From drought to rainforest. Recent thunderstorms, on top of months of above normal rain, have flooded the farm. Five more days of rain are predicted this week. Half of the farm is ponding and the other half is just too wet. We have no place to set up tables, park cars, and too much foot traffic on the wet soil would have a negative impact on our our pastures. We will have to work with Greenhouse Catering to get a new date, hopefully in late May.
On a positive note the sheep are very happy with the grasses and crimson clover. We are doing a trial of water chestnuts this year–good choice.
On Sunday May 24, in conjunction with Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, we will have an open house, farm tours, and a lunch, provided by Greenhouse Catering.
Gates will open at 11:00 and lunch will be served from 11:30 until 2:00. The meal will feature local vegetables from our farm and neighboring farms. They will be making a farm vegetable based lasagna featuring our eggs in the pasta, and some greens steamed in bone broth. Drinks will include tea and well water. You are welcome to bring your own beverages. More information about the menu will be coming soon. The cost for the event, including lunch, is $25 per adult and $15 for children under 12.
Register at TOFGA. You must register and prepay to attend. There will be self guided tours all day. We will offer two farmer guided tours – at approximately 12:30 and 2:30.
Demonstrations will include fruit tree grafting, sheep shearing, hoof trimming, log cultivation of mushrooms and possibly others. Schedules for these will be announced soon. The event will be postponed in case of rain or mud.
Cars will be parked in pastures. Therefore, we cannot host the event if conditions are too muddy. Please wear appropriate clothing and closed toed shoes. This farm is a wooded, natural location and is habitat to snakes, spiders and other wildlife. Do not pick up logs, wander into underbrush or take other unnecessary risks. No pets please.
We will discuss the biological system, various systems being used by others, possible fish and other aquatic life, various organic feed options, pumps, stocking rates and growing bed sizes. We will talk about the types of plants that do best, the nutritional information of aquaponic fish and vegetables, types of media for the beds, and what you are eating when you buy grocery store fish. This class is for the backyard aquaponic operator and we will go through the construction of a simple, inexpensive system. We will put together an IBC system, a simple to build system that will cost you around $250 and can yield 50 pounds of fish annually and lots of vegetables on a 4′ x 8′ footprint in your garage or backyard. This class will come with a complete parts list and written instructions.
Workshops begin at 2:00 in the afternoon and will last until about 4:00. The cost is $45 per person. sign up for class or contact me by email. You will have the opportunity to purchase an IBC system without the fish, water, media and plants. Classes are limited to ten people. Most of the class is outdoors.
We have tomato plants for sale. These plants are planted from organic seed into a soil that I prepare from mulch and compost with minerals added. They are sold in 3 1/4″ square pots and are available at the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, 8:00 until 12:00, and at the Home Sweet Farm Farmers’ Market, in Brenham, on the first and third Sundays, 11:00 until 3:00.
All these tomatoes are indeterminate, meaning they will keep producing and keep growing until the heat and diseases kill them. Therefore, all but the “tumbling tom” need stringing or caging. They can reach 6 feet and higher if you provided the support. Three are heirloom, meaning they grow true from seed and have been proven over many years, passed from generation to generation, and three are F1 hybrid, meaning they were intentionally crossed from two parent varieties and are first generation. None are GMO. The “days” is the estimated number from transplanting until first fruit. The timing is dependent on weather and luck.
