Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Peaches are in full bloom, but temperatures are supposed to drop to 34?? Will we skim by without a true freeze? The greenhouse is to the side of these trees and does provide a degree of warmth each year, hopefully it will be enough. I am hoping also that the Yukon Gold Potatoes do not have to start over with a freeze. The leaves will die with a freeze, but the potato will continue to grow, just a bit slower than I would like; I was hoping for May potatoes. On the other hand the rain and/or snow is welcome and so is a day of rest.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Future Herb Garden

Here is the future herb bed, and hopefully the rabbits agree with us that it can stay. It will be unprotected, but I am hoping that between the "not so desirable" nature of herbs and the fact that they are eating well out of the compost pile that the rabbits will choose to let me keep this as is. Here goes . . . This bed will allow me to increase herb production by 10 fold!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Italian Bean Sausage Soup with Barley. It does not get much better and closer to the earth than this recipe. Made with fresh pork (easy to use 1 pound packages from butcher), fresh rosemary, sage and braising greens from the garden. A great vitamin filled protein punch soup. I could live on soups like this. Let me know if you are not a CSA member and need the recipe.

Lettuce Choices

Winter Bibb, Revolution, Merlot, Speckled lettuce heads all well on there way. I love the varieties that I can grow since I only deliver a few miles away! These are all favorites of market gardeners across the country. I am fortunate to have a few online forums that I participate in that provide me with great advice from some of the biggest market gardeners in the country and many of them are starting to provide to our schools!! The Revolution, Merlot and Speckled are also in the gourmet lettuce this week. NRCS was out and measured for the second hoop house. I will be financing another 800 sf personally if the grant does not go through, but if it does than another 3,600 sf will be going in this year; that is a lot more produce and in the long run actually easier to manage with being able to plant larger quantities.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Hoop House Site

The new site will be 20 x 80 in addition to the first site of 20 x 100. I currently work out of 20 x 40 so you can imagine how much this will help. It will enable me to overwinter carrots and beets for continued harvest, expand all winter produce and summer produce will become that much more productive thanks to the protected environment. Green onions and Daikon radishes are going in first. Hopefully the rabbits will leave them alone otherwise the fence being moved will be the next endeavor. For those of you planning a little garden of your own Daikon radishes do an awesome job of breaking up the soil. Also a word to the wise if you are moving a pile of boards where a lizard is hiding from your dogs do not stand too close as you move the last hiding place board; the lizard will run up your pant leg to hide!! It must have been quite a sight as I shook my leg and prayed that he would fall out otherwise I would have been stripping out of my overalls for all to see. For those of you who have been here you know this point of the garden is prime viewing for all my neighbors!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tomato Time!

Okay, I checked the temps, here goes, first tomatoes go out over the next few days, but not until I finish prepping the new area for inspection on Tuesday. A few raised beds and I will be done! Of course, you do know at some point I will be running out there to cover these tomatoes and say a prayer over them before the "unexpected freeze" hits; probably something like June 2nd?? Have to love Mother Nature she keeps you on your toes!! Spent some time networking too; definitely not my greatest strength!. Phil and Donna from Fanci Farms are coming in to help with produce and this is a great step for me; that is asking for help!! Val Halla Soaps are coming on board too with soaps and Pets Goat Milk. Thanks to Tom if he happens to see this for his great support with lots of good books and seeds and most of all encouragement!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Well as I sell out here quicker than I can blink I am planning, and so down goes the fence this week to add another 20x 80 area. I mentioned this to the NRCS (share of cost hoop house project where I currently have an application in for 20 x 100) and she said "Good, it will be farmed land, did you want to add hoop house?". I said "Yessssssss!!!!!" So now I have one 20 x 100 hoop house and one 20 x 80 hoop house pending approval!! In the meantime I will have more room for green onions and everything else that needs to go in the ground over the next 30 days. In the picture is the Piracicabo Broccoli. Broccoli is a costly per head crop, but if you grow this variety and sell this nonheading variety that simply stems out you have a wonderful multiple cutting broccoli with very sweet small heads perfect for steaming, salads and best of all dipping!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fine! I'll get it myself!

Little Dipper is indeed staying little and has decided that she would just help herself to the grain. We use grain as a training tool for now, but will be added to their diet on a regular basis when they are "in milk" for their babies or for us. Right now it is a great tool to get them back into the pen after they have been out doing weed removal duty, though they tend to eat anything but the weeds!! The nice thing is the goats like the dry stuff and the chickens like the green stuff!! Good thing too because the weeds are coming in fast!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Snow Peas!!

