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Author: bloomingglenfarm

Tuesday pick-up at the farm, and like clockwork another crazy downpour. The skies opened up and we got an inch of rain in less than an hour, and another inch and a half early Wednesday morning. Well, it’s not Texas and our farm isn’t completely flooding away (yet), so I guess we will try not to dwell on it too much. Instead, how about those Japanese beetles. Holy smokes! We haven’t seen them in these quantities in years, if at all in the 10 years we’ve farmed here. They are devouring the foliage of our eggplants and basil. Wonder why they showed up this year? Nature certainly works in mysterious ways.

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Flooding has become a common occurrence.

We are super excited to have ripe tomatoes in the share this week- this variety is called early girl and they are particularly sweet and tasty- as well as sweet white onions, carrots, creamy golden potatoes and pick-your-own yellow wax beans. The cherry tomatoes are just starting to ripen, so we should see them in the share in the next week or two (the medium boxed shares got a preview this week). The cabbage is on the small side, so two it is.

7/14/15, CSA on-farm week #7

7/14/15, CSA on-farm week #7

We’ll be harvesting our field of garlic in the next few days, after things dry out a bit. We are thrilled with the size of the bulbs this year. Our hope is to get them out of the fields before they suffer damage from any more rain. We are worried about all the root crops- potatoes, carrots, onions- it’s a lot of water for them to handle. We give huge thanks for our farm crew for their enthusiasm, and for putting in the extra effort and long days when we do have dry moments. Go squad!

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Craig harvesting carrots.

Just a reminder that we are partnering with Otolith Sustainable Seafood again this season. The Otolith CSS (Community Supported Seafood) offers a variety of different options including halibut, rockfish, sablefish, Pacific cod, Dungeness crab, and wild salmon. All of the fish is sushi-grade, long-line caught in Alaska by small boats, blast frozen and packaged into conveniently sized pieces, and delivered direct to the farm during its appropriate season.

CSS enrollment is available online directly through Otolith. Visit communitysupportedseafood.com to register as a CSS member, select your fish and pay online. Your CSS shares will be delivered to Blooming Glen Farm on Tuesdays by 1pm. There will be a Signature Sheet to sign upon receipt of your CSS. CSS distribution is provided by Otolith Sustainable Seafood and will begin once your CSS fish has been harvested and arrived into Philadelphia. Notifications will be emailed to CSS members directly from Otolith.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.

bg_blog lentil potato chard salad 2This versatile summer salad is not only packed with flavor & nutrition, but also uses several recent share ingredients.  We’ve talked about the healthy stuff in potatoes & Swiss chard here before; combining them with lentils, a good source of both plant-based protein & iron, allows this salad to stand in as a hearty side or a main dish.  Roasting the potatoes & chard brings a smokey flavor & unique texture that contrasts perfectly with the raw ingredients. Note: this is a good time to roast some other veggies (beets & kohlrabi, fennel, peppers, eggplant, turnips, etc.) while you have the oven on!

Try serving this salad on top a bed of chopped spring greens, with a side of grilled string beans & your favorite protein, or topped with a fried farm-fresh egg.

Roasted Potato & Chard Salad with Lentils
bg_blog lentil potato chard saladIngredients
1 cup black, green or brown lentils (black pictured)
6 potatoes (~1-1/2 lb), cut into cubes
3+ cups Swiss chard, roughly chopped
Salt & pepper
Grapeseed or other high-heat cooking oil
3 spring onion bulbs (~1/3 cup), finely diced
1 fennel bulb (~1/3 cup), finely diced — or try celery
1-2 clove green (or other) garlic, minced
3 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

In a medium pan, bring lentils, water, and ~1/2 teaspoon salt to boil. Simmer the lentils until tender, ~20 minutes. Drain and put aside

Meanwhile, toss potatoes with a little grapeseed oil & a sprinkle of salt & pepper, then place on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast until tender & lightly browned, ~20 minutes. Repeat with Swiss chard, roast until wilted & drying, but not crispy, ~10 mins.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, fennel or celery, garlic & lemon juice, then allow to sit for a few minutes. Whisk in mustard & olive oil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Add lentils, potatoes & herbs to the bowl & toss to combine. Serve warm or chill until ready to serve.

gfg_head shot mPost and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Every time we feel like we are starting to dry out, the rain pours down again. The cultivating tractors have been sitting idle, and the weeds keep growing and growing. Wet conditions are not ideal for us for many reasons, and it is difficult to stay optimistic as certain crops suffer. The average rainfall in June for our area is .22 inches, with a max of 1.6 inches historically. We received 6.7 inches in June and another inch so far in July.

