Farm update 5 July 2012

Wairarapa winter is here. This week has been one of rain, rain and today lots of more rain. The soil is soaked and everything is so wet it will take some time before we can go back on the land with machinery without disturbing/distressing the soil too much. Compaction of the soil is so easily done with tractors and equipment after these heavy rains, and will take years to undo once destroyed. This would have a very negative effect on the living soil, soil health and thus plant health and our health. Modern farmers who do not have time to wait will have to use more synthetic or organic inputs to try and set things straight. Our philosophy is like taking care of oneself; when winter is here we take extra care with our own bodies, put on an extra top, keep a hat on etc., we have to do that with the soil as well.  caring for the soil in the long term means that we create a healthier and more resilient soil, one which can produce healthy plants with balanced ratio of nutrients that nourish and create balance in our bodies.

So, instead of working the land outside, we worked in our 'little' green house, preparing beds and planting strawberry plants, sowing seeds for early spring crops (broccoli, cabbage, basil, spinach, and more), ans putting up sprinklers for watering the crops when it gets warmer again. The whole family joined in. Frank repairing the irrigation, Renske (16) filling seed trays for sowing (100 trays) and then it was up to Femke (9), and me to start sowing the 100*144 seeds.  Wietse (6) built a track in the sand for his play people. A great day, out of the wind and the rain, relatively warm and spending a really nice family day together during the school holidays. 

I can feel we have passed the shortest day, as suddenly my energy levels are back and I am feel like getting ready for this coming spring and summer season. A new year, new opportunities and fresh new life all around us. The acacia trees in our driveway are starting to show their deep yellow flowers and I see the daffodils starting to pop up their first new leaves above the soil.  Wonderful! Even the rain or Frank's broccoli's cannot get me down at this moment.

Frank brought home some broccoli heads this week that were lightly damaged by the frost we have had of late. The EuropeanBroccoli- not frosted Brassica's (cauliflower, broccoli's) have been hit hard by the frosts and many have been frosted. Such a shame! These plants were sown in March and April of 2012 with the idea that they would fill up your bags and give the variety during winter and early spring. Instead many have now been frosted and damaged. Some more than others. From the pictures on thew right you can see a small 10 mm circle in the middle of the broccoli; the one to the far right has a bigger patch of frost damage. We have decided that we have to make the most of it and harvest as much as possible either as a whole head, or as little broccoli florets as part of a stir-fry mix.  I hope you understand. Ps. Did you also know that the stem part of the broccoli is edible and can be chopped up in cooked.

We are also trying to find a bit more variety for the fruit bags. Understandably some people have let us know that there are too many apples in their fruit shares and not enough else. From June till September of every year there is not much variety around, unless it is shipped in from far away.

Apples are very versatile though! Pies, fruit crumbles, apple sauce and fresh and dried apple for healthy lunch boxes. I think back about my childhood and my mum making pots and pots of apple sauce that accompanied every dinner.  Up until last year when my parents went on a holiday in their caravan she will take dozens of empty jars with her that always come back full!

I have just invested in a dehydrator and one of those handy apple peelers that peel and then cut the apple into rings (see Trade Me or Moore Wilson), as I decided at the beginning of the year that I would no longer put any wrapped lunch box items in my children's lunch boxes. My sweet tooth-ed kids decided they love the dried apples and for me its great because I know exactly how balanced the apples were grown, that there are no additives or sugars added and I can dry little batches that stays good for weeks in an airtight container.

This week I hope that I have worked out how you can easily find out more information about the crops in your weekly share. By clicking on the particular crop (in grey) you will be diverted to a page dedicated to this crop. I hope it works and that I have mastered a new website trick.

Your fruit and vegetable shares this week:

Fruit Shares: 1 kg of Pacific Rose Apples, 800-900 grams of Kiwifruit. Further you find either lemons, mandarins or Braeburn apples in your share. We are working on finding some other fruit to diversify the fruit shares for the upcoming weeks.

Small Veggie Share: 400 -500 grams red kumara, 2-3 bulbs of garlic, 400 grams of Jerusalem artichokes, 1 lettuce and 1 bag of kale or Broccoli.

Large Veggie Share:400 -500 grams red kumara, 2-3 bulbs of garlic, 1 Crown Pumpkin, 400-500 grams of Beetroot, a bunch of Spring Onions and one bag each of Salad Mix , Kale or Broccoli, Silverbeet, Tatsoy, and Endive.

Enjoy, stay healthy and dry and warm regards from Frank, Josje and the team at the farm.