(Pikeville (serving Knoxville, Chattanooga, Franklin, Maryville, Farragut, And Crossville), Tennessee)
A Community Supported Agriculture
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April Update from Colvin Family Farm!
Flowers are blooming all over the farm scenting the air with Spring,
strawberries are climbing into full-scale production, and it's been so
wet we've had a hard time working in the fields on "schedule"--we've had
an interesting April!
As we gear up for the market season, we're in the "what if" mode--we
keep mentally running through what crops are coming in, and what we
think will be coming in by the first week of May. It seems strange that
even though we're a couple of weeks behind our "schedule" on some of the
crops, we already have ripe strawberries, and on several crops we're
more than a month ahead of last year! Each season is different from the
other--and each has it's good parts!
Anyhow, we are excited as things fall together one by one, hopefully it
will be dry enough to work a few new fields this Monday, so that we can
transplant Squash, Cucumbers, and Melons, and seed our wheat, oats, and
main crop of potatoes!
April at Colvin Family Farm:
Our Onion patch earlier last week--they really are doing well! We hope
to keep everybody and their mother's uncle covered up with sweet slicing
onions this year!
The same goes for our potatoes--this pictures shows our seed potatoes
stacked in the back of our farm truck. We have several hundred pounds
out already, but we are needing to work another field up before we can
plant the main batch.
Caleb started working this field and--the plow broke! If it isn't too wet, something else will happen!
We found another killdeer nest--it's neat to watch wildlife! It amazes
me how they can build their nest on the ground--you wouldn't believe how
well these eggs blend in with their surroundings!
Levi and "his" flat of vegetables. He is raising his very own produce for the first time!
Celery flats. We potted these up from the small plugs earlier last week.
I love Momma's tulips--they're only pretty six weeks out of the year, but they're defnitely worth it!
Both of the greenhouses are full of tomatoes, squash, melons, tomatillos, herbs and more!
We are very thankful for our pollinating friends--this bumblebee is busy in the apple tree!
Caleb and I (Adam) drove to Mobile, AL to pickup this potato harvester
that we had imported from China yesterday--if it does a good job, it
will take one of the most labor intensive harvesting jobs and make it
We have more pictures on or Facebook page--click here
to see this month's album!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 05:20 PM EDT
Spring amazes me each year--no matter how much you're outdoors, and how
closely you watch each small change when it happens, suddenly it will
dawn on you that Spring has crept up on you again! This Spring is
definitely cool, and wet, which has set us behind schedule with working
the ground, and even set us back from our seeding and transplanting
schedules. What seeds and plants we've put out, have been slow, almost
reluctant to come up, and we are in the midst of anxious moments
wondering if things will work as they should--this time of year is
always like that, but things always seem to work fine--even if it's a
week or three late!
Thanks go to all of those who have helped us posting our flyers around
East, TN--we have really been getting a lot of interest from folks, and
we appreciate your effort! If you would like several of our flyers, let
us know and we'll mail you enough to keep you busy! If each of you gave
out one flyer, we'd have....well, lots more out there!
For a complete update, go check out our March/April picture folder
we just uploaded to our facebook page!
I hope you all enjoy this newsletter, and we here at the farm wish you all a warm, dry, and productive Spring!
March/April at Colvin Family Farm:
We're excited about how well our strawberries are looking! Most all of
one variety already have fruit and blossoms all over them!
Planting onions--we've put out more than 50,000 plants already! Our goal
is to be able to supply all of our market locations with as many
naturally raised onions & potatoes as the market can use all of the
way through season (normally these two crops are hard to find on a
regular basis) and have them at a price that most normal families can
Dad grading the site for our new 20x60 greenhouse.
Dad's kept busy working on our new greenhouse--this picture shows the
frame up, and the roll-up curtains on. The curtains are made of material
that is basically a clear tarp--it lasts for years, whereas if we used
normal greenhouse plastic for the curtains (as we've done in the past)
it lasts for week(s)!
This morning we put the plastic on--it's always interesting pulling $500
worth of plastic over a greenhouse, and hoping that it won't blow away
while you staple it on!
As you can see Dad framed in a large door on the other end. If during
the off season, we need to work on a vehicle or tractor, we can drive it
Dad, stapling the plastic down on the new greenhouse. So that the
staples don't just pull right back out through the plastic, you have to
staple through a strap of "webbing" material that is strong enough that
the staples won't pull through.
Enough about the new greenhouse--here's a peek inside the other
greenhouse! Right now it's busting the seams with transplants--this shot
shows cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lettuces, chives,
peppers, eggplant & more!
A closeup shot of some baby lettuce transplants.
A shot of our Celery transplants--we're excited about giving this crop a try!
Blue violets are some of my favorite Spring flowers! I love how this shot turned out!
Momma has a beautiful flowering quince bush in the backyard.
A closeup of the flowering quince blossoms--they really are pretty after the dull greys and browns of Winter!
My camera didn't pick up the colors very well, but this is a cloud
rainbow us boys watched for over an hour over one of the fields. Check out this link
to see better pictures of cloud rainbows and information on how they form.
We had a delivery of fertilizer a couple of weeks ago, and the driver
wouldn't listen to us when we told him where to drive--he eventually got
stuck four or five different times, and we eventually (three hours
later) got him out. I still can't believe that we got him out! It took
Dad a day with the box scrape to level the front yard/side field back
We have more pictures and updates just uploaded to our Facebook page--if you want to see the rest of the pictures click here!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 04:21 PM EDT
February Update from Colvin Family Farm!
