News and blog
Times change and in our quest to reconnect those who eat with those who grow, Fresh SPIN Farms is moving to Facebook. www.facebook.com/freshspinfarms to be exact!
We have a Farm Stand on www.facebook.com/freshspinfarms that uses the national Payvment Mall app. Just check on the left side of the page and you will find "Farm Stand - Buy Now where we can collect CSA payments and offer retail vegies at the click of a button. We have a nice Welcome page and several other pages under construction to provide more information about CSA options, educational programing, and other opportunities to connect with Fresh SPIN Farms and our community. By using Facebook, we are able to update more frequently, including directly from our farm smartphone to keep our content current and our customers up to date on new harvests, plantings, social issues, and other farm business and fun.
Stop by and like the page to get updates and join in the conversation. It is a two way street and we want to hear from you every step of the way. Post a question, add your favorite recipie, put up a picture of your Fresh SPIN Farms adventures, or post a link to your favorite places that use Fresh SPIN Farms produce. We're looking for creative ways to recapture community lost to the hectic issues of our economy and share the joy of our work and mission with our freinds and neighbors.
Like all farms should be, Fresh SPIN Farms is a community resource. Here is a sample of what people are saying about us:
"Fresh Spin Farms and the people behind it are treasures. We like the place, because it is like home and love the veggies because they are fresh, healthy and taste good.
So hope on over to www.facebook.com/freshspinfarms and say hello so we can get to know you better. Oh yes, be sure to update your bookmarks so you can find us easily as we transition to the new platform.
Thank you for your support and continued encouragement.
Hi all, well you already know it was raining on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you wanted to make it out to one of our workshops and just didn't want to stand in the rain, that's OK, we get it. The upcomming Saturday workshop is still on and you can sign up at http://freshspinfarms02.eventbrite.com
Because this workshop is so important, we are opening up additional dates through the next two weeks in October. Let us know when you have a couple of hours to learn how weed management can become a thing of joy instead of dread and we will do whatever we can to be accommodating. We are making a lot of changes at Fresh SPIN Farms as we grow, including getting ready to launch a new website to better serve our customers. You can check in at our Facebook page for the most up to date information and to "talk" with me or one of our 5 Fall Quarter interns from UCD and our newest managing farmer. www.facebook.com/freshspinfarms
Thanks and let us know if you need a special date and time for the weed control workshop.
Fresh SPIN Farms
Today we started harvesting Spinach and a combination of Rainbow and Neon Kale along with more baby leaf Arugula and Broccoli Greens. Papaya Squash really loved the hot weather and are giving us more and more each day. Eight Ball squash are still being harvested, man do they taste good sautéed with a light oil and pinch of salt and pepper.
Tomatoes and peppers are setting well and we could see harvest starting next week on these. If the temperatures stay down, Arugula and Broccoli could last for a couple of weeks. Oh yes, we also may get a few baby Pak Choi if the slugs don't eat all of it!
***we know online ordering is hard ... feel free to call or email for anything you want > 530-753-6004 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and enjoy the cool down ;-)
Our lovely cool and wet spring weather has allowed us to fully demonstrate the effectiveness of both plant through and grow through paper mulch systems. With the cool weather, we've been busy planting SPIN beds to greens in between more traditional Sacramento Valley late spring crops like tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers. The picture set here shows the effectiveness of one of our Urban Farm Demonstration areas:
Raised beds on the right are already transplanted with squash and peppers. Tomato planting area in centeris being prepared by rolling paper out over existing weeds. Here we pushed down weeds with the bucket on a front end loader to get a flat surface since some dry coarse weeds stems remained from last year. Primary weed at preparation time was annual ryegrass.
The photo above shows a second area north of raised beds with compost spread, ready for planting.
Here planting lines have been drawn for SPIN beds with the back of a pitchfork. Limas have been laid out ready to be dibbled in.
Dibbling in takes a little practice, but the technique used here is to simply poke a hole underneath a seed on the surface so the seed falls down into the hole. Limas were soaked in water to speed germination so should not be planted with a mechanical seeder. Dibble sticks are available commercially, but the soft texture of the compost here made the trusty old finger more precise and reliable. Use a slight angle to poke from the side and under seed. If seed is still visible, pinch soil over seed to cover. Making the holes encourages water from sprinklers (or this spring, rain) to collect around seed so young roots have ample moisture.
With longer term crops planted including Snow Peas, Limas, Okra, Green Bush and Pole Beans, Tomatoes, and Eggplant, what to do with the ground in between? SPIN beds of short season crops can be seen here. Plantings are staggered to provide a constant harvest. Greens are already being harvested from Raised Beds. Arugula left of Tomatoes is nearly ready with lettuce between Tomato rows about a week further back. Broccoli and more Arugula are broadcast planted between rows of Bush Lake Green Beans. Row length was planned for harvest so regrowth could be harvested again. Shorter rows running across the planting area allows easy access to SPIN beds of greens while Tomatoes and eventually Beans provide shade and evaporative cooling to extend the greens season.
