Winter - Green Manure Crops and CSA

Winter - Green Manure Crops and CSA

Green manure crops are used to protect and proliferate soil microbes, to remineralise the soil, and to build humus - not only through the incorporation of organic matter back into the soil but also through the great symbiotic relationship between plants and soil life - with plants converting sunlight and water into complex sugars which are then fed to the diverse network of organisms living within the soil who in turn offer nutrients and/or heightened immune system response to the plants. It is amazing the interconnectedness of the soil life and the plants above.

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The time of building compost piles

Autumn is our season for renewal - sowing green manure crops and building compost piles as we remove summer crops. With most of this growing seasons crops in the ground, there is more time in the week for weeding in the orchard and preparing whole areas for winter green manure crops. Our harvesting continues with the broccoli taking over for cucumbers and cauliflowers for tomatoes. The carrots and parsnips sweeten with the cool nights. And English spinach has returned!

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Autumn..…will come!

March comes…the days are shortening…the nights are cool and damp…but the list is still so long! There are still tomatoes to harvest,

Black Beauty Tomatoes

Black Beauty Tomatoes

and lettuce seeds to dry,

Lettuce Seed Drying in the shed

Lettuce Seed Drying in the shed

and more lettuce in the field

Lettuce Seed ready for Harvest

Lettuce Seed ready for Harvest

There are brassicas to irrigate and hoe

Brassicas coming along for the Autumn CSA

Brassicas coming along for the Autumn CSA

and green manure crops filled with sunflowers to admire and then mow

Summer sunflowers

Summer sunflowers

Cucumbers to clip up

Polytunnel Cucumbers

Polytunnel Cucumbers

and corn to husk.

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But the days are shortening and the nights at times have a chill. And we feel everything stretching, with such tension as we wait for rain and continue our harvesting -

Capsicums seed crops.

Capsicums seed crops.

Food for our community, food for the larger community, seed crops and special wedding posies.

A CSA share from Week 15 of our 2018-2019 season.

A CSA share from Week 15 of our 2018-2019 season.

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We try and meditate on patience for sweet Autumn knowing that when she comes the earth will move into her yearly time for renewal.

Autumn… will come…

Robin wrote an essay published in Issue 58 of DUMBO FEATHER - Healing the Land. Part poetry, part stream of consciousness, it takes you from the community deep in the soil, to the seed splitting, the flowers bursting, the sun parching, the rain falling, and the flow of water out into the oceans.

“Life begets life in this symphony of existence where the cycles of birth and death fuel the balance.  The whole is a sum of all its pieces - with the sun parching even while it fuels.” (excerpt)

Hope you, like us, are busy preserving the harvest and enjoying summers stretch..



In the long days of summer...

In the long days of summer…we harvest. As farmers we spend more then 50% of our time harvesting and in late summer when the field tomatoes are on, the capsicum are maturing, the corn is ready, onions have bulbed and are ready for drying, beans are happening…we spend a lot of time harvesting. We also need to keep on top of the weeds which love the heat too, seed and transplant Autumn crops and keep everything hydrated. We brew herbal teas for the crops and battle insects - all with the hope of harvesting!!

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Our CSA moves forward with an eight week Late Summer share. You can learn more and purchase the boxes via the Farm Store on our website . Our Late - Summer CSA will start Friday 1 February and run through Friday 22 March. It will be followed by an Autumn and Early Winter share.

If you are curious what the shares this season have looked like, please look at these photos or these photos from shares last CSA season.

Here is how the farm is looking…

In the long days of summer, tomatoes ripen…

In the long days of summer, tomatoes ripen…

…in all shades and colours!!!

…in all shades and colours!!!

Capsicum and eggplant mature.

Capsicum and eggplant mature.

Corn tassels.

Corn tassels.

Pumpkins flower, are pollinated and grow!

Pumpkins flower, are pollinated and grow!

New varieties of beetroot are grown and sent to restaurants.

New varieties of beetroot are grown and sent to restaurants.

Heirloom lettuce form heads and climbing cucumbers enjoy the shade created under a canopy.

Heirloom lettuce form heads and climbing cucumbers enjoy the shade created under a canopy.

Seed crops are thriving.

Seed crops are thriving.

Sunflowers in the green manure bud while flowers in the tomatoes and hedgerows bloom. These green manures our our next crops food. Soon they will be mowed and incorporated, the soil life with transform them into stable humus which holds carbon and feeds the crop! Working within the natural cycle is amazing.

Sunflowers in the green manure bud while flowers in the tomatoes and hedgerows bloom. These green manures our our next crops food. Soon they will be mowed and incorporated, the soil life with transform them into stable humus which holds carbon and feeds the crop! Working within the natural cycle is amazing.

The farm is a rotating tapestry of green manure crops growing, soil prepared, and food crops at all stages of maturity.

The farm is a rotating tapestry of green manure crops growing, soil prepared, and food crops at all stages of maturity.

Language barriers are overcome as Robin gives a group of Japanese farmers interested in organic farming techniques a handful of soil to smell, taste and touch.

Language barriers are overcome as Robin gives a group of Japanese farmers interested in organic farming techniques a handful of soil to smell, taste and touch.

Honey bees build comb

Honey bees build comb

and cap honey in comb filled with old pollen stores.

and cap honey in comb filled with old pollen stores.

Honey is harvested, pressed and jarred.

Honey is harvested, pressed and jarred.

Our honey is available to our CSA members at farm pick up and also to the general public at Yoga in the Park in Sorrento. This is Baxter’s 10th year hosting morning yoga classes near the wooden park overlooking the ferry terminal and the Sorrento pier. You can visit her website to learn more about the daily classes and Intelligent Health - a collaboration between three wonderful local legends/health care professionals here on the peninsula.

