Our melons (left) as they began did wonderfully. The photo shows what they looked like around 45 days. There should have been twice as many - if you look closely, you can see little holes where plants should have been. We had four rows altogether.
The Flame seedless grapes (right) had a small, but very tasty first yield. Boy, were they delicious! This is an A+++ crop. These were our first grapes off this tiny vine, next year there should be a lot more, I can't wait!
Young squash plants are at left. We found that our squash and melons love our soil!
We tried trellising the cucumbers (right middle row), but they had a mind of their own and were constantly crawling toward our tomato plants. The squash row is at the far right in this photo. -->
The farm was started from scratch the old-fashioned way. We use only natural amendments and organic pesticides. It wll take a lot of tenacity and spunk on our part to see it through. Hmmm, Reality Website instead of Reality TV. We were and still are getting accustomed to the weather, our soil, the seasons and the type and variety of crops that will grow here.
Feel free to contact us and give us your positive feedback and helpful hints. Hope you enjoy the ride.
The farm was purchased in a virgin state, there was nothing on it - not even a driveway for entering and leaving, without using the neighboring college's private road. There is a year-round creek which runs through the middle of it, large old oaks and cottonwood, with a lot of wild blackberries. Not to mention the wild turkeys, deer, racoons and the occasional fox that wander through from time to time.
This "Farm Updates" page is designed to give a bit of history and farm updates as Morning Glory grows. It will give a brief synopsis of each growing season and the good, bad and unexpected. You will be able to see first hand our accomplishments and items we get excited about.
In the Beginning . . .
These photos are of the the front part of our property in its pristine state of natural - but photos of the back portion are still to come.
In February of this year we bought our dump trailer to haul compost, and other assorted items that would not fit in the back of the farm truck. The dump trailer will save on the cost of having compost and other hauled by someone else. It will pay for itself in another month or two.
Yippee! A neighboring friend we are working with located an almond grower who had a lot of composting almond hulls. About 42 yards were hauled (6 loads) to our composting area. It smells a bit like warm fermenting molasses. Now on to the equine facilities who would like to clean up their place. Some equine facilities are using their manure in their own pastures, so we have to locate those that do not have much area.
The above photo shows a (left) row ready for planting more onions. The center row is the first installment of White Garlic and (far back right) a half-row consisting of half California White Garlic and Elephant Garlic. There is also a 4th row to the far left made for more onions.
The photo to the left shows the full row of Walla Walla onions.
The photo to the right gives a better view of the Elephant Garlic at the back.
The first rotation of onions and garlic were planted in October. Another 2000 onion starts are expected this month. We will also be starting seeds for tomatoes and bell peppers soon.
13th. Most of the onions have been planted. We are hoping the next weekend will be sunny and a bit drier so the rest of the onion starts can be planted.
21st. The tomato and sweet pepper seeds have been planted in our homemade hothouse for early harvest; approximately 1,200 seeds. We may be selling young plants too!
26th. Tomato seedlings are popping up all over the place!
Seed, trays, seed pots, along with worm casting for starting the seeds, fertilizer, drip line, stakes, compost cloth, hoses, etc. were purchased for using on our crop.
2010 had a wet Spring so most of our crops were put in the ground approximately two months late (did I tell you we have wonderful clay soil, the kind that when it rains you can sink to China - or it holds you prisoner until you can unsuck your boots from its gooey grasp?).
Then, just to make it more interesting, the Powers-that-Be gave us the "every-10-year" grasshopper plague which wiped out most of our young melon and tomato plants. We were constantly replanting and buying organic pesticides (smelled like cloves!) to get rid of them, but it seemed they just kept coming. They were unvited diners for about six weeks, enough to do a lot of damage to the seedling crop that had just been planted. A lot of the melon seedlings we were counting on were lost, however, we had had the foresight to start extra tomato seeds.
About 250 young tomato plants were planted by my favorite farmer, with about 250 more still in their seedling pots which allowed us replacements plants for the ones the grasshoppers dined on!! .