A birds eye view of this Urban Farm Demonstration Area shows ongoing harvest rotation. Chard and Spinach are planted between rows of Peas with Okra and Limas planted on one side. Spinach will be first to harvest followed by Peas and Chard with Limas and Okra coming in season as Peas die back.
One raised bed is producing Squash while Peppers mature while the other two have multiple varieties of Radish being harvested, samples of Greens harvested and growing back, mini heads of Butter Lettuce, and the first sets of Green Onions nearing harvest. Multiplier onions are also planted in the Squash and Pepper beds for integrated pest management (IPM).
Top center shows Tomatoes ready to be trellised. Determinate varieties are in one row with Indeterminate varieties in the other. Arugula and Pak Choi are on the far side of the Tomatoes to be harvested from the edge of the bed. Mixed green and red Leaf Lettuce is broadcast planted between Tomato rows. Parsley and Cilantro are planted for harvest from the pathway on the right side of the Tomatoes.
Broccoli and Arugula SPIN beds are filling nicely between rows of Bush Beans. With the return of hot weather, additional plantings of SPIN beds to greens was stopped. Rows of Pole Beans and Cucumbers can be seen on the left. These will be trellised to provide shade and cooling for summer greens. In Davis, we have temperatures over 100 degrees for several days at a time from June through September with some hot days as early as April and as late as the end of October, so laying out rows to provide shade and cooling can radically increase planting area by extending seasons for different varieties of vegetables.
This compact Urban Farm Demonstration Area shows what can be accomplished in just a couple of months.
This morning shot of Red and Green Leaf Lettuce between Tomatoes shows the impact of filtered sunlight and cooling from taller green plants. At the same time, Paper Sheet Mulch and the surface Compost layer are keeping Tomato roots moist while reducing swings in soil moisture.
Interplanting with SPIN beds of greens reduces weed growth and pulling weeds between rows of Tomatoes is actually picking weed from high value salad greens. Tall and short stature plants work together to enhance each other's environments.
Visit our storefront to enjoy this delicious synergy.
Now harvesting and selling:
French Breakfast Radish
Taking orders for:
Asian Baby Leaf greens
Mini Papaya Squash
Eight Ball Squash
Online ordering is up for current harvest but hard to find. Look under the "Our products" drop down menu and select "Current Products" or cut and paste this address into your browser: http://www.freshspinfarm.com/store/191
Well, while this poor farmer is still trying to sort out how to set up the "automated" features here so you can all buy and order what we are producing at Fresh Spin Farms, we will be selling over email at email@example.com or through the addresses on our contact page.
The other news is we are accepting Davis Dollars.
What's the catch? None, nada, not a thing! You make a purchase from Fresh Spin Farms with Davis Dollars the same as any other cash purchase. What is the limit? None. We will accept Davis Dollars as payment for any bill. If you want to pay for a CSA membership or a bunch of Radish, it makes no difference. Pony up the Davis Dollars or Cash, you will be treated exactly the same. So if you are not already on the list here for updates, drop us an email to be added for notices of what we have available here at the farm or other locations.
Thanks a bunch,
Fresh Spin Farms
This week we celebrate our first harvests at Fresh Spin Farms.
With the cool weather and rain we are able to keep planting spring crops and our lettuce and greens taste magnificent. We took the production from 4 square feet of Asian Baby Leaf greens down to the HUB Food Club meeting this week in Berkeley CA. Comments were "great greens Ed" and "best greens ever". This from some of the top people in the SF Bay Area food systems movements including the Director of COFED and Chair of the Oakland Food Council. I passed the bowl around one last time before heading home as everyone wanted one last taste!
Mesculin is starting. We have a demonstration area of Burpee Spring Mix that is ready to harvest.
Radishes are also just beginning. Cherry Bells and other round reds are just starting with French Breakfast starting next week and White Icycle still two weeks out (depending on the weather).
Eight Ball and Papaya Squash are coming on even though it has been cool. We will have limited quantities over the next several months.
Tomatoes are setting fruit and it looks like it will be a good year.
Cherries were hurt by recent rains. The first ripe fruit suffered from splits but a small quantity is still ripening and should be ready over the next two weeks. There is only one young tree, so quantiy is realy limited.
Newly replanted citrus are setting fruit, so we may get a crop in mid summer (strange I know, but talk to the weather about this).
Snow peas are up and we are hoping to get a picking by the end of June if the heat stays down.
Elephant Garlic and Green Onions are slow with the cool weather, but they will get there by mid to late June.
