Sunday, May 20, 2018

BGF News - May 2018-Vol. XXXIX, No.5

Precipitation in the past month: 4.45"

What’s up on the farm?

Asparagus season is on!

It's that time of the year when the "To-Do" list and the "Completed" list are vying to see which is longer. The farm crew is all here and working hard to move tasks from one list to the other as fast as we can. 
The beds are mostly prepped and a big chunk of the seeding and transplanting is done. So far we have transplanted onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, head lettuce, fennel, eggplant, peppers and herbs into the field and high tunnels. The first (and some second) round of seeding is complete on salad mix, arugula, beans, peas, spinach, choi, beets, edamame, carrots & beets. 
Most of the seeds have germinated, though the earliest greens really struggled as the soil conditions were quite dry. We have since caught up on some of our rain needs, but NOAA released the most current drought maps this past week and we are already in Moderate Drought conditions. It is alarming to see this so early in the season when we normally get the highest portion of our rain. The potatoes were really slow to emerge this spring, a combination of the dry and cool soil. We finally started seeing them this week, so we could get a start on cultivation. Thus begins the weed war. We will continue to skirmish with them (the weeds, not the potatoes) throughout the season, but if we can get ahead of the battle now, the rest of the year will go easier.  The asparagus was also delayed this season, but it is making up for lost time now. Just this week, we harvested more than 500 lbs!


The Before...

In addition to our regularly scheduled tasks, this week was also the annual shearing of the alpacas. While we have a professional shearing team from Missouri do the actual shearing, it does require "all hands" to take care of all the support activities. The alpacas don't really enjoy this day much, but after about 15 minutes of attention from the shearers, everyone is feeling much better. 


...and The After













2018 CSA deliveries begin Tuesday, June 5th!
This will be the last monthly newsletter for the season. Weekly newsletters will begin with the first CSA delivery, coming up quickly on June 5th. There is still space for new (or returning) members in the 2018 Summer CSA. Veteran members should have received their invoices last month and payments are now due.  We will send out an orientation email for all members the week before deliveries begin.

If you are interested in joining the 2018 CSA season, you can read more about it here: https://us17.campaign-archive.com/?e=[UNIQID]&u=a9a85eb452c0147312d46dfe2&id=05062a06dd

If you know of anyone who might be interested in joining us for the CSA season, please share the info with them, we have a number of available slots that we would like to fill and you are our best marketers! 


*Team Blue Gate-Market Opportunity*
Again, this year we are looking for a team of folks who love the market to join Jill in the BGF tent during the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market season. We ask that interested individuals commit to at least 2 market dates over the course of the season and to be there for set-up, selling and tear down (basically 6am-12:30 or so). In appreciation for their time and efforts, volunteers earn a BGF T-shirt and a $30 credit at the booth that day. We had an awesome group of folks do this the past couple of seasons and everyone seemed to enjoy it. If you are interested in joining us this year, you can go to the online calendar (http://signup.com/go/hBchVBi)  and sign up for whenever works with your schedule.

Is an occasional newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. You can also share recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That’s about it for now, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci & Indigo)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

BGF News - April 2018-Vol. XXXIX, No.4

Precipitation in the past month: Rain 0.75"
                                                    Snow 1.50"

What’s up on the farm?

Warmer weather...so nice to see green instead of white!
This past month has been quite the roller coaster ride; snow, rain, ice and sleet with enough sunshine thrown in to make us really aware of the below normal temperatures. Through all of that fun, we've been sowing seeds inside and out, harvesting and clearing high tunnel crops and starting the first of the transplanting. Most of the beds are prepped and ready for their soon-to-come crops.
 

Starting to look like spring outside...finally!


Some of the many transplants that will be heading to the fields soon

The return of spring weather means we can finally get to our field chores...



