The Depot Farm

  (Corfu, New York)
Growing good food, Naturally!

Posts tagged [farming]


With snow and cold finally here; we've turned our full attention to inside work and planning. Inventory has been completed, gardens have been tentatively laid out, seeds and supplies ordered and paperwork updated. Our CSA info should be ready by the end of the month and sent to existing customers and posted for new clients to review. As we budget our expenses for the coming season we will be looking to upgrade and add to our equipment. A small pony tiller along with a new, larger trailer would be beneficial in the fields and make some tasks easier. While we always add/replace some hand tools each year, we also look at what will get us the most "bang for the buck". Now is the time to compare and shop for items before we get busy and have limited time to evaluate them. Winter pruning and fence repair will begin next month along with reorganizing the tool shed and cold frame. Before too long, the new season will be upon us!

End of Season

The growing season is coming to an end. Temps in the low 30's at night and a couple inches of snow last week has killed most crops not protected with row covers. The CSA ended a couple of weeks ago and I would like to thank all that participated. Your support and patronage made it an exceptional year! We still have a few more weeks at the farmers markets where we will be offering leaf lettuce, kale, carrots, beets, turnips, broccoli and squashes. Cleanup of the gardens continue as we put the beds to rest for another year. We are composting the plant debris and adding leaves and straw to the bare beds to prevent soil erosion over the winter. Soil tests have been taken; fencing and hoops were removed and stored along with all the tools. While the primary task of planting and harvesting may be ending, winter affords us the time to plan for next year, perform maintainance and to get to projects that were put on the back burner completed.

Summer Status

  I am finally updating the growing season this year. Although it has been extremely wet, the early crops did remarkably well. Lettuces, radishes, bok choy and chard seemed to thrive this year. While the last of the peas were harvested last week, the beans and summer squash are coming into stride. Cucumbers should be ready in a week or two, followed by tomatoes a week later. All the winter squashes are growing well ( no sign of cucumber beetles), along with the white corn and the leeks. Onions and garlic are ready to start harvesting as well as beets. We've been mulching heavily to control weeds and conserve the moisture. Row covers on the broccoli has kept the cabbage moths at bay. Soy beans and celery look good as well as the dry beans. We are beginning to plant our fall crops (turnips, rutabagas, daikon radishes) as well as a cover crop of buckwheat in areas to be left fallow. Although it is too early to plant our fall lettuces and spinach, we will begin preparing the beds as they open up in anticipation of planting later in August and September. Seems like there is always something to do.

Spring Update

  We have been busy planting our early crops as well as starting seeds in the green house for successive plantings. Another week when the weather is more predictable, we plan to begin to begin warm weather plantings in the ground of squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and celery. Compost has been worked into the soil as well as other amendments as needed. We plan to place row covers over our seedlings to protect against insects and well as lessen transplant shock for a few weeks. Later in the year we will add straw mulch to conserve water and lessen weed growth.

  The farmers markets opened last week (Alden and Holland) with fairly steady crowds for the first markets of the year. We were the first farm selling leaf lettuce, asparagus, radishes, spinach and kale. It was also the first week of our CSA pickups. It was good to see old friends and new ones; everyone was glad to get the first farm fresh produce of the year.


Looking Ahead

  March is always time of transition on the farm. Warmer temps melt the snow and turn any bare patch into mud. Optimism is in the air. While having started some long season vegetables indoors, it's still too early to propagate most yet. Basic maintainance and repairs on the equipment continue and some pieces are being replaced after a long life. The overall hard winter (snow and extreme cold) has created a large amount of repair work to the fences and the cold frame. The snow is still too deep to attempt any projects outside of the plowed areas in the yard. If you walk off the beaten down paths, you sink into 2 1/2 ft. snow. Spring will be here soon enough. I'm content doing what I can when the weather allows.

This year's CSA signup is progressing ahead of schedule, most people from last year are returning again, and some new faces are joining our family. I always look forward to renewing friendships and making new ones. We have added some new varieties this year and will try some different veggies to add to the mix. Feedback from our members always help guide our planting. Being a small farm, we try to cater to our member's tastes. Variety and selection help to keep the weekly pickups fresh with different foods and textures throughout the season. Happy growing!