I can't believe how quickly time is flying by! Signs of Spring are all
over the place, and we're enjoying a few days in the high sixties and
low seventies. Robins showed up by the hundred on February 1st, the
maple buds are starting to show red, some crocuses are blooming in Mom's
flower garden, and geese and sandhill cranes are flying north--Spring
is just around the corner! We've been busy starting vegetables in the
greenhouse to make sure we're ready for our early Spring markets and our
CSA startup in May--most seed orders are already in, and we've got our
shipment of seed starting mix as well as most of the other supplies for
2011. The only other "big" purchase for the early season, is our
fertilizer order from McGeary's Organics in Lancaster county
I hope you've got to check out our new website! I just yesterday sorted
out the biggest glitch (that I've found) that made pictures lose their
description, and "go wacky" when you clicked on them.
I've also implemented a neat idea (borrowed from another farm) a "share size calculator." What size do you need? Check it out on our website now!
Looking forward to the new season--I hope you enjoy this farm update!
February at Colvin Family Farm:
Signs of Spring:
Crocuses--these flowers are an early Spring treat!
Or you could look at them as a "teaser," Spring's a comin'
Closeup shot of the Red Maple buds...
The trees are already slightly tinged red.
Sandhill cranes flying North--we probably have thousands of these birds fly over each Spring and Fall!
Most of the seed orders are in...
We've got our seed starting dirt in...
And the early Spring transplants are already up!
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Collards, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuces and more!
We heat the greenhouse with wood--The three oldest boys (myself [Adam],
Caleb and Isaac) take turns every third night sleeping out in the
greenhouse. This is a very effective "thermostat" of sorts, when the
temperature drops to an approximate 55, it wakes the sleeping person who
stokes the fire, and checks everything over.
Dad ran the stovepipe out the front.
After being cleaned out, our farm pond has filled up nicely and is ready for the season!
We've got some land already tilled up and ready to plant our early Spring crops!
The view out of a hickory tree off the back side of our property
Another view out of the hickory
Some limbs got in the way of this shot, but it shows a pretty good view of the "farmyard."
The strawverries seem to have been growing throughout the Winter!
A bed of strawberries tucked underneath their row covers.
We're excited about our new (to us) combine! With easier
harvesting/threshing, we'll be able to handle much larger acreage of dry
beans, wheat, and oats!
Dad really enjoyed driving the combine home.
We hauled our new (again, "to us") Massey Ferguson 165 Diesel tractor
home from just East of Nashille this week. We have really needed the
extra horsepower and traction that this tractor has for some of our
equipment! We also now have the added benefit of if one tractor breaks
down (let me rephrase that to "when" one tractor breaks down), we won't
be in as much trouble as we are when we depend totally on one tractor.
Dad grew up using his Dad's (my Grandpa's) Massey Ferguson 150, this is
one step above the 150, but it's still has a very familiar feel to it!
This shows some of the size difference between our MF 35, and our new MF 165. We are really excited about starting this season!
As we plan on expanding substantially from last year, the only way we
can possibly do that, is with better more efficient methods, and better
more efficient tools. We are always changing our methods, tweaking good
ones to make great ones, and swapping great ones for unbelievably great
ones, but this year we've really taken a step to get some more efficient
tools. We now have two dependable tractors, a combine that will make it
possible to harvest and thresh our grains in large quantities, we're
fixing to put up another greenhouse, we've done a lot of work with our
irrigation plans/equipment, and we bought two Jang Clean Seeders
(pictures above). These seeders are super exact in seed singulation and
spacing, we have plates/rollers for pratically every size/shape of seed,
so that we'll be able to get things planted FAR more efficiently this
year, while fertilizing in the same pass!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 02:45 PM EST
I want to invite you all to check out our new website! We now feature easy online CSA registration
, a new blog
, many new pictures
, a new "Our Standards
" page, and much more! New for 2011, we'll be posting pictures of shares with produce labeled on our "In the Box
" page (no more sharpies!), and we also have a new Colvin Family Farm online market
opening in May! You can now like us
on facebook, follow us
on twitter, and subscribe
to, and comment on our blog! Coming soon, we'll have a customer review
page and more--(you've probably noticed our new email template)!
As you can tell, I'm excited about all this! I do hope you'll enjoy
browsing through the site, and I'd like to ask you to forward this to
all of your friends that you think might be interested in our farm! Word
of mouth is our best advertisement!
Winter at Colvin Family Farm:
I think I should mention first thing that I've not been as faithful
taking pictures as I should have--I've been glued to the computer for
the last month learning how to design websites etc... and what time
hasn't been spent on that has been spent getting together seed orders
and structuring the "battle plan" for this season with Caleb and
An example of our strawberries, tucked underneath row cover, they're biding their time till Spring!
A view or what is outside our front door right now--we've got a good heavy dusting of snow!
Pan to the Right--the only places that don't have a solid cover, are the places where it was wet!
One of the fields.
It's coming down!
During Winter, we see some of the most brilliant sunrises!
This picture was taken a week ago--it's really amazing how much snow
we're getting this Winter! We haven't had super cold temps yet (although
it dipped into the single digits for a week), but we've had more snow
and ice in December than we've had in the past three years combined!
No, this isn't an advertisement of Lowes.
We're often asked "What do you do all Winter?" Generally Winter is used
to regroup--assess last year's lessons, learn from the mistakes and make
a plan that's as foolproof as possible. Also, we get to catch up on
farm maintenance, and do projects. Dad's biggest project this Winter is
finishing the house! We also are putting up another 20x60 greenhouse,
clearing some property, and tearing down the century old farm house
we've replaced. Although it's hard to believe, we're already starting
seeds in the greenhouse!
Yes--this is an advertisement for Carhart! Great tough clothes--make sure you get one with the "Made in America" tag!
This time of year deer are starting to shed their antlers, if you have a
sharp eye you can find them while out hiking. These two are the biggest
we've found (Caleb found both of them).
The only one I ever found, was from a four-pointer. I used a piece of it
as the latch to the bag I made out of my first successfully tanned
Homeschooling--right now Mom is teaching through world geography. She
likes the "hands-on" approach. Here the kids are painting a mural she
drew out on kraft paper.
Dad hanging up the "tropical rainforest mural."
