Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Planting Planting Planting!

We put in about 30# of onion sets today. They look like tiny onions, the size of a fingernail, and will grow into a normal-sized bulb. We planted them in black plastic mulch this year - worth a try so it's less labor weeding and cultivating.
We planted many seeds directly into the ground: 2 kinds of spinach, Leaf Lettuces, 3 kinds of beets, turnips, carrots, 3 kinds of radishes, mustard greens, arugula. The first planting of radishes got thinned. The first planting of leaf lettuces and carrots are sprouting.
Plastic is layed for the peas, chard and kale. Hope to plant them in the next 2 days, along with the early potatoes.
More raddichio, 2 kinds of kale, romaines, and larkspur seeds were planted in the greenhouse.
This will be the first night I've left the trays of head lettuces out all night. The temperature is still 66℉ and it's 9:15 at night!
Oh, there's sooo much to do!

Monday, March 29, 2010


We have an abundance of eggs - $2.50 per dozen on the Farm, or $3 per dozen at Sweetwater Market. The chickens are loving all this warmer weather, fresh greens, sunshine. They have increased production!

Farm Update

Calves are being born! Fields are getting tilled! Maple Syrup set-up is cleaned up. It was a bust year for syrup - we made 5 gallons and should have made 25. It just got too warm.

Onion plants and lettuces, mustards, kales are all getting moved in and out of the greenhouse to harden them off. They need to gradually be conditioned to the outside weather after growing in the warmed and protected greenhouse.

Paths are getting trimmed back. The gardens are getting composted and tilled and ready to plant. We plan to start setting out onions (sets and plants) on Wednesday and also hope to plant peas that day. We need to prune the raspberries and some of the perennial shrubs still. The last of the wintered-over parsnips will be dug today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The past few days

I planted 300 sweet pepper seeds yesterday! Reds and greens and lilac and yellow. Long ones, blocky ones. I also planted a lot of hot peppers - some interesting varieties.
I also picked enough kale for dinner. Oh my, it was so tender and yummy! We can pick salad about every 2 - 3 days. Spring is here!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beef Testimonial!

"We love it, Patrice! I have bought beef quarters/halves before, and have sometimes gotten ....shall we say, less than good quality. Not only is your beef great, but it is also good to know that it isn't coming from some commercial feed lot where the cattle are treated like meat machines! I am also glad to feed my family ground beef that isn't coming from a mix of a bazillion different steers."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Almost Spring Update from the Farm

The hoophouse is producing the first spinach and lettuces. We'd have more, but some little critter burrowed into the hoophouse about 3 or so weeks ago and ate almost all the spinach and some chard! I planted some small rows of radishes and carrots for us.

The greenhouse is filling up. All the allium family is planted: all the red and yellow onion seeds, leek seeds, the first full tray of scallion seeds, and it's time to start another tray. All the celeriac is seeded in cells, even though we haven't yet harvested all of last year's crop! It's probably the longest season veggie we grow. Lettuces were already large enough to transplant into the hoophouse. More are started, including head lettuces. The earliest plantings of kale, chard, mustards, sprouting broccoli, celery, about 60 early varieties of tomatoes, some hot and sweet peppers, parsley, basil and cilantro are all growing. More trays are planted almost every day. It's time to start kohlrabis- about 250 cells will be planted. We start a lot of the seeds indoors to transplant out in April and May so that you will have CSA veggies sooner. It's more work, but you are paying for that. To give you some idea of scale, here's some numbers of veggies planted indoors: 144 celery cells, nearly 300 celeriac cells, 144 cells of broccoli, over 200 head lettuces, etc etc etc.

We are also making maple syrup now - drew off the first few gallons today. We bought new pans and are still figuring out this system.

The sunny weather has been fantastic! It's so appreciated after snow and cold and especially cloudy days.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Spread of Superbugs


Until three months ago, Thomas M. Dukes was a vigorous, healthy executive at a California plastics company. Then, over the course of a few days in December as he was planning his Christmas shopping, E. coli bacteria ravaged his body and tore his life apart.

