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Wishing You a Peaceful and Joyous Holiday Season!

The summer has been a busy one with many new and exciting projects around here on our very young evolving farm, and yes, I said “farm”….

For many years our CaMp TuRloCk homestead has been a place for family celebrations, a respite for friends to recharge with some country-time & a menagerie of well loved animals and of course home to Local Choices.

Today it feels good to say our homestead has added a new venue:  A farm!

A farm that grows our own food organically, a farm that provides a pastured haven for chickens of  Shady Oak Organic Eggs, a farm that feeds our family and beyond!

So stay tuned as we look forward to sharing with you our growth, new projects & this amazing gift of nature that is right out our back door.

In the meantime, enjoy some photos from our garden. See, we have been working hard!

(Check back soon for the sound of  happy chickens)

Growing Corn

Lavender at Local Choices

A day's berry harvestPhotos taken by Alexandria Araiza

Happy planting, harvesting and eating!

by Neal & Marie Curran

 

Spring is coming and so is our garden! Here at Nine Acre Farm, we are incredibly busy planting our spring/summer garden. Most of this work as of yet is indoors. Our plants go through quite a journey to make it from seed packet to the field. We are trying our hardest to keep conservation-intensive methods in mind even as we work indoors. We hope our process will be helpful to you as you begin your 2011 garden.

1)  A garden-ready greenhouse



Our greenhouse is small, but can fit many plants. We built tables for our plants. On two of our tables we have plastic tubing (a waste material) arched over the tables to support insulating plastic at night.  To warm the greenhouse when it’s cold and at night, we have use an old wood stove and a homemade chimney. Discarded fencing posts from the property fit perfectly in the stove. When it gets too warm in the greenhouse, the walls double as windows that lift open from the bottom.
Also, we make our own potting soil in our greenhouse. It is a mixture of homemade compost, peat, and perlite (available at most Lowes).

2)  Seed packet to greenhouse


In late December and throughout January we started plants such as broccoli, artichokes, celery, kohlrabi, beets, lettuce, leeks, brussels sprouts, and many more. Instead of using plastic trays, which aren’t always space efficient and are wasteful when they fall apart, we use soil blocks. We use the soil blocks to punch out a mold of soil. Each block mold contains 20 1-inch spaces: one for each seed. After seeding, we sprinkle our homemade potting soil over the block and water.

Currently we have begun seeding our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Because these members of the Nightshade family require higher germinating temperatures than our winter crops would find agreeable, we start them on soil blocks on an electric heat mat. This is an excellent way to get a jump start on summer crops!

3)  Greenhouse rotation

When our seedlings begin to grow out of their one-inch cubes, we move them to two-inch cubes made with a larger soil blocker. The two-inch blocks remain on the tables to be covered with plastic at night, just as the one-inch blocks. After a couple of weeks, we move them to our uncovered table. Here they begin the process of hardening off. The lack of plastic covering at night exposes them to lower temperatures.

4) The Cold Frame


After plants have spent a week or two on the uncovered table, they are moved to the cold frame outside our greenhouse. The cold frame is a wood frame on the ground with a tarp covering the soil. At night, the plants are covered with plexiglass (a waste material available to us). They are uncovered during the day but sheltered with sheet when it gets to warm/sunny. Plants spend about one or two weeks in here.

4) Greenhouse to field


I’m not going to talk much about this part, but I will tell you that once plants leave the nursery and go into the great adult garden, they still receive a little help. They are sheltered nightly with a light row cover. So far we have a few rows of transplants and additional direct-seeded vegetables (snap peas, carrots, turnips, beets, leaf lettuce, radishes, etc.) growing in our garden.

~ For more information about our farm or to join our CSA (starting in mid-March!) check our our website at www.nineacrefarm.com and email us at neal@nineacrefarm.com.


Musings by blogger Lydia of “Through the Screen Door”….

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Spring.  After so many months of cold, rain, frost, and fog, the sun has finally decided to grace us with its presence!  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wintertime too.  Warm fires, fresh bread, rich hot chocolate, savory stews, and holidays with family are all delightful.  But, by this time of year, I’m usually ready for a change.  As soon as we get a sunny day or two, I start fantasizing about warm dirt between my bare toes, and the tangy burst of sun-ripened tomatoes in my mouth!

Last weekend was gorgeous.  My Dad brought over some baby fruit trees and boysenberry starts for me.  I have begged for his assistance in my quest for the ultimate garden, as he is the master, and I cannot yet snatch the pebble from his hand.  I remember, while I was growing up, he always had a garden.  Unfortunately for me, watching him garden back then, and managing my own wayward piece of heaven by myself, are two very different things….

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The Barn Cat Program is a committed group of volunteers that took it upon themselves to give feral cats a better quality of life and country dwellers a solution to pesky mice problems!

Here is their story….

Our strong agricultural community is the perfect setting to help the forgotten felines in the Central Valley.  Barn or outdoor homes are needed for spayed, nuetered  and healthy cats!

Can your farm or ranch use a good mouser?

Are you able to provide a permanent home to a homeless cat?

All that is needed is adequate shelter, food, water and the cats will do the rest!  They will repay you by keeping your rodent population to a minimum.  They are also a green solution to avoid using unhealthy pesticides and poisons.

A feral cat is often un-adoptable due to a lack of socialization. These cats are beautiful and independent but cannot continue to love among city businesses, parks, churches and alleyways.  If you believe, as we do, that killing healthy animals is not an acceptable solution, you may be interested in the Barn Cat Program!

Program Process:
Cats are placed in cages at the barn site for an adjustment period of one to two weeks.  While caged, they become familiar with the sights, sounds, and smells of their new environment.   This also allows the cats to get comfortable with their caretaker and establish this as their new home and territory.

We will provide the cages, manage the delivery and pick-up.  A transportation donation would be appreciated!

For additional information please call (209) 502-7065 and help today!  Join the  group on facebook and visit their site!

What inspires me…

Responsible farmers who not only believe in doing work that matters but also loving the work they do.

This guest post you are about to enjoy will hopefully inspire you as it has done for me:  to show up.  Written by Anna Brown, farm manager of  the organic Uplift Farms in Ceres, Ca.  She is a young woman who believes in giving back to her community and is as brilliant, authentic and adorable as her blogging words!

 

Every once in a while, we all need something that reminds us why we do what we do.  When the activities of daily life become a blur, one sight or word or experience can bring us back to center and return things to focus.

I had an experience like that last Tuesday, and it had to do with cauliflower.  Specifically, mid way through the weekly harvest in my 1/2 acre patch of winter vegetables I found the biggest and most beautiful cauliflower I have ever seen.  This variety of cauliflower usually keeps its leaves wrapped protectively around the head, but the one that caught my eye that morning had completely lowered its leaves, as if showing itself off to the world and inviting admiration.

Yet neither that cauliflower nor its neighbors down the row were perfect in the conventional sense.  Its beauty was a function not only of size and looks, but of the way of living and farming that nurtured it.

One difference between my cauliflower and it’s conventionally produced brethren is that most of mine show the traces of one insect or another, mostly caterpillars.  But I’m willing to forgive that because I grow organically and know that farming without pesticides means cultivating diversity and being willing to share space with competitors to some degree.  In fact having a crop that tolerates pest pressure without being decimated is a success!
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