To wrap up this newsletter, I'll say we're staying warm, eating well
(although with some of Momma's "hands-on" approach, we're eating "weird"
as we "travel through the world while we eat)." And for the most part
we're staying healthy!
Thank you to the early birds that have already joined up for 2011! You
all are financing our farm's operations for the 2011 season, and we
You all try to stay warm, and keep safe!
Colvin Family Farm
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 01:52 PM EST
With the temperature hovering in the mid teens over the past week, the
2010 growing season is officially over! Offseasons are great for
regrouping, making new plans/goals, and catching up on farm maintenance
(or in this specific case catching up on correspondence)! I'm hoping to
rebuild our website soon making it more "usable"--a better recipe page,
automatic backup of all our newsletters, weekly picture slideshows,
adding customer feedback, as well as adding cool new software that will
help us keep in touch with our shareholders--each shareholder will have
their own "user account" that would enable them to login to "their"
account and view all of their past, present and future--payments, share
box contents, as well as a history of their emails & responses.
You'll also be able to let our computer know when you aren't going to
pickup, and it'll tell our packing list (the biggest bonus for us,
[someday you should try to pack shares--remember who said they aren't
going to be able to come/figure out which market/which
And since we start planting again in 50 days
, we need
to get seed orders made, greenhouses ready, (another one built), see
about building a packing shed, walk-in freezer, cooler room, (yes I'm
dreaming [don't poke me]), workout next years marketing and
transportation plan, etc...etc...etc...
We have several new crops planned for this year: Strawberries, Celery, Radicchio, Fennel, Tomatillos, and more! Check out our all new 2011 crop harvest projection
to see where these fit in the season!
Also, we'll have four new varieties of Dry Beans: Pinto Beans, October
Beans, Lima Beans and Cannelini Beans! We are planning on renting a
combine, that will harvest (yay) and thresh (WHOOPEE) our beans, oats
and wheat in quantities that we've been unable to yet!
I'm going to add pictures to try and bring you up to date on what's been
happening on the farm--Keep an eye on our website, as I hope to upload a
2010 season slideshow on soon!
We'll see you all next May! Have a great Winter!
Fall Pictures from the Farm
A Winter morning sunrise--I wish the camera could catch the full spectrum of color!
Right now we're running through figures--equipment, seeds,
ideas--Spreadsheets, charts, calendars--even farmers have their Mondays!
Please note the items on the table: three (3) coffee cups, one (1)
coffee thermos (it holds four cups full of coffee), four Johnny's
Selected Seed Catalogs, a laptop computer, and 4,763 other
I love the cloud formations we have during the Wintertime! Look at this one!
The same clouds later on--again, I can't seem to catch all of the color--but it was gorgeous!
We've had a little snow, they're calling for 2 inches over the weekend!
Now, back to Fall--we had a friend come in with his bulldozer and
backhoe, and clean out the pond. According to Dad's estimates, it now
holds ten times more water!
We've all had our fun as kids playing in leaf piles--Right now it's Levi and Charity's turn.
We bought a "brand new" (to us) fifty year old bushog this fall--we've
been needing one ever since the last tooth stripped (yes, last tooth)
off of the gearbox on the other bushog (it was only 35 years old)--they
just don't make them like they used to! It does a great job for $100!
I love how this picture turned out! The bright green chard contrasting
with all of the fall colors, and it's set off well by the collards in
the back! (incidentally, I didn't take this one)
Now for strawberry planting--we spread compost, bloodmeal, and corn gluten meal in beds, then tilled it in lightly.
The compost is in the background, the bloodmeal is in the upper, left corner, and the pellets are the corn gluten meal.
Then we laid black plastic mulch over the beds.
We bought strawberry plugs from a nursery,
Several of them,
Charity helped by watering the holes before we planted them!
You can see the whole operation here! In the far left, Dad and Noah are
popping holes in a neat grid pattern over the plastic, In the far
background Isaac is pouring worm casting tea down each hole, and then
there's Caleb and myself planting them!
one of the most prolific Fall wildflowers are the common Aster--I like em'!
I also like the "blanket flowers" in Mom's flower garden--when they're
done flowering they make neat shaped seed pods (back right).
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 05:46 PM EST
We've had a delicious taste of Fall over the past week--definitely my
favorite season, Fall is refreshingly crisp, cool, sweet smelling--I
look forward to it coming in full strength later this month (I can't
believe that it's already September)!
When writing this newsletter each week I use words and pictures to send
out a "slice" of the farm out to you all keeping you up to date with
weekly activities, challenges, surprises and joys, but it is often
frustrating that I can't capture the feel, sounds and smells of the
farm--walking outside in the morning, dew still covering
everything--feeling the crisp refreshing chill of another new day,
complemented by the warm touch of fresh sunshine--hearing the early
morning sounds--thousands of insects chirping, screeching and buzzing,
dozens of birds singing, and smelling the fresh (it's what air
fresheners try [and miserably fail] to copy) morning air, smelling of
fresh earth here, a tomato patch, and just recently we've started to
smell Fall leaves--I love the thousands (or even millions) of smells
around the farm--way too many, and way too subtle to list--I've created a
veritable monster of a run-on sentence here--better end it.
I like to think that all of these smells, sounds and sensations are
packed into each vegetable--maybe we express ourselves best through our
I hope you enjoy this late catchup of last weeks activities!
Colvin Family Farm Update: Week 18
Click here to add your email copy and images.
We've been battling a really dry season--we started this season not
very well equipped for the challenge, but over the season we've
gradually enlarged our "arsenal" and are able to do some serious combat
now. This picture shows Noah watering a kale bed from a tank in the back
of our truck.
This little pump will run good pressure through more than 300 feet of 5/8 inch hose.
This is the watering rig. We use a 5 horsepower pump to fill the tank
from a lake, then haul it to the field. We then hitch the small pump to
the hose on this blue reel, and run it down the path of a bed and water
going up and down. One tank per 3 foot wide bed is the equivalent of 1/2
inch of rain.
