Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No title today, just shooting from the hip.

With all the cold weather, Jill spends so much time at the computer, that there was no room for me to sit down or get access to the keyboard!

I know I haven't blogged in a while, but I'm working on it. Our neighbors to the North are covered in ice this morning, while most to the South are only wet. Here in Whitton it's mixed. The roads are fine, but the trees have ice, but no loss of power. What a time to be thinking about the farm. Actually, it's the perfect time to be thinking about farming. Right before this sudden change in the weather it was rather nice and had dried up enough where some field work could be done. Jill and I went to work setting out our onion plants. That took all day, but the conditions were perfect, and now with the rain, the plants are settling in nicely.

The nice weather also allowed us to put the finishing touches on a new covered growing area. Whilst it's raining outside now, the new tunnel is continuing to dry out ever nearing a meeting with the tiller. This structure will allow more higher-quality produce earlier in the season, and will free up room in our seed-starting house.

Other projects that have been finished since the last blog log-in are the selling of our goats. A neighbor needed to clear a large area of brush so we were happy to send the goats his way. This was a major load off our shoulders. Our farm was not built for goats. Oreo, our billygoat was head butting the barn and almost knocked out one of the walls. Although they are masters of vine and brush removal, their time had come to head to greener pastures. They are tough, bemusing animals that could tear down a set of goalpoasts. Now our barn is safe and under reconstruction to suit the bellies off nesting fowl. Chickens, I have come to realize, are one of the first keys to sustainability. Free-range chickens are now the rage, but i don't want to farm them large scale. It's always wise to start small and learn cheaply. Providing for oneself at first, and then working towards feeding others. These days and times everything costs money and every penny should be scrutinized. My wise-old granny, who was born into a world of timber, outhouses, and muddy trails never failed to stoop for a penn. Later, in the time of the cell phones, and even when her back wasn't as strong she always stopped, and stooped, always refraining, "every penny helps."

Therefore, I am encouraging each and all to grow something that will save them some pennies, so I can continue to watch the contagiousness of farming and the limitless imagination that it can inspire in one's life. Go to your farmers markets and purchase a few "homegrown" transplants, or you can always move to the country where life is good and you tell the hour by the position of the sun in the sky, or learn to forecast the weather due to a change in wind direction.

February will be here soon, so early potatoe crops will go in soon. It pays to be on top of these things. I will plant several rounds of potatoes as well, so time is available. You must be ready when the time comes, however.

This is all I have for now, a good book requires my attention.

Stay safe, and buy local when available. Tranquility is peace.

God is love.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Look out! Keith's blogging!

I wouldn't want to fall in the water today!

The cold weather is a necessary part of our cycle, so keep your pipes warm.

I hope everybody is anticipating Spring as much as I am. Before then however, a few warm days in February make the crappie hungry and quick hitting. We can stock our freezers full of clean healthy fish. People with asparagus gardens will also see dividends before most others. Here at the farm we put year-old roots in last year. We also started half the modest bed in seedlings. This year we should get a few spears for the house, but I plan to put in enough roots this year to offer several bunches next year. Asparagus is a permanent crop that can last for generations, really, and will prosper in the mid-south. Keep it clean and composted, first, then watered. You can actually put it around the perimeter of your garden or in hard to water places. As with any cultivated plant the best results are achieved with dilligence.

I like to encourage everyone to grow something. Start small with a potted herb plant. Remember, vegetables can achieve great size so if at all possible plant something outside on the sunny-side of the house, south facing not in a container. Some people may not be able to grow anything to its full potential depending on tree shade. Plants need sunshine. For people living off the ground you half to be creative, and that really is the fun part after all.

We are starting early-spring, frost-hardy plants now - greens and brassicas. Brassicas are cool-weather crops- most notably brocolli. I try them every year and in my area they are hit or miss. We may get several spikes in temps either way. It needs stable cool weather. It often works better in the fall.

I also encourage everyone to save some seed year to year. This is your ultimate insurance - and it is free. There are books on the proper methods for hundreds of vegetable and flower varieties. Now is the time to gain that knowledge so when you have a cracked tomatoe or one with a worm on it, not fit to eat, you can turn it into next years plant. I like to concentrate on tomatoes because they are my favorite. In order to do this you have to give up hybrids and go with the old-fashioned, self-pollinating varieties which are called heirlooms. The blooms of these plants contain both sex parts meaning an insect does not have to touch it for it to produce a tomato. Heirlooms are easy to get, but not at Wal-Mart. Try the farmers markets in the spring. We will have several varieties, some we know will do well, and a bunch of new ones we will be trialing and offering to the public. The proper time to plant tomatoes is beginning a week after Easter - mid-April thru the end of June. We plant them every few weeks. Do Not get in a hurry to plant your sensitive plants, but also don't waste time. Even is it doesn't frost after Easter it can still get to cold at night as to be favorable for a tomatoe.

I gotta go. kef

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mushrooms, oh how do I love thee!

In case you missed the slightly obnoxious picture of me attacking a plate of shiitake mushrooms with my mouth, scroll up! These guys popped out of nowhere just the other day! We thought we had cut all the fungi off the logs, but within a matter of days we had another fresh harvest. This time last year we inoculated the freshly cut oak logs in the cold, windy, snow- spitting weather. We've been patient,... waiting, looking, hoping for just a couple of guys to pop out, but to date we've had three small, yet very nice harvests. Just wanted to share the fun we're having. Hopefully we'll continue to see growth into the spring!