This year we are growing the following:
Beefsteak –Considered the original heirloom “Beefsteak” tomato. An old-time favorite that has been popular for many years due to it’s excellent productivity and wonderful taste. It produces lush, thick, indeterminate, regular-leaf, tomato plants that yield from vigorous vines, 4 to 5-inch, slightly ribbed, bright-red tomatoes that have spectacularly delicious, sweet flavors. This tomato’s excellent taste and meaty flesh make it an ideal tomato for eating fresh or cooking, for slicing into sandwiches, using in salads or for canning! – Indeterminate – Heirloom – 85 days
Black Krim –Originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union. This rare, and outstanding heirloom tomato yields 3-4″ slightly flattened dark-red (mahogany-colored) slightly maroon, beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. Green gel around seeds. Fantastic, intense, slightly salty taste. In spite of where they came from they grow well in the Texas heat. Indeterminate – Heirloom – 75 days
Costoluto Genovese –Italian, heat-loving, heirloom tomato that has been enjoyed for many generations along the Mediterranean. Large, deep-red fruits have a singularly fluted profile, are deeply ridged, and heavily lobed. Meaty, full-flavored, slightly tart, and delicious. Because of its scalloped edges, perfect for use in an arrangement of different colored sliced tomatoes. Makes a rich and pungent pasta sauce. Indeterminate – heirloom – 78 days
Juliet –A small plum F1 hybrid, Juliet is one of the heaviest producers we have found. The 2″ long, 1.5 oz tomatoes are perfect for salads, sun drying, cooking or eating off the vine. One of the most disease resistant. Indeterminate – 60 days
Sungold –Exceptionally sweet, bright tangerine-orange cherry tomatoes that are 3/4″ to 1 1/4″ in diameter. These are by far my best selling plant and fresh tomato every year. They are best eaten raw in salads or as a snack. F1 hybrid – Indeterminate – 57 days
Tumbling Tom –For years people have asked if we carry this tomato and this year we have decided to try it. Here is an explanation of it from “Totally Tomato”. This magnificent variety cascades to 20″ or more, making it ideal for hanging baskets and container gardens. Sturdy, evenly branched plants are loaded with juicy, 1 to 2″ fruits, perfectly sized for snacking and salads. A true ornamental that may seem too pretty to pick, but one sweet bite will have you coming back for more. Indeterminate – F1 hybrid – 70 days
Prices are $2.50 each, a half flat of nine plants for $20.00 and $35.00 for a full flat of 18. Mixing and matching is permitted.
For commercial growers, orders of 100 plants or more, picked up at the farm, and sold in full trays are $1.00 each.
Our seasonal lamb will be available at the market for the next few weeks only.
We raise Gulf Coast Native Sheep, a breed known for its heat tolerance, parasite resistance and exceptional flavor. The meat of the Gulf Coast Native Sheep is so exceptional that it is listed on the Slow Food Arc of Taste.
Our lamb are pastured all the time. We practice rotational grazing on diverse pastures that provide a choice of grasses, brassicas, forbs, honeysuckle, beautyberry, tree leaves, and much more. We call this “forage fed” because they hunt out and eat what they need at that time. When we move them to a new location they might all start eating acorns voraciously for 15 minutes and then run to the honeysuckle before settling to a long graze on the many grasses we have in the pasture. We plant seasonal cover crops to supplement the native grasses and fertilize with compost tea. We never spray herbicides or pesticides.
Our sheep graze in small movable net fenced paddocks and are moved to a new location every other day. Their manure is left behind to fertilize the pasture as they move to a new nutritious dinner. Moving them often like this is good for the soil as they grind their manure into the ground, good for the grasses, because they eat quickly, not overgrazing a single species, and good for the sheep, because they get a diverse diet and do not spend much time in the same place with the same food and. They are fed supplements like salt, sulfur, kelp, magnesium, etc. These supplements are fed free choice and come from Coyote Creek Organic Feed. The lambs are never fed grain. Due to their unique parasite resistance, we have not had to deworm our lambs.
Forage fed lamb is lower in fat and calories, yet higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a much higher rate of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Lamb is an excellent source of zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and carnitine.
Peppers need a very warm soil in order to germinate, so we usually build a box with a heater or some light bulbs in the box. The box needs to be insulated so I insulated my box with wool, of course. I used unsustainable styrofoam for the lid lid that goes on top.
We are growing aji dulce peppers, 3 different types, and a few of the heirloom peppers New Mexico State University got out of the national seed bank. And yes, my peppers will be late this year. I should have planted them about Christmas.
On Sunday, February 8, 2015 I will be teaching a fruit tree management class.
We will discuss chill hours, root stock, grafting, planting, variety selection, soil reports, soil amendments, fertilization, pest control, compost tea, beneficial insects, pruning, and a lot more. All information will be presented from a holistic, organic perspective.
We will plant fruit trees, berries, and muscadines. We will prune fruit trees and vines.
This class will not include production of annual fruits like tomatoes, melons and strawberries.
Class is from 2:00 until 4:00 and costs $45.00 . sign up for class