Flower Boxes

Long term readers may be apprised of the war with the cats over whether we have flower boxes or cat boxes on our balconies that overhang our south facing windows. We put those balconies on when we built the house so that they would block the sun from coming into the house in the summer, late spring and early fall, when the sun is high in the sky. As I have always been a fan of flower boxes, I asked Jack to build them into the balconies, and about 8 or so years ago, Chuk rebuilt them for us. Readers may remember that we put up some cat shit guards on the boxes over the winter and I discontinued feeding the cats on the deck. When we took them off this spring, I planted the boxes and then mulched them very heavily with wood chips and placed a number of the longer pieces of wood perpendicular, making it somewhat uncomfortable for a cat to find a good place to squat. Our combined efforts seem to have worked, as we again have beautiful flowers on our balconies. Everyone should have at least one thing that they do for their own enjoyment and I have to say the flower boxes are my thing. It is my own little agricultural world where with limited but daily effort I can produce a thing of beauty. I hope you all have a special artistic expression like this in your lives.

Expressing Gratitude this Week

It has become clear to me that I am not really fond of addressing problems in the field. It is so much easier to put that head in the sand and hope the problem will go away. And then to fess up to something other than the perfect farm to over 1000 readers is such a challenge to my ego. But if this is actually going to be an educational rag, I must share the bitter with the better.
Last year we had marvelous beets and beet greens, but this year they started to go south early on, and the problem didn’t go away; rather it got worse.

We have a new consultant from AEA, Bella Prince. And she doesn’t have that much experience, but she has shown her mettle by talking to those with more experience and getting back to us immediately with good advice. So I sent her this picture and got this response. “I am thinking it’s Cercospora leaf spot. Similar to Alternaria, it’s first a symbiotic fungi but then can become pathogenic because of a change in EC and not being fed by the plant anymore. To remedy, I would increase Micro 5000 organic to 100 grams/acre in the foliar, add one quart of HoloK and increase manganese to 1 quart if you have it.” She also noted that K and Mn work together well and that manganese is crucial for preventing pest issues.
Needless to say, we will be adjusting our foliars this week. I think that now might be a good time for folks to spread potassium sulfate if you have it in dry format.

Here is our adjusted weekly vegetative foliar
Vegetative Weekly Foliar

  • 2 Quart HoloCal
  • 2 Quart PhotoMag
  • 1 Quart SeaStim
  • 1.5 quarts ReBound Manganese
  • 1 Pint ReBound Copper
  • 1 Quart ReBound Iron
  • 1 Pint Rejuvenate
  • 1 Quart HoloK
  • 2 T Micro5000 organic per tank

Thanks, Bella.

Videos this week

Ode to Comfrey

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Chard and slugs – or perhaps it is actually deer, as surmised by Leslie. And that upgraded vegetative foliar will probably take care of that beet leaf miner

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Managing squashes and cucumbers

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At last, all of our onions are weeded and mulched – now on to the leeks

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CSA Schedule Fourth of July week

This year the 4th of July is on a Tuesday. That means that we will be running the CSA on Monday and Wednesday as usual, and Friday too, for that matter – July 3, 5 and 7.  Thanks. If you are going to be away, but don’t want to miss your share, you can move your day to either Wednesday or Friday of that week, but give me 3- or 4-days’ notice. You can pick up at the farm only, if you change your day.

