Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Summer of Green Tomatoes

Well we've had some nice growth on our plants in the high tunnel greenhouse structure, but so far it is all green in color as our tomatoes have yet to ripen.  Same goes for peppers and melons.  Seems that the erratic weather this growing season has posed a challenge for some of our crops.   Not our peaches however, as even after thinning them well earlier this summer we still had some large limbs snap and bend to the ground on our largest tree - nature's way of pruning we figure.

Tyler and Katherine recently  headed back to school for their final years at U. Kentucky and UVA.  We were sorry to see them go, as the experience was a good fit all around for the farm and our apprentices.  Prior to leaving, Katherine took some more photos of our last couple of camper workshops for Pine Forest Camp, and she completed a two sided promotional sign intended for hikers and bikers that frequently pass by our farm.

The sign is promoting our upcoming September 29th Farm Getaway that now includes a group bike ride along the Dyberry through 8,000 acres of state game lands the morning of the event.  Camping on the farm for those attending the event is also welcome either the Saturday night before
and/or the Sunday night following.  One key element of the day will be a hands on training session that will demonstrate exactly how we built our earthen wood-fired oven.  Farm pizza with our own ingredients is included.
For additional information and to sign up, please visit:   We would also appreciate you sending this on to anyone you think might be interested in joining us.

Dave continues his efforts to repair the solar power pump that was damaged during the flood, and replacement electric fence was recently ordered so that the sheep can be moved at some point to an upper pasture so the lower pasture that is on higher ground can recover from their browse.

Fallen farm wall stone has been getting collected and piled down near the house for the foundation of dual purpose structure that will store wood in fall and winter, and act as a maple syruping evaporator stand in early spring.  The cabinets and work surface counters in the barn have been completed for the kitchen area and are awaiting some type of recycled counter top.

Our heirloom sweet corn has done very well this year and the earliest ripening variety, "Ashworth" will soon be harvested - some will be sold, and some will be blanched, removed from the cob,

and then frozen.  We will be using our new vacuum sealer for freezing vegetables as they come in.

Amongst and beneath the corn stalks are the two other siblings of the "three sisters" - squash and pole beans.  The beans climb the stalks and "fix" nitrogen from the air back into the soil for the corn, and the winter squash fill in below, keeping the soil shaded, moist and free of most weeds. This planting method was utilized by native people in North America for thousands of years.

Our sweet potatoes did very well as has our cover crop of sunflowers and buckwheat that was planted for us by Roger Hill.  The staff has been making quite a few pickles from our cucumbers, and has also pulled onions to dry out for storage.
Asian Sweet Potatoes in raised bed - they love the warm soil and drip irrigation

The  upper pasture has filled in nicely with clover, and a lot more firewood has been harvested and stowed away in the basement and under the overhang behind the barn.

Clearing of autumn olive has been going on down along the Dyberry near the swim hole.  This will allow for more favorable access to the stream, additional pasture/hay area and improve camping possibilities along the stream.

It is a time of year when the fruits of our labor start to ripen and it is a time to realize how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to grow our own, delicious and nutritious organic food - albeit in a flood plain where nothing comes easily.

Until next time, enjoy what's left of summer and we'll check in again with you after labor day.

Your Friends at Old School Farm

A pleasant early August evening in the backyard

At 6' 4" Dave is still dwarfed by one heirloom variety of corn

The garden - doing well following the flood

In foreground, a mixture of buckwheat and sunflowers provide nectar for bees and
fertility and organic matter for a new garden plot.

Clouds and cooler than normal evenings in late July and August have slowed growth

Tomatoes with okra in center

A peach tree is "self pruning" due to too much weight from fruit

Ever-bearing raspberries fruit from July until frost

Rooftop gardens - herbs and carrots are thriving due to automated drip irrigation.
More details are available at

Our last two apprentices for the summer - Paige & Leah (thanks for the help girls!)