Spring Planting - Spring Weather ...lots of photos!

There are three weeks to go until we start harvesting for our CSA!!  Even though it has been a grey, cold Spring with lots of rain, most crops are growing well and thriving.  The greens and onions are loving the weather and we have managed to get on top of the weeds during the sunny days. And the polytunnel tomatoes are flowering and setting fruit.

Lettuce and herbs growing in Mandala

Lettuce and herbs growing in Mandala

Tomatoes for the Christmas boxes coming along in the Polytunnel

Tomatoes for the Christmas boxes coming along in the Polytunnel

Salanova lettuce

Salanova lettuce

Zucchini mulched and gaining size with the few warm days we have had - still covered at night for extra warmth and late frost protection

Zucchini mulched and gaining size with the few warm days we have had - still covered at night for extra warmth and late frost protection

Frosty morning late October

Frosty morning late October

The eggplants and capsicums have been held a few extra weeks in the greenhouse while Peter and my visiting nephew Aleix constructed a new polytunnel.  Getting the plastic on in between the wild winds we have had (70km gusts for days!!!) was a challenge but it is ready for tomorrows planting!!

We are growing eight different varieties of capsicum this year -  white, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown and of course green - bell shaped and the Italian longs.  We are also growing several varieties of "frying peppers' who's flavour is enhanced through a quick toss in a hot pan. Some are sweet and make a great addition to pastas, salads and sandwiches and some like the 'Pimiento de Padron' may have a bit of a bite...one of their endearing attributes!  Others can be pickled to enjoy through the Winter.

And we have extended our eggplant varieties as well to include more heirlooms known for their lack of bitterness.  These are great to put on the barbecue or over a fire as well as using them in ratatouille, stir fries and curries.

Eggplant ready to plant out in the field

Eggplant ready to plant out in the field

Capsicums ready for transplanting

Capsicums ready for transplanting

Polytunnel being built in Front Paddock

Polytunnel being built in Front Paddock

new (recycled) polytunnel almost completed and ready for planting this seasons eggplant, capsicums and chillies

new (recycled) polytunnel almost completed and ready for planting this seasons eggplant, capsicums and chillies

The snow peas we want to harvest for Christmas are looking good.  And while the carrots have germinated, we expect them to take off with more warm weather. The beetroot are happy with the cold.  And the potatoes and first bean planting have just started emerging from the soil.

We have been using Biodynamic 501 (ground quartz crystal) which helps plants to tighten their pores (ward off fungal diseases) and supports their use of light!! We hope this will help the tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, and cucumbers ward off any fungal diseases during this moist and cool Spring. And have continued to use Biodynamic 500 when we incorporate green manures to help the transformation from organic matter into hummus.

Snow peas and carrots for the Summer Share

Snow peas and carrots for the Summer Share

Applying BD501 in the early morning - Kale and bok choy growing well

Applying BD501 in the early morning - Kale and bok choy growing well

Manadala Fruit Trees, Herbs and Flowers

Manadala Fruit Trees, Herbs and Flowers

Chicken tractors working through the market garden

Chicken tractors working through the market garden

While we attend to the crops, our CSA for the Summer (15 weeks from 30 November - mid March) is filling up with members purchasing their shares through our online shop.  There are 20 CSA shares still available for Wednesday pick up - the Friday/Saturday pick up option has sold out. If you wanted the Friday/Saturday option, you can join for Wednesday and send us an email to go on the wait list for Friday/Saturday.  If a space becomes available, we will let you know. 

We have had many families making small pickup co-ops to share the weekly vegetable collections.  Some have used the Facebook group TRANSITION FARM CSA to find each other.  If you would like to find other families to share the weekly vegetable collection, and use facebook, please find the group and ask to join.  There may be other CSA members in your area. We have members in Balnarring, Merricks, Red Hill, Frankston, Langwarrin, Mt Eliza, Mt Martha, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Portsea...I could be forgetting a suburb. 

We have a few work share volunteers joining us for the summer share.  A few more would be great!  Our work share volunteers commit to working with us one day a week throughout the 15 week season.  In exchange for their help, they learn alot about our ecosystem and market gardening techniques and leave each week with a box of vegetables.  We have loved working with our work share volunteers and have also loved seeing them branch out...some have started their own market gardens!!  There is more information here...

This season we are focusing on growing higher quality crops - better tomatoes, bigger capsicums, a larger variety of greens and herbs.  We are excited by the variety we are growing and by the challenge of continuing to harvest tasty food grown using biodynamic principles.  We have chosen to try and grow better -as opposed to growing bigger- and are trying to ensure that our precious resources are preserved and enhanced throughout. 

And while I ponder concepts that seem highly managed, I also continue to be amazed at the intricacy of the natural system and inspired to work within it.

Integrated Pest Management...Lady bird in the chervil!

Integrated Pest Management...Lady bird in the chervil!

The bees drinking their honey...and capping virgin comb.  The bees are enjoying the abundance of nectar this season,  We have housed a swarm and are converting two langstroth hives into warre boxes - 4 warre hives on the farm all thriving!!

The bees drinking their honey...and capping virgin comb.  The bees are enjoying the abundance of nectar this season,  We have housed a swarm and are converting two langstroth hives into warre boxes - 4 warre hives on the farm all thriving!!