On top of the day to day struggles with rain and falling behind in planting, we lost a whole field of celery to relatively new disease, “celery leaf curl”, that is striking celery crops in Pennsylvania and the U.S.- tissue samples will be sent from our farm to the Penn State Plant Disease Clinic to hopefully assist them in determining recommendations for prevention. This is the second year we’ve experienced it- but the first season where it rapidly killed the plants- rotting them from the centers out, and causing the leaves to wilt and pale. Disheartening to say the least!

We are excited for carrots and fresh garlic in this week’s share. The fresh garlic is pulled straight out of the ground- it has not been cured so the skin is still moist and the cloves fragile, but with a decadent flavor. Unlike cured fall garlic, fresh bulbs should be refrigerated.

7/7/15, on-farm share #6

7/7/15, on-farm share #6

This is the time of year where we find excuses to walk the tomato field daily, waiting for that first flush of ripe beauties. We are starting to see some blushing, so it won’t be long for the cherry tomatoes and early red field tomatoes. The greenhouse heirloom tomatoes aren’t far behind either- yes, we’ve harvested a few trays!- and cantaloupe and sweet corn are right around the corner as well.

First of the heirloom tomatoes!

First of the heirloom tomatoes!

The one thing I have noticed flourishing in this wet weather are the herbs in the discovery garden. Every time I walk by the discovery garden it beckons me closer, and I marvel anew at how much “medicine” can be found within. There are some monster catnip bushes in the garden this season, which had me flipping through my herb books for a refresher on its uses.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) or catmint, is probably best known as a stimulant for cats. Interestingly, its action in humans is exactly the opposite!

Lemony-mint tasting, catnip is a gentle, and relaxing herb especially good for children. This mild sedative soothes flu, colds, belly-aches, and intestinal viruses. It is a fantastic remedy for adults who internalize emotions in the stomach or gut. Take catnip tea hot to induce sweat and break a fever. Combine with peppermint and elderflower for children, or combine with yarrow for adult fever. Harvest it now and dry it for the winter.

Most interesting to me, there seems to be a direct correlation between the fact that the catnip is thriving in the wet conditions which also means an influx of mosquitos. What you may not know about catnip is that studies have shown that it is a powerful mosquito repellant. Nepetalactone (the essential oil in catnip) is 10 times more powerful at repelling mosquitos than DEET. Amazing how nature provides!

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To make a homemade bug spray, you can simply harvest the catnip when it’s in flower (that is the very best time, which is right now!). Chop it up, put it in a glass jar and cover it with cheap vodka or apple cider vinegar (which I prefer) for at least two weeks, strain, measure and dilute it (by half) with distilled water. Add a a few drops of any essential oils that you like for repelling bugs and transfer to a spray bottle. Examples of essential oils for repelling bugs: lavender, peppermint, and rose geranium amongst many, but do your research- some are not recommended for children or pregnant women. Spray as needed. (Don’t feel like making your own, but interested in this natural alternative? Susan Hess of Farm at Coventry, a local herbalist who has taught classes here in the past, makes a fantastic natural bug spray. Contact her to find out where you can purchase it.)

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.

Summer solstice and the longest day of the year came and went this weekend. With the hot summer weather it has felt like summer for weeks, but now it’s official. By the solstice we have planted our last rotations of corn and tomatoes, for though it may be less noticeable to us, the plants know that we have rounded the bend and the daylight starts to wane a bit each day as we move closer to fall. In the propagation greenhouse we are already looking ahead to those cooler days by seeding our fall brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and collards.

Weeding the eggplant.

Weeding the eggplant.