We did break down and do some drip irrigation on our crops like
cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and snap peas--this will definitely be the
way we work next year as it is super simple and super easy! The little
pump hitches up to the blue hose (known as lay-flat), we poke holes in
the lay-flat and push a piece of "spaghetti" pipe through it that by aid
of the little orange and black fitting hitches up to the drip tape.
This is a close-up of drip tape. It has two blue strips on the side
with holes--if you look close in between my fingers you can see the
minuscule slit that will emit a drop every couple of seconds (which is
why they name it drip-tape). These slits are spaced every 12 inches, and
will emit a gallon every hour--the beauty of drip tape is that the
minuscule drips work their way down to where the roots of a plant
are--we're watering deep with it, not just making the top couple of
The drip tape is then placed next to the row of plants (in this case cucumbers).
Another new method we've started using is lettuce starting. We've
always longed for flats of beautiful lettuce plants all the same size
all ready to go out at the same time (when you sow lettuce in containers
as we have previously done you get all kinds of different sizes, and an
unknown amount of plants, wimpy seedlings etc...). With this method
we've finally achieved it!
As you could see in the first photo we use 288 cell flats--these are
filled with high-quality Johnny's 512 Organic seed starting media. Then
we push down on each cell so it is about 2/3 of the way full and sow 2-4
lettuce seed in each cell. we then cover them with a medium coarse
grind of vermiculite, put them under a shade tree and water them daily.
This is the result (after spending time with tweezers thinning of
course)--full flats of beautiful lettuce starts ready to go out!
Even if it is a pestiferous weed, this morning glory is pretty!
These tomato flowers are a whole lot prettier to me though!
I love how we have so many bumblebees and honey bees pollinating our
cucumbers for us--we've never had to pay for pollination services yet!
The cucumbers are really about to start crankin' them out! They are
covered with flowers and have cucumbers in various stages all over!
These are the oriental, burpless cucumbers--a little slower but they're still coming on!
The rows of cucumbers.
The late tomato patch
Caleb poses in the pepper patch with the first real yellow pepper of the year.
We've had some questions about how we stake our tomato patch, so I
thought this newsletter I'd show you folks how it's done! We drive 5
foot tomato stakes every 2-3 plants.
We take a spool of "tomato twine" (in the box on Isaac's belt) and run
it through some holes on the top and bottom of a specially "modified"
This is the close-up of the bottom hole--this handy "stringin' stick"
makes it possible to wrap strings around the tomato stakes without
having to bend over!
A shot showing Isaac stringing--you can pretty much walk right through the patch once you get the hang of it.
This closeup shows how you wrap the string around each stake. You keep
tension on the twine as it runs down your stringin' stick and pull it
tight wrapping it once or twice around the stake. Once you get to the
end of the row, you walk back down doing it on the other side.
This creates a double sided restraint that holds tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers...
...and snap peas up off of the ground, increasing marketable yield dramatically!
Okra blossom--thought I'd add this as they are so pretty! Okra is actually placed in the Hibiscus family!
Coming back to the beginning of the newsletter--Fall colors are already
showing--it will be an early, short Fall because of the dry Summer,
Tulip Poplars and Walnuts have already lost most of their leaves!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 03:58 PM EDT
It has been a great week! We thoroughly enjoyed seeing my brother Matt
as he was in on leave prepatory to being deployed for three years, and
the 26 year old "bach" brought a quite charming girlfriend to meet the
family as well! I like her--she does dishes and, doesn't mind blond
We have certainly done a lot with the week "off," we missed seeing you
all at the markets, but we got most all of the fall crops planted, and
we also did a bunch of maintenance around the farm--it's pretty easy to
fall behind when you are spending all available time
doing......something other than maintenance!
We have a bunch of Spinach coming up--the dry spell through this Summer
dowsed our hopes of having Spinach clear through the season, but we are
doing our best to get it back in as soon as possible! We also have
planted, Cauliflower, Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Radishes, Broccoli, Swiss
Chard, Kale, and many other Fall crops. I'm sure that Mom has included a
great catch up with what we've been doing in her letter, so I'm going
to wrap this up with the pictures for the week.
Thanks for supporting us! We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!
Colvin Family Farm Week 16
Noah caught these baby Green Herons in our greenhouse last week! We've
seen them flopping around (they're still learning to fly) with their
momma over the past few weeks, but it was neat to see them so close up!
A shot of the field a week ago--two beds of sweet corn on the left, a
bed of Daikon radishes in the center, and to the right are beds of green
onions and bell peppers.
Things have been growing well! Take a look at these two shots of the same lettuce bed six days apart from each other!
And here--with enough water crops do just about like we want them to!
Mom snapped this photo of the baby swallows that are being raised on
our porch--we usually raise eight or ten batches of baby swallows on the
farm each year, and we are thankful for the bug eaters!
This is another field shot showing the 20 different Fall crops out--the light green bed is the Lettuce again.
The same tomato transplants we showed pictures of a couple weeks ago
are now knee high, and hopefully on schedule for late fall production!
Our bed of bell peppers are finally in production! we were tickled to
pick enough for our shares today, and anticipate the time when we'll
have eight or ten bushels per picking!
Luke (in front) and Noah (in back) put together the share boxes for us
last week--they were proud to be able to stay up and help us out during a
This shows our fancy "Hog Haulin' Crate." Last week we purchased six,
five month old Hampshire/Chester White crosses (pictures next week
sorry) and hauled them 30 miles home in this adapted used water crate
shrouding. We are tickled to have hogs again, and look forward to bacon
and chops (yes we've named the hogs: Ham, Sausage, Bacon, Pork, Chop,
This is Matt (on the left) with his girlfriend "Brittany"
(on the right), still....
...Momma will always be Matt's girl.
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 05:16 PM EDT
Sorry to all you blog readers that I didn't get this up last week!