One of my favorites from the garden!! Yes, I usually consume more than my fair share before they even make to the kitchen for washing so I apologize in advance for limited availability. Unfortunately the mice agree with me and ate all of the next planting before they even emerged! Obviously they are delicious in "germination" form, but replanting is easy at least with large pea seed and I did get even, I will leave out the details for you animal lovers.
Spinach is emerging outside even through the freezing temps outside, proof that Spring is in the air along with the Blue Jays!! Of course if you have been a High Desert resident for any length of time you are most aware of Spring by the wonderful breezes that come with it, yes, I am being facetious for those of you who have only joined recently. You can look forward to Fall when warm temps usually still prevail and the winds die down!!
Radishes are hardy too and are prevailing through the cold and even the first of carrots are showing outside. I can't wait for that second cold frame to go up, and yes a third is already in the plans. The herb garden is going to be completed this weekend with the arrival of my first Bay Laurel Tree unless they looked at our temps, very conscientious company, may delay mailing, even looked up our elevation!
100 Beefsteak tomatoes, 200 of various colored cherry tomatoes from Hawaiian White, Hawaiian Orange, Black Cherry, Supersweet 100s; 50 Roma, 50 Early Girl and 20 Heinz 1547 are all started and flourishing in the living room and dining room. 50 Jalapenos and 40 or Sweet Pepper along with Poblanos, Anaheim Chiles and Serrano chiles are moving along and ready to go to 4 inch pots. Oh, and don't forget the super sweet Grape tomatoes. Just waiting for the night temps to rise into the 40s! Tomorrow is harvest day, check in with you later.

Monday, March 8, 2010


The smaller egg is what I would consider a large to extra large egg. By the way our eggs are never "labeled" anything but Farm Fresh due to regulations. The larger egg is what we call an "OUCH" egg, and has probably at least two if not three yolks!! Spring is on its way, this proves it along with the snow peas and spinach germinating and the fruit trees flowering and the birds singing and the best part the weeds!! At least the chickens think so!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tri Community Co-op/Busy Weekend

Friday was delivery day for Tri Community Co-Op in Wrightwood who provide their members with a beautiful basket of produce every 2 weeks. You can order eggs, chicken and other items on a biweekly basis also if you like. Phil here is showing you an example of the basket, there should have been more in the basket but I had to leave before they finished. If interested contact them at .

Over the last few days I spent time making sure the potatoes were covered in the field due to the temperatures dropping, and covered the new snow peas and barely emerging spinach. The radishes are hardy and have not even slowed down with the cooler temps and the shallots are going just crazy.

I also had fun (not really) disinfecting Coop #1 for the chicks that need to be transferred out there. I spent half the time shooing away determined hens from their favorite nests; next time they go out to free range when I do this!

The Revolution lettuce (previous picture) is transplanted in the greenhouse along with a few more kale; the rest are slotted to go outside under row covers this week. Jerricho romaine was started in trays this week; with luck this will continue lettuce production through the summer season. This lettuce is successfully grown in Israel's heat so hopefully it will do well here too.

Today, the tomato field amending was begun with the manure from Coop #1 and a wheat cover crop should be sown by the end of the week as long as the temperatures increase as predicted.

Thanks for tuning in!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Moonstruck Thanks

I could not have made it through the last year without the support of two of my best friends, one, Carrie Ank, is in Astoria near Portland, Oregon and the other, Janet Gertz, is in South Portland, Maine, go figure, they did not plan this as far as I know. The custom artwork is courtesy of Janet. She created it from a picture of my youngest Meghan fishing on our visit to Portland and I have gorgeous graduation photos of my eldest thanks to Carrie. The artwork is the official logo for Moonstruck Farms. Can't wait to see it in print more!! I feel so fortunate to have such great creative people as my best friends.
Thank you both! I love you both so much!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thursday 03/04

Thought I would sign in now and give you tomorrow's update since I may not make it on. Tomorrow is known as Harvest Day so I will be harvesting for my Moonstruck CSA orders, Natural Elements and preparing the egg order for Tri Community Co-Op bright and early Friday Morning. If you want a wonderful prepared basket of farm fresh produce every other week without the work contact I will try and snap a picture or two so you can see the process of harvesting and cleaning the produce here at Moonstruck Farms.

