Thursday, January 13, 2011

Colvin Family Farm--Fall Update

With the temperature hovering in the mid teens over the past week, the 2010 growing season is officially over! Offseasons are great for regrouping, making new plans/goals, and catching up on farm maintenance (or in this specific case catching up on correspondence)! I'm hoping to rebuild our website soon making it more "usable"--a better recipe page, automatic backup of all our newsletters, weekly picture slideshows, adding customer feedback, as well as adding cool new software that will help us keep in touch with our shareholders--each shareholder will have their own "user account" that would enable them to login to "their" account and view all of their past, present and future--payments, share box contents, as well as a history of their emails & responses. You'll also be able to let our computer know when you aren't going to pickup, and it'll tell our packing list (the biggest bonus for us, [someday you should try to pack shares--remember who said they aren't going to be able to come/figure out which market/which truck/ahhhhh!!!!!]).

And since we start planting again in 50 days, we need to get seed orders made, greenhouses ready, (another one built), see about building a packing shed, walk-in freezer, cooler room, (yes I'm dreaming [don't poke me]), workout next years marketing and transportation plan, etc...etc...etc...

We have several new crops planned for this year: Strawberries, Celery, Radicchio, Fennel, Tomatillos, and more! Check out our all new 2011 crop harvest projection to see where these fit in the season!
Also, we'll have four new varieties of Dry Beans: Pinto Beans, October Beans, Lima Beans and Cannelini Beans! We are planning on renting a combine, that will harvest (yay) and thresh (WHOOPEE) our beans, oats and wheat in quantities that we've been unable to yet!

I'm going to add pictures to try and bring you up to date on what's been happening on the farm--Keep an eye on our website, as I hope to upload a 2010 season slideshow on soon!

We'll see you all next May! Have a great Winter!

Merry CHRISTmas,

Adam Colvin

Fall Pictures from the Farm

Winter Morning Sunrise

A Winter morning sunrise--I wish the camera could catch the full spectrum of color!

A Business Meeting

Right now we're running through figures--equipment, seeds, ideas--Spreadsheets, charts, calendars--even farmers have their Mondays! Please note the items on the table: three (3) coffee cups, one (1) coffee thermos (it holds four cups full of coffee), four Johnny's Selected Seed Catalogs, a laptop computer, and 4,763 other seed/equipment catalogs.

I love the cloud formations we have during the Wintertime! Look at this one!

Later on...

The same clouds later on--again, I can't seem to catch all of the color--but it was gorgeous!


We've had a little snow, they're calling for 2 inches over the weekend!

Pond Cleanin'

Now, back to Fall--we had a friend come in with his bulldozer and backhoe, and clean out the pond. According to Dad's estimates, it now holds ten times more water!

We've all had our fun as kids playing in leaf piles--Right now it's Levi and Charity's turn.


We bought a "brand new" (to us) fifty year old bushog this fall--we've been needing one ever since the last tooth stripped (yes, last tooth) off of the gearbox on the other bushog (it was only 35 years old)--they just don't make them like they used to! It does a great job for $100!

I love how this picture turned out! The bright green chard contrasting with all of the fall colors, and it's set off well by the collards in the back! (incidentally, I didn't take this one)

Now for strawberry planting--we spread compost, bloodmeal, and corn gluten meal in beds, then tilled it in lightly.


The compost is in the background, the bloodmeal is in the upper, left corner, and the pellets are the corn gluten meal.

Then we laid black plastic mulch over the beds.

strawberry plugs

We bought strawberry plugs from a nursery,

Several of them,

Charity helped by watering the holes before we planted them!

You can see the whole operation here! In the far left, Dad and Noah are popping holes in a neat grid pattern over the plastic, In the far background Isaac is pouring worm casting tea down each hole, and then there's Caleb and myself planting them!


one of the most prolific Fall wildflowers are the common Aster--I like em'!

I also like the "blanket flowers" in Mom's flower garden--when they're done flowering they make neat shaped seed pods (back right).

