Friday, November 24, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I planted five varieties of carrots last spring. Imperator, Nantes Fancy, Atomic Red, Purple Fancy and Shin Kuruda. The Imperators have been huge ! The two colored carrots have been thin and short but tasty. All of them have benefited from the recent frosts.
I will be bringing the “orange” to Thanksgiving dinner today: carrots, rutabaga and sweet potatoes, all from the garden. The rutabaga will benefit from some maple syrup and dried cranberries, but the other two veggies will speak for themselves. They have a special sweetness all their own … no need to sugar them up.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I experienced a rare treat Friday night. Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm came to speak at the Ag Hall. During the winter months I am lucky enough to have access to Polyface products at my local farmer’s market in
Then this summer he was catapulted into the national limelight when Michael Pollan’s Ominivore’s Dilemma highlighted the integrity of his operation at Polyface. So it was a great closing of the circle for me to be seated in the Ag Hall here on the island and to hear Joel live for the first time. There were about 100 locals there to hear the gospel according to Joel. It is a bit like sitting through a lively sermon about “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven” as you get rolled along through his slides and his unbounded energy to the only conclusion you can manage. We have GOT to shift the way we raise animals for food in this country.
For me it was a return to a message I have been getting closer and closer to over the past few years. Arriving at a commitment to these principles is a recursive process. I credit so many of the blogs I read, particularly Liz at Pocket Farm for solidifying my own journey. What impressed me about this particular moment in time is how ready the island is to hear this message. We have three new organizations and one old one pushing this trend. This night was sponsored by the newly formed Island Grown Initiative, Slow Food MV Convivium, The FARM Institute, and the long established (1859) MVAg Society. These new organizations have only been around a few years and they represent a coalition of consumers and farmers who are acting on a set of common principles to bring about change here locally.
It also struck me as I looked around the room that this change is also being empowered by a new generation of farmers here on the island. In a place where construction is the driving force of the economy, island families have been under tremendous pressure to break up the parcels that make this such a rural paradise. It is a great act of faith, commitment and personal courage to use this land for agriculture, and I admire these young families and their willingness to stay the course.
There was talk this night of working Joel’s principles into the Island Plan. There was talk of establishing an island slaughterhouse. There were young girls curious to know if they could use the “pigerators” in their horse stalls. There was talk of how we only need to use 7% of our 64,000 acres to become fully self-sufficient.
It is an exciting time here.
Friday, November 17, 2006
moving the trees into place
The apple trees are my big worry right now. There are three issues, the first and most controllable actually are the deer. During the warmer months I rely on Bobbex, and chicken wire laid on the ground, because the deer don’t like the feel of the chicken wire on their hooves. But in the winter I like to fence them in to keep the deer away. I have put 8 foot tall bamboo poles in the ground and will use them to hold the 8 foot tall deer netting. The second problem is “cedar apple rust.” This area is full red cedars and there is a blight that passes from apple to cedar and back again. I have avoided the impact of it by planting resistant varieties, Freedom,
But it is the third worry that has me awake at night. It is the winter moth (Operophetera brumata). Soon the moths will be laying their eggs and in the spring their larvae will climb up the trunks of my trees and wiggle right into the blossoming flowers. They are particularly hard on blossoming trees in this way. Their greater local damage is to our oak trees which are attacked by the larger caterpillars in late May and early June. Last spring we were dripping in caterpillars and the infestation shows no sign of abating for 8 – 10 years! This is scary!
This scariness has captured the imagination of some local artists who created this version of the winter moth called the “Vineyard Scareapillar: eating the island one leaf at a time.” It stands nearly 10 feet tall outside of the General Store.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
My how the landscape rushes to darkness these days. What’s the hurry?
I’ve been away from the garden for two weeks. Part of the journey involved stopping off in
There has been a distinct shift from fall to winter as you can see below.