We began a driveway from the State highway, built a shed, a wellhouse and a small greenhouse.
In 2010 we bought most of our farm implements, put in most of our irrigation pvc pipe and a well.
March. The first week of March has brought rain to drench our newest planted onions - Yay! Our onions and garlic are doing quite well.
It is now the middle of the 3rd week in March and it seems like the middle of winter, but not so cold. We have had so much rain, it seems like the ground will never dry up! I did have a chance to take some photos of a couple of our young fruit trees in bloom in between the onslaught of rain, they are so pretty. If we were to let these young trees bear, we would have a lot of fruit,but we will be nipping the buds off to let the tree have all the nourishment for the first couple of years.
20th. Just learning from an old farmer friend, Chevy Kohnke, that the weather here in Butte County is like
that old saying March either comes in like a Lion and goes out like a Lamb, or comes in like a Lamb and goes
out like a Lion - he says that this March has come in like a Lion ........... didn't say what it's going out like.
This winter beginning in February we have had, it seems, twice as much rain as last year. However, our farmer friend assures us the rain will abate and we should be able to get onto our property sometime in April. Crossing my fingers and toes on that one. There have been flood warnings for this weekend, though we did not have the thunder storms as predicted. We did, however, have a lot of rain and heavy winds which are very strong when they do come. They blow anything away on the farm if it is not battened down tightly. We are in for two more weeks of rain with few intermittent dry spells. Maybe the weathermen will be wrong - again???
Come on Spring! We are waiting.......... and waiting, the first day of Spring is TODAY! Sunshine come on down!
3rd. All our "family" fruit trees have been planted - Yay! These aren't really what we plan on selling, but if there are enough, they will be. We have Flavor Queen and Dapple Dandy pluots; Bing, Tartarian and Lapin cherries; Emerald Beaut plum; Mexicali Avocado; Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn and Jonagold apples; three peaches and two apricots. Most all of the fruit trees are in bloom, but I think the apples blossoms are by far the prettiest.
5th. So far we have little starts of all our tomatoes. Some of the trial varieties did not come up at the first planting in the hothouse "coffin", so we've planted them again and crossing our fingers that this time the seeds will germinate.
The most prolific sweet peppers so far are the Emerald Giant. Again, we have a second planting of the others. We have approximately nine (9) flats of 36 seedlings each, of both tomatoes and sweet peppers. This is about what we had last year, so more will be planted this year. I'll have to take some photos of our little seedlings in the greenhouse. They look very healthy and are growing a mile-a-minute.
Today more Bidwell Casaba melon seeds will be planted in pots; so far 36 melon plants. Looks like we will have nursery stock to sell afterall.
16th. Hmmm, a little disturbing - so far, only 16 Bidwell Casabas have shown their little heads. The tomatoes are about ready to be transplanted; the tomatillos are just starting to sprout as are the eggplant.
Roger is out trenching to put more irrigation pipe in parallel to the main highway and will probably finish around 200 ft today. We are still using gravity flow for irrigating and will be moving our water tank to higher ground to accommodate the other areas where we will be planting.
Our newest batch of seven pullets are growing a mile a minute too. So far they have a sweet tooth for Flock Blocks and devour them as soon as a new one is put in the chicken yard. They are looking very healthy and we're glad none turned out to be roosters this go round. They should start laying in or around July. Hoping to find permanent customers for our eggs, they look and taste so much better than grocery store brands. We know they are more nutritous than store-bought because we know what we feed them and what they find to eat.
25th. The soil report has come back. Hmmm, we have a lot of amending to do - Gypsum, Lime and Nitrogen mostly I don't understand how to read it so will probably contact Dr. Rosato to explain it..
The irrigation line with four risers along Clark Road has been finished and the 2200 gallon water tank has been moved up near Clark Road to allow better gravity flow for all of the area we will be planting. Works great and is nice to have readily available water.