In the fields we are focused on harvesting, pulling weeds, and trellising tomatoes, while continuing with jobs like moving row covers, our best protection against the bugs that descend on our tasty plants. Another tool in our tool box of pest control is beneficial insects. We are starting to release trichogramma and pediobius wasps in our sweet corn and green beans to help battle the corn ear worms and bean beetles.

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On-farm CSA pick-up, 6/23/15, share #4

The summer crops are starting to appear in the share- cucumbers, summer squash, freshly dug red potatoes, and new this week, pick-your-own flower bouquets and green beans. Looking ahead, the cantaloupes aren’t far away- the fruits are sizing up steadily.

Baby cantaloupes.

Baby cantaloupes.

Just a few reminders about on-farm CSA pick-up: It takes us until 1pm to have your food harvested and washed and ready to go so please arrive no earlier than 1 pm. Pick-up starts at 1 pm and goes until 7:30 pm. Please pick-up your share in the distribution room by 7:30 pm so our greeter Sandi can start cleaning up at that point and be on her way for the evening. If you need to switch your pick-up day or week for any reason, please let us know by Sunday evening at 7 pm prior to the week you wish to switch. Cut flower harvest has begun, a favorite for many CSA members. Please bring your own clippers for harvesting flowers, and herbs- do not try to rip the plants in lieu of clippers. If you have not already, please read the CSA Rough Guide for more details on the pick-up protocol for on-farm pick-up. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.

BeetsBeets are a staple veggie at the farm, making an appearance both at the beginning & end of the season each year. Like many root vegetables, beets have lots of vitamins & minerals, including those that help grow red blood cells (folate) & those that that help build sturdy & strong bones (manganese). Also like many root vegetables, much of the nutrition in beets lives in or near the skin, so skip the peeler & simply scrub them clean before eating.

Enjoy beets raw & cooked: Use slices of raw beets in a veggie dip or hummus, or dice them up small & add them to a green, grain or pasta salad. Use a grater to shred raw beets for slaws or to use in breads, muffins & even cookies! Of course, the sweetest way to eat beets is by roasting them. The simple recipe below combines beets with another CSA staple, kohlrabi. You can serve this dish as is, or use it as a base for a more hearty meal:

  • Serve chilled & topped with cooked quinoa & plain yogurt (pictured below)
  • Mix in chickpeas or black soy beans
  • Use as a pita filling with hummus
  • Top with plain yogurt or sour cream & minced chives
  • Serve on top of a chopped green salad
  • Combine with a cooked whole grain (brown rice, bulgur, farro, etc.)
  • Top with sunflower or sesame seeds

Roasted Beets & Kohlrabi with Fennel
BeetsIngredients
8 beets
8 kohlrabi
3 fennel
1-1/2 tablespoons grapeseed or other high-heat cooking oil
salt & pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Trim tops off beets, scrub clean & dice. Trim, peel & dice kohlrabi. Slice fennel bulbs & stems, up to fronds. Toss beets, kohlrabi & fennel with a bit of grapeseed oil, salt & pepper.

Place vegetables in a baking dish, cover & bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with a little more salt & pepper, stir, recover & return to the oven. Bake until just tender, about 20 more minutes.

gfg_head shot mPost and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Seems like almost every evening the sky to the northwest darkens a deep purplish blue, the soaring temperatures drop, the wind picks up, and the storms head in, sometimes blowing past to the east and towards the river, but more often than not dropping inches of rain on the farm.

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The summer crops- the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons- love the heat and rain and humidity. I think if you sat in front of a tomato plant in the field you could watch it grow. Overnight they seem to jump a foot above each trellis string we add. We are predicting the first field tomatoes in early July, right around the corner.

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The wet ground is a challenge, as all the crops don’t necessarily love it, but the weeds sure do. And boy are the weeds growing, outpacing the veggies we plant, and outpacing our efforts to hand weed them out, as our cultivating tractors are temporarily sidelined due to the wet fields. At our crew meeting, in an effort to raise morale, we likened it to the farm’s 5 o’clock shadow, or as I pointed out, the farm is looking fuzzy, just like Farmer Tom.

