Check out Zephyros in the New York Times!
This has been one of those amazing weeks of spring where everything (weeds especially) starts growing fast, real fast. So we have been madly planting, weeding, irrigating, and just trying to stay upright. This year at Zephyros we are putting in a trial of a half acre of Table grapes and a half acre of different berries. It is something we have wanted to do for a while and now that we have it almost all planted it is a great feeling.
We have planted thirteen different types of table grapes, blue red green, purple, black and hopefully all hardy here, I am sure we will lose some and find winners in others. Now it is hard to imagine the dense canopy that will come over the next several years as they are just bare root transplants with but a small bit of stem showing. We will have to have patience as it will take two to four years for them to become truly productive and until then we will not let them fruit, perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a new planting like this.
As for the berries, we have planted many different types, golden raspberries, black berries, more raspberries to come next year. Also we have tried more unique berries and ones well suited to our environment such as, elderberries, sea berries, serviceberries, and Goji berries and Aronia to come. Also, some that we want to have that are perhaps not as well suited but given the right microclimate (planted next to the wind break), gooseberries and currants. As with all the berries diversity is key. We planted five kinds of currants, and three different gooseberries with more to come next year. Green, red, black, purple, white, gold, blue berries, we hope we can find the ones that can make it to the hands of our CSA members, farmer’s market customers and the chefs who are brave enough to try working with sea berries!
After a long day of planting we had a barbeque and just as we pulled the last of the meat form the grill and went inside since it was raining, a rare occurrence, and even less likely visitor happened upon the doorstep for dinner. A baby black bear and her mom wandered through the back yard and right up to the door. The kids were on one side of the glass and the bear on the other, which was amazing to see that close. These bears were not the bears of a David Attenborough film, but an emaciated version of the black bear, one who was hungry or sick, or both.
As the bears wandered off through the garden and the rain I worried a bit about the sheep and later with dog and rifle in hand went to check the flock, but the bears had moved on. Somehow as unconnected and seemingly random the rain, the bears, and the berries were in our day to day life, now they seem to have all come at just the right time. I hope the bears grow strong and recover from a long winter, and the rains keep coming, and I find myself wandering in the berry patch grazing, but not with the bears!
We were luck to host a class of third graders from the Waldorf School in Carbondale over the last two days. and though it was a lot of work working with them it was a uplifting experience just at the time when spring can beginning to feel like we will never get all the work done. They helped us plant a row of cherry tomatoes, perennial herbs and mulch some shrub rows we planted earlier in the year.
Most importantly they help us see our farm with fresh eyes, as a beautiful fun place to be and work. We truly are lucky to have this amazing place to work and live. And to be reminded of all of that by the smiles and laughter of children (and a couple smores) makes it all worth it. Even if it does not feel like we could ever get it all done, at least we will stop and hear the giggles off the pond and remember to look around and enjoy.
Happy May Day! We were greeted with dropping temperatures and horizontal snow this May day. It has been so cold this spring things are sure growing slow. But it is encouraging to see the carrots, beets, spinach and many cut flowers already pushing there way through the soil. Plants are enduring and we hope they can all endure the cold temperatures expected tonight. We buttoned up the high tunnels tight as they are basically full, tomatoes, basil, lilies, and so much more. Colorado never ceases to be a relentless place to farm. After the horizontal snow passed we were treated with a gorgeous sunset!
A Whole Lotta Alliums All the Time
There is something special about cutting into an onion that initiates the cooking process, unless of course you cut the garlic first. The tears and house full of those smells signals the beginning of almost every meal in our house. Both of these alliums we are pulling out of our root cellar, reminds me of both what is to come and what was.
No other crop we grow has such a long and diverse season. Onions seeds are the first ones to be planted in our greenhouse. By the end of January we have flat upon flat of little onions coming up, looking like little chives or blades of grass. When the snow melts and the very first signs of spring show, the garlic too shows a little green above the soil. They seem to be sticking their hand out the door to feel how cold it is or how much rain is coming down. These signs from the alliums ring in the beginning of a new season, unlike no other vegetable.
In just the same way these sprigs of various alliums signal the next season it is garlic, my favorite of the alliums that signifies the ending of the season. It is planted in the fall and usually is (at least at our farm) the last thing to get planted. Ideally we wait for those incredible Indian summer days in the crisp Colorado fall after the first frost and flakes have come. But sometimes it means digging into muddy soil as the flakes and frost are coming. Once the garlic is in the ground a sigh of relief comes over the farm and we start to eye our skis.
Garlic also signifies the beginning of the main harvest season. As the summer heat pours on us the garlic is watered less and less until not at all and the leaves die down when it is ready to be harvested, starting in the end of June. After the garlic is out of the ground it seems like the harvesting does not stop again until we plant the garlic again. Garlic is not grown from seed but instead from the previous year’s harvest. The worst part is that the enormous heads that seem like a treasure coming out of the ground and would be so easy to peel and dice are the ones that must be kept for the fall planting.