Peter and I continue to share photos of the farm and thoughts on farming on instagram (@ transitionfarm  and @transitionfarm_robin ) and facebook.  We wonder if home gardens are having an easier time with the frosts and wind.  Here's hoping you have fruit setting, greens thriving and beans and potatoes popping out of the ground!!

Why We Grow the Way We Do

Our CSA is not just about providing a box of fresh vegetables.  We are trying to provide nutrient dense food grown in a sustainable way to our local community - nourishing them, ourselves and the earth throughout.We have identified several sustainability indicators which we are trying to achieve on our farm:

  • Providing local food security
  • Conserving the natural resource base
  • Being socially responsible

We are trying to achieve these goals through:

  • Respecting all life on the farm - human, animal, plant and mineral;
  • Providing nutrient dense food to the local community at a price which reflects its true cost to produce;
  • Building soil life and soil humus;
  • Protecting soil life, our clean water supply and our ecosystem by not using chemicals;
  • Using energy efficient farming practices;
  • Trying to reduce our farm inputs and sourcing those that we do need locally;
  • Involving the community, through conversation and work share programs, in the story of how their food is grown;
  • Building relationships with the community based around the produce they are eating and we are growing in order to better provide for each other;
  • Using soil blocks (which are pressed seedling blocks that use no plastic) for our seedlings;
  • Using many recycled products on the farm such as recycled wood, recycled plastic seed trays, old farm machinery;
  • Reusing plastics that we need for several seasons.
  • Offering a fair wage and/or fair exchange to all those who work on the farm;

We are so happy to have our CSA members alongside us in this.

CSA Autumn Share 2015-Week #9 (27 May/29-30 May)

CSA AUTUMN SHARE WEEK #9 The eggplant and capsicums were composted last week and we have harvested the last of the sweet corn (which Friday members received last week).  With winter upon us, our warm weather crops have finished.

NOTES ON WHAT'S GROWING The cold seems to have settled in, even though we have been lucky with some sunshine the past few days! Peter and I walked through the remaining crops over the weekend and talked about the slowed growth due to lack of sunlight.  The final planting of mixed greens may not be ready for the last week of our CSA...just three more weeks to go!

There is more kale, silver beet, rocket, spinach and hopefully lettuce still to come.  We also grew Brussel Sprouts this year for the first time.  These plants were hit early on by aphids but are still growing and we are hoping to be able to harvest these once a true frost has sweetened them.  We have had a light frost which killed the tops of a late season basil crop experiment.  We harvested our first head of Romanesco broccoli this week too.  With its incredible fractal spirals and great green colour, this is a wonderful winter crop.

The importance of light is one of the big differences between biodynamically grown food and organically grown food.  Organically grown food may still be grown with nitrogen boosting "fertilisers" - even though these will come in the form of a natural product.  In biodynamics, manure may be applied to fields but this is usually done before the green manure crop is sown. When the green manure is tilled in, the goal is for the digestive powers of the earth, which include soil microbia, to convert the inherent proteins of the grass itself into the hummus layer in the soil.  Plants then use extensive root systems to tap into this hummus layer to feed themselves and they also rely heavily on sunlight which is converted through photosynthesis into plant energy.  If the plant itself is fed through fertilisers, it may not make an extensive root system or need to use as much sunlight to grow - the nitrogen will force feed the plant.

Our days are continuing to shorten as we head towards the Winter Solstice.  The sun today though is still warm and wonderful!

Farm pickup is 2-5pm Fridays and 8-11am Saturdays. Box pickup is available at other times by appointment only.  If you are running late, please do ring to avoid disappointment.

NOTES ON STORING THE HARVEST Please check out our Vegetable & Fruit page on the website to find tips on maximizing the life of your veggies.  We envisage that many of the vegetables you are receiving this week will last for two weeks with careful attention to storing upon arrival. Although we do wash all the greens after harvest, we are washing to take the heat out of the plants and wash away some surface dirt, not to prepare them for consumption.  We also spray a seaweed/herb brew about every ten days.  While this will not harm you, it does have a taste. We do suggest washing your produce prior to eating.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX The following are the items harvested this week.  Items and quantities in your box may vary depending on your harvest day and the total harvest of each crop.  The boxes are completely governed by what is ripe and ready for harvest and how much of it there is.  We endeavor to divide the harvest fairly. 1/4 share: 5-7 items   1/2 share: 8-10 items   Full Share: 10-12 itemsCapsicum Carrots Garlic Kale Leeks Onions Baby Parsnips Pumpkin English Spinach Baby Silverbeet and Beetroot Greens Sweet Potato Sweet CornExtras Broccoli Cauliflower Mixed Baby Lettuce Sugar Snap Peas

RECIPE SUGGESTIONS Roasted Cauliflower Cauliflower Gratin - from Martha Stewart Spicy Roasted Parsnip Soup Warm Kale and Roasted Pumpkin Salad Heidi's Winter Pasta Cauliflower Casserole with CheddarYou can search our recipes by looking for the key ingredients on our website recipe pagePlease note - Photo is a randomly selected full share box with the inclusion of a whole pumpkin (the full shares received about a 3k piece).