Winter Farm Share – Week 2

Here’s the mini-share for week 2 of the winter season:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 2 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Kale, Broccoli shoots, leaf lettuce, Cabbage shoots, Spinach, Cilantro, Broccoli (center)

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Winter Farm Share – Week 1

The garden survived into January!  The first 3 days of the year temperatures were continuously under freezing, with 16 degrees as the low on the final day of the cold spell. Most of the chard, lettuce, beets, radishes took a pretty good beating but are bouncing back.  Cabbage, broccoli, kale, cilantro, spinach look great.  Waiting to see how the brussel sprouts and cauliflower turn out – still waiting on them to mature for harvest.

We actually had a share last week but didn’t get a photo.  It was a lot of lettuce, chard, broccoli, and cabbage we picked before the freeze.  Here’s this week’s share:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 1 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: buttercrunch lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cilantro, radish, spinach, beets, kale, broccoli shoots/thinnings

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Pasture Raised Pork Available – Spring 2018

Red Wattle pigs at Blessing Falls Farm

January 11 update: in less than 24 hours, our Spring pork has been claimed and reserved.  Please contact us to be placed on the waiting list.  Thank you!

Our heritage breed, pasture raised hogs were born in summer 2017.  We expect them to be ready for processing in May of this year. These are the Red Wattle breed and have been raised with full time access to our pastures where they can graze, root, run, and just lay around – to be a true pig. They are kept in with electrical fencing which we move regularly to give them access to fresh grass. Pigs cannot live on grass alone so we supplement their food with conventional (non-organic) hog feed.

As with our beef, our pigs are free of antibiotics, synthetic hormones and implants. These are not vaccinated and have had no drugs of any kind. They are handled gently, never hit or abused in any way. They were born a few miles away on a local farm that practices these same humane, natural, sustainable methods.

Pigs naturally raised on pasture at Blessing Falls

Pigs naturally raised on pasture at Blessing Falls

We expect these to weigh around 250 pounds at processing. We’ll sell them by the half or whole. A half should give you about 60 pounds of packaged pork in your freezer. You can have it processed any way you like, including cured ham and bacon, pan and link sausage, along with pork chops, ribs, roasts, hocks, lard, etc.  Our price is $4.50 per pound (plus processing costs paid to the butcher), based on hanging weight. A half hog’s estimated hanging weight should be around 75-90 pounds. When your half is ready, you’ll pick up directly from the butcher – at either their main shop in Westphalia (15 minutes east of Temple) or from their Hutto shop for an additional convenience fee. For more on processing costs and hanging weight vs. live or packaged weight, see details on our grass fed beef. The processing costs are similar to beef though hogs yield a higher percentage of packaged pork vs. hanging weight than beef does, typically about 75%. You’ll get even more usable pork from a pig if you can use the feet, lard, head, and organs.

Half Hog from Spring 2017. Hanging Weight was 87 pounds

Packaged Cuts from half hog, Spring 2017, hanging weight 87 pounds

We have a limited amount of pork this year. You can reserve a half with a deposit of $80, or a whole with a $160 deposit. Just contact us and we’ll get back with you regarding the deposit details.

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Fall Farm Share – Week 13

Here’s our share for the last week of 2017 – the 13th and final week of our Fall season.

Blessing Falls 2017 Falls season Week 13 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Dill, Carrots, Kale, Butterhead Lettuce, Lettuce Mix, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Traditional Cabbage, Broccoli, Spinach, Cilantro

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Fall Farm Share – Week 12

Here’s our share for week 12 of the Fall 2017 season

Blessing Falls 2017 Falls season Week 12 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cabbage, Lettuce Mix, Bok Choy, Dill, Cilantro, Radishes, Carrots, Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard

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Fall Farm Share – Week 11

Since it snowed last week, it seems we’re past the fall season.  However, we’ll stay with the Fall season designation through the end of 2017.

