Archive for the ‘Our farm products’ Category

Just say no

So-called “Roundup-ready” seeds — for crops that can withstand the non-selective herbicide glyphosate — have become popular in conventional farming because farmers can spray entire fields with Roundup to kill a variety of weeds but not the crop. Much easier than cultivating or spot-spraying. But as with many “advances,” we now are finding unforeseen consequences.
There are two ways to protect your family from being exposed to an overdose of glyphosate: Grow your own food using organic methods, or buy organic. I do both.
Read about the science of this important aspect of food safety.


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Renee Shepherd is the owner of Renee's Garden.

Renee Shepherd is the owner of Renee’s Garden.

As I prepare to order seeds for the 2015 season, I wanted to pass along a tip. If you are perusing garden catalogues deciding what to order, please consider Renee’s Garden. Why? Renee Shepherd has been committed to organic gardening for more than 25 years. She selects seeds that germinate reliably and varieties that are easy to grow. And, she will donate 25% of your purchase price to the Central Oregon Master Gardeners Association — which provides free, research-based garden information in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties in Oregon — if you enter FR663A in the coupon code box at checkout. Thank you, Renee!

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Still harvesting beautiful tomatoes in late October -- amazing!

Still harvesting beautiful tomatoes in late October — amazing!

Growing vegetables is not easy in the high desert climate of Central Oregon, where nights are cold and days are dry and windy. But this summer we’ve had the most favorable weather conditions I’ve seen in the past 10 years: very warm nights all summer, and that’s persisted into late October. Still harvesting tomatoes, chard, raspberries, strawberries, green beans, winter squash. Have yet to dig potatoes and carrots. This has been the harvest that won’t quit. But today irrigation will get blown out for the winter, so time to do final harvest and start cleaning up.

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Thriving summer and winter squash, eggplant, onions. At left, raspberries. In background, beets, asparagus, lettuce, swiss chard, radishes and carrots.

Thriving summer and winter squash, eggplant, onions, brussels sprouts. At left, raspberries. In background, beets, asparagus, lavender, lettuce, swiss chard, radishes and carrots.

In the high desert of Central Oregon we typically have a short growing season because even when the days are very warm, nights are cool enough (below 50 degrees) that plants stop growing until it warms up the next morning. This delays maturity by about two weeks.
This year, however, we’ve had unusually warm evenings, as well as unusually hot days in July. That extra warmth — plus a lot of regular watering — gave us vegetables on steroids this year.

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I enjoy living in a rural area where I can grow fruits and vegetables. But I love to see what urban farmers are accomplishing using only the space of a city or suburban lot. Blogger Ro Kumar makes an interesting case for why urban farming is not merely a good thing, but the most important movement of our time. Read what he has to say.
In the same vein, this amazing video shows what one family in Los Angeles produces on their lot.

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This first season of Smith Rock Farm has been an experiment on a lot of different levels: trying new (to me) techniques, new varieties, and most importantly, a new lifestyle. Results? Mixed. More successes than failures. It feels good to be able to bring my horse to my own barn and feed him hay that I grew, and to know the barn is full with enough to feed him until next summer’s cuttings. It was satisfying to be able to sell my organic produce. Surprising that I was the only vendor at Central Oregon Locavore selling tomatoes. Next year I’ll plant even more tomatoes. I look forward to serving my own potatoes, squash and carrots on Thanksgiving.
Most of all I’ve loved being in control of my own time, being able to work on my priorities rather than an employer’s. Although it’s only been three months since I quit my job, it’s been the happiest three months of the year.

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Garden cloche

A garden cloche to protect frost-sensitive plants is much easier to build and far less expensive than a greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University Extension Service.

We grow our tomatoes in cloches, so on cold nights we close up each cloche and we’re able to keep our plants several degrees warmer. You can get directions for how to build one from Oregon State University extension service.
Green tomatoes

If they are mature enough, green tomatoes can be ripened indoors. Photo by Judy Scott, OSU Extension Service.

If the overnight lows get down into the mid-20s, even a cloche is not going to save tomatoes. But you can pick them green and successfully ripen them indoors. Learn how. We do this every year and make sauce or salsa in the fall to enjoy all winter.

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