Wednesday Night

Okay, I think I am officially in the "new age". Facebook Page -just search Moonstruck Farms - find a gallery of photos and contact us! I think there is a Twitter Page, but to honest have not figured that one quite out yet. Thank God the Blog is easy!!!


Well, trying to return to normal, checking on everything and seeing progress is so nice. I have tried staring at my plants day after day before and it just does not seem to make them grow, but when you are gone for four and see the progress you realize they are and your staring made no difference!! Blogging is part of the day, realize I need to connect with all of you out there so that you can enjoy our progress right along with me!! But off now to start cleaning out the coop for the new chicks who from time to time in the basement you hear "chirping" out of a single chick, yes that would be the one that jumped out and is running around the basement trying to figure out how to get back in!! Time to move them out!!

California Small Farm Conference Day Four

Tuesday starts off with breakfast with a presentation by Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA . My favorite story of his presentation was that of when his father called him to say that he knew he had saved a little money and he wanted him to invest it. He said sorry Dad I already invested in Drip Tape! Yes, he was a grower at the time and to say the least his father was not exactly enthusiastic about his choice of investments, but then two weeks later when the stock market crashed his father called back and said "I should have invested in drip tape!!". This tickled my funny bone as I thought of all the times I made a comment to a friend that "I really need to buy a new pair of jeans one of these days" and she would say "go do it" and I would return with "I spent all my money on drip tape or seeds or new chicks!!"

First workshop was Small Livestock Production for Ethnic and Speciality Markets. Many of us were excited to hear the news in this arena and Ramiro Lobo from UC Cooperative Extension provided us with the information we were looking for from what breeds to choose to where to find going prices. Very informative!! Unfortunately the only Poultry Advisor in the state was there and he did not touch on this subject at all, but gave a presentation on production procedures mainly for disease control with pictures of commercial operations. He did not meet with much approval to say the least!! Poor guy!

Final workshop was Social Media, obviously I listened, and finally caved!! Yes, I am blogging now and yes I will be on Facebook. By listening to my customers and to this workshop I realized that social media was crucial to my business because people not only want to enjoy good food, but they want to feel connected just like me!! They cannot all be farmers, I am very fortunate to have this opportunity, but I can bring the experience to them through pictures and through my thoughts!! So here goes . . . Wish me luck . . . I am going to need it!!

We returned home and I realized it is good to get away for a few days. It was so great to see the great growth in the Revolution Lettuce in just over a few days and that the chicks no longer look like chicks and that my children's smiles were still the greatest thing on earth!!

Thank you all once again for your support. I am here because of all of you out there!

California Small Conference Day Three

Monday starts at 9 a.m. with a General Session comprising of an address from the USDA explaining the goals of the USDA, but the energy from the Farmers in the audience is what impressed me. If the Farmers are allowed to do what they have in mind in bringing local farm fresh food to their local areas than California will win, win, win, more later . . .

We chose Breaking Ground: Opportunities for New Farmers for our first workshop.

Farmlink a nonprofit, to provide assistance to new farmers was there with invaluable information.

Sergeant Colin Archipley did a presentation on his new farm, Archi's Acres, an organic hydroponic operation, which also trains returning veterans and anyone else interested in hydroponics. Archi's Acres Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program is a progressive venture in small scale organic farming that targets veterans who may be disabled or who are interested in returning to the work force in the agricultural industry. Another shining example of how agriculture can make our world a better place.

Off to luncheon in the grand ballroom where the Marriott served lunch consisting of all local produce and meat and A.G. Kawamura, Secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture he gave an inspiring speech to all and especially Women Farmers!!

Next workshop, The Next Big Thing: New Crops and New Market Opportunities for Southern California Farmers.

UC Cooperative Extension representatives Ben Faber and Mark Gaskell gave a litany of information about current research in what speciality crops can be grown in Southern California. Their emphasis was in finding crops that small to medium producers could grow, and make money, though the comment that most of us are "nonprofit corporations" was an ongoing joke!! I was especially interested in the blueberry research since my blueberries are in an experimental stage themselves and I would very much like to add this to the farm along with raspberries!