Peppers took a break with the cool temperatures. They were growing great but it has been overcast and they are just now starting to flower again. Fortunately, it looks like they are setting early fruit.
With the funky weather, production and harvest is going to be sporadic and challenging. While we do expect to open up a CSA signup shortly, please email directly to either firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to me at email@example.com to order or purchase our early produce.
Thanks, and I will work on getting pictures up of what we have short term as well as opening up the online order pages.
First, I want to thank those who have signed up for updates from Fresh Spin Farms. I hope this goes out to everyone. If not, please let me know through the firstname.lastname@example.org email address or my email@example.com address. Also, I'd like to offer a special thank you for comments about our blog entries. The purpose of Fresh Spin Farms is to preserve and share farming knowledge. Whenever possible, we will continue to share practical and informative information about production techniques and the theory behind sucessful methods.
The nursery was sold out of blueberries when I went back so although the mulch is down and waiting, I need to find 8 more blueberry plants to complete the planting area. For those following, the planting area measures 12 x 40 feet with a total of 20 plants (when I find the rest). Materials used to prep the area included one and a half rolls of Red Rosin paper (3' x 160') and 2 yards of compost. The first part took about 3 hours to prepare and plant. It was windy that day and it always takes longer to lay out and start than to add. Plus, I was working alone so there was nobody to roll out the paper while putting compost on top to keep it from blowing. Day two, the second section was laid down and covered in a little over an hour. I still have to plant the 10 blueberries, so there will be more time. The first set of berries came in half gallon pots so I used a post hole digger for transplanting.
My new trays were delivered yesterday for micro-greens so I started the first round of samples today. I'm targeting small shops that sell sandwiches and paninis so I ordered small trays that will allow the shops to display the growing micro-greens on their shelf. By letting the shop cut and use the greens as needed, the shop controls inventory and the customer can see they are getting fresh veggies. It can't get much fresher than being cut in front of the customer. I still need to set up a deposit system on the ordering site to encourage recycling of the trays. It took awhile for the industry to catch up with the idea. Micro-green pictures in the gallery are of small trays from Jiffy peat pellet greenhouse kits. Way too expensive to give out to customers. Additionally, the trays bottoms are molded to fit peat pellets so the baby's blanket does not lay flat. This makes it difficult to evenly spread seed. Add to that the rounded tray corners and cutting the coconut coir gets to be a real hassel. This time around I found a source for reusable microwavable food containers. The containers are rectangular with only a small radius on the corner so cutting and fitting the baby's blanket is much easier. Tray bottoms are nearly flat with a slightly raised center. I'll know in a week or two how well they work. The only drawback so far is the trays come with a matching lid. I'm playing around with using these to help germinate seed, but since micro-greens need ventilation, there is only a limited time in the first couple of days when a lid is userful. We will just have to see what happens.
Waste not, want not. I saved all the peat pellets from the first micro-green trial using the Jiffy trays. So although not certified organic, I'm using these now to start transplants. Since a great deal of what we are doing at Fresh Spin Farms involves working around landscaping, it is unlikely we will ever be able to certify the whole operation as Organic. The best we can do is use organic and natural methods whenever possible, but with neighbors on all sides plus a heavily trafficed roadway out front and winds blowing in weeds from all directions, there are times we have to resort to non organic controls to keep our production areas from being overrun. One neighbor contributed lovely bermuda grass to the slough as a convenient way of dealing with his grass clippings. So, as we move from being a start up to being a mature business, we will continue to increase the amount of organic products we purchase. In the mean time, the sustainable thing is not to waste the energy and time put into creating Jiffy Peat Pellets because we needed small trays to do a trial with.
Peppers and Squash are planted, we have a first round of green beans in the Jiffy pellets along with some miniature peppers and cucumbers. Although it is late, I started sprouting broccoli in some more of the Jiffy pellets this week. In the Sacramento Valley of California, spring is always a problem with temperatures. Climate Change predicts we will have cooler and wetter springs, so maybe we will get lucky and the broccoli won't flower before it can be harvested.
Ahh! I started on this area about 10 years ago. Because the house is next to a drain slough, I had to elevate the house. This left me with and extra couple of feet of elevation and to prevent water from eroding the bank of the slough, I built up a reverse drain on the surface using a backfill of brush, compost, and dirt. The plan was to do a cranberry trial here so I wanted as much organic material in the soil as possible, simulating a bog. When people are irrigating upstream in the summer, water from the slough infiltrates the area and there is a small amount of groundwater recharge. In the winter, surface runoff is stopped from running directly into the slough and is directed parallel to the slough at a low slope. Slowing the runoff allows more infiltration and so reduces runoff and having the several feet of decomposed organic matter under a thin layer of topsoil provides extra water holding capacity; a must for getting our heavy clay soils to take in water.