CSA News Week 5

Here is the line up for this week.
Best guess on what will be in your share bags this week

  • Lettuce
  • Beet greens
  • Garlic scapes – chop these finely and use in cooking, sautéing, or in soups
  • Lambs’s quarters – one last time
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
  • Radishes – beautiful new crop of them coming in
  • Green onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Chives
  • Mint

Ode to Mulch

As I fall asleep at night and when I am waking up in the morning, I think about how we can cram in more mulching each day. To work with, we have our ever-diminishing pile of baled straw at the end of the driveway, wood chips at the back of the south and north fields, leaves on the edge of the west field, and the week’s supply of hay that we gather from our hayfields. Mulch covers the soil and keeps it from drying out, eroding, baking, and even from getting too wet, if the rain is intense. It is importantly, a roof over the heads of the microbial life and worms, who flourish under its care. And the weeds are stopped, at least mostly, so the crops can grow without too much competition. Now is the time to mulch, and any day that we can fit it in, is a progress day. If I were to be granted one piece of advice to give to growers of any size, it would be to make mulching a priority. It will repay you severalfold.

Kamarin and Maria were bringing us hay for mulching the summer squash

Working Shareholders Always Welcome

It is not too late to join us. This week Chloe Bernier came back after a 3-year hiatus. So wonderful to that you are back, Chloe.

I could use help on Sunday mornings for animal chores. You must be a heavy lifter (heavier than I am anyway) in order to handle the back end of the chicken tractors. Presently we are at 7 tractors and soon moving to 9 and more. Breakfast of eggs, bacon and veggies, along with super power packed pancakes – no sugar, just lots of grains and nuts. And a dozen eggs for your efforts. All advice is given freely! You needn’t sign up for every Sunday, but twice per month would be very much appreciated. Thanks to Katrina who bops down from Brattleboro irregularly. Enquire.

Now is a good time to order broilers for our August 27 slaughter date

They are chilling on the front lawn right now, in the peak of health, devouring fresh grass, comfrey and their organic grain from Green Mountain Feeds. We offer hens at around 5 lbs. and cockerels at around 7 lbs. This is a one time per year purchase. The birds are whole. At the farm we consume one per week. First we roast it, then make chicken stock, have another major meal with that, and have a few meals that include chicken salad. It is the best chicken you will ever taste – guaranteed. Order via the link below.

What wonderful lawn ornaments

Order Broiler Chickens Here

Ways to Donate to MHSC

Worcester Community Fridges

We are now providing 14 summer shares to these folks and only need $1000 more to provide 14 fall shares to the Worcester Community Fridges. Many thanks to Liz Hutchinson for her donation this week.

If you would like to donate for shares you can make a check out to the Many Hands Sustainability Center and send to 411 Sheldon Road, Bare, MA 01005 or make a donation on line here –


Workshops at MHOF

  • Cooking with your CSA share – July 22; Clare and Julie to do this one. -noon with complimentary lunch; $25-$75
  • Food preservation– September 16, Julie, Clare and Jack; 10-2 with pot luck; $50-$100
  • The Permaculture Farm and Agroforestry hedgerows – we will postpone this one until October 7.

Register Now

Farm Doin’s

In the area of planting, we put in a second crop of broccoli and cabbage, also of beans and a first crop of arugula. We also planted 4 100-foot beds of lettuce – about 1600 heads. In the house we started more lettuce.
We finished weeding and mulching the full season onions, weeded and mulched a little over half of the chard, and weeded the entire home garden which contains squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn. Mulching is in progress there.

More deconstruction of the chicken house occurred. Weekly foliars continue.

Clare cut and raked a nice section of the pond hayfield and we got it all picked up. We did our bi-weekly mowing of the entire farm, including some weed whacking to manage the “wild” look around here.
Chores take more and more time now as we have laying chickens in three age groups, meat birds on the front lawn and the pigs in the woods.

Potato bugging

The baby pigs

The garden – left to right – corn for 4 rows, 2 rows of tomatoes, 2 of cucumbers, 4 of summer squash, 1 bed of just germinated arugula, beans not germinated, 2 beds of cabbage and 2 of broccoli.

Joe Nelso, is a PhD student in the lab of Kate Mathis studying ants as a means for biocontrol. And the two undergrads, Gwen and Elise received fellowships from Clark to work with him this summer and help out with his research. They spent a good part of Friday setting up their research in our squash and cucumber patch.


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