I often get asked about our CSA program. Questions usually start with, “What is a CSA?” CSA stands for Community Sponsored Agriculture. It is, in its simplest form, buying a share in a farmer’s garden. The share provides you with what the farm is growing that year. Your share will change week to week as things ripen and are harvested.
At Rain Barrel Acres our CSA is a bit boutique in that we offer all the things we produce on our farm including: chicken eggs, goat milk soap, beeswax lotion, honey, orchard fruit, truffles foraged on our farm and fresh cut flower bouquets.
Our bags change what we offer week to week as the garden heats up and the growing season gets going. In cold spring years it may take awhile to get going but if you are on the journey with us your baskets will overflow as the season progresses.
If you are asking the question, “Is a CSA right for me?” I can tell you that a CSA is right for you if you care about how your food is produced. We offer chemical and pesticide free foods raised ethically with sustainable permaculture in mind. Kinda like your great grandma did it.
Lots of seeds in the ground means…waiting for seeds to sprout. With an extended stretch of sunny weather I found myself carting water to and fro and generally fretting as all gardeners do in spring. Gardeners are rarely happy with the weather. After receiving some much needed rain I took inventory of my sprouting seeds and found some beets and radish poking through the compost.
Garlic and my red onion sets are popping up along with peas and what I suspect are some parsnips. I swore off parsnips a couple years ago after growing some robust plants that were huge garden bullies. But they taste so good…so I put in a row or three.
Since waiting for seeds to germinate is similar to watching paint dry I busied myself with trellis installation in anticipation of my 100 tomatoes. I also included two arched panels for pole beans and scarlet runner beans. Installing an arched trellis is a two person job but I managed it myself with some gritty determination and a copious amount of cursing. It took ten times longer and I almost killed myself but they will look beautiful covered in beans.
This week I’m looking forward to getting wood chips to cover my cardboard walkways and installing a few pumpkin beds because there is nothing more exciting than giant pumpkins. Except maybe multiple giant pumpkins. Like 100 or so.
I’m ready to get started planting the Enormous Frickin Vegetable Garden with early spring plantings. At the front of the bed I’m putting in Walla Walla sweet onions, probably my favorite all time onion. I picked up a bunch of onion starts at a local nursery a few weeks ago before we were all on lockdown. I like using onion starts because they are easy to handle and fast to plant.
These guys all got separated and placed into the bed a few inches deep with the dirt firmed around them. As they grow we will need to ‘ring’ them which is essentially moving the dirt away from the growing bulb so it can plump up unimpeded. But that is a later task for warmer weather.
I separated each onion and laid them out on the bed. For this planting I’m going with four in each row. This is a four foot wide bed so it worked out great. It only took a few minutes to plant them up.
I also planted some onion sets or bulbs. These sets are red onions which are my second favorite onion, they are sweet, caramelize easily and are great sautéed in olive oil with red peppers and a little red wine vinegar. Sets are available at nurseries and feed stores in the early spring.
There were 100 bulbs in the bag! I planted some in my other vegetable garden closer to the house so I am estimating I only planted 50 or so.
While I was searching for the red onion bulbs I came across an old package of beet seeds and decided to go ahead and try them. I sowed them a little more thickly than I would have a new package because I’m expecting that some of the seeds might not germinate. In a few weeks we will see what comes up!
Here’s a few video links to what I accomplished today.
The Victory Garden. It’s a thing. During WWII, to help offset rationing and support the war effort, people were asked to plant a vegetable garden. Some estimates suggest that people grew as much as fifty percent of their own produce.
I’ve been growing fruit and vegetables for almost thirty years. I’m by no means an expert but have found through the years that enthusiasm accounts for a lot.
If I’m honest my veg garden always starts out looking organized and tidy and by mid season looks like the ball pit at Chucky Cheese during a birthday party, total chaos and disorder. 🤷♀️🤷♀️🤷♀️
This year I made the decision to turn my horse arena into an enormous vegetable garden. My horse friends are mostly appalled but I’m feeling good about the plan. I decided to blog about the process hoping that I would find additional motivation to keep it all tidy, weed free and productive.
I generally grow around 30 tomato plants, mostly heirloom varieties, but I’m ramping up to reach a goal of 100 plants. A lofty goal for sure but is there any other kind of goal??? 😂😂😂
Here’s a short video clip that starred out with multiple interruptions and required me to physically extract my dogs from the UPS truck. (My UPS driver is a saint)
I hope this video entertains. It will certainly be fun to document the experience. If it inspires anyone to grow a garden I will send you a virtual social distance high hive!
George is a small (ish) dog of complex ancestry. Containing bits of rat terrier and pug, he is both introverted and extroverted which basically equates to a hot mess. One of his redeeming qualities is that he has become a very enthusiastic digger of truffles which grow here on our farm.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of George finding truffles.
People often ask me how many animals I have. There is never a simple answer, like an actual number. It usually goes like this:
“Well I had four alpacas and then someone gave me two more…but one was white so I traded it for a rose grey one but then they had a fawn one and it was buy one get one free day so…”
Recently I finally got down to one rabbit, however, he managed to escape and take up residence in my neighbors chicken coup. I know this because I was feeding my chickens early in the morning when my neighbor called over the fence to ask if I was missing a rabbit.
After a lengthy convo over the fence that involved her explaining her rabbit math (she has four rabbits) we decided that what she really wanted five rabbits and one less goat. A bargain was struck. A trade was made. A goat was put on a leash.
When doing farm math it’s important to remember that 1. It’s not linear and 2. It requires lots of stories to explain why you have a goat on a leash while in your pajamas.
There’s nothing like first eggs. After raising 30 chicks last spring, I’ve started to get some of the first eggs from them. Since I have almost 40 chickens, some already of laying age, there is no way to be sure these eggs are from the babies I raised in the spring. However, I don’t recognize them as coming from my older chickens.
Each chicken lays a unique egg. I recall having a Wellsummer chicken which laid a beautiful dark brown egg with tiny even darker brown spots. I could tell her eggs from my other chickens including my other Wellsummers.
Today’s eggs, I’d like to think, are from my young hens. Raising newly hatched chickens is a boat load of work. Baby chicks are messy and require looking after several times a day. Clean water is essential and 30 chicks will keep their water clean for approximately three seconds. This means that the water needs to be changed approximately four hundred times per day. Their light source for heat needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted. Wasted feed and poop mingle together and foul up the bedding which needs to be changed. It’s a chore, but all that work is forgotten when you find a nest of first eggs.