It's been another long, hot, dry week on the mountain--we've been busy
getting all of the Fall crops in, and we're trying to hold down the fort
watering! I hope you all enjoy this week's newsletter--have a great
Colvin Family Farm Week 14
We've finally succeeded in getting great looking vegetable plants
started in plug flats--something we've yet to do correctly with strict
Organic methods, and which has slowed production on many crops this
season. How? We used Johnny's Selected Seeds "512 compost based media."
This picture shows green leaf lettuce in the foreground with a grape tomato in the background.
This is a picture of the same lettuce plants at 7 days from seed.
This is a picture of them at 12 days old! They have just shot up! We
are tickled to death with this media, and look forward to using it
exclusively next year so that we can have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant,
melons etc...early on in the season!
This is a shot of one of our tomato plugs started back 8 weeks ago. It
shows a pretty good sample of what we have been getting with other
Organic potting medias--it hasn't even grown past the first two "true"
...compare that with this 12 day old "Beefy Boy" tomato! (notice the Fender 351 Heavy pick for sizing reference).
The flats of tomato plugs just look awesome!
We were surprised and pleased to find one of the old apple trees
actually had edible fruit on it this year (they're normally extremely
They might not be the prettiest, but they sure taste great!
We had a morning rainbow on the West side of our farm this week! We
very seldom have rainbows in the morning, I can only remember two others
over the past 10 years!
It was a full arch, and a double rainbow--look real close in the top
left hand corner and you'll be able to see the second arch.
Mom snapped this picture of the chickens lined up and looking at her
this week--I've tried to get a good picture of the chickens similar to
this dozens of times with no luck--Mom was just in the right place at
the right time.
Little Luke packing Carrots for your share this week--he does come in handy every now and again!
I couldn't help slipping in one last picture of the plants in the
greenhouse--we are so tickled to have overcome one of the toughest
problems we've run into raising organic produce--thanks go to Adrian
from Place of the Heart Farm, and Bob Due of Terraced Garden Farm for
bringing this mix to our attention!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 09:48 AM EDT
We've had a great week!
Our main objective was to get our Fall crops planted--which we've
succeeded in doing most of them! Sweet Corn, Cabbage, Broccoli,
Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Carrots, on and on and on....we
look forward to the Fall as that is most always the best part of our
Another goal was to get our grains in, however rains have delayed that
until it dries enough for us to bring it in without having to worry
We did come up with a better grain cleaning system however! Scroll down to the bottom of the newsletter to see pictures!
Hope to see you at market--have a great weekend!
CSA members: Final payment is due this week--please contact me with any questions!
Week 13 at Colvin Family Farm!
They've got it made! I remember when I was just a kid (now I'm the ripe
old age of 19) that I wanted to hurry to grow up--but those were the
days! Barefoot running around in the front yard, wading around making a
dam in the creek, climbing trees, exploring our property, picking
berries--nothing to worry about!
But I'm blessed to have many memories from being raised on a farm, and
I've learned to enjoy today, learn from yesterday, and do the same thing
We've had a lot of trouble this year with getting healthy good-sized
transplants--Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers etc... The problem? Our seed
starting formula--it's what we've had the most trouble doing by organic
standards. Our first attempt was to make our own media, compost, topsoil
etc... but we ended up spending way to much time weeding our weakly
looking starts. So we tried several different medias Fafard, Sungro
etc... and each time we couldn't raise a good looking plant! So we
finally broke down and purchased...
...Johnny's Selected Seed 512 Mix--a compost based growing medium that works! Success after 6 years of trial and error!
These tomato plants are only 8 days old from seed! they're already
showing their second set of leaves and they all have healthy purple
stems and healthy sets of baby leaves!
We've been busy this week planting more than 20,000 plugs of fall
crops--late season tomatoes, fall broccoli, collards, cabbage,
cauliflower etc... We're looking forward to having our full variety of
crops this Fall!
A head of Cabbage in the field
Our tomatoes are starting to slowly eek their way into production (5 weeks late).
This is one of my favorite wildflowers--"Garden Coreopsis" (Coreopsis tinctoria) is a beautiful yellow flower with maroon blotches right next to the center of the flower.
Cosmos are one of Mom's favorite garden flowers...
...Bees like them too!
Another of Mom's favorite flowers are day lilys. This is a picture of a
double day lily--two buds opened on one flowering stalk!
The thresher that we purchased did an acceptable job with knocking the
grain out of the heads, but we still had lots of hulls and chaff--so Dad
came up with a simple cleaner--it has 1/16" mesh on the bottom of the
larger box, and the "smoosher/slider" is made up of 1/4 inch hardware
wire. You load the large box with a layer of uncleaned grain and slide
the "smoosher" back and forth working the grain over the small mesh. The
cleaned grain works it's way through the small mesh into a tray or tub
As you can see, it doesn't do a perfect job, but mostly what is left can be cleaned by sifting it in front of a fan.
And this is the final product--rolled oats!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 01:31 PM EDT
Well, flitter---the power just flickered and I lost everything, but just
the same I'm as tickled as can be! We are in the middle of a rain storm
that's already dumped more than an inch on our farm! That is a huge
load off of my mind as we've been combatting serious drought conditions
on the mountain here! Almost all of our time has been spent hauling
water around and watering everything! However we have sustained some
damage--coincidentally we've had to (for the time being) drop our
Wednesday market at Market Square Farmers' Market--I do apologize, but
we are presently having to "hit it hard" to keep ahead of the Weeding,
Watering, and Wvegetable Wplanting.
We hope that you all have a
Colvin Family Farm (CNG)www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com
At Colvin Family Farm
previously mentioned, we've been hauling water this week--we can
currently handle from 4-5 hundred gallons of water in one load with our
motley assortment of containers--one 275 gallon water tank that we've
owned for 8-10 years, 4 fifty-five gallon barrels, and other assorted
we do hand water at present--it is a lot of work (trust me), and it
isn't as effective as "modern" methods, but we've been able to keep far
enough ahead that things were alive when it started raining half an hour
This is one
of my ugliest brothers yet (mean too!) watering the red cabbage patch.
