After five years of working on borrowed land, we’ve decided that it is time to find a place of our own, where we can establish long term projects. For the next year or so, we will focus on organizing events for the gardening/urban farming community; Rogation day processions, tool/ seed blessings, etc., while we reorganize and look for a new site. We will also be trying to start some small agricultural businesses to fund our projects. If you have ideas or are interested in joining us, please contact us.
Despite some terrible weather this past year, we had a fairly good harvest of tomatoes, summer squash, and other produce. Our melons, butternut squash, and some other heat loving crops were a failure. And we continued to learn a lot and have a good time!
We are currently building a new hoop tunnel in a member’s back yard that we hope will overcome the disadvantages of the temporary structures we had been using on our farm sites. We will post updates on this project as we continue.
We are finally done with spring planting! We have got potatoes, eggplant, peppers, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, peas, and a dozen or so tomato varieties in the ground. Our cherry tree escaped the late snow and has cherries on it!
We got another snowstorm on May 19th. Not only did we have squash planted, but we had also set out 45 tomato plants under wall of water protectors. I try to avoid planting tomatoes till the beginning of June, but we had run out of space under grow lights for them all; we had some 250 total. The forecast at the time looked fine. But the wall of water proved adequate, and the tomatoes are still alive, though not very happy.
Our pie cherry tree flowered after all the storms and has green cherries on it! All the other fruit trees in the orchard lost their blooms.
The potatoes got frosted but are coming back nicely. Salad greens are doing well. The peas, however, are lagging, having gone through a few too many weather swings since February.
As well as all the snow, it has been pouring rain in the desert, which has slowed work but produced rapid growth in everything, including all the weeds.
As usual, spring has been very busy. We got one heavy snow storm at the end of April, but otherwise the weather has been fairly mild. We’ve got a lot more planted: squash under wall of water protectors, potatoes, grape vines and gooseberry bushes.
We held a Rogation day procession on April 25th, and installed a new shrine with a picture of our patron, St. Isidore.
I’ll update with some pictures when I get time.
The weather has been warm and springlike here in Littleton, and so we’ve been having fun digging in the dirt, spading up beds and mixing fertilizer.
Our biggest project this week was building low tunnels to protect some early plantings. In previous years, we’ve had two problems with these structures. They tend to get wind damaged; and, since we used long rebar stakes to hold up the PVC hoops, they were hard to move once the rebar had rusted into the ground. But we are working on a new design which should solve both problems. I’ll try to have a full post on this, and pictures of our tunnels, up next week.
We pruned the orchard; all the trees are still alive! And we hope to put in more perennial plantings this spring, particularly a hedge to block the North wind.
At the end of the week we held our annual planning meeting. We spent a lot of time discussing our new membership structure. Alongside the main gardens we will be providing members with individual plots where they can plant whatever they are interested in. Soil preparation and watering for the plots, and the care of the orchard and infrastructure, will be done by the group as a whole. We hope this arrangement will combine the best of the community planting and the individual plot models. We also discussed: upcoming events, particularly our tool blessing on March 19th; garage sales as fundraisers; planting more trees and shrubs on the farm; taking field trips to agricultural sites in the area; and beautifying the Mary garden.
As the new year starts, we are busy pouring through seed catalogs and drawing up plans for the spring. Hope springs eternal within the Gardener’s heart. There is always next year!
Not that 2016 was a bad year. We had a usual share of failures and wild weather, but still managed to harvest piles of produce; the St. Mary’s food bank and the Carmelite Convent were pleased to receive lots of heirloom tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers, as were the volunteers on the farm sites. The trees planted on our Littleton farm were all still alive going into their second winter.
I’m already thinking about our spring Rogation Day field blessing. Since restoring Catholic horticultural traditions is at the heart of our mission, this is always a highlight of the year.
Due to erratic spring and fall weather over the past few years, we plan to build some mini-frames which can be easily moved around the site, and covered with plastic, row cover, shade cloth or pest netting as conditions change.
We will be converting more of our crops over to landraces instead of named varieties this year. For more on landraces and their adaptive potential, see my earlier post here.
We have lots of other activities and projects planned; if I find time I will be posting about these in the upcoming weeks.
O God, please give us favorable weather and an abundant harvest through the intercession of St. Isidore.
It has been a busy few months! We got our spring crops in, and our tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and zucchini are doing great! We are just now starting our fall crops. And we are still working on our infrastructure build, improving our greenhouse, fencing, and irrigation.