Growing vegetables free of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs in Skull Valley, Arizona.


FIND US AT LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS:

Winter Prescott Farmers Market -- Walgreen's parking lot at the corner of Gail Gardener & Willow Creek Road -- Saturdays 10 AM - 2 PM -- November -April. Our farm will be here again starting in February 2015.


Summer Prescott Farmers Market -- Yavapai College parking lot -- Saturdays 7:30 AM - 12 Noon -- May 10th - October 25th

www.prescottfarmersmarket.org

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Flagstaff Community Market -- city hall parking lot, unde the solar panels --Sundays 8:00 AM - 12 Noon -- May 25th - October 12th

www.flagstaffmarket.com

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Want to stop by and pick up veggies from the farm? Please give us a call before you come!

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Contact Us: Reach us by email at rabbitrunfarmAZ@gmail.com or by phone at (928) 235-2044 or find us on Facebook

Sunday, November 7, 2010

End of Season, time for rest.

Greetings dear readers! If you haven't lost hope that I'd actually make a new post, thank you!

Short daylight hours
Crunching brown leaves
Fat grasshoppers procreating
Turkeys gobbling down those hoppers
Rotting fruits hanging in the field
Frozen animal water in the mornings
Weed seeds poking into toes, socks, pants, ah!
Clear, cold nights with stars that look closer to the earth

Jack Frost visited us the last week of October, leaving the greenery of the potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra a crispy brown. We picked a last round of tomatoes and peppers, and I have been roasting and freezing lots.
A green tomato, if picked with at least a little blush, will continue to ripen on the counter, wrapped in newsprint paper. This extends the tomato season a little longer -- though not quite the same as a vine-ripened fruit, it is still a trillion times better than those wayward-travelling store tomatoes.

Spinach, salad, butter lettuce, radishes, and kale are the only green found in the fields, besides the volunteer wheat. A lot seeds in the mulching straw under the kale has sprouted, and is acting as an unexpected cover crop.

We are beginning the end-of-year clean up process of removing tomato and squash family plants from the field for burning. Leaving residues in the soils from these families tends to allow disease to carry over to the next year. Tis the season for pulling t-posts, rolling up row cover, and finding some long-lost tools in the dust!

I don't know if I have mentioned them before, but we are also raising about 70 turkeys for Thanksgiving! They are definitely nearing maturity, healthy, and ready for slaughter. The males have deep red "gobblers" and vibrant blue heads. This year we are raising the large white turkeys, the standard meat variety. The large white grows quickly, is docile, has a lot of white meat, and has a good feed conversion, but it's over-breeding has rendered it unable to mate naturally. As this was our first year raising turkeys, we have decided to instead raise heritage breed turkeys next year. They tend to forage more (though our whites did so as well), are smaller, more flighty, have more dark meat, and can take up to ten weeks longer to raise to a slaughter weight. Heritage breeds also have the multitude of fabulous feathers depicted in the "classic" turkey. The many heritage breeds of turkeys, each developed in a different region or country, vary in rarity and plumage. Raising heritage turkeys actively conserves and promotes breeds that have declined in popularity in the last fifty years, and encourages food diversity.
We have procured four more turkeys this fall, not for the Thanksgiving feast, but with intentions of creating a breeding flock next year.

Newest additions to the farm family! From foreground to background: female Royal Palm, male Bourbon Red, and male Narragansett.


We will be developing and learning about raising a breeding flock of turkeys -- so keep reading to find out how it goes!

Monday, September 6, 2010

September, so soon?

July has sped by, and the days are growing noticeably shorter. Matt and I are finding less hours of daylight to work with, especially on busy harvest days. Our tomatoes started coming off in droves, as are the peppers and eggplants. It feels like fall, as we have been harvesting butternut and acorn squashes as well as pumpkins!
Between harvesting, weeding, and all the other jobs to do, we have been doing some fall planting. Spinach and peas are in the ground, as well as a new batch of kale.