Applying finished compost with our 1940's era spreader




Cultivating the beds to kill early weeds and incorporate the compost with our 1950's era walking tractor

Sowing seeds in prepared beds with a vintage wheel hoe & 1920's era Midget seeder

































                                                                                                                       There is still space for new (or returning) members in the 2018 Summer CSA. Veteran members should receive their invoices this week, with payment due May 4th.  If you are interested in the 2018 CSA season, you can read more about it on our website:

If you are ready to join us for the upcoming season of veggie-adventures, you can get sign-up information here: 
Blue Gate Farm CSA Sign-up

Tuesday, April 24th is the final round of our winter VegEmail sales. And two weeks after that, the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market opens! Holy cow, here it all comes, ready or not! Honestly, at this time of the year, the answer is "not!" But we will be ready by the time it gets here.

Is an occasional newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. You can also share recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That’s about it for now, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci & Indigo)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A visit from Iowa Ingredient

Last summer we hosted the production team from Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Ingredient" for a program they were doing on cucumbers. When they called, I warned them that on a chemical-free farm, cucumbers suffer from an insect-induced death sentence. The day that they called, we had about 300 row feet of cukes growing, but that could change at anytime and they would die nearly overnight. They took the information, did some research and decided to include that as part of the segment.  Here's the piece that recently aired...


It was poignant to see this on our public tv station a couple of weeks ago, as it was shot last summer before we lost our beautiful Blue. There she is, featured right at the beginning of the video supervising everything that happened on her farm, as always.

Friday, March 30, 2018

BGF News - March, 2018-Vol. XXXIX, No.3


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past month: Snow: 6.5"
                                                            Rain: 1.25"

Well, we very nearly missed getting a March newsletter out, but we are sneaking one in at the last minute! Every year I am amazed at how quickly the seasons morph from the relatively sedate pace of winter to the raucous dance that is spring on the farm.

Got my spring "dancing shoes" on!



Garlic sprouting through the straw mulch












So now here we are, firmly entrenched in Mud Season and making every effort to work our way through the chores of Spring. Outside, the soil and temperatures are still too cool and wet to do much work in the fields, other than sowing some oats and clover for cover crops, though the garlic doesn't seem to mind. In the high tunnels, we've started clearing the winter crops and prepping the beds for spring. The new crops of kale and chard are sown in the big tunnel with other spring greens soon to follow. 

In the sunroom nursery, things are starting to get serious. The allium (onion family) crops are the most cold tolerant, so they have moved out to the small high tunnel to harden off and make space for more tender seedlings. The sunroom shelves are loaded with herbs, broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, peppers, eggplant, garden berries and lettuce. This week we will start more lettuce, herbs, cabbage & broccoli as well as tomatoes.

The nursery...waiting on warmer days.


March also marks the end of "fiber season" on the farm. Most of Jill's yarn and fiber work happens over the slower winter months. It is the time to dye, spin and knit to get stocked up for the farmers market and other fiber sales. It is also the annual Heartland Fiberpalooza fiber festival, which we have attended since its beginning 7 or 8 years ago. It is a great opportunity to get ourselves organized for the coming season and also to hang out with some of the fiber friends that we only see once or twice a year.
BGF fiber and Mom's GloryBe photo cards

One of the coolest things we got to do this month was participate in the release of a new Peace Tree beer that was "born on the farm." Last fall, Joe (the brewmaster) captured wild yeast here at the farm, which (rather miraculously) fermented into the most amazing beer. Talk about local foods! If you want to try it, it is available on tap at both the Des Moines Branch and Grinnell under the name "Spontaneous."