The onions and shallots too seem to have a never ending season. After they are transplanted into the field from the greenhouse the weeding begins. Hoeing, flaming, vinegar and lots of hand weeding are what is required for the Alliums. They do not offer big leaves that shade out the weeds, so this above most else is how I think of the onion patch, buried in weeds, but when we do clear them they stand tall and proud.
Onions and shallots are a long season crop that are transplanted early and come out of the ground late. Some of the heirloom varieties we love such as the Red Long of Tropea, a torpedo shaped mild red onion (great halved on the grill with a dash of salt and pepper, squirt of lemon and olive oil) come out of the field earlier or can be harvested over several weeks. Another type of flat onion called cippolinis also have a shorter season and work this way too. We can not wait for the Walla Wallas, the sweet onions, to size up and instead start harvesting them a bit young and we seem to always run out of them no matter how many we plant.
But over the last few years it is the storage onions that have won a spot in my heart. They come out of the ground late and are stored for use all winter long. If in April I can still pull out a solid onion from the last season to fill the senses of a meal to come, while at the same time transplanting the next years crop out into the field, the magic circle has been completed. I have come to love all the alliums for this circle that they bring to the farm in spite of their lack of cooperation in battling the weeds.
Every spring the big thaw starts to happen and seeds start germinating, goats start birthing and the pace of life rapidly picks up as we fly towards the Equinox and Solstice ! Just today we have welcomed three new baby goats to the farm for a total of 13 baby goats in the past 5 days !
The greenhouse is filling everyday with new seedlings ready for the high tunnels and spring field plantings ! Keep your eyes open for our products in March !
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Well we not only survived 2007 but we thrived thanks to all of our loyal customers and fabulous help. It was sad to say goodbye to Ana our faithful assistant in this farming adventure and our fantastic interns and WWOOFERs who helped make this place tick but wish them well in their future endeavors. We are seeking another engaged and energetic crew for 2008 if you are interested please check out our intern section of the website. We are happy to announce that Adam McKinely one of our 2007 interns will be joining us for the 2008 farming season as our Assistant Farm Manager and Intern Mentor.
As the farm is covered in snow we are busy organizing and ordering seed for the 2008 season. We are expanding our CSA membership this season and will be holding an informational pot luck and sign up for this season. The goats are looking rounder everyday and we should expect our first kids around the 15 th of February. Also we have a new batch of pullets in our mobile chicken house for eggs this season. We hope to provide fresh eggs for our CSA and our Telluride and Aspen farmer markets with these girls moving around our pasture.
We will be planning our 2008 farm events so keep a heads up for workshops, plant sales of organic vegetable,herb and flower starts, and our farm dinners. More news to come !
Daphne and Don
The Kampe Foundation and Zephyros Farm and Garden invite you to a September supper in celebration of local farmers and the bounty of the North fork valley.
The dinner features all local food prepared by Chef Mark Fischer of 689 and Phat Thai in Carbondale, Ryan Hardy of The Little Nell in Aspen, Dava Parr of Fresh and Wyld, in Paonia, Eleni Stelter of Eleni’s Uptown in Paonia, and Bob Issacson of The Smith Fork Ranch
Live music: Hard Pressed (Oldtime music) and Russ Chapman (Acoustic songster) both of the North Fork Valley
Where: Zephyros Farm and Garden, 11466 3725 Rd. Paonia
When: Sunday, September 9th
Cost: $35/person, The Kampe Foundation encourages people to sponsor a local farmer and buy a ticket for $70
Local Wines for sale will be provided by Leroux Creek Vineyards, Puesta Del Sol, and Stone Cottage Cellars
Come celebrate the farmers and the food that they provide!
For reservations call, 527-3636, or sign up under the interact button at the top of the page.
The season is coming on strong now as we are eating everthing off the farm, the season of abundance is on us, yet the days are perceptively shorter. The tiredness of the season is also on us, time to think about a sweatshirt in the morings, but instead the heat of summer is still thick with an unusual muggyness. In western Colorado that means it is at least 15% humdity. So much bounty and today the amount of work it takes was felt.
It was the first day that only one adult had been on the farm alone in a long time. And lucky me the kids were here too. Chores took forever and there were so many things not getting done. As the sorry for myself symphony warmed up above my head I realized how much all the workers we have now are doing, and how much we appreciate it all.
Phil left after presenting us an incredible meal of Closer to Heaven farm chicken that literally did just that. Phil is now in the midst of a 100 mile race despite it being dark and night right now. His steady determination here made a huge differenece. The weeder of the year award no doubt goes to Phil! Thanks again Phil.
Thanks to all who help us get it all done as I could go on about each and everyone who has helped and will in blogs but off to sleep...