Interns, old and new

Celebrating our interns, old and new, this week! Here on the left are Neda and Alexa, University of Maryland student interns this summer. Neda just graduated and is heading to Arizona for a masters program in Sustainability. Alexa continues her undergraduate studies in the fall. On the right is Sarah, our University of Maryland intern from 2002! Yes, visiting us 12 years later. Sarah is entering her third year of vet school at Virginia Tech. It was great to get them together on Thursday and get their hands in the dirt together.

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Sweet Potato and Slip

Sweet Potato and Slip

Sweet Potato Slips 

Thank you to all who came out and helped plant the sweet potato patch. We really appreciate your efforts! I wish I took more pictures of people helping, but we were so busy, it slipped (pun intended). Share yours if you took some! The sweet potato slips were planted in record smooth time—mainly two days, plus a little. The slips don’t keep well for extended time in storage, so it’s good to move quickly. The plants look great!

Here are a few of the younger set that helped out:

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How are sweet potatoes grown?

You start with what is called a sweet potato slip. A high quality, disease-free seed potato is planted and shoots sprout out from it. These shoots are called slips, for some reason—they are a stem and leaf. That is what you plant. Each slip will grow a big armful of sweet potatoes by August or September.

We used to think the slips go through a droopy transition until they adjust to the transplanting, but we have recently discovered the cure. We set up sprinklers and keep them misted after they are planted. They love it! The plants stay perky and don’t droop so much. Sometimes a spot doesn’t get enough misting, and it gets droopy, but those slips perk up in the next day and still do great.

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Sweet Potato, the cow

On Monday, as the last few empty holes were filled with slips, we discovered we had a newborn calf in the field. The telltale sign is lots of low mooing by the herd, especially the new mom. They carry on and we check out what’s going on. Sure enough, our youngest cow had a calf with her. Appropriately enough, this cow’s name is Sweet Potato. We laughed about her giving birth to celebrate the planting of the sweet potato slips. Right away, the kids decided the calf would be named Slip.

Sweet Potato Slip, the calf

So, I’d like you to meet Sweet Potato and her baby girl, Slip:

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Farm Chi season

Nappa Cabbage is a cool weather crop, best in the spring and fall, and its my favorite base for Farm Chi. So it’s Farm Chi season! Farm Chi includes whatever is harvesting at the farm, so this batch features:

Garlic scapes, ginger (from a friend’s farm in the fall, I store it in the freezer), nappa cabbage, scallions, bok choi, kohlrabi, carrots (not from the farm this time), turnips, kale. I also added Korean red pepper and sesame seeds.

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For more about fermented vegetables, Kim Chi, Farm Chi and how Farm Chi got its name, check out my blog at Mother Earth News:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sarahs-kim-chi-zbcz1312.aspx

 

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Goat Midwifery

Goat Midwifery

When my goat was in labor, it reminded me of my own natural childbirth experiences. This story is a recollection of my goat Avi’s first birth on our farm, four years ago. No kids this year, but hopefully next year!

My goat Avi is in labor. I sit in the goat shed with her, just being present to calm her, and letting her know that she has calm company. I am reminded of birthing and babies and birth assistants. I am a goat midwife. I watch Avi’s body ripple with another contraction and remember the flow of sensation as those muscle contractions take over the body and pull the baby downward.

Her contractions are far apart at the beginning, causing a slight arch of her back down to her tailbone. She paws at the ground, making a nest—paw here, over there, sit, stand, fidget uncomfortably. The nesting activity is a sign of labor with my goats. It reminds me of pregnant women vacuuming energetically before labor. For me, it was baking lasagna. For Avi, it is hay in just the right nest shape. We all have something.

Read the rest of this post and see photos: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/goat-midwifery-zbcz1405.aspx#ixzz33J1I9BRL

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A journal entry, the farm in April-May

The tables in the hoop are full are tomato seedlings and other plants for sale or for planting into our rows. The trays overflow onto the ground, before they are planted out into the field. Now the hoophouse ground is full of tomato seedlings growing fast and strong for an early tomato harvest.

We are busy planting out so many different crops–lettuce (four varieties!), fennel, radishes, beans, to name a few from this week. We’re watching the progress on crops planted earlier–turnips, bok choi, scallions, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi and other early crops for first CSA week’s harvest in a couple weeks. CSA shares still available!

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Here are some young lettuce seedlings before they were planted out in the field.

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We hosted two large group events in April–students from Poolesville High School’s Global Ecology magnet program came out to the farm for a tour and work day. We have enjoyed working with these students over the past 9 years. But it still takes my breath to see 40 students march down the farm lane toward me on field trip day! 40 students for two mornings, 80 total. I give a little talk about our farm and organic practices. Then they divide into groups doing different tasks on the fields, some planting seedlings, some making soil mix and filling pots, some prepping the fields for cultivation. We are very organized with jobs so that we can put everyone to work quickly.

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They enjoy visiting with the farm animals, especially the goats. Our sons, Noah and Jonah, are in charge of taking them on tours of the goats and chickens. They do a great job leading animal tours.

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April also brought the annual Crop Mob, hosted by The Common Market. 30-40 people converge on the farm to get a lot of work done in a festive group day on the farm.