Beer, eggs & veg, all "born on the farm"

Speaking of local foods, let's chat about the CSA. There is still time to sign up for the 2018 Summer CSA. Veteran members should have received sign up information last month, so now we are opening all remaining slots up to new members. If you are interested in the 2018 CSA season, you can read more about it on our website athttps://www.bluegatefarmfresh.com/about-csa . If you are ready to join us for the upcoming season of veggie-adventures, you can get sign-up information here: Blue Gate Farm CSA Sign-up

If you can't wait until spring for farm-fresh products, we continue to do our VegEmail deliveries all winter long. Every 2 weeks you can order from our list of available products and we will deliver them to Des Moines, Knoxville or you can pick them up on the farm. Eggs, fresh produce, stewing hens, popcorn and herbs all rotate through our availability list until the start of the farmers market season. If you  aren't receiving the VegEmail announcements, and you would like to, just fill out the form here: Mailing List and be sure to indicate which delivery location you prefer.

And finally, we just attended the annual vendor meeting for the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. It is hard to believe that market opens in just 5 weeks!! Guess we'd better get busy!


Is an occasional newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That’s about it for now, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci & Indigo)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

BGF News - February, 2018-Vol. XXXIX, No.2


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past month: Snow: 17.0"
                                                            Rain: trace

Our winter weather roller coaster continues this month, we got 17" of snow last week, then this week it was 50° and the snow is mostly gone. Yesterday it seemed like we had winter and spring in the same day with unexpected snow early and "flannel shirt weather" in the afternoon.  But seasonal swings are totally fine with us. That warm up following the snow let all the wonderful moisture seep right into the ground, banking it for the growing season and these freeze/thaw cycles do wonderful things for opening up our soil and providing better growing conditions for our crops. So bring it on!

It feels like this is the real start of the 2018 season. We started interviews for the farm crew this week and are thrilled that 3 of our veteran crew members are returning this year. That means we will be on the lookout or 1 more full-time person to join the BGF family. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please send them our way. This past week also marked the start of the growing season for us, as we started sowing seeds for our allium crops (onions, leeks & shallots) as well as a few long season herbs and edible flowers. These will be followed shortly by a long list of spring transplants like: broccoli, kale, chard, cabbages, lettuce and much, much more. Our cats, who live in the sunroom/nursery can't decide if they like this time of the year or not. We tend to spend a lot more time in there, so they love the extra attention, but it means they have to share the heat mats with the plants, which they aren't so crazy about.
The germination mats seem to be working just fine.


Since we're talking about this season's crops, let's also chat about the CSA. Now is the time to sign up for the 2018 Summer CSA. Veteran members should have received sign up information last month, so now we are opening all remaining slots up to new members. If you are interested in the 2018 CSA season, you can read more about it on our website at https://www.bluegatefarmfresh.com/about-csa . If you are ready to join us for the upcoming season of veggie-adventures, you can get sign-up information here: Blue Gate Farm CSA Sign-up

If you can't wait until spring for farm-fresh products, we continue to do our VegEmail deliveries all winter long. Every 2 weeks you can order from our list of available products and we will deliver them to Des Moines, Knoxville or you can pick them up on the farm. Eggs, fresh produce, stewing hens, popcorn and herbs all rotate through our availability list until the start of the farmers market season. If you want to receive the VegEmail announcements, just fill out the form here: Mailing List and be sure to indicate which delivery location you prefer.

And finally, a big happy birthday to Indigo this month. He sure was a cute little guy 4 years ago!




Is an occasional newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it for now, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci & Indigo)

Labels:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

BGF News - January, 2018-Vol. XXXIX, No.1


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation this month: Snow: 3.0"
                                        Rain: 1.0"


Happy New Year to everyone, just a bit late.  We hope your holidays were happy, merry and bright! 

