Friday, May 29, 2009

lots of water

sweet potato slips ready to be cut and planted in the field

those same sweet potatoes a month ago

It has been raining- even indoors as I will explain- but we will not complain about the rain! It has come mostly slow and steady in intervals over the last week and a half. We have been able to work between showers (and occasionally during them) and have gotten quite a bit more planted.

Our second planting of corn is complete. The first planting was weeded yesterday and is knee-high. I won't complain about the rain but I will whine a bit about the humidity. Weeding yesterday was like working in soup.

We also planted roughly as many beans as we can possibly keep picked. How many bushels of beans can you pick in an hour? We're growing several varieties this year including Provider. Both the beans and the second planting of corn have germinated and are looking good.

We have aphids in the greenhouse. This isn't a problem to categorize as catastrophic; more of an annoyance and something we can control. We have sprayed insecticidal soap that is approved for organic production. It is doing the job but this is where the story gets interesting. Because we've sprayed all the plants with soap we can no longer water them from above but must dip each flat in water so as not to wash the soap off the leaves. This process takes much longer but it beats having a full blown aphid infestation.

Of course this meant we had to find a way to water thousands of plants by submerging them in water without taking hours of labor everyday. Not a problem. On Wednesday of this week Brad built a temporary float bed that allows us to float flats of transplants in water without washing off the necessary soap. The problem occurred when I stepped in to help fill the float bed with water. You see I put in the hose and turned on the water but forgot to turn it off. Other farm-related tasks required attention and I forgot the water was running. The float bed filled up and then the greenhouse floor flooded. It looked as if it had rained indoors as well as out. We got the problem cleaned up and Brad and Eric have yet something else to pick on me about.

In addition to the corn and beans we planted about 300 tomatoes (more soon) and more than 1000 pepper plants. In terms of bell peppers we are growing Ace, California Wonder and Sweet Chocolate. Peppers take a long time to get started. We've been caring for these peppers for more than three months in the greenhouse and now they're out in the field and ready to take off.

We also planted several thousand Swiss Chard transplants a little more than a week ago. They've made the transition into the field very well. If you've never cooked with Chard I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised.

Here's a recipe to get you thinking

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chard; stir to coat. Cover; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Hopefully I'll have a start date for pick ups for you by the next email update. The squash and zucchini are growing quickly and the Kale and Collards are producing more each week. Garlic will be ready fairly soon so we'll be able to fill out a basket in the near future. It's coming! Remember you can give me a call any time with questions. 704/305.6654

I hope everyone has a great weekend.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


For the past two Saturdays, Cold Water Creek Farms has been at the Winecoff School Road Farmers' Market selling radishes and lettuce. We haven't had enough produce to make much money but it has been a good experience and lots of fun. It has given us the chance to meet several of you who also shop at that market. One of our CSA members, who will remain nameless in this update, made a good humored joke by suggesting that she was only at the farmers' market because her CSA hadn't started up yet. It has been cooler (46 degrees this morning- the greenhouse heater kicked on!) and wetter than we might have liked but plants are coming up and getting bigger by the day. Warm weather will set in and allow the tomatoes, peppers and all the other heat-loving plants to get to work. The food is on the way!

Last week one of our CSA members stopped by my house while on a bike ride. She bought a bag of leaf lettuce from us at the farmers market and made a joke about whether or not we should have charged her extra for the slug that hitched a ride back to her house along with the lettuce. I told her that in fact we do charge extra for slugs and that she now owes us a nickel. You might think this is where I explain that because we don't use synthetic pesticides that you should expect slugs in our lettuce but it's not. You should not expect slugs in your lettuce and you should let us know if you find any unwanted critters in your food.

It is entirely likely that we will make mistakes during this CSA season. We're shooting for perfection but we all know how that goes. The reason I'm sharing the slug story is that we want feedback from all of you about how this is working out for your family. As we move forward through the season we want you to let us know how we're doing, what you like, and what we could improve upon. Letting us know that a slug slipped through our lettuce washing process helps us to make adjustments that keep that from happening in the future so please send me an email or give me a phone call if you have any concerns this season. Your feedback will make us better.

As we target which week in June to start up we're considering a transitional week or two as a way to get the food flowing early. This would mean that the first few baskets of food would be less than the $25 full share amount or the $13 half share amount. We would make up for this of course by increasing the amount of food later in July and August when we'll be running at full speed. Or we could add an extra week to make up the difference. As always communication is the key. If you are getting less than promised on any particular week I will let you know and I will let you know how we plan to make up for that later in the season. Our goal is 40 happy families at the end of 2009!

We're purchasing the containers that you will use for picking up your food each week. Each family will have two containers. On week one you will pick up your food in its container. On week two you will need to bring your empty container from week one and take home a full container already prepared for week tTwo. If you forget to bring your empty container back we will shame you by emptying your container into paper bags making it look like you were at the grocery store buying food from far away and not supercool CSA members supporting local agriculture in Cabarrus County. I'm kidding, well kinda ;-) but I thought I'd let all of you know how the container rotation will work. I'll send reminders to help everybody remember.

This week we're planting more corn and beans and some okra. We're hoping to transplant tomatoes, tomitilloes, peppers and some other heat-lovers out into the field. Now if we could just get rid of this arctic air in May.

Best Wishes,


Tuesday, May 5, 2009


tractor at sunset

We've gotten rain twice since the fields were turned under, including more than 1/4 of an inch last night. More could fall today and tomorrow. The rain speeds the process of decomposition going on now that we've plowed the cover crop into the ground. We're waiting until at least Thursday to plant, maybe slightly longer if we end up getting a lot more rain.

I sent out the first of the weekly emails to CSA members that will help us coordinated during the growing season. It was more work than I expected getting all those email addresses organized. I also ordered more squash and zucchini seed. For squash we'll be growing: Sunray, Multipik, Gentry, Sunburst and Flying Saucer. For Zucchini it will be Castata Romanesco (these will be coming on late) Raven and Meteor.

In the greenhouse things look good except for flea beetles on the eggplant. I hate flea beetles. They show up each spring and that's one of the reasons for waiting to put out eggplant until later in the season. Evetually the flea beetles will die out and the eggplant will recover and go on to produce.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Corn, Beans & Compost Tea

This week we planted corn and some bush beans. We're growing Brocade and Silver Queen Corn. We're growing several types of beans but on Wednesday we planted Blue Lake Bush Beans. The links go to Johnny's Select Seed which is where we're buying most of our seed for this season. We're also buying from Seeds of Change, Bountiful Gardens and few others.

We continued to move tomatoes, eggplants and peppers into larger containers. It was hot in the greenhouse this week!

We also brewed a 50 gallon batch of compost tea for our spring vegetables already in the field.

I put together the email update list this morning. Those of you who are members of Cold Water Creek Farms 2009 will be receiving updates via email starting this week. Some of the information contained in those updates will be posted here as well but some of it will be coordination information for members and suggestions, recipe, concerns, etc. among only members. Coordinating with the people interested in buying food from our farm is work in and of itself!