It is a
large load off of my mind to have gotten this rain--there is more
forecast throughout next week, so we need to get planting (yay we
finally can get back to that)!!!!!!
me for all of the pictures, but I'm excited about it raining---notice
the dead patches of grass where the rock is shallow in our front yard.
is a picture showing our onion and garlic curing racks--they are in our
little greenhouse. The top rack has shade cloth over them so that they
won't get "sunburnt."
is the first time that Mom has grown Hollyhocks--I've always looked at
them in seed catalogs and wanted to grow them, and this is why! They are
gorgeous! (and gorgeous is a #10 on my scale from 1-10 of "describing
#1: Little Brother
#4: Plain Ugly
#5: Not Good Lookin'
#6: Not Bad Lookin'
planted a 5 foot belt of sunflowers around the edge of the fields that
we planted with oats & wheat.
the Oats and Wheat are ready for harvest. We did find time Thursday to
get some of the Oats (oat field pictured) harvested.
take a "corn knife" and grab a handful of grain, slice it and drop it
is then hauled to the "mobile threshing unit" (also known as our truck)
...run through our foot powered
thresher--it will still need cleaned, but this machine saves us a lot of
time (approx. 6 light years a day), and is a big improvement over what
we did last year (a stick, a feed sack, and lots and lots and lots of
impatience). We are getting a Oat Roller
and will soon have rolled oats
so you can have a bowl full of local oatmeal for breakfast!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 05:02 PM EDT
We had 40 folks out to the farm yesterday for our first CSA shareholder
day ever--we did have a list of activities planned, but we spent so much
time touring the main field that we didn't have time for the games! Mom
did teach interested folks how to do their own sprouts, do a simple
stir fry, and how to garden using the simple Square Foot Method that
we've used for many years now.
Little kids pulled/ate baby carrots,
"picked" (normally known as "gathered") fresh eggs, petted chickens, and
just ran around the farm enjoying themselves--adults walked around the
farm tasting Kohlrabi, fresh Carrots, Fennel and Dill while picking or
packing produce into bags, baskets, buckets, pockets and even hats!
did try to spend one on one time with everybody answering questions,
and just in general showing everybody what our farm is, how it works,
Feedback would be appreciated as we would like to hear what
you really liked/might not have liked about the day--what do you think
would have made it better etc...anything we hear from you will make next
day better for you and any others that come!
I really appreciate
everybody coming out, and hope that you had as much fun as I did!
forward to the September Field Day!
At Colvin Family Farm
We had a lot
of work to try and catch up from last week (the family was gone on
vacation) and also to get ready for the Shareholder day! In this picture
Dad is using the wheel hoe to clean out a path while little Levi is
"helping" with his little hoe.
off and on pretty much every day over the past week--making for another
interesting challenge for catching up with the farm work!
This is a
shot of the "current" section of field that is coming on--from the far
right you can see several beds of Broccoli/Cabbage, there is also
Arugula, Green Onions, Red Mustard, Lettuce, Spinach, Carrots and
This is a
view of the onion patch--it is almost time to harvest the crop--the
tops are dieing back, and the bulbs have pretty much reached the size
they will stay at.
is a closeup of how the paper mulch that we used this year has
decomposed--we actually had to run through them twice to clean weeds out
of them. Next year we think we will try some white plastic to see if
that will do a better job of weed control for us.
grew Red Onions on paper!
leeks are coming right along! We look forward to these coming in--Potato
This is a
picture of one of our garlic beds...
is a freshly pulled Garlic bulb...
...and here it is laying cleaned on the straw
mulch, and in the bed it was harvested from (forgive me for all of the
garlic pictures, but it is a new crop for us, and we really have had fun
one last picture of garlic--this picture was taken when a bunch of it
had been cleaned and dumped into a tub--look for fresh garlic in your
Cabbage--Large shares will have this chinese cabbage this week--it is
great sauteed, in stir fries, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, steamed, or in
We also have
broccoli! We are a little disappointed in the variety that we grew this
year--it is a fast grower as advertised, but it's heads dispersed
pretty quickly in the heat instead of being nice pretty little tight
balls of buds.
flower isn't called "Buterfly Weed" for nothing! this is one of my
favorite wildflowers, and I don't even like orange! There's just
something about the way that the deep green leaves go with the rich
butterfly on some more butterfly weed--but this picture also shows
white Yarrow (up front) and wild daisies (in the background)--it is
really amazing how many different wildflowers bloom around here!
I said--they don't call it Butterflyweed for nothing!
shot shows some of our new Brussels Sprouts seedlings--we have always
had our Brussels Sprouts come in late, so we thought that we'd start
them earlier just for an experiment!
CSA Farm Knoxville, CSA Share Knoxville,
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 06:02 PM EDT
As I type this, I've been run indoors by the rain--it's a nice gentle
rain, but there's certainly enough that we had to get in out of it. I'm
going to put together the newsletter, while Caleb and Isaac work on
washing and drying the Spinach that we were harvesting.
While it is
important to get one or two inches of rain each week to maintain our
crops, it is often bothersome when it comes--right when we are trying to
get something important done! But, we don't have to worry about not
having something to do! Right now we are trying to wrap up one of the
busiest seasons on the farm--getting all of the main crops in, while
maintaining all of what we have already (namely keeping ahead of the
weeds and harvesting)!
We are getting ready to have an
interesting next week--the whole family (excepting Caleb and I) will be
taking a vacation starting Monday. They will be headed to a camp down in
Georgia for a week of fun & games with our church. Caleb and I are
going to get a lot of things done while they are gone--hopefully we'll
be able to catch up on a few things!
