter Planting

One Month Till Spring

Garlic & Lupinis & Favas

Well here she is in all her glory, the Valley Oak that lives in the creek.  She's putting on her new skirt and the leaves are as big as a squirrel's ear, so that means it's time to get planting.

She's my faithful indicator tree.

The soil is still very cool, so my knees tell me, so way too early to plant anything like corn, but that doesn't mean that I've not been busy with lettuce and other greens.

As you can see, the garlic is looking good.  The bed on the right is newly transplanted garlic which I found hiding in the field when we went to plant the willow hedge.

Behind the favas are another row that I'll be putting cabbages in later today.

I harvested my first asparagus yesterday, and this morning, more have popped up.

Row P here, I planted in Mizuna last November.  To the right of them are early onions.  But we all know the onions take so long that if that was all that was in this bed I'd be weeding every day.  So yesterday I planted 2 kinds of Misticanza.  One with radicchio and other greens, and one with just lettuce.   Today when I pick the Mizuna, the Misticanza will start getting larger.  By the time I harvest the Mizuna again, the Misticanza should be just about full grown and ready to pick.  Each of these should give 2 pickings unless the weather turns abysmally hot.  Please no summer in early spring.

Joseph's turnip greens need thinning!  I also planted these in November, so we should be eating these soon.  In the bed next to them are also raddishes that need to be harvested.

There's also a couple of cabbages lingering about that should be harvested, and the kale is not liking this weather, so out it will come.

The rhubarb is also up, and won't be long till it's ready to harvest.

I lost a few rhubarb plants over the winter.  Was it too dry, too cold, too hot, too many gophers?  I haven't any idea, but they take so long from seed that it's annoying to lose any of them.

Here's the second bed that I've been working on, row 66.  Note at the back of row 66 is part of the chicken coop roof that blew off in that crazy windstorm we had on New Year's Day.  We also lost a couple of trees that day.  Thankfully, no Eucy trees dropped on us.

Row 66 has carrots and onions on the sides.  But down the middle I planted lettuce, Scarlet Ohno, mild mustard and Baby Choi.

Scarlet Ohno is a turnip planted just for it's mild greens.  It did not do well for us last year, this is its last chance, if it fails to perform I'll send these seeds farther North or East.

The soil is too damp for tilling, so I can only plant the beds that Leo prepared many moons ago for me.
The peas I planted last November are limping along.  The birds have eaten them twice!

These are the lovely Wando Alaska X that I crossed.  Which I may call Skado or Doska if they turn out any good this year.  These are English Shelling peas.

I also have some lovely snow peas to plant.  Which I'll put in pretty soon. 

The leeks, onions, cress, collards, spinach, and Chinese cabbage are already to transplant.  Soon as I get them in,  I'll have another tray to start more peppers and onions for later in the season.

So many greens this year!


I received a note from Sandhill Preserve that our new flock of chickens should be here in March.  And a darn good thing too, because with only 4 hens left from the Mountain Lion Attack, I'm only getting 2 eggs a day.  That's barely enough to keep up with the morning ritual.  I have to stash eggs to be able to have enough for weekend pancakes and French toast!  I actually had to buy eggs last week.  Eww.  Store bought eggs!  I think March chickens will give us eggs by June or July.  My Father used to say, "She's no spring chicken" all the time, and by golly I know what he means now.  Spring chickens lay early, late fall chickens start laying at the same time, but you have to feed them all winter.  Now you know why I didn't replace the flock earlier.

Hopefully the farm will get a few more inches of rain before we're done for the season. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A review of Taos Blue Corn

Taos Blue on 7/13

On June 16, 2014 I planted Taos Blue.  This is a GRIN corn, PI 476868.  Its from the Taos Pueblo and it's called "Blue Corn".  I can't have a corn called "Blue Corn" because hey, lots of them are blue.

This is a flour corn, and I'm always looking for a good flour corn.
Taos Blue August 14

This is a short season corn and so I knew I had time to plant it before frost.  (Which did not come till December in 2014!)  The soil was dry, I had to irrigate 2-3 times a week to prevent wilting.  There was no residual soil moisture even in the spring, due to the drought.

October 2 Taos Blue

As you can see, there was lodging.  This corn is not very tall and the cobs are not held very far off of the ground.  I harvested this right after I took this photo.  This corn was the least productive in my field.  The Kaanga Pango and the Yellow Papago yielded twice the amount of this corn.

Taos Blue & Fusarium 
Note the starburst pattern on the kernels...Its a fusarium.  Fumonisins are a group of mycotoxins produced by fungi in the genus Fusarium. The fungus Fusarium moniliforme (Fusarium verticillioides) is a common pathogen of corn, so common in fact that it is found wherever corn is grown. Fusarium moniliforme usually appears white to salmon colored, although it may not be visible on the corn kernel. This fungus often produces a symptom on the corn kernels referred to as "starburst," or a white streaking of the kernel.  You can't eat corn with fusarium or feed it to horses.  I guess this one will be chicken food.  As part of their rations, fumonisins don't bother chickens.  

I suspect the very very dry weather, coupled with insect invasions of every known kind are probably responsible for this.  I won't be doing any more summer planting of corn.  This year the plan is to plant all four corns of the season as early as possible.   I'm keeping an eye on the soil temperature.  If it continues to warm,  I may plant in March!  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Winter Planting 2015

The Willow Hedge

And here's the last of the willow hedge being planted.  These last ones are native willows that turned up on the farm last year, so Leo cut them and stuck them in a bucket full of water.  They rooted well.  They are a pretty red color.

The rest of the willows we purchased from Dunbar Gardens in Washington.  We selected both hedge and basket types.  We hope to be able to do a number of farm projects with willow in the future, but for now this is the first of our new windbreaks.  Water loss here at the farm is mostly a result of the wind and evaporation.  We can't change the weather, so we hope that wind breaks will help mitigate for water loss.  Well, at least maybe slow it down.

In a few years, we hope to have a hedge that looks like this one at Dunbar Gardens.