Red pontiac potatoes:


Sarah and Tonto digging potatoes:


The most beautiful vegetable bloom, okra flowers:


Bunching carrots:


A market in mid August:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July Fever

Hello wonderful readers! July is the busy season! The weather the past week or so has really pumped the summer produce into action! We've had days in the high 90's, with nights in the 50's-60's range. The watermelons are noticeably larger every day, bell peppers are ready for picking, and there are green tomatoes on the vine! Matt has been picking the okra daily, as well as getting up early to pick squash blossoms! It's all so exciting, the exclamation points are necessary! As it's pretty late, and we've got a big picking day coming up in the morning, I will post pictures rather than words to show you all what is happening around here:

So much squash it's tipping the scale! When Matt picked up this old-timey scale, I was pretty skeptical about it's accuracy... it works, but this squash is over it's weight limit!


Squash Blossoms are beautiful and edible! The most common recipe is to stuff them with cheese and/or chopped veggies, then egg batter and fry in olive oil.


The Potato Patch:


Matt's Happiness:




At the market last weekend:


My new favorite pasttime is picking gigantic tomato horn worms off of the tomatoes. These fat, squirmy pests like to munch the tops of the tomato plant, both the leaves and the leading growth, which will stunt and kill the plant. The chickens were a little wary of eating them though--that horn is sharp!


After a stunning monsoon afternoon, we were gifted an equally impressive, longlasting sunset!

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's what we do

One thing to note about the hot days of June... the weeds sure do grow fast! I'll walk by barely-there weedlings, freshly poking out of a newly planted bed, and sigh with relief that they are still small. The next day, those weedlings are well-rooted nightmares! Matt and I are balancing planning, weeding, planting, harvesting, and going to markets each week -- it's been busy!
A typical week:
Monday is the only day we "sleep in" (or I do at least) but it's also a work day. I usually attempt to tackle some books, while Matt checks up on things. We have a little time to plant, weed, and do general clean-up. We harvest some crops in the evening for the Tuesday market.
Tuesday is a harvest day. We get up early to pick, wash, pack, and get ready for the afternoon Prescott Valley Market.
Wednesday is another work day.
Thursday is both a work and harvest day. We generally work in the mornings, and pick in the evenings for the weekend markets. Thursdays seem to be particularly productive days.
Friday is the BIG pick day. We harvest most of the day, save the hot afternoon hours, for the weekend. Fridays are usually late nights; we will pick until 11 or so.
Saturday we go to the Prescott Market in the morning. When we get home in the afternoon, we pick for the Sunday Flagstaff market. Late nights all around.
Sunday we bounce up the hill to the wonderful Flagstaff market. This market is a nice way to end the week. It's usually cooler up there, and the market is surrounded by trees.
Setting up before the folks arrive at Flagstaff:

Our set-up at Flagstaff:

First Carrot Harvest!!!!!

More to come!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Greens anyone?

We have been cutting lots of greens lately! The tomatoes are in the ground, with the peppers and eggplant waiting in the wings. We planted nine different varieties of tomatoes, including four cherry varieties, an heirloom or two, a couple classic red types, and some potentially curly-top virus resistant varieties! Warm weather expected this weekend will suit them well. The first Prescott Valley Farmers Market took place on Tuesday. There was a fair amount of bustle at this market... and Matt and I were in the local paper for this "event."

Some photos of the sumptuous greens!
Spicy Greens (Braising Mix):

French Breakfast Radishes:

Spinach:

Salad Mix:


More to come!

Monday, May 17, 2010

What's Growing

Cultivating the corn



We hand transplanted corn out into the field at the end of April. It survived a hard frost under row cover, and now is growing well! Matt cultivated with the Cub and then we came back through with stirrup hoes.

Bok Choy


Beets under hoops


End of the day, overlooking the farm from the haystack

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We've been busy!

