Blogs

Asparagus Experiment

So this year PFI is sponsoring an experiment on a few Iowa farms that grow asparagus. We're not one of those farms, but they've kindly provided us with the plans for the experiment, and since they sounded like a good idea, we decided to just use the experimental approach on all of our asparagus, in a "see how it works" experiment. I rototilled the top few inches of our entire asparagus bed, to break up the weeds there. That's why the bed looks pretty bare in the picture at right. We then densely planted soybeans, which should smother out the regrowth of weeds and act as hosts for nitrogen-fixing bacteria, to increase the fertility of our bed. We'll see how it works. The main interesting result so far is below, where it appears I knicked the growing point of the shoot, causing its confused spiral.

Yoga and Spirituality

This Friday, June 10th, at 6 PM, we'll have a potluck on the our farm (366 W, Ames, IA, 50014), and then afterword, starting around 7, Rachael Cox will lead a discussion on Yoga and Spirituality. She's promised it will be a highly interactive presentation, so you might want to wear clothes for doing yoga in, though we won't be doing anything advanced, and everyone should be able to participate. Hope to see people there!

Cucumber Beetles


This spring, my friend Leslie brought us some melon varieties to try from Seed Saver's Exchange. One of them was Collective Farm Woman, which sounded like something we had to grow. Unfortunately, we had something of a plague of spotted cucumber beetles last week, which maybe carried a virus or maybe just straight up killed the plants, but anyway, the collective farm woman and lots of the rest of our melons, cucumbers, and summer squash have been killed. We're trying a few things to deal with this. we'll likely be replanting, as well as considering growing less melon-type crops in the future. We also have been trying out the white row cover seen in the picture above, pyrethrum sprays, and some kaolinite spray which is supposed to coat the plant and in some manner stop them from getting hurt as bad. We'll see what works, or doesn't.

Potluck this Friday: Today!

Dinner at 6, discussion at 7

Speaker: Carl Roberts, Happily retired ISU professor

Title: Whence democracy, and whither to?

read after the jump for more info!

pot-lucks again!!!!

Hello Everyone!

(if you are skimming - my summary is that there are 2 schedules in this email - 1. pot-lucks, and 2. Farm-labor-share work days. 2 events: this friday and saturday)

Self-introduction

My name is Luciano Garofalo (I go by Looch) and the Lady of the Onions pictured below is Emily Boston. We recently moved here from Tacoma, WA, to work at Mustard Seed, learn more about food, and build community with the wonderful folks here! We had previously been working in L'Arche (www.larchethc.org), an intentional community for adults with and without developmental disabilities. I lived in and managed one of our four homes, and Emily worked on our community's organic farm.

Workday, Potluck

This Saturday, I went out and planted a good portion of this year's onions with two of our new workers, Looch and Emily, spreading compost over the tilled ground, incorporating it and shaping the beds, then planting the onion starts with 1/3 cup of water each. Our farm's been busy with a lot of other things, including pruning our grapes and raspberries, planting oat-pea mix for our soil-rejuventation phase of our rotation, and planting peas, starting seeds of our hot-season crops, and several other things I am not able to remember. At this point, the weather's warm enough that there's a lot of work that can be done, and the sooner we get stuff put in, the sooner we'll start harvesting.

Potluck this Friday: Food Policy
Friday, April 15, we'll be having our April potluck, from 6-8 PM
The location will be at 804 Douglas Ave, Ames, IA, 50010, hosted by Donna Pritzingas.
Potluck dinner will start at 6, and then our discussion at 7 will be lead by John Dean, of the Iowa Food Systems Council.
John Dean looks forward to demonstrating why small and unique farms should care about food policy! The Iowa Food Systems Council's primary objective is to nurture a strong food system throughout Iowa. The IFSC is highly involved in helping to create small councils and organizations, and providing resources to help strengthen all of these smaller connections. The potlucks are open to the public, so invite a friend!

Upcoming Workdays
Saturday, April 16:
This Saturday, the day after our potluck, we'll have a public workday on the farm from 1-5 PM. We'll probably be planting much of our broccoli family, our potatoes, and the rest of our onions. This will hopefully get a good start on finishing up our spring plantings.

Friday, April 22:
As part of their Earth Week celebration, the Wheatsfield Cooperative will be organizing a workday at our farm from 3-5PM. We'll be planting much of our greens: Arugula, mustard, chard, lettuce, as well as peas. Meet at 2:45 PM in the Wheatsfield parking lot (413 Northwestern Ave, Ames, IA, 50010) to be sure to catch the carpool.

Saturday, April 23
Meet at the farm, again from 1-5 PM. Again, we'll be planting arugula, mustard, chard, lettuce, peas, depending on what we didn't finish the day before. We'll also be planting any potatoes we haven't planted yet , and preparing beds for our warm-season crops.

Community Gardening

I've been thinking a lot about community gardening lately. This Saturday, we'll be part of a potluck and event to promote community gardening in Ames, get people involved in deciding how they want gardens to progress in Ames, and also have a seed swap to get people some seeds to start gardening. I've been interested in community gardens for a while, and have recently been thinking about our farm's relation to the idea of community gardening, since we'll be at the event to talk about our farm and meet with other people involved in community food production in Ames.

Bee disease?

So we've starting feeding both hives with syrup, in order to get them all ready to start harvesting honey. However, in feeding of them, and in expanding their openings a bit more, we've noticed some problems with the hive that was more productive last year. There's this black tar-like substance (Update: probably bee feces) on all of the wood and also in the combs, and the bees have done a very poor job of cleaning their hive: there were hundreds of dead bees left on the bottom that should have been removed from the hive. I'm hoping that both of these things were just because the bottom door was too small, or it was too cold for the bees to clean the hive, and now they should be able to clean themselves out. However, it could be a bacterial disease, which will likely kill the hive. We'll see what happens, and will be talking to our local apiarists.

Update: it appears it's nosema or some other type of dysentary. I'll still check with some kind of expert to confirm and for advice on what to do, but i don't think it's as bad as if we had foulbrood, as it's something of a common thing to happen when you don't have enough ventilation in a hive during the winter or it's too cold for the bees to defecate outside.

Potluck, workday, CSA shares

This Friday, March 18th, we'll have a potluck from 6 to 7 PM at the house of Tom Heather and Heather Brumm, at 2218 Donald St. From 7 to 8, Shari Reilly will facilitate a discussion about Benedictine spirituality and ethics, and how they relate to the environment.
Come to share good food, thoughts, and community!

The day after that, Saturday, March 19, we'll have a workday from 1 to 5 PM on the farm. We'll be preparing beds for the coming season, cleaning up our greenhouse, propagating elderberry, and more!

Finally, we're still looking for some people to buy CSA shares. Please talk to your friends and neighbors about getting a great deal on fresh veggies while helping feed people at Food at First, the Emergency Residence Project, Beyond Welfare and the many other places we donate our food. Contact Alice, 515-460-1467 or Shari, shari@staparish.net or 515-509-6851 with suggestions for new share members.

Read below for some updates on seed starting!

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