It has been an interesting winter already. The extended mild fall weather did much to lull us into complacency, but the -22° that we got down to over New Year's Eve brought us right back to reality!
Full moon rising over the high tunnels on New Year's Eve (-22°)

 Then we saw -20° again last week...brrrr! It was enough to freeze up every water hydrant on the farm which we've never seen before. These conditions are hard on everyone on the farm, 2-leggers and 4-leggers alike. Chores take at least twice as long and have to be done many more times a day to ensure the animals all have water to drink. Eggs have to be gathered 4-5 times a day to make sure they don't freeze in the coops and it takes FOREVER to put on enough insulated clothing to go out and do these activities! Especially when the crazy boy-dog insists on playing frisbee in sub-zero temperatures in the snow! Boys!! Huge thanks to our crew members/neighbors the Heartsills who did farm chores for us during part of this time, so that we could make a short trip to visit family in Colorado!
Don't let him fool you, he was pouting because he only got one treat.
While we still have plenty of winter left, we did get our first preview of spring (mud-season) earlier this week. Temps were as high as 50° and then we had thunderstorms! While the January thaw is very common, the 1" of rain is not. Luckily the ground had thawed enough that it didn't appear we had much run-off. Given how dry we were last season, we will take every inch of moisture we can get!
The ladies enjoying some frozen high tunnel arugula
Speaking of spring, the preparations have already begun for the upcoming season. Most of the seed orders have been placed and are on their way to us. Next up are the supply orders that includes things like: potting soil, pots, flats, packaging and CSA boxes. In about two weeks our winter "lollygagging" will come to an end, as the seed sowing season begins. First up will be onions, leeks, shallots and long-season herbs.
Let's talk some more about those CSA boxes! Now is the time to sign up for the 2018 Summer CSA. Renewal emails have gone out to our veteran members and we will hold spots for them until February 1st, at which time we will open any available spots to new members. If you are a veteran 2017 CSA member and didn't receive a renewal email, please let us know ASAP and we'll get you rolling. We wouldn't want you to miss out on the beautiful bounty of produce that we are planning for this season. If you would like to become a new member of our CSA or have questions, shoot us an email to mail@bluegatefarmfresh. com and we'll get you rolling.
A rainbow of farm-fresh goodness!

If you can't wait until spring for farm-fresh products, we continue to do our VegEmail deliveries all winter long. Every 2 weeks you can order from our list of available products and we will deliver them to Des Moines, Knoxville or you can pick them up on the farm. Eggs, fresh produce, stewing hens, popcorn and herbs all rotate through our availability list until the start of the farmers market season. If you want to receive the VegEmail announcements, just fill out the form here: Mailing List and be sure to indicate which delivery location you prefer.
Packing VegEmail orders
Is an occasional newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it for now, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci & Indigo)
Labels:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Napa Navidad!



There is a bounty of big beautiful Napa cabbages coming out of our high tunnels right now. So this year we will definitely be celebrating Napa Navidad!


We also have them available during our bi-weekly, winter VegEmail sales. We will be doing these sales every two weeks (with a couple exceptions) until next spring.

This round is for pick up on Tuesday, December 19th, from 5:00 – 6:00 pm in Des Moines, Knoxville or on the farm.


Available products include:

Eggs, Arugula, Napa Cabbage, Carrots, Chard, Daikon, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce Bouquets, Red Onions, Tapestry Popcorn, Turnips, Butternut Squash & Stewing Hens

 
Just click the link below and order away! If you have any questions or issues with the order form, just let us know.
https://goo.gl/forms/QjuDMjC0zQshd3Vi2

Please submit your order form by 10pm on Sunday, December 17th.
Payment by cash, check or credit card to be made at time of delivery.

Just a reminder we are at Peace Tree Brewing Company-Des Moines Branch near the back door and at the Grand Theater in Knoxville.
At both locations, look for Sean or Jill inside.

Don’t need anything this round? Our next delivery is planned for Tuesday, January 2nd.



There are lots of easy ways to use Napa. It is a traditional ingredient in kimchi, which I love, but I also use it as a mild-flavored salad green, in soups, to add some crunch and vitamins to beans and rice and as an alternative to european cabbage in nearly any recipe. Need some specific inspiration? Here is one of my favorite quick, easy and perfect-on-a-cold-night, comfort foods.

Sausage Egg Roll in a Bowl