As the earth exhales its dazzling array of colours, flavours, and textures, we continue to sow the Autumn crops and try and keep up with the weeds and the harvest! We will be hosting a series of farm tours to share our biodynamic regenerative practices. Please look for another email about them.

Wishing you all a fruit-filled summer!!

Robin and Peter

Join our CSA as we head into Summer

Spring has charged along -with the days lengthening, grass growing, summer crops being sown, transplanted and taking off, lush lettuce, sweet peas, juicy radishes, tomatoes ripening, potatoes flowering, and plenty of planting- bringing us to the edge of Summer solstice. The season has had it all - cold nights, strong winds, hot days, and deluge rain. Through all of the extremes, and the beautiful days in between, most of our crops are showing resilience and vibrancy - signs of good health.

Now is the time to join Our CSA for January Summer boxes
We have broken our CSA into smaller seasons this year - with the January share being for the four Fridays in January (4, 11, 18 and 25). There are weekly or fortnightly shares available. To learn more or join, go to our online farm store.

If you are curious what the shares this spring have looked like, please look at these photos or these photos from shares last CSA season.

The January share will be followed by a mid-summer share which we hope will be at the height of the tomato harvest. We will be harvesting for our CSA through June.

Foreground - Green manure crops ready to be incorporated (left) and newly sown (right); Background - Onions (left) and potatoes (right) - Nov 2018

Foreground - Green manure crops ready to be incorporated (left) and newly sown (right); Background - Onions (left) and potatoes (right) - Nov 2018

Similar view in Mid Dec 2018

Similar view in Mid Dec 2018

Green Manure crops (foreground) and field tomatoes (back ground) - Oct 2018

Green Manure crops (foreground) and field tomatoes (back ground) - Oct 2018

Field Tomato crop mid Dec 2018

Field Tomato crop mid Dec 2018

Polytunnel tomatoes - Dec 2018

Polytunnel tomatoes - Dec 2018

Capsicums - Dec 2018

Capsicums - Dec 2018

Small caterpillar tunnels with basil, capsicums and eggplants - there are flowers to feed beneficial insects throughout - mid Dec 2018

Small caterpillar tunnels with basil, capsicums and eggplants - there are flowers to feed beneficial insects throughout - mid Dec 2018

Heirloom field tomatoes - Dec 2018

Heirloom field tomatoes - Dec 2018

Potatoes, lavender hedgerow, beetroot and onions - mid Dec 2018

Potatoes, lavender hedgerow, beetroot and onions - mid Dec 2018

After taking a break last season from our CSA, we happily began harvesting produce for our community with our boxes beginning again in mid November.

Peter harvesting for the CSA - Nov 2018

Peter harvesting for the CSA - Nov 2018

CSA market style pick-up - Nov 2018

CSA market style pick-up - Nov 2018

Late Spring CSA share - Nov 2018

Late Spring CSA share - Nov 2018

Garlic - Harvested and hanging mid Dec 2018

Garlic - Harvested and hanging mid Dec 2018

We also continued our growing for restaurants, including variety test trials - sending chefs a collection of varieties of butter lettuces, gem lettuces and sugar loaf cabbages thus far and asking them to judge the appearance, usability and flavour of the different varieties tasting them in three ways such as raw, with an acidic dressing and salt and with a touch of heat. The results have been so interesting for us and the chefs and have guided which crops we are growing for both them and our CSA members as well as which crops we have put into seed production.

Gem lettuce variety trials received by chefs and our CSA members - Nov 2018

Gem lettuce variety trials received by chefs and our CSA members - Nov 2018

Carrot variety trials - Dec 2018

Carrot variety trials - Dec 2018

Ladybettle larvae love to grasp and bite aphids - Nov 2018

Ladybettle larvae love to grasp and bite aphids - Nov 2018

Baby praying mantis - Dec 2018

Baby praying mantis - Dec 2018

And Spring has been filled with insects, which is quite normal. There is always a flush of aphids in early Spring. Hungry for the fresh new growth, their numbers breed ahead of the beneficial insects which arise and flourish restoring the balance on the farm. It is so wonderful to trust in the ecosystem that we have nurtured, knowing that the beneficials will see and eat the pests sooner and with more zest then we will!!!

Our biodynamic practices continue to deepen through teaching on the farm and communicating more with other farmers. Each season our green manure crops diversify, supporting a larger range of soil microbes and helping us grow soil on this sand dune. As our plants feed only from our humus layer, understanding how to actually create soil filled with life is our most important work.

Applying biodynamic 500 - Nov 2018

Applying biodynamic 500 - Nov 2018

In the past week, we have checked all of our bee colonies.  Our bees reside in bee- friendly Warre hives which allow the bees to build their own comb, living in a "wild" manner. The central ethos of Natural Beekeeping is that it provides for the needs of the bee above that of the beekeeper. We ensure a 12 month supply of nectar and pollen by mapping the flowering plants on our farm and surrounding it, and filling in any gaps through species diversification.   We believe that careful attention to the health and well-being of our bees, not only keeps the colony thriving, it also greatly improves the quality and purity of the honey. 

Checking on the bees. We use natural bee practices where the bees build their own comb - Dec 2018

Checking on the bees. We use natural bee practices where the bees build their own comb - Dec 2018

Tea tree nectar - dehydrated and capped - the bees sign that it is honey! Dec 2018

Tea tree nectar - dehydrated and capped - the bees sign that it is honey! Dec 2018

As we continue into summer, enjoying the amazing reverie of the earth’s exhale - even while we try and keep up with the busy farming schedule, we hope that the light of the season fills your homes and hearts and shines throughout the New Year!

Best Wishes,

Peter and Robin