I hope that you all have a
good week--enjoy your vegetables!
Family Farm (CNG)
Update May 30th-June 5th Week #6
Because it is raining, I'm going to be using some of the pictures I've
been collecting but haven't had room/time to use in previous
This is our grain thresher--We read about it in one
of our favorite farm magazines Farm Show. The gentleman that was selling
them claimed that the foot powered thresher modeled off of the
centuries old Asian plan could thresh up to 80 lbs of wheat an hour!
After having spent many hours last year trying to knock the grain out of
the heads of the wheat with sticks (like we've always read about) we
were game to give it a try!
This is a close-up of the foot pedaled drive system.
And a closeup of the head--when you step on the
pedal, the head will turn quickly, you are supposed to feed the heads of
wheat, oats of other small grains into it, and it knocks the grain out
of the heads and sifts it into a bucket--we hope it works! If it does,
you all should get some wheat berries (or flour or cracked cereal for
those of you who don't have a wheat grinder) in your share within the
next couple of months!
We had mom help us with the radishes last week! She
is a big help...
...except for when she slows us down with
"sentimental goop"--who needs a picture of a heart made out of radishes?
Speaking of mom--three weeks ago, mom and I were finishing some packing
down in the house, while Caleb and dad were working on it up at the
packing shed--it was 12:30 in the morning, and Mom accidentally let a
huge moth into the kitchen (not this specific one)--it not only was
huge, but it was flying all over the place and was just a blur. Well it
kept bumping into Mom, and so she decided to "euthanize" it (which means
she was trying to stomp it)--as she was doing that she said--"Adam this
is a huge moth", to which I replied (jokingly now) "Oh, it's a
bat!".....Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad idea at 12:30 in the
morning--I don't know if any of us at the house have recovered from the
blood curdling screaming that went on--and Dad ran full tilt down to the
kitchen to find out who had died etc...etc... It was horrible (but
hilarious!) It is at times like this that we like to quote from the FFA
(Future Farmers of America) creed: "For I know the joys and discomforts
of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations
which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny....."
Again we will be at:
Market Square Farmers'
Market (Knoxville, TN)
Dixie Lee Farmers'
Market (Farragut, TN)
Market (Maryville, TN)
And we should have:
items will sell out quickly so come early for the best spread! We
appreciate you all supporting us, and look forward to seeing you at one
of the markets!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 02:05 PM EDT
As usual on our farm we've had a busy week full
of mundane things that we do every day of the week--along with a double
handful of things that have never happened before (just enough to keep
us hooked on farming)--It is fun to watch the different vegetables come
in and replace the ones that are winding down--like mini-seasons, we get
to watch the seasons change up close. So close that we often don't even
realize that they've changed! It will suddenly dawn on somebody
that--ahhh!!! look at all of the green leaves that have popped out all
over the place (or something similarly silly). It is just funny that we
don't always catch the obvious because we're so busy noticing the minute
details of things!
New for this newsletter, I've posted all of the
pictures as 640x480 pixels instead of 320x240 pixels (sorry to all of
you dial-up folks). What is the difference? Well, now you will be able
to right click on the picture and choose to "view image" and you'll see a
larger version of it--with the smaller photos that we've always sent,
you couldn't see the small things in a detailed photo--that always has
bothered me, and now I've fixed it--please let me know if you all like
it this way better or would prefer to see it the way I've always done
I hope that you've had a great week--and enjoyed your
vegetables. I have the recipe/letter that Mom wrote last week posted on
our website, so click on the picture below if you want my Great Aunts'
(pronounced "ant" down here in Tennessee) wonderful Spinach Salad!
Colvin Family Farm (CNG)
have three new flowers blooming on the farm--Foxgloves are blooming in
one of Mom's beds--I think they're one of the prettier flowers she's
daisies are one of Mom's favorites--it blooms all over the fields and
on the sides of the roads up here on the mountain.
lily somebody gave momma--she planted a semi-circle of them in the edge
of the vegetable garden (yes--flowers in "my" vegetable garden).
Mom snapped this picture of Dad
cleaning out some cabbages early on this week--patience and persistence
(two different qualities) are necessary to do a good job on weeding.
took this picture today--it has several of us working on harvesting
different vegetables--green onions, spinach & kale.
These cabbages & broccoli were planted from plugs
(little bitty baby plants) just last week and have taken off! They've
probably tripled or quadrupled in size!
small raised beds full of Snap Peas--we'll be having Snap Peas in our
CSA shares next week! They are one of the #1 favorite Spring
vegetables--I like mine simple--steamed and buttered with salt to taste!
bed of kale is looking good! It is one of the more familiar varieties
of kale (green frilly leaves) and will last throughout the Summer and
into the fall.
view of some of our beds. In the foreground is Arugula (bolted
Arugula), than Kale, Mustard, Turnips....etc...
onion patch seems to be doing well--the tops are bigger than we
normally raise them already, and several of the bottoms are starting to
We've decided that we probably needed heavier paper as we've
lost several sections due to wind, wet, and other weather. However it
has done a fine job of keeping the weeds in check--the principle is
right, we just need to continue perfecting it--maybe a different method
of laying it would fix it--maybe some other kind of mulch would work
best--I don't know but it is something we are looking into and
discussing quite often.
Scapes--Garlic Curls--whichever name you use for these garlic flower
buds, they are awesome for flavoring stir fries, soups, casseroles
etc... and will be accompanying our CSA shares in the near future.
harvested our first batch of beets for the Spring--they are beautiful,
from the size of a large shooter marble to the size of a softball, they
are all sweet, tender, juicy...delicious!
posed for this picture in a feed sack--she's worth more than a sack of
time to do the "normal" chores around the house can be an interesting
thing! Several chores (including mowing) have been passed on to younger
brothers as they start to take over more responsibilities on the farm.
we were working over in the peas or potatoes (sorry I can't remember
which), Titus heard some growling in the top of a tree--ends up it was a
coon--no six or seven coons (properly known as racoon) in their den!