That's all I've got tonight, more to come friends :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 CSA Application ready to go!

Hi Friends,

I am happy to announce Whitton Farms 2009 CSA application is up and ready for take off. We are conducting our CSA a bit differently this year. Instead of only having the option to sign up for a 10 week share, you now have the choice to sign up for 4 consecutive weeks of produce( the minimum order) all the way to 32 consecutive weeks of produce. You pick the start date /weeks (only consecutive weeks please) you want and pick up location, and we'll take care of the rest.

Keith and I decided to host our CSA in this is manner in an effort to encourage more people to begin eating locally grown veggies. We found that a 10 week minimum subscription was a bit overwhelming for some folks, so they opted out. Keith and I know many of you were completely satisfied with the 10 week subscription service, and that option is still there for you as well. Like I previously stated, you pick the weeks, we fill the order.

If you decide to participate in our CSA, please print off the application and mail it with a check to Whitton Farms: 5157 W St. Hwy 118, Tyronza, Arkansas 72386. If you do not send the check your spot will not be held. The earlier you send your checks in - the sooner your spot for the CSA is secured.

We are limiting our CSA subscriber list to 300 people this year. Once we reach the 300 mark, it will depend on our crops and demand at market as to whether or not we will allow more subscriptions to be sold. If we see that we are able to sign more people up for the CSA that information will be posted here. So keep checking back! :)

When you become a member of the Whitton Farms CSA it guarantees you a sack of the freshest, locally grown produce we are able to grow. We use organic and sustainable farming practices, and pride ourselves on being good stewards of the land. Each week you will receive a friendly reminder email for CSA pick up which will include: farm updates, suggested reading, recipe of the week, and any interesting information we come across.

Also know that Whitton Farms produce can be found in many of the best restaurants in town such as: Interim, The Inn at Hunt Phelan, Felicia Suzanne's, and Sole, just to name a few. At the end of each season we try to host a CSA potluck party at the farm. Last summer our CSA party drew just over 70 people! We had a ton of great food and lots of fun! If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of please check out our website at www.whittonfarms.com.

If anyone has questions about the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) please call 8708159519. For the newcomers, a CSA is basically a produce subscription service.

We look forward to seeing many familiar faces and meeting newcomers to the local food movement! We wish everyone a prosperous, healthy, and "green" new year. Thanks for the interest and support!

Jill Forrester
Locavores keep it real! :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

CSA, CSA, CSA info coming soooooooon!

Hi Friends,

Many of you have emailed us about the upcoming CSA session. If you can hang on for just couple more days we'll have our website updated with all the information you'll need. Also coming soon will be our revised growing list for the upcoming season. You'll see much of what we grew last year, but with many new and tasty additions. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at our new email addy: whittonfarms@live .com.

If you have any old clear jars that you're thinking of throwing out, hang on to those guys. We want to collect them for our seed storage for next year. It's a great way to recycle too. Bring them to us any market day and we'll put them to good use.

Good news, the Memphis Farmers Market will be opening April 18 this year! I don't know when the Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market opens, but when I find out I'll post it here.

After I'm finished blogging, Keith and I will begin organizing all of our seeds and plan our planting schedule for the several months. It's not too late to make a suggestion for what you'd like to see at the market this year so drop us a line when you can.

Also, if you want to plant a garden this year don't forget that we'll be selling heirloom vegetable transplants come March and April. We grow all of our veggies from seed. Don't be afraid to place an order now to be filled in the coming months. We can reserve the plants and schedule a special pick up day/location for those of you eager to get your garden in early. Oh, I should have a ton of tulips come March so be on the look out for tulip posts in the future & I mean big, french tulips too! :)

This week we got our first full crop of killer shiitake mushrooms and I must say they were delicious. We gave many sacks away to our respective families, and the rest we've already gobbled up. I'm usually not a big mushroom fan, but then again I've never had a fresh mushroom just off the log. It's a flavor that I now crave. We will be expanding our shiitake mushroom production come February so be on the look this spring for some mushrooms at the market. Slice them up, put a little real butter in a skillet, dash of white wine, sautee' for a bit and man oh man - what a tasty treat!

Hope everyone is well and having happy Sunday!
Peace out, we've got some planning to do! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Preparing for the Bounty!

Hi Friends,
I hope all of you have enjoyed the beginning of 2009 thus far and please know we wish you all the best throughout the course of this year. Keith and I have had our noses in countless seed catalogs diligently searching for the very best in heirloom vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers.

You'll be excited to know Keith will be growing close to 50 different varieties of tomatoes this year, I can hardly wait. His dream of becoming the Tomato King is slowly becoming a reality, in our minds anyway.

Speaking of tomatoes, if you're like us it's almost as though we're on a tomato strike right now. The "maters" (as Keith likes to call them) can't compare to a summer harvest, so we will wait patiently until the end of May or early June to quench our appetite for the multi-dimensionally -delicious fruit!

Oh, about our blog, we will be discussing a variety of topics including: gardening basics, why buy local, supporting farmers markets, recipes, good books, food politics, fun on the farm, local restaurants who buy local, composting, and green living. Feel free to ask questions or make savvy suggestions. Our eyes, ears, and minds are open and we are ready to hear from you.