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 11 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Head lettuce, Cilantro, Beets, Radishes, Carrots, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Lettuce mix, Kale

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Fall Farm Share – Week 10

Here’s our Fall season week 10 ‘mini’ share:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 10 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Radishes, Swiss Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Spinach, Butternut Squash, Dill, Cilantro, Butterhead Lettuce, Broccoli

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Fall Farm Share – Week 9

Here’s our Fall season week 9 ‘mini’ share:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 9 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Carrots, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Beet Greens, Spinach, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Kale, Swiss Chard, Lettuce Mix

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Fall Farm Share – Week 8

Here’s our Fall season week 8 ‘mini’ share:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 8 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Dill, Cilantro, Beet Greens, Spinach, Broccoli, Mizuna, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Kale. Lettuce Mix

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Review: Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables

The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables is the sequel to Ben Hartman’s 2015 book The Lean Farm. Ben is a successful market garden farmer based in Indiana. His first book details his methods for achieving a profitable farm through reducing farm waste, increasing labor efficiency, and high productivity from staff and employees. The first book is aimed at those who can successfully farm and market high volumes of market crops but are struggling financially due to high costs and long hours. I enjoyed the first book but it was somewhat frustrating since it was low on farming details and focused on combining steps, reducing space, etc. I wanted to know more about how they actually farmed – seeding methods, crop choices, preventing weeds and pest damage, packaging the harvest and so forth.

This new book answers those questions and more. From planning your growing calendar, to bed preparation, composting, starting seeds, transplanting, weed management, and customer sales this is a fairly complete guide to successful farming. This shows how Ben and his team achieve the abundance that they must manage “lean” in order to make a profit and support their family and several employees. Several case studies on some of the more important crops really bring everything together so you can envision how the growing AND the “leaning” work in practice.

Throughout the book, Ben reminds the reader that this is not a how-to book but rather should help develop a mindset to look for ways to continually improve your farm. Aspiring farmers can see what works for Ben specifically in enough detail so they can make the transition to developing a successful “lean farm” in their own community. Consider this book along with Jean-Martin Fortier’s 2014 book The Market Gardener as the two bookends in your essential small farm library. Both farmers have similar approaches and scale but there are many differences and few redundancies in the books. Any small farm grower would do well to extensively study both these successful farmers and develop a plan that will work for your own farm. Jean Martin is in Quebec while Ben Hartman is in Indiana so Ben’s book may reflect seasonality that’s common to more American farms. I am longing for a third book “Market Gardening along the Gulf Coast” that would detail success in Texas’ challenging long, hot, dry summers amidst invasive Bermuda grass.

 

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Fall Farm Share – Week 7

Here’s our week 7 share for the fall season:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 7 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Bok Choy, Butternut Squash, Cucumbers, Cilantro, Dill, Swiss Chard, Butterhead Lettuce, Broccoli, Radishes, Kale, Spinach

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Fall Farm Share – Week 6

Here’s our week 6 share for the fall season:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 6 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Bok Choy, Spaghetti Squash, Cilantro, Kale, Dill, Butterhead Lettuce, Leaf Lettuce Mix, Swiss Chard

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Heritage Wheat and Grain Experiment

We’re experimenting with heritage grain plantings. We have 4 different wheats (Turkey Red, Marquis, Sonora, Red Fife) and 1 rye (Danko) from Barton Springs Mill in Austin. We’re planting in two different field conditions and will monitor the growth, insect pressure, and harvest amounts to see what would be the best grain and what conditions are required for growing heritage grains annually on our farm.

On November 7, we planted in our normal vegetable garden area and in the field. Most were sown and tilled in. We planted one section in rows to simulate how a grain drill might plant the wheat.