Colvin Family Farm--Week 18

We've had a delicious taste of Fall over the past week--definitely my favorite season, Fall is refreshingly crisp, cool, sweet smelling--I look forward to it coming in full strength later this month (I can't believe that it's already September)!
When writing this newsletter each week I use words and pictures to send out a "slice" of the farm out to you all keeping you up to date with weekly activities, challenges, surprises and joys, but it is often frustrating that I can't capture the feel, sounds and smells of the farm--walking outside in the morning, dew still covering everything--feeling the crisp refreshing chill of another new day, complemented by the warm touch of fresh sunshine--hearing the early morning sounds--thousands of insects chirping, screeching and buzzing, dozens of birds singing, and smelling the fresh (it's what air fresheners try [and miserably fail] to copy) morning air, smelling of fresh earth here, a tomato patch, and just recently we've started to smell Fall leaves--I love the thousands (or even millions) of smells around the farm--way too many, and way too subtle to list--I've created a veritable monster of a run-on sentence here--better end it.
I like to think that all of these smells, sounds and sensations are packed into each vegetable--maybe we express ourselves best through our vegetables!

I hope you enjoy this late catchup of last weeks activities!

Adam Colvin

Colvin Family Farm Update: Week 18
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We've been battling a really dry season--we started this season not very well equipped for the challenge, but over the season we've gradually enlarged our "arsenal" and are able to do some serious combat now. This picture shows Noah watering a kale bed from a tank in the back of our truck.

The Small Pump

This little pump will run good pressure through more than 300 feet of 5/8 inch hose.

The Water Truck

This is the watering rig. We use a 5 horsepower pump to fill the tank from a lake, then haul it to the field. We then hitch the small pump to the hose on this blue reel, and run it down the path of a bed and water going up and down. One tank per 3 foot wide bed is the equivalent of 1/2 inch of rain.

Lay-flat to Drip-tape

We did break down and do some drip irrigation on our crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and snap peas--this will definitely be the way we work next year as it is super simple and super easy! The little pump hitches up to the blue hose (known as lay-flat), we poke holes in the lay-flat and push a piece of "spaghetti" pipe through it that by aid of the little orange and black fitting hitches up to the drip tape.

Closeup of Drip Tape

This is a close-up of drip tape. It has two blue strips on the side with holes--if you look close in between my fingers you can see the minuscule slit that will emit a drop every couple of seconds (which is why they name it drip-tape). These slits are spaced every 12 inches, and will emit a gallon every hour--the beauty of drip tape is that the minuscule drips work their way down to where the roots of a plant are--we're watering deep with it, not just making the top couple of inches wet.

The Result

The drip tape is then placed next to the row of plants (in this case cucumbers).

Starting Lettuce

Another new method we've started using is lettuce starting. We've always longed for flats of beautiful lettuce plants all the same size all ready to go out at the same time (when you sow lettuce in containers as we have previously done you get all kinds of different sizes, and an unknown amount of plants, wimpy seedlings etc...). With this method we've finally achieved it!

 Letttuce Flats

As you could see in the first photo we use 288 cell flats--these are filled with high-quality Johnny's 512 Organic seed starting media. Then we push down on each cell so it is about 2/3 of the way full and sow 2-4 lettuce seed in each cell. we then cover them with a medium coarse grind of vermiculite, put them under a shade tree and water them daily.

Lettuce Plugs

This is the result (after spending time with tweezers thinning of course)--full flats of beautiful lettuce starts ready to go out!

Morning Glory

Even if it is a pestiferous weed, this morning glory is pretty!

Tomato Flowers

These tomato flowers are a whole lot prettier to me though!


I love how we have so many bumblebees and honey bees pollinating our cucumbers for us--we've never had to pay for pollination services yet!

Cucumbers Comin' On!

The cucumbers are really about to start crankin' them out! They are covered with flowers and have cucumbers in various stages all over!

Oriental Cucumbers

These are the oriental, burpless cucumbers--a little slower but they're still coming on!

Cucumber Patch

The rows of cucumbers.

Tomato Patch

The late tomato patch

Peppers w/Caleb

Caleb poses in the pepper patch with the first real yellow pepper of the year.


We've had some questions about how we stake our tomato patch, so I thought this newsletter I'd show you folks how it's done! We drive 5 foot tomato stakes every 2-3 plants.