We had a good day at the first Prescott Farmers Market yesterday! The weather has warmed up, so the plants are growing! For a while it was still so cold that even the weeds were not growing. It's been an unusually cold spring; the nights have finally warmed up, though a frost is still a possibility. This is what we've been up to the past couple weeks!
First we had some rainbows:

Then we had some snow:

It got warm enough for weeds! Cultivating the Cabbage:


Farm animal photo shoot:











Annabelle the goat and Sierra the mule keep each other company. We took Annabelle on a walkabout outside her pen last night to munch some weeds, but Sierra got jealous. Tonight we may try taking them around the farm together to dine on weeds, so no one gets cranky.

First Harvest:
French Breakfast Radish



Baby Arugula



More to come!

Monday, April 19, 2010

An insect version of Hitchcock's The Birds

Alas, it has been much longer between updates than I would have liked. Matt and I have been waging a nighttime battle with ruthless plant killers... the cutworm! These inch-long hooligans have taken up residency on the farm, and we've been finding ways to curb their destruction. Cutworms live below the soil by day, and emerge at night to feed on helpless, innocent seedlings (anything green for that matter). Before we figured out what the problem was, we lost a couple beds of lettuce and spinach seedlings, as well as over half of the kale population. Cutworms munch on the leaves and stems of the plants, and are notorious for chopping them down at their bases and dragging the leaf or plant back underground. They leave destruction and chaos in their wake.
If this sounds familiar in your garden....
When discovering this travesty the next morning, you can dig around in the soil in about a 1 inch radius of where your plant USED to be, and find a fat, curled up worm. How do you go about controlling these pests? We have found some success in using a variety of "natural" techniques:
Squishing
-- This ancient method has been used since the beginning of agriculture, I'm sure. Time consuming but extremely satisfying. Unfortunately it mostly has to be done by headlamp, as the cutworms are active at night.
Dixie Cups -- Also somewhat time consuming, but effective. We cut out the bottom of paper dixie cups and place them around the plant for protection. Some crafty worms have been able to actually climb over the edge of the cup, swing their body out to the plant, and munch away with their body suspended. These will need to be removed when the plants get bigger.
Diatomacious Earth -- This flour-like stuff can be found at a feed or garden store. It is made of microscopic sea creatures that have razor-sharp shells. When crushed, this powder acts as a barrier for soft-bodied worms. The mini-razors desiccate the worm when it crawls through it. It takes a bit of time for the worm to die, but once you've gotten the cutworms out of an area, it helps keep them out!
BT -- An organic pesticide, Bacillus thuringiensis, causes sickness and death in worms when ingested. We mix it with a bran and molasses bait, so that the worm will eat the bait and not the plant. It's pretty darn effective, though there is research out there that raises questions about whether continual use of Bt can cause Bt resistance in insects. On our tiny scale I don't see this as a huge concern, but the use of Bt on hundreds of thousands of organic farmland acres and Bt-infused genetically modified crops is cause for alarm.
We've found a fair amount of success and a bit of hope when we combine all these methods. After staying up way too late using the squishing technique, we're finally getting some rest.

These controls are really band-aids on a larger problem of soil management. Since this is our first year of farming this land, we have not had the chance to practice healthy soil management on the scale we'd like to. Weeds left in the field are the prime place for the adult cutworm moths to lay their eggs. Eliminating these weeds during the growing season and in the fallow season help reduce cutworms. Adding lots and lots and lots of compost would also help curb cutworms, as one predator of cutworms is a beneficial nematode (a microscopic worm) that is found in humus. Another control would be building a chicken tractor (movable chicken pen) and let them scratch around on the field in rotations. We've been watching the chickens slurp up cutworms in their chicken pen, with dreams of releasing them in the fields to help us in battle.

I'll have to take a photo of a cutworm and post it. For now, I need to put up a totally unrelated but very important photo. Does this potato resemble a well-known spiritual leader?



Sarah

Monday, April 5, 2010

Potato Planting!