On the 21st, a young NRCS (Natural Resource Conseration Service) rep, Rachel Morgan, came out to tell us a bit of what this federal program might be able to do for us. We are going to be applying for a high tunnel for the back portion of our farm. She also gave us some ideas regarding bat houses (they eat mosquitos!) and owl houses (they eat small rodents [and bats]). There is also a program to plant native shrubs that bloom and provide nourishment for beneficial insects.
Morning Glory is now set up with the FSA (as an "official" farm) and will be submitting our application for the high tunnel very soon. Once this application is submitted, the NRCS will begin a plan for our farm to reach its next level. Rachel also gave us another application regarding financial assistance to help us become a "certified" organic farm. This was all exciting - and to think, we knew nothing about these programs, except by accident when Roger was searching online regarding high tunnels and they said to check out what the NRCS could do to help purchase one.
The area where the water tank used to be has been turned into a garden area for beneficials. It's just starting to take shape. I've planted a few Irises I had along with a couple of Salvia plants. White and purple Allysum has been seeded along with some very pretty double-petaled lavender, pink and white Tulips. There is also a small spot where California Poppy were seeded. I think it will be lovely once all the plants I want are placed. This garden is for shallow-rooted flowering plants only because there is literally only about 7 inches of soil before touching the rock-solid hardpan underneath. Worm castings was placed over the sand already there.
Two Sycamores and two Fruitless Mulberries will be planted at the entrance on both sides of our gate next weekend if all goes as planned. They will be the only form of shade there.
We've got Mammoth Sunflowers (2 ft. flowers!) that will be planted along Clark Road. The only drawback there is the wind once these have reached their full height of between 10 and 12 ft. We're hoping they will be quite showy for passers-by. They are being planted for the chickens, though I've been told wild birds will try to get to them before we are able to. I think everyone will enjoy them.
The photo below on the left is of the onions and garlic we planted in the fenced garden in October of 2010; the photo in the middle is of the Elephant garlic, also planted in October. The Elephant garlic is now about 3 ft. tall. The photo on the right is of the onions planted along our driveway in January 2011. (We have definite signs of gophers again!) I'll have to speak with our farm cats!
13th. Finally! The environmental health department came by to check our well and it passed with flying colors. She said we should be receiving an address now. How wonderful - instead of an APN or lot, we will have an actual street address!!
14th. Our tomatoes are in the ground and the first round of melons have been planted! What a relief! Some of our tomato starts were getting a foot tall and that is not good for planting in our soil, as we would not be able to plant them too deep this year.
The photo to the left shows our first produce field planted in 2011. Beginning at far right we have a double row of Brandywine and Arkansas Traveler; a double row of Cherokee Purple and Green Zebra; a double row of Black Cherry and Golden Cherry and the last double row of tomatoes contains Sungold Cherry, Peacevine Cherry and Momotaro). The two double rows on the left are Bidwell Casabas.
Well, I lied, all the tomatoes but Momotaro are planted. The Momotaros go at the end of the row that is fourth from the left, but as of today, the ground is too wet to plant them - so, they wait patiently in our greenhouse til this rain subsides a bit.
31st. The corn has been planted along with some of the squash. Photos and a full update to follow.
Is this really the beginning of Summer? One would never know - feels like winter still with all this rain.
3rd. Contacted the building department who stated that they usually only give addresses if there is a permitted building. We will be applying for a permit for a shop, so --- wait a bit longer!
We have a new friend, Tim, who has been as excited about growing product as we. He has come out to lend a hand and is as obsessed with growing veggies as we. He is familiar with a great many variety of veggies and has given us helpful tips. We welcome his help and will try to accommodate his requests at the same time. Thank you!
Because of all the rain, we are expecting alot of our first-planting of onions to be a loss. Bummmer! They are spongy, but we have tasted them and they are still good, but no one will buy them - so we have a lot of onions to use.
28th. Today it is raining again. No worries about anything not getting watered for a couple of days!! This is a good time to get other tasks and projects accomplished. Since we are on gravity flow and have to constantly fill the water tank at the east side of our property to flow to our different timed drip lines and T-taped lines, the rain gives us a day off.