Stringin' Tomatoes

We take a spool of "tomato twine" (in the box on Isaac's belt) and run it through some holes on the top and bottom of a specially "modified" tomato stake.

Stringin' 3

This is the close-up of the bottom hole--this handy "stringin' stick" makes it possible to wrap strings around the tomato stakes without having to bend over!

Stringin' #2

A shot showing Isaac stringing--you can pretty much walk right through the patch once you get the hang of it.

Stringin' 4

This closeup shows how you wrap the string around each stake. You keep tension on the twine as it runs down your stringin' stick and pull it tight wrapping it once or twice around the stake. Once you get to the end of the row, you walk back down doing it on the other side.

Stringin' 5

This creates a double sided restraint that holds tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers...

Snap Peas

...and snap peas up off of the ground, increasing marketable yield dramatically!

Okra Flowers

Okra blossom--thought I'd add this as they are so pretty! Okra is actually placed in the Hibiscus family!

Fall's Comin'!

Coming back to the beginning of the newsletter--Fall colors are already showing--it will be an early, short Fall because of the dry Summer, Tulip Poplars and Walnuts have already lost most of their leaves!

Colvin Family Farm--Week 16

Hello everybody!

It has been a great week! We thoroughly enjoyed seeing my brother Matt as he was in on leave prepatory to being deployed for three years, and the 26 year old "bach" brought a quite charming girlfriend to meet the family as well! I like her--she does dishes and, doesn't mind blond jokes (much).

We have certainly done a lot with the week "off," we missed seeing you all at the markets, but we got most all of the fall crops planted, and we also did a bunch of maintenance around the farm--it's pretty easy to fall behind when you are spending all available time doing......something other than maintenance!

We have a bunch of Spinach coming up--the dry spell through this Summer dowsed our hopes of having Spinach clear through the season, but we are doing our best to get it back in as soon as possible! We also have planted, Cauliflower, Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Radishes, Broccoli, Swiss Chard, Kale, and many other Fall crops. I'm sure that Mom has included a great catch up with what we've been doing in her letter, so I'm going to wrap this up with the pictures for the week.

Thanks for supporting us! We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

Adam Colvin

Colvin Family Farm Week 16

Noah & the Herons

Noah caught these baby Green Herons in our greenhouse last week! We've seen them flopping around (they're still learning to fly) with their momma over the past few weeks, but it was neat to see them so close up!

Field Shot

A shot of the field a week ago--two beds of sweet corn on the left, a bed of Daikon radishes in the center, and to the right are beds of green onions and bell peppers.

Lettuce #1

Things have been growing well! Take a look at these two shots of the same lettuce bed six days apart from each other!

Lettuce #2

And here--with enough water crops do just about like we want them to!

Speaking of Birds...

Mom snapped this photo of the baby swallows that are being raised on our porch--we usually raise eight or ten batches of baby swallows on the farm each year, and we are thankful for the  bug eaters!

Field Shot #2

This is another field shot showing the 20 different Fall crops out--the light green bed is the Lettuce again.

 Late Fall planting of Tomatoes

The same tomato transplants we showed pictures of a couple weeks ago are now knee high, and hopefully on schedule for late fall production!

Bell Peppers are just now starting!

Our bed of bell peppers are finally in production! we were tickled to pick enough for our shares today, and anticipate the time when we'll have eight or ten bushels per picking!

Boxes & Boys

Luke (in front) and Noah (in back) put together the share boxes for us last week--they were proud to be able to stay up and help us out during a busy week!

Hog Haulin' In Style!

This shows our fancy "Hog Haulin' Crate." Last week we purchased six, five month old Hampshire/Chester White crosses (pictures next week sorry) and hauled them 30 miles home in this adapted used water crate shrouding. We are tickled to have hogs again, and look forward to bacon and chops (yes we've named the hogs: Ham, Sausage, Bacon, Pork, Chop, and Anastasia).

Matt & the aforementioned "quite charming" girlfriend

This is Matt and his girlfriend Brittany...

But Momma is still his girl!

...Still, Momma will always be Matt's girl!