In keeping with a 6,000 year old human tradition, tis the season for potato planting! We owe thanks to the Incans, who first cultivated this delicious staple. Could you imagine life without Mr. Potatohead? Actually, all of South American and European history would have been drastically different without this fabulous crop! Take a look at The Potato Council: http://www.lovepotatoes.co.uk/ for ALL things potatoes. These folks are serious potato fiends!

There are five different varieties of potatoes we are trying out this year: two red-skinned, white flesh kinds; two gold-skinned, yellow/whitish flesh varieties; and a purple and pink-skinned white flesh potato. Our neighbors at Whipstone (where we worked last season) also gave us some fingerling potatoes to try out.
First, we cut up the potatoes to get the most "seed" potatoes. Though potatoes do produce actual seeds, most farmers plant seed potatoes, which are the same as your regular potatoes. (You must be careful that you don't accidentally eat them in January.) We want a couple eyes on each piece, as that is where the plant will sprout from. Matt makes sure the cuts are all facing the sun and wind so they dry out.
After drying, we're ready to plant! Byrnie has an old, horse-drawn potato planter that he refitted for a tractor. It's simple mechanical parts make planting a breeze; this hundred year-old machine works wonders! Two disks in front dig a ditch for the potatoes. Inside the box, what looks like a mini Ferris wheel drops the potatoes every foot or so. Then two other disks cover them up! Fantastic! I can even ride on the back for even more fun!
Potatoes only grow up and out from where their tuber is, not down like other root systems. When the tubers are exposed to light, they start to green. This being the case, farmers need to hill potatoes, or pile dirt, straw, or mulch on top of them as they grow, so the potatoes are continually covered. Hilling helps with drainage, so the taters don't get too saturated. It also helps keep the soil loosened to provide adequate room for growth and cultivates weeds at the same time.
Come July, we'll be digging these jewels out of the soil!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Updates

We arrived on the farm in the beginning of March, when strong spring rains had left behind very muddy fields and soggy roads. Now, a few weeks later, we’re mostly moved in, welcomed by the strong spring winds! The days are warm, but the nights still dip below freezing. This drastic day/night temperature change found in arid lands like these plays tricks on fruit trees and vegetable crops. Warm days signal the fruit trees to start growing blossoms, but freezing nights bring withered petals come morning. Most folks around here claim their trees only bear fruit once in seven years. Vegetables’ senses are also challenged, though our job as farmers is to convince them to keep growing! We will be having some cold nights coming up, and even a little freezing rain. Those 70 degree days sure teased us!
The first crop to see the soil in the beginning of March was members of the Allium family: onions in reds, yellows, whites, and the always delicious leek! It’s no wonder that onions were worshiped by the Ancient Egyptians; you can hardly cook a good meal without them.
The greenhouse is full of warm-weather loving seedlings including hot chilies, sweet peppers, tomatoes of all kinds, parsley, basil, and a hearty selection of flowers.

The hardening–off area holds flats of beets, cabbages, head lettuce, chard, and broccoli that are just hankering to get their roots in the field.
What else is growing? This last Sunday we planted cilantro, sugar snap peas, green onions, French Breakfast radishes, salad, spicy mustards, arugula, spinach, and green onions. These spring crops enjoy cooler soil temperatures and can usually withstand a light freeze.
Topics you may soon read about on our blog:
Seed starting, field preparation, working with what you’ve got (recycling & being creative), composting, the best vegetable debate, tractors!, weeding and cultivating, irrigation, farming & environmental ethics, histories & stories, food storage & preserving, and the like!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Welcome

Thank you for following our adventures in farm beginnings! This is our first season farming on our own, and we’re thankful to Byrnie Florea of Ridgeview Farms for sharing his farmland with us for this venture! This year will be a true learning experience, as Matt and I will make all the decisions, mistakes, and successes. Our goal is to grow scrumptious, healthy, high-quality vegetables and beautiful cut flowers for the local Prescott area. Feel free to stop by the farm to lend a hand or just take a tour!