29th. Our first round of onions was not a complete loss. They are huge and are being saved until we have tomatoes to sell at the Farmers' Markets. We've sampled cooking with the Walla Wallas and they are truly a sweet flavorful onion.
The photo to the left shows our second field planted. From right to left: one double rows of sweet peppers; four double rows of corn; one double row of squash; one double row of cucumbers, tomatillos and eggplant; two double rows of melons; one double row of "seed sample" plantings for a friend, and the last row at the left are beans. This is looking East.
The photo to the right is a bit closer, but the corn can barely bee seen on the right and no sign of the peppers to the right of the corn.
<-- Right to left: Cucumbers, squash and corn - looking Southwest.
Sweet peppers and corn -->
30th. In the photo at the bottom left, you can see temporary deer netting that was put up. Those pesky deer - they really like dining on all of the vegetables and fruit we are planting.
1st. We now have an old John Deere manure spreader so we won't be flinging it around with our shovels. Although it was good exercise, this will make it much easier to spread composted material. Wow, are we becoming modern or what!!! When farmers are developing a farm on a shoestring budget, a purchase like this is exciting because it speeds up the time in which to get a task done and is not physically tiring.
2nd. My favorite farmer is preparing our third and fourth fields for planting. He would like to see the planting finished this weekend. Yikes! He is a whirlwind of wonder at times. He has plowed both fields and will be rotovating them today and maybe again tomorrow. His daughter is coming up this weekend and she and her boyfriend want to help. That will be nice.
16th. A used Vicon Spreader has joined our "menagerie" of equipment. Already next year seems much easier. We attended our first Farmers' Market of the season and re-aquainted ourselves with vendors we knew from last year. We are offering onions, garlic and squash at this time. Soon our cucumbers will be ready, then it looks like our corn and melons. Our heirloom tomatoes are having a hard time of it, but we are crossing our fingers they will have a growth spurt and produce the tomatoes we know they can produce. Next Saturday we will be selling at the Chico Certified Farmers' Market in Oroville.
22nd. We have squash, cucumbers, onions, eggs and garlic to sell tomorrow. Our heirloom tomatoes are still taking their own sweet time and our cherry tomatoes are just setting - Roger picked the first of the Golden Cherry and Sun Gold and they are ever soooo sweet, big difference from the usual red cherry variety. Waiting to see what our Black Cherry will taste like, last year they were wonderful! The melons have a couple more weeks to go, but they look good and the corn - not sure yet. The sweet peppers are also taking their own sweet time. Oh, yes, because we like to let our customers know about our produce, we have tried the Walla Walla and Candy onions. Both are wonderful. Our Armenian cucumbers and slicing cucumbers are also very sweet without hint of bitterness. There is an Indian cucumber we tasted this evening that is sweet on the inside, but the skin is slightly bitter. Our lemon cucumbers are just coming on - will tell you our opinions later. So far, we have winners! Hope all of you who will be buying from us enjoy our delicious bounty!!!
30th. Our second Farmers' Market in Oroville. It is a pretty nice market if I do say so myself.
Photos to the right and left are of our farm stall at the Oroville Saturday Morning Farmers' Market. Our cucumbers and onions were a big hit. Customers who bought our onions and cucumbers last week came back this week to get a lot more! It is so rewarding to gain customers because they like our produce -- we try to provide them with the best varieties. We had a lot of empty baskets by the end of the market.
31st. We had a bit of a snafoo with our gravity-flow irrigation to our first round of corn. They were not getting the water they needed. It seems a drip line cannot be run simultaneously at a lower elevation and what the corn is at or there is not enough water running to them. They were looking so green and beautiful too. I hope they recover so we can enjoy fresh picked naturally grown corn-on-the cob!