Winter Update

  Happy Holidays All!

  While we spent the last few weeks with friends and family and enjoying their company (and a little down time for us!), time marches on and we need to get a jump on the new year. Most of the seeds and supplies are on order; our bookwork updated and general repairs and upgrades to the equipment are finished. We've added some new seeds to our veggie inventory in the form of new varieties of peppers, tomatoes, beans and greens. We will keep our old favorites and experiment with these to see how they perform. Taste is everything; so that's our #1 priority. Vigor, disease resistance and production follow in our choices and, after input from our members, we'll decide if we will add them to our regular fare. As always, we have some "new" unusual heirloom varieties to test and evaluate.

  We have made some exciting changes in our CSA this year, and should be posting the details and pricing in our store in 2-3 weeks. We are always optimistic and thankful to all our members for their support and commitment throughout the year. We look forward to renewing old friendships and making new ones' and wish you all the best in the new year!


Say It Ain't So!

  Yet another growing season is coming to an end. This week marks the last pickup of our CSA. Frost came Saturday night and only the hardy survived. While the cold tolerant crops continue to grow; most of the beds are ready to be put to rest for the winter. Adding leaf mold, along with manure and garden debris to the cover crops, we let the mix breakdown over the winter to be turned under in spring; meanwhile it is protecting the soil from the wind, rain and snow of winter.

  While we still are harvesting fresh lettuce, spinach, kale and swiss chard; we will miss the other crops like peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. Our personal supply of carrots, beets and other root crops will remain in ground until we want to use them; covering them in straw once the weather grows permanently cold to protect them from freezing and making it easy to harvest in frost-free soil.

  As in nature; we will take a little time to rest, replenish, and restore ourselves before starting the cycle all over again. Thanks!..........Is that a seed catalog in the mail box???


Fall Update

  Time for the fall update around our farm!

  Tomatoes and peppers were excellent this year. Another week or two and they will be done. Our fall kale, lettuces and spinach is coming in; along with the carrots and beets. The cool weather has kept the flavor of the greens mild, not strong or bitter. The harvest of squash continues as well as turnips, celeriac and late broccoli. Even with the weather this year being cool and rainy, the crops seem to have adapted and are producing as usual. The general cleanup (hoops, row covers, stakes, etc.) goes on whenever we have time. We still have at least four weeks for the CSA, so our weekly share harvesting takes priority over other projects. The hoops for our new cold frame (new location and double the size!) are in place, while finishing the ends and inside will have to wait until they season slows down.

All things considered, it's been a good year on the farm!



Tomato Season

  Tomatoes; finally. About 10 days later than usual, but all the heirlooms are beginning to come in. Nice size, very little cracking, the bushes are loaded with them. No sign of blight (it's been a very wet year), plants are healthy and don't appear to be stressed. Should be an excellent crop.

  Added to the bell peppers, yellow and red cipolini onions, and eggplant, we should have some good eating. And with all the other crops producing abundantly, our menu choices are almost endless.

   We continue to add plantings for fall as space opens up from earlier crops. Bugs (pests) are surprisingly light this year and have been easy to control. The only disappointment so far has been mosaic on a couple of zuchinni and yellow squash plants. We pulled the infected plants and the others seem to be fine. The German Cream and Fingerling potatoes are producing great with no disease or scab whatsoever. I will definitely plant them again. The Asian cucumbers are prolific and get the thumbs up too!

 All this talk about food has made me hungry; it's time to go out and browse (eat) in the gardens.


On The Farm...

  All the crops are growing good despite the excess rain we've had. The CSA members are getting leaf lettuce, chard, beet greens, head lettuce (butterhead and crisphead), kale, radishes, kolarabi, snap peas, pac choi, asparagus and chinese cabbage. This week we will start to add zucchini, beets and peas. The other brassicas are doing well (pest free); as well as the cucumbers and squash. The corn was off to a bumpy start, but later plantings are holding their own. Keeping up to the weeds is always a challenge any year, but with the frequent rains we had, this year is especially challenging. So far we've been able to keep pace and control them. This week we plan to fertilize (compost) and lay down straw to help slow the weeds and conserve water for the plants to help get ready for the hot, dry days coming in July and August. Life is never dull and the work never finished.