All sections were fertilized with cottonseed meal and soft rock phosphate. Cottonseed meal was applied at a rate of 250 lbs/acre which amounted to 2 cups for each of our rows. The rows were all 35 feet long and 4 feet wide for 140 square feet total.. Soft rock phosphate was applied at 140 lbs/acre which is about 10 ounces (by volume) on our rows.  The cottonseed meal is a natural source of nitrogen.  Our fields and pastures also have a healthy amount of burr medic, a clover-like legume which will fix nitrogen in the soil naturally. Soft rock phosphate is a natural source of calcium and phosphorus.  The garden soil was tested in September and pH was found to be 6.8.  No major mineral deficiencies or imbalances were found.  The field area was garden area about 3 years ago and was amended/balanced at the time.  It has not been recently tested but is expected to be similar to the tested garden area, as all were amended at the same time.

For the plantings in our prepared garden, we applied fertilizers, sowed seed and tilled to mix it in. For most rows we used a tilling depth setting of ‘3’. For one row of Turkey Red wehat we tilled at ‘2’ (which is deeper than 3) and for another row of Turkey Red we tilled at ‘4’ (more shallow than 3). For plantings in the field, we tilled the area twice – one lengthwise and the other at a 90 degree angle. We then applied fertilizer and sowed the seed and tilled a third time to mix it all in. All these tillings were at the deepest possible setting, which was ‘2’ – any deeper and the tiller would bind.

All seeding rates were 1/2 pound per row which works out to 150 lbs/acre. The ground was moist from rain a week ago. No water was applied after planting but we’re expecting rain tomorrow.

Grain Planting Layout Field/Garden - November 2017

Turkey Red Wheat
Danko Rye
Marquis Wheat
Sonora Wheat
Red Fife Wheat
Turkey Red Wheat
----------------------
Turkey Red Wheat
Danko Rye
Marquis Wheat
Sonora Wheat
Red Fife Wheat

For the part of the garden that will not be planted until spring, we sowed oats as a cover crop. No fertilizers were applied in this area.

Here’s a look at the planting.  We’ll post updates as the growth progresses.

First tilling of open field, next to normal garden area

First tilling of open field, next to normal garden area (at left)

First field tilling complete, adjacent to garden area

First field tilling complete, adjacent to garden area

Weighing seeds for planting

Weighing seeds for planting

Fertilizer - cottonseed meal and soft rock phosphate

Fertilizer for first row – cottonseed meal and soft rock phosphate

seed sown, ready to till

Seed sown/broadcast, ready to till (click photo to see detail)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds in the row, ready to cover

Seeds planted in the row, ready to cover

Final row of grain planting, sowing oats for cover crop on the rest

Final row of grain planting in garden, sowing oats for cover crop on the rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second tilling on field section, crossways from first tilling. Planted garden area visible at top

Second tilling on field section (finished on right), crossways from first tilling. Planted garden area visible at top

Field area fully planted, 3rd tilling to incorporate fertilizer and seed completed. Each row has a different type of seed.

Field area fully planted, 3rd tilling to incorporate fertilizer and seed completed. Each row has a different type of seed – see table above.

Heritage Grain seeds from Barton Springs Mill

Heritage Grain seeds from Barton Springs Mill

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Fall Farm Share – Week 5

Here’s our share for week 5 of the fall season

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 5 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Spaghetti Squash, Carrots, Chinese (Napa) Cabbage, Yellow Squash, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Mizuna, Kale, Lettuce, Green Beans

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 5 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Spaghetti Squash, Carrots, Chinese (Napa) Cabbage, Yellow Squash, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Mizuna, Kale, Lettuce, Green Beans

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Fall Farm Share – Week 4

New for week 4 of the fall season: spaghetti squash, lettuce.  Here’s the “mini-share” for this week.

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 4 "Mini" Share. Clockwise from top left: Mizuna, Bok Choy, Kale, Lettuce, Jalapeno, Asian Eggplant, Lemon Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Cucumbers, Yellow Squash, Zucchini

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 4 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Mizuna, Bok Choy, Kale, Lettuce, Jalapeno, Asian Eggplant, Lemon Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Cucumbers, Yellow Squash, Zucchini

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Fall Farm Share – Week 3

It’s week 3 of the Fall season and the harvest is increasing.   New this week: green beans, bok choy, Chinese (Napa) cabbage, Swiss Chard, scallop squash.  Here’s the “mini-share” for this week.

