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Monday, October 31, 2011

First Planting

Flashy Trout Back  (Romaine/Cos) type
Today was not the best day to plant  but it was the only one I had , This is the third weekend in a row South Florida is under a flash flood warning, not just a rainy weekend  a  Flood Warning  .   Anyway you just have to keep working  and get creative . This morning It was just dry enough  to  plant 2 rows , and I hoping to get 2 more before sundown , I'll stay busy the rest of the day  and maybe even clean my floor :)   
Radicchio plant ready
I moved the plug trays near the house , to prevent damage for the strong downpours over the weekend
I put in the irrigation system last Tuesday , the Garden area is ready to plant
Planting Day = Planting Floor

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We Roll Deep !


Material things have only the value that people give them
These are my status symbols !  most people don't even own 1 rototiller, but I own 2   . The one on the left is a "Troy Built" the best name in Tillers, it's a "rear action"  5hp Bronco I bought new in 1999. A Troy Built tiller/cultivator will last a life time with regular maintenance. The tiller on the right is my own creation, it's a Sears Craftsman tiller with a replaced  Honda motor , 5 hp front action tiller . I showed the 2 tillers to my 20 year old Daughter Tess and she said "You're a Baller " . Not being sure what the term meant  I went to "Urban Dictionary" online . The term means; (A Thug that is living Large)  Well that is definitely me ! 2 Tillers..... Yo.    At The Lettuce Farm "We Roll Deep"           "Wanna be a Baller, shot caller, twenty inch blades on the Impala, we run this sh**"                       

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yes, we really do hand pick


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Early in season I check my seedlings 3-4 times a day looking for caterpillars , first you  look for damaged plants . Then look and feel  carefully for the caterpillars , hand pick and crush.
I sow seeds on or about October 1st every year . I check the seedlings frequently for caterpillars,  If you check 3-4 times a day and become familiar with  the plants its easier to spot damage and   caterpillars.   In General that is one of the most important parts of growing , walking your field a couple times a day and checking your seedling.    The Idea is catch a problem early , and problem solve .  Farming for me is more of a life style than a job, I enjoy working out side ,and being productive .   As the season progresses and we get real cold fronts  I see less caterpillars and insects are less active .  I've found that properly spacing plants and mixing flowers, herbs and vegetables  also helps control insect damage .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

November Pineapples

 see also " Redland Rambles"  for more information on growing in S. Florida http://redlandrambles.com/2011/07/04/pick-a-peck-of-pineapple/#comments 
University of Florida has a great web page on  growing  Pineapple in Florida http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg055 
I am still learning about growing Pineapples in South Florida.   It seems there is 2 seasons for growing Pineapples a year.  The plants first flower in late February and give you the primary harvest in June ,  the plants again flower in early August  and are ready to harvest in November. The  secondary harvest  seems to be about 30% the yield of the primary. The plants all look healthy and I think the fruit will be in around 8-9 lbs each.  I counted my plants today and I have 250 in the ground , I will keep planting till I run out of room or die.  I don't know if a November Pineapple tastes different than a June Pineapple .  I'll let you know  :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

No cup holders

My Daughter Tess and myself  in 2010
My favorite trait in life is dependability http://www.tractordata.com/farm-tractors/002/4/0/2400-yanmar-ym240-engine.html
The 1977 Yanmar YM 240  2 wheel drive tractor is my second vehicle ,  it has forward and reverse and  starts every time .  I bought it in 2001 for $2500.  Unbelievably it was sitting in a front lawn of a home in Pinecrest  with a "for sale by owner" sign. In 10 years I have had no major repairs , just a new battery every 2 years . It's the perfect tractor for my football field size garden area. I keep it in the barn and do preventative maintenance  and I hope it lasts me 30 more years .

Monday, October 10, 2011

Elizabeth & Maurice Adams


Elizabeth and Maurice Adams , pictured here in 2000 , A picture I  call the "Good old days"

First Gardner's Market ! January 1996 , Pictured; myself , Erin, Jose, Timmy and Tess kneeling. I'm parked next to "Living Colors Nursery" and" LNB Farms"
Margie and Rachel  pictured in 2002
Last week I was reading about " The Second Community Food Summit" Every where I look now I see The Eat Local and Organic food movement growing in South Florida .  Good for me ! This  will be my 21st  season .  I can tell you starting out selling local from a small farm was not mainstream, A hand full of Chefs and Stores would buy from you , Mark Militello, Robin Haas, Pascale Odin, Norman Brothers and Gardner's Market.   Gardner's Market in particular was helpful, that is where I met the owners Elizabeth & Maurice Adams  at the time they had 4 stores in South Florida .   From the first day I met Mrs. Adams she was interested in supporting  local family farm's.  In August  1995 the Pinecrest Store was expanding and the Adams were looking for a good way to promote it. We began talking about doing a Farmers Market in the parking lot. Linda Gassenheimer set about getting Approval from Dade County, Linda was tireless in supplying the mountain of paperwork needed for the County Commission to vote. Elizabeth spent a great deal of money , time and effort pushing the project forward and organizing and promoting  My contribution was round up local farmers  .           The County unanimously approved the Market in November 1995, South Florida's Farmers Market  opened in January 1996  in Gardner's parking lot . The cost was only $20 for a parking space .   Over the years Gardner's bought from  and supported   all small farms .    Ask Margie Pakarski about Elizabeth's effort in supporting local and Organic , and "Teena's Pride"   Heirloom tomatoes, might  have stopped growing without Elizabeth support buying hundreds of cases and show casing them in  4 stores . I sold to Gardner's for 15 years and can say it really helped keep me in business . The Market that  Maurice and Elizabeth started is now at Pinecrest Gardens and is open year round, in the peak of the season 50 or more local farmers and vendors show up   Why am I writing this ?; When the history of the buy local , eat local and  organic movement is written in South Florida , Don't forget Elizabeth & Maurice Adams .  The Local & Organic food movement and  Original  Food Summit started in their parking lot ..

Friday, October 7, 2011

Glock .40 make my pants sag

This week I went shopping  for a very small and light pistol to carry around the farm.   I was leaving for work last week when I barley escaped a Pit-bull attack on my own front door step !   I live West of Homestead in  rural South Miami-Dade , It has long been an area where Irresponsible  people dump unwanted pets .  About 50% of the animals I see are Pit-bull and Pit-bull mix, all the Animals and scared and hungry.   Many times in the past I have found my self with an angry Pit-bull between me and my front door. I also see and hear packs of feral dogs  night and day.  Iirresponsible people also dump exotic pets as well , Large Monitor Lizards and Burmese Pythons are common  and God knows what else ? In  rural South Miami-Dade  you could stumble on anything , For this reason I  carry a .38 caliber Derringer loaded with snake shot .

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Season Begins

I always sow the first seeds of my season on or about October 1st , This year I decided to microwave the potting soil before sowing seeds. The reason is; the last couple of years I seem to be having more problems with Dampening off; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damping_off . Pathogenic Fungi in the soil can cause seeds to die before and after germination . My hope is the microwave will kill the Fungi and save me time and money.
Garden area after 1st disking
I put 2.5 lb of potting soil in Ziploc bags  and microwave for 2 minutes seal and store for a few days then  start seeds
I buy Organic seeds from 2 sources High Mowing , and I've been buying from Johnny's seeds for 20 years http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
Ready for the season , Buying , Rotating and storing seeds properly  insures good germination rates http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
Simple shade house