Last stop, Farm to Institution. To be honest I had no intention of doing this workshop, but because of a change in schedule I ended up here and I was so glad!! Riverside Unified School District did a inspiring presentation of their Farm to School program. Proof that it can work!!! Not only did studies prove that the children were eating better and their BMIs were reduced, but that the local farms were growing due to the additional business and thus the economy was growing!! The teachers were even now eating at school!! When the first generation of kids graduated to the high school and they did not have the salad bar installed yet they marched on the Principal's office to have it added!! Now that is proof in the pudding!!

Next was an example of the Buy Fresh, Buy Local success in the Growers Collaborative Program along the California Coast. Community Alliance with Family Farmers organized local family farmers into a distribution network, turned the business over to a "for profit" distribution hub and brought local farm produce to local schools, hospitals and corporate cafeterias. It does not get much better for this. Local produce in local schools and businesses keeping local money in the the local economy!!

We finally were able to breath for a little while and then off to the Banquet Dinner for Petite Local Chicken Breast with a creamy risotto and sauteed local Swiss chard!! Yum!!!! Award presentations included Farmer of the Year to a local Santa Barbara Farmer growing coffee!! The Buy Local Hero Award went to Russ Parsons of the L.A. Times for promoting farmers markets through is articles. Off to sleep, I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow!!

California Small Farm Conference Day 2

The hotel has provided a breakfast bar of fresh fruit, coffee and breakfast burritos for us to start the day with and a good thing because with a pitch dark hotel room it was hard to get up!! So used to waking with our bright High Desert mornings! We board a charter bus for our Greenhouse Production Tour. First stop is Sunset Valley Orchids in Vista. Fred Clark specializes in breeding new species of orchids. Of course Michael and I spent most of our time inspecting the greenhouses themselves, which were comprised of cellular automated walls for ventilation. Imagine an air mattress filling up the walls. They were temperature regulated and the "mattress" construction added additional insulation, and as the greenhouse became warmer the walls went down and as it became cooler the walls went up!! The mattress configuration appeared to add strength also, a must in our winds!!

Next stop Mellano & Co., a very large cut flower/foliage farm in Oceanside. They were using the outdoor row covers for extending their seasons. They also had a string of simple florescent lights strung down the rows to control flowering actually creating two short nights! Huge operation!! The structures were far from wind proof, but they had become quite sturdy thanks to an underlying current of competition that was created within the employees. The employees were trying to "out do" the other in seeing whose row cover would still be intact the next day after a good Santa Ana blasting!! They would actually show up at work early the next day to see whose structure was still standing!

Next stop, Oceanside Produce, a large tomato operation. Even with visiting each of the large outfits I still walked away with helpful information. The tables for transplants were of simple construction that I could duplicate in my future seedling house and the walls that they created were constructed by themselves out of necessity simply comprised of Agribon fabric and a pulley system. Onto the Tasting Reception!!
Oh my!! I have never experienced such a diversity of culinary choices!! I ate beef that melted in your mouth and octopus that was not chewy!! Coffee that was not bitter! There had to be 12 different high-end restaurants and 12-15 wineries and a brewery!! Even a longstanding conference attendee said that they had never experienced anything like this before!! I ate an identical set of braising greens that I sell in a wonderful vinagrette!! San Diego welcomed us with their best!! One restaurant chef asked me if we knew where his owner could buy wild boar to raise!! I said it would be cheaper to hire a hunter! We visited the exhibits and saw all the upcoming technology and the majority were of an organic basis!! One exhibit was selling the "business model" that we just started with the support of community of ordering produce per item online!! What a wonder to see the trends changing. I really honestly believe that our faltering economy is spurring inovation and a lot of this is coming from the movement for better, higher quality local food!!

California Small Farm Conference Day 1 02/27/2010

The conference has not officially begun, thank goodness, we are on the freeway and passing accident after accident in pouring rain!! We luckily navigated our way safely to San Diego and did a little sightseeing on Coronado Island, but unfortunately was halted by pouring rain once again. We returned to the Marriott Del Mar and checked into a beautiful room and prepared for dinner. We returned to Old Town and visited the Coyote Cafe where we enjoyed good reasonable priced Mexican food in a wonderfully festive environment with Mariachis playing and lots of laughter!! They have Tequila "flights" for you wine lovers who want to experiment with something different. Michael and I shared a margarita with Patron Tequila to try some of the real thing and it was great!! We then returned to the room for a good night's rest before our early start the next morning to our short course in Greenhouse Production.