Although I did not get to putting in cranberries (they don't grow in water covered bogs, the water is used to float berries as a harvest aid), this area has been growing a bumper crop of weeds year after year. This year, I found someone selling dried blueberries at the farmers market and it occured to me this would be a good crop for my slough bank. I prefer extended market opportunities and dried blueberries would let me test production without risking the loss of perishable fruit. A discussion on the SPIN Farming Google Group prompted me to dust of one of my paper mulch experiments from several years ago and get some new pictures to upload.
Theory -- Weed control with paper mulch is a weed exclussion method. Paper, held tight to the soil, slows the emergence of first leaves and provides a habitat for decomposers to attack seedlings trying to break through the paper. Conversely, roots have developed to penetrate moderate resistance. Paper, like other sheet mulches, must be held down to resist wind blowing.
Understanding that paper "rots" or decomposes over time when left in the elements, we can program a planting area to suppress weed growth from the soil seed bank and yet allow crop seedlings to penetrate. For areas where windblown weed seed is anticipated, covering a paper mulch with wood chips or shavings will suppress weeds while the loose cover will limit creation of ideal germination conditions for new seed. A coarse surface covering allows the paper underneath to dry out extending the effectiveness of the mulch system.
Again, since paper decomposes when wet, altering the surface cover to fine compost will change the properties of the mulch system. Compost holds moisture longer than wood chips allowing a more rapid decomposition of the paper in the mulch system. In hot areas, a bed of several inches of compost on the soil surface insulates the soil preventing evaporation and reducing soil temperature. The problem of putting a layer of compost on a typical soil however, is the soil seed bank utilizes the stable moisture and nutrients provided by the addition of the compost layer and weed pressure is increased. The addition of a paper barrier on the soil surface and underneath the compost layer works to increase germination of weed seeds in the soil but prevent emergence. At the same time, beneficial qualities of the compost layer are preserved and a “late” feeding of shallow roots is enabled.
Paper mulching also preserves soil structure by reducing tillage. Although sheet mulches do limit gas exchange, paper is typically breathable whereas plastics are not so this negative impact is reduced. Perhaps the most important benefit to using paper mulches comes from a reduction of energy for field preparation. There is no tillage requirement for producing a seedbed, no cultivation or herbicide application, and organic fertilizer (compost) is laid on the soil surface as in a natural system instead of turned into the soil.
Paper mulching allows two types methods for planting. The method shown here, and in earlier blogs concerning transplanting, is a Plant Through methodology. Plant Through either establishes an open space in the mulch for transplanting, or expects a transplanter to cut through the paper layer on transplanting. While the opening in the sheet mulch can allow weeds to penetrate, this is a small area that can be easily managed with hand weeding. Often, weed loads are reduced sufficiently that no weeding is required. A variation of plant through is used for established trees, bushes, and vines where paper is placed around the plant or along a row and then covered allowing paper mulching of standing crops.
The second type of paper mulching is a more complicated Grow Through method. In this method, seeds are planted in the sheet mulch covering. This can be a line of sand, sterilized compost, or other suitable medium. With the Grow Through method, conditions must be managed carefully so that crop roots are able to penetrate the moist paper mulch while weeds from the soil seed bank are set back as much as possible.
A Plant Through Example with Blueberries --
The planting area has been rolled to break up and push down existing weeds, stones, etc. A relatively tight fit to the soil is needed to kill covered weeds and punctures to the paper would make more spots where weeds could penetrate.
Two lines of paper are being rolled out with a gap in between. Not the pieces of paper under the first roll of paper to cover the gap betwen rolls except where blueberry plants will be set. Overlap should be at least 6 inches. Paper can be doubled to help resist extreme weeds.
The completed 40 foot bed of blueberries. Compost is laid 2 inches thick. Here the edge of on piece of paper mulch is left uncovered to accomodate a second row of plantings using the same paper mulch method.
One of the things my clients have all needed over the years is an answer to weed control. Several years ago my former business, Shade Tree Mechanical, came up with a weed supression method we are using this year on some older weed infested raised beds and hopefully out in the production field.
The first photo shows a raised bed covered with paper mulch.
Photo two shows the set of four beds, two ready to mulch, one with paper laid down, and the last with several inches of compost covering the paper mulch.
The photo above shows squash plants set out to transplant into a fresh layer of compost. Compost is not mixed is only applied to the surface of the bed instead of being turned in. Paper mulch reduces initial water penetration keeping nutrients in the compost from washing out. Compost holds moisture and provides nutrients for improved transplant success. When transplanting, make sure to cut or poke through burried paper mulch to allow rooting into subsoil, but limit damage to paper in order to reduce potential for agressive weeds to surface.
The final photo is a completed bed of squash transplants. Multiplier onions have been companion planted to help minimize insect pressure on squash plants.