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April was full of extreme weather conditions. A couple weeks ago we had a few days of unusually cold weather. Phil and I worked in the sleet to protect the last of the crops that we wanted covered from the frost. Here is the lower part of Phil after that hour. His upper part was equally wet and sloppy after mucking in the field to save some tender crops. It worked, they survived!

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House in the Woods Plant Sale

House in the Woods Farm

Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale

tomato plants

The House in the Woods Seedling Sale is approaching! Organic heirloom tomato plants for your garden. We feature beautiful heirloom tomato plants. Other plants for sale as well–jalapeno peppers, eggplant, basil, herbs and some spring greens. Variety details here

Sale Hours —At House in the Woods Farm

Friday May 2, 2014 10am-7pm
Saturday May 3, 2014 10am-5pm

***USE OUR FARM LANE ON SALE DAY, on PARK MILLS ROAD***

House in the Woods Farm: 2225 Park Mills Rd, Adamstown, MD. (For GPS purposes, but there is no mailbox there. Watch for the House in the Woods Farm sign)

Contact: ilene@houseinthewoods.com or 301-461-6575.

Our tomato plants are also available at The Common Market (www.commonmarket.com). You can get a lot of other great plants there too!

CSA shares are still available for the 2014 season. Pickups at the farm, or at The Common Market or downtown Frederick. Support our farm directly and receive our fresh organic produce weekly for twenty weeks. Its a great way to connect with your farmer and your food source, and get involved. Eat this well all season! Split a share with a friend. Supplement your garden’s bounty with our variety of crops. More information at houseinthewoods.com

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See http://blog.houseinthewoods.com for photos of our plants and heirloom tomatoes. You can get the same links on Facebook at House in the Woods Farm.

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Heirloom Tomato Varieties

Here are variety descriptions of many of the plants we will have available at our Plant Sale. We may have some other tomato varieties as well, and other vegetable and herb plants. We have CSA shares left too, check in with me if you are interested.

Heirloom Tomato Varieties 

House in the Woods Farm Plant Sale

Learn more about heirloom tomatoes

See photos of each tomato variety

            REDS AND PINKS————————————

Brandywine–Pinkish red, most popular heirloom originated in 1889.

Black Krim–Dark red beefsteak with rich sweet taste from Black Sea of Russia

Prudens Purple–deep pink-red juicy slicer like Brandywine.

Cherokee Purple—–A favorite, from Tennessee cultivated by the Cherokee Tribe. Plants loaded with beefsteak tomatoes. Deep red interior flesh, rich, complex flavor.

Rutgers– From 1934 “the Jersey tomato”, red tomatoes great taste for fresh slicing or cooking.

Black Prince– From Siberia, one of the most popular black tomatoes. Rich taste for cooking or fresh. Smaller fruit.

Amish Paste–reliable traditional red roma with thick skin and less juice, ideal for cooking and canning, but sweet enough to eat fresh.

UNIQUE COLORS————————————-

Old German/Pineapple— a mild sweet fruity tomato, with red-yellow streaks to skin and flesh. Low acid, as are most yellow, orange and green tomatoes.

 

Green Zebra–A magic tomato, green with dark green stripes, skin blushes yellow when ripe. Green salsa or even green sauce! A hit for contrast on a potluck platter. Also have some Cherokee Green.

Persimmon–rose-orange, like a persimmon, fruity sweet and mild.

 

CHERRY TOMATOES————————————————

Sungold Cherry–Orange, super sweet mini tomato. A rare exception to our heirloom rule in our tomato collection, this hybrid is worth it. Our CSA members eat them all up on the car-ride home. (I’ve got plenty of these popular plants!)

Matt’s Wild Cherry–little red cherry tomatoes that grow like crazy in cute little six-pack stems. (limited availability)

 

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A Hoophouse Spring

Spring is in the hoophouse! It may have snowed today but we are moving full speed ahead with spring here at House in the Woods Farm. The hoophouse is chock full of seedling trays–heirloom tomatoes, chard, cabbage, kohlrabi, onions, scallions, lettuce, peppers, eggplants, chives, oregano, lemongrass, chinese cabbage, spinach, peas, sweet white turnips, beets, kale, and more…

We’re busy preparing for a full season of produce and first CSA harvests in May. We will continue to seed trays weekly through April. We will plant seedlings from the trays into the garden all of April and May, beginning this week with the turnip seedlings. Our turnips, eaten raw like a sweet mild radish, will surprise you in May!

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Spice beauty

 

Spice beauty…freshly ground mint from the jar of dried garden mint. The kids had fun grinding it and grinding it, but that killed the coffee-herb grinder…our ancient coffee-herb grinder is retired now.

Also ground mint, nutmeg and cinnamon together with bentonite clay and baking soda. Making tooth powder.

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Garlic as Medicine

As the weather transitions from winter to spring, you might find yourself needing an immune booster to keep your body strong. As we shed our winter coats a little too soon, and spring allergies begin to lower our immunity, we need an immune booster to keep the common cold at bay.

What’s your natural wellness aid? At the first sign of a cold, a sore throat, fatigue that hints of fighting illness, a pain in my ear … I take some raw garlic.

To read the rest of this blog, click here to go to my Mother Earth News blog:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/garlic-as-medicine-zbcz1403.aspx

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