Happy winter! Here’s a roundup what’s been happening at Burkett Farm – both the good and the ugly…
Our biggest fall crop success was one we’d never grown before: Brussels sprouts! We grew our own transplants (as we do with virtually everything) and got them in the ground right on time (Sept. 1). And besides a little aphid pressure in mid-fall that disappeared with freezing temperatures, pests weren’t a problem. With the help of some row cover, we kept the plants producing until the week long of subfreezing temperatures earlier this month. The sprouts looked ok when we uncovered them, but when we sliced them open and checked inside we found brown, dead spots. Bummer! We’re looking forward to planting even more next year.
The same brutal cold snap that took out the sprouts and the purple-top turnips damaged our kale and collards, as well as the greens on the beets and carrots, but they’ll all bounce back.
And a hard lesson learned this fall: Always stay vigilant for hungry slugs and snails. Before we knew it, they’d slimed their way across some of the beet beds, mowing down the seedlings. We’d planted late, so by the time we put down Sluggo (an iron phosphate-based, organic pesticide) and got replacement seed germinating, we’d entered the window of overwintered beets – and this hasn’t been ideal weather for that. Beets seem to be a big challenge this season all the way around; in the hoop house a family of rats heavily damaged a bed of beets under row cover. Looks like storing cozy bales of wheat straw (read: rodent residence) in the hoop house isn’t a great idea…
Our big winter project is building a coop for a second flock of laying hens; we’re planning to get about 20 hens in the spring. Greg, Bland Landscaping’s site supervisor on the estate, is teaching us useful construction basics – we’re perfecting our hammer swings (you’d think it’d be easier) but also appreciate the speed of the nail gun he introduced us to. And we know the difference between a jack stud and a king stud. More about this project later.
In November we hosted two big events: the first was a quite successful pig pickin’ fundraiser benefiting the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation. It was a warm fall evening with music and amazing food, including collards and pink-eyed peas from the farm. We also held our second annual kimchi making class led by Soo Hee Kwon, a woman of boundless energy and generosity! We provided the Napa cabbage, daikon radish, scallions, ginger, and some of the red chili powder (we grew, then dehydrated and ground up, quite a few Cheongyang peppers for that. Soo Hee, a native of Korea and expert kimchi creator, walked us through the process, from salting the cabbage to the final step of massaging the leaves with the spicy red base.
Over the fall, many volunteers shared their time and energy with us with hauling lots of mulch-filled wheelbarrows, weeding, harvesting, planting garlic, and thinning the perennial strawberry beds. Thank you all!
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