Archive for the ‘on the farm’ Category

pea comparison

after the first few weeks of life there was a noticeable difference between the success of the varieties of peas. six weeks later the difference is baffling.

on the right are blue peas and on the left are tall telephone. the other varieties are doing ok but the these two are the definitely the extreme.

the blue pea plants are beautiful. there are flourishes of purpley color all over.


its interesting to see how different varieties of the same species are growing under the same conditions. theres not much variation among the fava plants (they are all doing pretty well) but the blue peas i got from baker creek exploded out of the ground with 95%+ germination and are continuing to grow at an astonishing rate. the other varieties of peas – not so much. a variety of pea called lincoln that i got from baker creek had about 50% germination and those that did germinate don’t seem to want to grow. for the peas that are doing well i needed to get a trellis in before the plants got too big. i picked up some fence-like material from home depot and cut it down to fit each bed which i think will do the trick nicely.

some of the peas started to grab on to the trellis within an hour of putting it in. amazing.

a clean slate

a few weeks ago was my one year anniversary of farm agricole. what i have learned in the past year has been invaluable. i’m excitedly looking forward to the coming year. i’m hoping to do a few things differently. my main priority is to farm smarter and work less. i’ve decided to grow fewer types of vegetables at a time to cut down on labor and to have larger individual harvests that will be of more value to the restaurant. this means two distinct plantings: one in fall and one in spring. i also plan to source my seeds from smaller companies so that i can grow some unique varities that are not available from our current suppliers.

the changes start now! i took a trip to petaluma, had a lovely lunch at the della fattoria cafe, and then bought some seed from the baker creek seed store (called the petaluma seed bank). baker creek is an all heirloom seed company started in 1998 by then 17 year old Jere Gettle. they incredibly have 1400 varieties available online and at a few brick and mortar stores in mannsfield missouri, petaluma california, and most recently wethersfield connecticut. i got some really interesting stuff – purple fava beans and blue peas to name a few. i’m looking forward to seeing how they do.

in the middle of october i started my fall/winter veggies. i stripped everything out of the garden, prepped the beds, and planted two different varieties of fava beans in five beds and four different varieties of peas in four beds. it was a lot of work. i wish i’d had a helper.

it looks so tidy. come springtime 2012 i should have an abundance of legumes to supply the restaurant. i then plan to plant all my summer crops. let the selecting begin…

a light tomato harvest

sungolds and washington cherry tomatoes

the restaurant has too many tomatoes to take any of mine at the moment so i’ve got to hold back. hopefully there will be some on the menu soon.


some squash emerged overnight. this is the first of the summer crops.  i planted four different varieties of squash in one bed: yellow straightneck, raven zucchini, zephyr, and cocozelle. it will be interesting to see which is the most prolific.

i’m particularly excited about these guys. the “race car of the vegetable garden” !?!? they were the first to emerge so they’re off to a good start. it seems like the more you pay for seed the better they are. i should test this theory someday.

soil test

i’ve been meaning to do a soil test ever since farm agricole got started. after a serious bout of procrastination i got all the soil test info i needed from my friends at alemany farm. for $15 i got the pH, Buffer pH, Extractable Nutrients, Extractable Heavy Metals (e.g.. Lead), Cation Exchange Capacity, and Percent Base Saturation analyzed plus a determination and interpretation of the Percent Organic Matter in the soil. what a bargain. i used the university of massachusetts amherst soil and plant tissue testing laboratory.

all of that seemed like nonsense to me at first but the results came with lots of information about what all those numbers mean. the good news is that the soil has very low levels of lead and other toxic heavy metals (yay!). the bad: low levels of Nitrogen and a high pH. i should be able to fix these issues easily with some amendments. potassium and phosphorus levels are super high and there is a good amount of organic matter. cupertino makes some good soil! not surprising seeing as this place used to be all orchards – ever wonder where apple computer got their name?

salad struggle

my bed planted with lettuce and arugula is not doing too well. the seeds were sown on valentines day so the plants are now 80 days old. a botanical interests brand seed packet i have for wild arugula suggests 30 – 45 days before the plant reaches maturity and can be harvested. my plants are about 6 inches tall with just a few leaves on them and have started going to seed. something is not right.

i’ve never tried to grow arugula so i can’t compare these to anything. i know you are supposed to harvest leaves from the plants when they reach a certain age to encourage them to produce new leaves and to inhibit flowering. i wasn’t doing this because there are barely any leaves on the plant! next time i’ll be more proactive. i’m going to pinch off the flowering buds and harvest a few leaves today to see if this stimulates more vegetative growth.

the lettuces on the other hand basically haven’t even started to grow. some plants are still tiny – even after 80 days. they’ve been properly watered and i have diligently pulled out the competing weeds but they still don’t want to grow.

it appears they aren’t getting enough nutrients. this seems unlikely as i double dug the bed before sowing the seed and amended with plenty of compost. they got a hit of nutrient rich fish emulsion and kelp about a week ago but that must have been too little too late.