It's Winter

The 21” of snow has melted and frozen into thick layers of ice or ice-topped snow, and the farm is deep in hibernation. I’m not sure when the ground froze this year (it was 65 the first week of January) but it’s well-frozen now and, with a polar vortex arriving this week, likely won’t fully thaw until late March or early April.

The amount of frozen water is impressive, I have high hopes for a full irrigation pond to take us through early summer.


Links

  • https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/the-amish-farmer-replacing-pesticides-with-nutrition/380825/

  • https://mofb.org/food-manufacturing-could-bring-additional-25-billion-to-missouri/

  • http://mofarmerscare.com/scherder-farms-receives-missouri-leopold-conservation-award/

  • https://blog.mcqueens.co.uk/2019/01/03/whats-in-season-winter/

  • https://academic.oup.com/beheco/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/beheco/ary198/5288453

  • https://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/crop-management/weed-management/france-bans-monsanto-weedkiller-roundup-over-safety-fears

  • http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/monsanto-merger-migraine-roundup-is-toxic-for-bayer-a-1247225.html

Worms & Links

We manage our compost mid-week and as I turned the pile to aerate this week in the 10” of snow I was excited to see large numbers of red wriggler worms and even more excited to find worm cocoons! I circled two in the picture below. Each cocoon holds 3 or 4 teeny tiny baby worms and takes a few weeks to hatch.

fullsizeoutput_444e.jpg

A few links:

  • https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jan/05/honey-seller-faults-dicamba-in-closing-/

  • http://www.rtb.cgiar.org/blog/2018/11/29/disease-resistant-potato-and-banana-give-hope-to-farmers/

  • https://savvygardening.com/the-onslaught-of-introduced-insects-and-why-it-will-change-everything/#.XD08kjDdSDQ.twitter

  • https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-era-of-easy-recycling-may-be-coming-to-an-end/

Little seedlings

Winter appears to have shown up last night. After several days of strong steady cold winds from the west that kept the sky clear and blue, last night clouds arrived with temperatures in the low 20s for the second night. Snow, apparently, is expected this afternoon — 7 inches. Good to have some moisture on the ground and some insulation as well.

Inside the snaps continue to grow and now have real leaves.

The compost pile is cooking along nice as well, maintaining a steady 105 degrees, and the red wriggler worms I moved into the pile to inoculate with positive organisms are expanding.

More Sprouts, Flail Mower Maintenance

The past season was the first with the wide-deck flail mower for the BCS so I used it extensively for heavy brush-clearing in addition to cover crop cutting & maintaining our pathways. This weekend I found out just how heavily when I started annual maintenance and saw the gouges on the blades, so I took most of them off, filed the larger burrs down, and put them back on in new pairings to even the wear. Hopefully I faced the sharper edges toward the cutting direction as well.

Meanwhile, we had more snaps germinate. One tray on the mat farther from the light shot up into weak floppy stems overnight, another looked stronger. All are now in the racks a few inches from the light — hopefully they’ll like their new, less-humid home. Target test planting date is 14 January under agribon.

Recent News Roundup

Although it’s mostly sunny and not always cold, it’s not time for much to grow so I’ve been catching up on nature & science writing. Here are a few articles that caught my attention — I’m not endorsing the contents nor do I agree with them wholeheartedly — and I thought I’d share.

Send me a note (matt@blhfarm.com) with your thoughts:

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/science/researcher-finds-way-to-fight-cheatgrass-a-western-scourge.html

  • http://testbiotech.org/en/press-release/eu-commission-approves-maize-monster-import

  • https://blog.mcqueens.co.uk/2018/02/15/tricks-of-the-trade-our-top-flower-hacks/

  • https://fieldquestions.com/2015/07/29/gm-foods-a-moment-of-honesty/

  • https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/18363-glyphosate-based-herbicide-impairs-female-fertility-new-study

  • https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/18475

  • https://photos.riverfronttimes.com/things-everyone-whos-moved-away-from-st-louis-has-said-at-least-once/?slide=1&01-3

Small-Scale Seed Starting Experiments

It’s gray and a bit cold (low 30s) outside, but inside we’re working on seed starting / overwintering techniques with a focus on snapdragons. The tiny seeds need light to germinate and, although they thrive in cool weather, allegedly want 75 degree soil to sprout. Given the terrible germination rates last September (under lights, very wet medium) the depth of winter seemed like a good time to test other approaches.

In all, we have:

  • 3/4” soil blocks, uncovered, distant light, no heat

  • 3/4” soil blocks, covered, proximate light, no heat

  • 3/4” soil blocks, covered, distant light, heat mat

  • 2” soil blocks, covered, distant light, heat mat

  • potting soil mix, covered, distant light, heat mat

  • soil block mix, covered, distant light, heat mat

  • 3/4” soil block, outside under Agribon

Finger crossed!

Fence Cleanup

Our flower farm is in a former pasture / hay field which was fenced for livestock at various times, beginning with living fences of Osage Orange trees planted in the late 1800s through metal t-post & wire fences from the 1980s. Over the years those fencelines have grown into thickets of multiflora rose, Russian olive, poison ivy, and eastern red cedar and, while providing useful windbreaks, are a problematic source of these invasive species.

With the warm weather this week, and unable to find the right size socket wrench to work on the BCS, we spent two days removing the fence separating our beds from our pond. Although much work remains to clear the thicket of brush I already love the open feel on the hill.