Farm Blog

What's happened most recently? This will have more pictures of dirt than is really reasonable. 

Propagation house

A shared hoophouse with mesh tables to start our seedlings on. Potted seedlings make a head start for plants that need a longer warm season than we have in the ground (basil, tomatoes, squashes). Even for cool-happy crops, letting them get a few inches tall while protected and then transplanting them lets them outcompete weeds and slugs, so we get more crops without herbicides and pesticides. 

Some things dislike being transplanted -- root crops  especially -- though there are people who do it successfully anyway.  And some things I can't get going in pots but are okay in the ground; spinach for me, though lots of people transplant it. 

In cold weather each table gets a second cover of nonwoven fabric, draped over wires. I bent mine to shape to allow the tallest seedlings down the center under the standard width of fabric. This may have been overkill, but you know, I only had to do it once...   


Amazingly, we had a dust devil in Woodinville a few weeks ago. Wrecked half my neighbor's hoophouse, I lost a couple of pots (picked more of them out of neighboring fields), and it scared me to heck. Mostly after the fact, when I realized how much rebar got thrown around when the greenhouse tiedowns popped loose.


Silage tarp -- very heavy, with dangling tiedowns -- thrown across several farms and dropped across the river

Getting ready for 2024

It's still pretty darn wet in the field, but all the beds are at least partly above water. (It's a wet site!) The first few rows are under giant breathable tarps to kill weeds and dry out the soil; I'm looking forward to blooming dandelions because I like making jelly from them; and it's seed starting time under cover.  

Height of the season?: September 1st 2023 double share 

Green onions, radishes, snack carrots with tops, beets with tops, baby lettuces, chard, two kinds of snap beans, several kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of zucchini, soup carrots, cucumbers, red amaranth leaves, okra, sorrel, parsley, basil, little red onions. 

Probably the height of the season for variety, as there was a little cool wet weather that brought on the fall crops this week but hasn't put the summer crops quite to sleep yet. Now I start trying to get the maximum number of ripe tomatoes before it's too cool, always a gamble.

Half-shares had the same things, only half as much. It is a puzzle to pack everything. 

... oh, marigolds too

These are planted among the tomatoes as pest-deterrence, but they are edible. And beautiful!

All beds full in late summer, 2023

The "big" half of my tiny field, where I grow full 50' rows of one thing each. From near to far: 

Late July 

Cucumbers, okra, lettuce, zucchini, basil and a few tomatoes in a bag, young onions and parsley, multicolored carrots, chard, beets with tops. 

June 30 -- so many tomatoes to ripen

Orange cherry tomatoes, twirled up their string taller than I am, and covered with trusses of tomatoes to ripen. 

Geometry salad

By one of my CSA customers -- I really like the red and white circles and the sharp wedgy shapes of the peas. Reminds me of 1950s art. 

Salad and photo by Brittany Smith, 2023

Ramen with more veg, easy tasty

How much veg to put into a bowl of ramen? Exactly as much as I can chop while the noodles are boiling.  

July 7: Tomatoes growing

A panorama of the inside of the hoophouse, with carefully pruned tomatoes twirling up their twine. Mixed with basil and onions because strong smells might slow down tomato pests.

And above, the first truss of tomatoes to show color on the vine.

The bare-ish soil in the lower right has a few watermelon seedlings... they need a lot of room to sprawl.

June 30: CSA share, colorful!

Scallions, cilantro, and parsley in front; then, clockwise, radishes leaning on a lettuce, a bag of snap peas (so sweet), carrots, red-leaved beets, and multicolored chard. Snack food and cooking food. Oh, basil added at the last minute, because it doesn't like being as cool as everything else. 

(This was the half-share size in 2023 but I'm calling it a full share now. Same price.) 

Semi-successful cooking experiment

I wanted to make pink rice with the red beet leaves. Hungry after farming, so I didn't want anything with two steps... chopped up the beet leaves and stems, added them to white rice in a pressure cooker with the usual amount of water and ran it the usual time. Result: rice tinted pink and peach, slightly mushier than I like it. Probably I should have allowed for the water in the vegetables. Tasted good though.

While the rice cooked, I boiled the sliced beets in water and white vinegar just to cover with, oh, a quarter the beets' volume in sugar and a piece of ginger minced up. While that was cooking, sorted out lettuce leaves and carrot sticks and green onion rings while a skillet heated; made omelets last minute. Just under half an hour all told.

Nice combinations -- sharp, sweet, rich, crunchy, soft, crisp. And pretty! And some leftovers; the rice and beets make a good cold salad with lettuce.

June 9:  First official CSA share

From the front: turnips, snap peas and basil, radishes; scallions; sorrel; three kinds of head lettuce (Coastal Star romaine, Freckles, and Red Mist); bags of looseleaf kale and spinach.  

Tiny green tomato

They're working on it!

Teeny tiny green cucumber

The cucumber vines are wildly vigorous and threatening to take over the paths. If they put a fraction of that oomph into the cucumbers themselves, good cucumbers! 

May 29: Buckwheat, bee bread, bee

There's a foot-wide space between me and the next farmer. We've planted it for the bees: buckwheat, which has these small pink-and-white flowers, and phacelia, nicknamed "bee bread". Plenty of bees on the buckwheat already -- this is a honeybee, kept by a neighboring farm; the smaller bees are too fast for me to photograph. 

May 27: glossy lettuce

I plant lettuces close together partly to suppress weeds; then carefully harvest every other one as they touch each other. That makes for one harvest of small lettuce, then the ones left grow into the available space, and they get harvested as full size lettuces. 

May 24: tomatoes and basil in the hoophouse

This is a picture of transplanting tomatoes and basil to their final row in the hoophouse -- the tomatoes are next to strings that will support them as they get big and the tomatoes get heavy. Compost to feed them, tarps to suppress weeds in rows-to-come. 

All the warm, subtropical plants need to be started pretty early to grow here. Seeds went into tiny plugs of soil in March, on heat mats to help them germinate. After a few weeks they outgrew the plugs and were transplanted into larger pots in an unheated propagation house shared by everyone at Viva Farms in King County. 

For most of this time my hoophouse, in a different spot, was still too wet and cold to plant tomatoes in the ground.  I was pretty nervous about the weather! You want the new plants to be healthy and fast growing, but if we have a long cool spring they can outgrow the holding space before their ground is warm enough.

Then we got an early hot spell and the year looks good so far. Fingers crossed. 

May 21: three kinds of greens

Three different kinds of greens are filling up the row-cover and ready to eat: from near to far, spinach, pak choi, mixed "wild" kale.  The row cover is really helpful for keeping nibblers off the crops. I use a lot of row cover because we have a lot of rabbits. Baby rabbits are very cute, but they all eat so much.

Rabbits  can eat the paths instead, which are grass and clover and dandelions, very nutritious, also organic!

And now we see hawks floating above the farms and at dusk I see a coyote...  

May 21: peas blooming 

Snap peas blooming! I take the row cover off every day  to let the wind shake the pollen and get full sunlight.

And then button it back down very carefully, because pea greens are just delicious -- rabbits and deer can eat a row in no time.  *Humans* can eat pea greens raw, that's how tender they are. But if we eat much of the greens, we don't get the peas. It's a puzzle. 

March: wild bee nest?

A mysterious hole in the mostly-bare ground. Bee experts say it's just the sort of place native bees live. A hassle to work around, but okay.... 

May: well, if I don't hoe the spot... 

I flagged the spot to not disturb it, so of course it's dense with weeds. Weeds would happen without me, so I hope the native bees can wiggle through.