2017 Fall season Week 3 "Mini" Share. Clockwise from top left: Kale, Mizuna, Zucchini, Swiss Chard, Cucumbers, Chinese Cabbage, Lemon Squash, Scallop Squash, Bok Choy, Green Beans

2017 Fall season Week 3 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Kale, Mizuna, Zucchini, Swiss Chard, Cucumbers, Chinese Cabbage, Lemon Squash, Scallop Squash, Bok Choy, Green Beans

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Fall Farm Share – Week 2

Here’s our “mini-share” for week 2 of the fall season.

2017 Fall season Week 2 "Mini" Share. Clockwise from top left: Zucchini, Yellow Squash. Lemon Squash, Mizuna, Kale, Bok Choy, Asian Eggplant, Cucumbers

2017 Fall season Week 2 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Zucchini, Yellow Squash. Lemon Squash, Mizuna, Kale, Bok Choy, Asian Eggplant, Cucumbers

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Fall Farm Share – Week 1

Our fall season begins this week.  We’re offering shares for pick-up at the farm.  These are ‘mini’ shares smaller than our usual full size shares, at a reduced price.

2017 Fall season Week 1 "Mini" Share.  Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Jalapeno Peppers, Asian Eggplant, Zucchini, Kale, Lemon Squash, Mizuna, Yellow Squash.

2017 Fall season Week 1 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Jalapeno Peppers, Asian Eggplant, Zucchini, Kale, Lemon Squash, Mizuna, Yellow Squash.

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Fall Shares Available Weekly for Pickup at the Farm

We have a limited number of shares available for weekly pickup at the farm east of Austin.  We’re planning a 7 week season October 4 – November 15.  For this “mini” season we’re also offering “mini” shares which are smaller and less expensive than our usual spring/summer shares.  There’s also a money-back guarantee in case the produce harvest turns out to be less than we anticipate.  Our natural pasture-raised eggs and grass fed beef are also available with your weekly share.

If there are shares available after our local/pick-up members sign up, we may offer shares for pick-up in Taylor and/or Round Rock.

Here’s what we should have in early October: yellow squash, zucchini, lemon squash, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, mizuna, tomato
adding soon: green beans
adding in later October: spaghetti squash, cabbages, bok choy, carrots
adding in November: cantaloupe, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, snap peas, butternut squash

Depending on the harvest and garden conditions, we may extend the CSA later into the winter.

More details and signup form here.

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Austin 2017 Farm Share/CSA Week 16 – Summer

Since this is the final week of our Spring/Summer season, members are reminded to return all canvas bags and egg cartons this week.

Here’s our expected harvest for week 16:

Full Share: Squash or Cucumber, Chinese Cabbage, Tomatoes, Okra, Carrots, Basil, Eggplant, Peppers, Winter squash, Yellow onion, Red onion

Half Share: Tomatoes, Okra, Carrots, Basil, Eggplant, Peppers, Winter squash, Yellow onion, Red onion

Recipe

One of our CSA members created her own version of a Moroccan Stew using the eggplant, basil, and yellow onion from her share.  (You can follow her public Facebook page here)

– saute 1 yellow onion in a few tbsps of ghee
+ diced eggplant and chopped cauliflower and saute a few mins
+ 1 can stewed tomatoes and a cup chicken broth (homemade is yummiest)
+ 2 tbsps paprika, 1.5 tsp sea salt, 2 tsps turmeric, 2 tsps coriander, 2 tsps fennel seed, dash of black pepper and simmer for a bit
+ 1 lb ground pastured pork. I browned separately so I did not smoosh my veggies, simmer a few more mins
– just before done + several cloves minced garlic, several handfuls chopped basil, and the juice of half a lemon and cook 1 or 2 mins.
Stir. Serve. Enjoy.

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