  The new asparagus patch is planted and growing as well as are the beans for drying and shelling. we've added 2 new varieties to test and compare. Two new cucumber and onion varieties as well as 3 squashes round out our "new" trials to test this year. All are heirlooms and after the CSA members give their feedback on taste and appearance, we'll decide if we will add them to our regular offerings and plantings. Looks like the drizzle this morning has ended and I hear the weeds calling me; back to the grind!


Simpler Ways

  Being an organic grower, I find it is more of a lifestyle choice than a production method. It reaches into every facet of my life; not only what I eat. I make a conscience effort to use only the minimum outside inputs to produce the expected results. Plastics aren't used for weed supression or for ground covers. I use straw, leaves, compost and clippings to reduce the weeds. Stakes, markers, cages are recycled wire or wood. We use no sprays. Pests and animals are "controlled" by a mixture of row covers, trap crops, selective fencing and plant timing of vulnerable crops. Potatoes, for example, planted 2 weeks later than normal for this area, are seldom subject to Colorado bug beetles that regularly plague the crop. The crop matures only about 1 week later than the normally planted potatoes without the damage of the bugs. Planting a open patch of soybeans attracts the Japanese beetles away from my cash crops.

  Trying to work with nature rather than against it increases the odds for a successful crop. Crop rotation, diversity and diligent attention to soil fertility pay dividends in the plus column because soil health is the most important building block in the agricultural ecosystem. While I'm always looking to make my work less labor intensive, I realize some things require manual labor. This I grudgingly accept. Sustainable, organic lifestyles do require some sacrifices. Happy gardening!


Optimistic Nature

  Gardeners and farmers are optimistic people in general. We're content to plant a seed; nurture and pamper it for 3-4 months in the hopes of getting a carrot or onion we can eat. Not all that efficient overall, but it does have it's rewards. We get to enjoy fresh air, wildlife (hopefully not eating our labors), and rewarded with a means of physical labor instead of vegging out on the sofa. What a life!

  In a world seemingly based on instant gratification, we are content to let nature take its course. I wonder sometimes if I gain more from the process than in the actual reward. While I might complain every now and then about the weather, the bugs, the hours; I still wouldn't change a thing. I will always love what I do! Enjoy the season everyone.


Lesson Learned

  With rain forecast for tomorrow and they are calling for snow over the weekend, I need to finish putting the asparagus patch to bed today. I first cut the asparagus ferns off at the ground; cover with about 6" leaves; add a layer of straw and top off with a sprinkling of manure and wood ash. The old ferns will go into the compost.

  In spring I'll pull the covering back to the paths to make harvesting easier. After I finish picking the crop for the year, I weed the beds thoroughly and rake the mulch back in to help control the weeds.

  I plant only Mary Washington asparagus; it's an old variety, dependable and hardy. I tried growing  the "modern" varieties: the all male, better yield hype catalogs tell you about. After 3 years growing, the spears produced were all thin (like in the supermarket), inferior tasting and no noticeable increase in yields compared with Mary Washington roots planted the same time. I removed them and planted my trusted variety. Lesson learned.



  Hi All, Thanks again for a great season! While it is still fall and things are still growing (lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, turnips), we begin to look ahead to the next season and planning.

   We are currently looking into forming a organic, limited membership CSA in the Alden-Corfu area. A group of 20-25 full shares to start. Pickup days would be Saturdays at the Alden Farmers Market and Tuesdays here at the farm. Pricing has not been determined yet, but should be in the $25-$30 range with half shares around $15-$20. Payments would be made in advance monthly rather than seasonally; starting in May. This gives you the option to quit the group after a month if it does not fit you needs. You wouldn't be locked into a full season.

  If there is enough interest in this plan, we will have informational meetings later this winter (Jan-Feb) with full details on the operation of the CSA. Your thoughts, ideas, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If you have an interest joining something like this, respond by posting comments here or contacting me directly.


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