It is already the end of August. How time flies. We have had some exciting events take place. The first exciting event was that Jennifer Jewell, Garden Writer of In a North State Garden, (www.jewellgarden.com), a co-production of Northstate Public Radio 91.7 fm (www.kcho.org), asked us to do a spot on her radio show regarding our melons -- how could we turn her down - we love our melons! She has also done a short piece for her own website and is doing an article for the Chico News & Revew (CN&R) which should be out Sept. 1, 2011. She is very knowledgeable and you can tell she loves what she does (who wouldn't - she is able to be in different gardens whether flower or produce to find out all about the farmer or gardener and the way they grow their specialties. We are eagerly awaiting the Sept. 1 issue of the CN&R. Thank you Jennifer!
Another good thing is our farm will start selling direct as soon as our farm stall is finished. Long hours have been spent by my favorite farmer to finish the stall, and it is coming along nicely. It will be small, only 8 x 12, but it is going to be sooo cute!
The farm has had some set backs. First, we had to trade out the large irrigation filter for individual filters. These filters prevent sediment and algae from clogging drip emitters. Second, and as any farmer knows, equipment does not last forever without some type of fix. Ours was/is the motor to the water pump. It is an old 10-12 hp Briggs & Stratton motor and by the time it is fixed we will have a brand new motor! One part gets fixed or replaced and another part needs fixing or replacing, etc., etc.
27th. Today was a very good market. We have had numerous repeat customers come back to confirm they really like our produce. Believe me, we really like hearing this. Morning Glory is going to have the best of the best if we are able. The new and different varieties of fruits and vegetables that have been planted are being trialed at the market for feedback. There is anticipation because some of the trials will set the stage for what we will be planting next spring/summer harvest season.
11th. The Farm Stand looks very nice so far and it is great to have shade out in the field area. Standing inside the farm stall frame with a breeze blowing made it so cool. I thought with so many windows it might by like a greenhouse, but so far so good. We may have missed its completion by Labor Day Weekend, but it will be here for year-round produce; whatever we grow, but could not wait until the Saturday Farmers' Market.
Oh, I forgot. We have added another 18 Welsummer pullet chicks to the 18 hens we have already. The chicks are so cute and are now established in the chicken yard with their own little area and are making themselves quite at home. The hens have adjusted quite well - I think they are happy to see so many little ones running around. I'll put update photos on the Welsummer History page under the Plenty-o-Poultry page.
14th. As promised, here is the link to the article written by, none other than, Jennifer Jewell for the Chico News & Review, entitled "A Labor of Love" which ran on September 1, 2011. It is a very nice article!
17th. We have had to put individual fencing around our fruit trees because the dainty little deer from the neighboring wildlife preserve are constantly finding ways to dine on our produce. Last Thursday, coming home from Sacramento we noted three does and one fawn eating something in our garden so we rushed down the driveway and stopped to let our Border Collie, Hank, (who thinks he's a Sheriff) out to chase them away. As he came barrelling down on them the biggest doe decided to take the shortest route off our property by turning around and bounding straight through the "deer netting" breaking the ropes that were holding it in place.
18th. Yes. We are going to put "real" deer fencing up.
30th. On a brighter note. The deer do not seem to like our melons which is superbly fine with us. Check out the farmer getting ready to cut the stem of one for our enjoyment!
15th. Elephant garlic has been planted along with other garlics. An implement that will make
metal hoops for row crops has been ordered. We will be able to make low hoop tunnel rows
15th. We are almost out of produce for the Farmers' Market. All in all, this has been a much
better year. Looking forward to even better results for 2012.
25th. Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year!
Wow, Fall is almost here! Our heirloom tomatoes are just starting to ripen (just in time for the first frost LOL!) We will be planting winter squash, celery, radishes, parsnips, turnips, kale, cabbage, and broccoli for the winter.
5th. My favorite farmer has been hard at work endeavoring to complete our farm stall. Take a look at it now!
To the left are our Roosters, Vader up front wondering what the photographer is doing and Bruiser in back getting at those beetles and bugs, oblivious to anything else.
Check out the hens below. The melons, Cantaloupes, are as big as our hens!