Mr. Dukes is a reminder that as long as we’re examining our health care system, we need to scrutinize more than insurance companies. We also need to curb the way modern agribusiness madly overuses antibiotics, leaving them ineffective for sick humans.

Antibacterial drugs were revolutionary when they were introduced in the United States in 1936, virtually eliminating diseases like tuberculosis here and making surgery and childbirth far safer. But now we’re seeing increasing numbers of superbugs that survive antibiotics. One of the best-known — MRSA, a kind of staph infection — kills about 18,000 Americans annually. That’s more than die of AIDS.

Mr. Dukes, 52, picked up a kind of bacteria called ESBL-producing E. coli. While it’s conceivable that he touched a contaminated surface, a likely scenario is that he ate tainted meat, said Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious-diseases specialist and the author of “Rising Plague,” a book about antibiotic resistance.

Vegetarians are also vulnerable to antibiotic resistance nurtured in hog barns. Microbes swap genes, so antibiotic resistance developed in pigs can jump to microbes that infect humans in hospitals, locker rooms, schools or homes.

Routine use of antibiotics to raise livestock is widely seen as a major reason for the rise of superbugs. But Congress and the Obama administration have refused to curb agriculture’s addiction to antibiotics, apparently because of the power of the agribusiness lobby.

The ESBL E. coli initially remained in Mr. Dukes’s colon, causing no particular damage. But then he suffered an inflammation that perforated his colon — and the bacteria escaped.

Mr. Dukes began suffering stomach pains and saw his doctor, who gave him Cipro, a strong antibiotic that had previously worked against the infection. This time, the pain grew worse. The next evening, he was in surgery to remove eight inches of his colon.

A culture attributed the infection partly to ESBL E. coli. Doctors inserted a tube to administer an intravenous antibiotic in an effort to save his life.

If ESBL E. coli is frightening, there are even more potent superbugs emerging, like Acinetobacter.

“We are seeing infections caused by Acinetobacter and special bacteria called KPC Klebsiella that are literally resistant to every antibiotic that is F.D.A. approved,” Dr. Spellberg said. “These are untreatable infections. This is the first time since 1936, the year that sulfa hit the market in the U.S., that we have had this problem.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, an organization of doctors and scientists, has been bellowing alarms. It fears that we could slip back to a world in which we’re defenseless against bacterial diseases.

There’s broad agreement that doctors themselves overprescribe antibiotics — but also that a big part of the problem is factory farms. They feed low doses of antibiotics to hogs, cattle and poultry to make them grow faster.

A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that in the United States,

70 percent of antibiotics are used to feed healthy livestock, with 14 percent more used to treat sick livestock. Only about 16 percent are used to treat humans and their pets, the study found.

More antibiotics are fed to livestock in North Carolina alone than are given to humans in the entire United States, according to the peer-reviewed Medical Clinics of North America. It concluded that antibiotics in livestock feed were “a major component” in the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Legislation introduced by Louise Slaughter, a New Yorker who is the only microbiologist in the House of Representatives, would curb the routine use of antibiotics in farming. The bill has 104 co-sponsors, but agribusiness interests have blocked it in committee — and the Obama administration and the Senate have dodged the issue.

After weeks of receiving intravenous antibiotics, Mr. Dukes is now recovering at home in Lomita, Calif. He must use a colostomy bag, but he hopes to be patched up and ready to return to work next month. Still, he knows that the ESBL E. coli remains in his gut.

“As long as it’s contained in my colon, I’m a happy camper,” he said. “But if it gets out again, I’m in trouble.”

Dr. Martin J. Blaser, chairman of the department of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, and a former president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, agrees that agricultural use of antibiotics produces cheaper meat. But he says the price may be an enormous toll in human health.

“You could have very lethal pandemics,” he said. “We’re brewing some perfect storms.”