I've wanted to see a den tree of coons as long as I can remember, and to
think when we finally find one it was within 100 yards of the house!
in the top of the tree, one of the boys snapped this picture down the
hollow--it has one of the coons showing up (look closely in the middle
for the masked face).
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 11:02 PM EDT
Again, I'm late getting this out--by the time you all read this you have
probably already seen us at market. Because it is so late, this will
probably be one of the most "thrown together" newsletters yet as there
are hundreds of little things that need done before we wrap up the day,
with another early day coming up!
I hope that you all have had a
great week--we look forward to seeing you again,
Family Farm (CNG)www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com
Update Week of May 16th-22nd, 2010
This has got
to be one of the coolest pictures that I've got recently! It is a
closeup of a ladybug eating an aphid! Ladybugs are one of the best bugs
to have on your farm as they effectively control aphids, scales, and
other detrimental insects on vegetable crops! This one happened to be
noticed in a pile of harvested lettuce--it's funny how many farmers' buy
these little insects, and we have to sort them out of our produce!
week I've included several pictures of us harvesting your vegetables as
I thought you might like to see a little bit on that end! This picture
is me harvesting a bed of lettuce with our greens harvester. This
machine is amazing as it will cut and hold six pounds of baby lettuce in
picture shows Dad and the little boys Luke (far right) and Levi
(middle) as they clean your green onions together--real family farming
is Isaac harvesting Spinach (he's in the back top left corner). We have
over 600 feet of 3 foot wide beds filled with Spinach right now! Full of
the best crop of Spinach we've ever had!
Caleb (left) is rinsing the Spinach--they will still need washed at your
house, but this takes off most all of the mud and gives us some time to
grade out any culls that we might find.
it is brought into our walk-in cooler to be packaged into bags which
are packed into cases which are packed into the van and brought to you
at the market!
week we hauled our tractor over to our leased acreage so that we could
put in our warm weather crops (melons, sweet potatoes etc...). On our
way over there we had a tire flat on our 16 foot flatbed trailer--This
is a picture of Dad changing the tire on it with the rock that flatted
wonder it went flat! This rock was wedged all of the way through the
this is a picture of our potato patch--I hope that you aren't getting
tired of seeing this patch over and over again, but it has amazed me
each week how much that they've grown!
lettuce was brought to market last Wednesday, and will be available
tomorrow (if you're early).
picture I caught a bumblebee sipping nectar out of a wildflower next to
our property line fence.
and the little boys went out and cut firewood this past week in the
"old brown truck." They came home with boquets of wildflowers for
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 11:43 PM EDT
Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader
I tried to get this out yesterday, but our
trusty "old faithful" laptop up and died on us in the middle of creating
it. So, I am now creating this on our new Dell Inspiron Desktop
computer. It is about as much better than our old computer as the DSL
connection is over our old dial-up!
Please let me know if I'm boring
you with all of these pictures--I can't believe how easy it is to load
this thing down with 30-40 pictures, and I will try to restrain myself
if you all aren't able to make yourself read all of the way through it!
had an extremely busy week--this time in May would probably rank #1 as
the busiest time for a diversified vegetable producer as so many
vegetables "suddenly" can go out at the same time! Yesterday we put in
Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Watermelons, Cantaloupes, Popcorn, and
others (pictures will be up next week). This week we also got out all of
our Summer Squash, Sweet Corn and Cucumbers!
I hope that you enjoy
the newsletter--hope to see you all at one of the markets tomorrow!
Colvin Family Farm (CNG)
potatoes are starting to pop up! This 3/4 acre patch right here should
yield several tons of potatoes this season!
planted three varieties--Russet Burbanks (a regular white potato),
(a red skinned potato),
Adirondack Reds (not only is this potato red skinned--it is red clear
through the center!).
patch of Summer Squash and Snap Beans.
told me that he was going to plant some beans and squash back in the
third week of April (way way early for up on the mountain). I told him
that he could waste the seed if he wanted to etc... but he has had the
last laugh as those beans and squash that he planted could be 3-4 weeks
earlier than our "early" batch of beans and squash! (this picture by the
way is of a row of beans).
of Yellow Straigtneck Squash.
picture of our Onion patch--the paper mulch is working pretty well on
the onion patch--on other vegetables we've had trouble with the wind
ripping it when it is wet--still experimenting though!
hope you all like Spinach! Because next week...
will have a lot of it! This is a picture of one of our two 150 foot long
3 foot wide beds of spinach. Right now they are just shy of big enough
to pick, so they will be brought to market for the first time next week!
angle on the greens beds.
bunch of them! You will be seeing radishes out of this bed within a
week or two--mild, but zesty!
lettuce is coming along in several different beds--Red and Butterhead,
Romaine, and Looseleaf.
collards were planted to raise full-size. hopefully we will have them
large enough to harvest within another week or two.
Kale--spaced to raise to full-size. A lot of this will be sold through
the "Three Rivers Market" in Knoxville.
Mustard are looking great!
just planted another 200 foot bed of Carrots.
chard bed that came in didn't come up very well--due mainly to the
operator of the seeder (yes myself) who just didn't know what he was
however came up sort of spottily because of us not keeping the soil
moist at all times--it's extremely important yet extremely hard to keep
the soil moist so that no hard crust will form over the seeds, and they
have a soft moist layer of soil to push through.
bins--set up to harvest "wormcasting tea" that we use as a foliar
fertilizer. Feeding leftover vegetables to the worms makes it so that we
can use the nutrients in the vegetables to raise more! Sustainable
farming practices in action!
close-up of the inside of a worm bin.
And a closeup
shot of the worms.
is a picture of a freshly planted bed of green onions.
Within a week they start to sprout.
And by five weeks you have a bed of green onions
ready to harvest!
Posted by Colvin Farm
@ 08:34 PM EDT