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This week in the share you’ll be enjoying a trial crop at Blooming Glen- iceberg lettuce. Like many people, I grew up on iceberg lettuce- the American cheese of vegetables. In my mind it stands for industrial food and a bland uninteresting American diet, perhaps because of my memories of it served chopped and soggy with croutons, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes at most diners in the 80s and 90s. But I do remember mom’s BLT’s, and the crunch of that lettuce. And Tom and I had a memorable meal recently at a farm to table restaurant, with a dish featuring a wedge of iceberg lettuce served with a creamy salad dressing. Perhaps iceberg is just a hapless victim of long distance agriculture. We wanted to reclaim this veggie as our own and see what it would be like homegrown and harvested fresh. Let us know what you think.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.

We are thrilled to introduce you to plant based nutrition educator Kris Keating. Kris has joined us at Blooming Glen on Tuesday and Thursdays to prepare lunch for our hungry farm crew. It’s no small task to feed 14 field weary farmers- I advised her to approach it like she was feeding a team of athletes. And what wonderful meals we have enjoyed so far! Kris, founder of the Soleil Kitchen, is a chef with a focus on fresh organic whole foods. Kris is excited to be a part of Blooming Glen Farm and to continue her mission of putting healthy plant based cuisine ideas within reach of the local community. She will be sharing some of her wonderful recipes (and stunning photos) with you through this blog and hopefully doing some demos and tastings during CSA pick-ups as well.

Kohlrabi and Radish Salad

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Ingredients, Serves 2 entree or 4 appetizer
1 head green leaf lettuce, chopped
1 medium kohlrabi, julienned (or 2 small)
2 carrots, julienned
4 radish, sliced finely
2 tbs dried cranberries
A few fresh dill sprigs

Toss all ingredients together in large bowl except radish, cranberries, and dill. Divide evenly among two/four plates and garnish with sliced radish, cranberries, and fresh dill sprigs. Pair this with the creamy lemon-garlic dressing and you have a colorful and delicious salad with a unique blend of farm-fresh flavors and textures.

Note: An easy and quick way to julienne your vegetables at home is by using a handheld mandoline. Kyocera makes an inexpensive and good quality mandoline that can be purchased on Amazon.com for less than $25.

Creamy Lemon-Garlic Dressing

Ingredients, Makes about 4 servings
1 cup water
1/4 cup cashews
2 tbs tahini
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
2-3 dried dates
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp granules, or 1 stalk green garlic)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of tumeric (for color)

Blend until smooth using a high-speed blender. Store leftovers in a sealed glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Note: If you do not have a high-speed blender, you can soften the dates and cashews by soaking them in 1 cup of water overnight. You can then prepare your dressing in the morning using a standard blender.

Photo and recipe by Kris Keating, plant based nutrition educator, detoxification specialist and raw food chef and instructor.

As a certified Raw Food Chef and Instructor from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Fort Bragg, California, Kris incorporates a creative blending of culinary art and raw food nutrition into her meal preparations. She has a special knack for transforming simple whole foods into tasty dishes that are not only minimally prepared but beautifully presented as well. Kris enjoys creating recipes that inspire people to return to eating more fresh plant-based and embrace the valuable connection between cuisine and health. For consultations, classes and more, check out her website, Kris Keating Consulting or follow her on her Facebook page where she will also be posting her delicious recipes from the farm.

Our crew donned their muck boots and headed out this morning, pumped up for what we all knew was going to be a huge harvest. Tuesday is always a more popular pick-up day for our farm share members, so it is the larger CSA harvest of the week. Plus today we added in the numbers for our first boxed shares to Yardley and Doylestown to be delivered on Wednesday. Everyone did an amazing job getting the produce out of the field and ready for the on-farm pick-up by 1pm. Not bad for a morning’s work.

Yesterday was also a flurry of activity on the farm. With impending storms breathing down our neck, we cultivated, planted, made more beds, weeded and trellised. We knew that heavy storms and up to 3 inches of rain were headed towards us. The window of opportunity was small, and we needed to seize it. Things had finally dried out enough from the last rainstorms, so we really only had the one day to get as much field work done as we could before the fields were a soggy mess again. We worked well into the evening, until the skies darkened and common sense told us to head inside. Luckily the tornado watch for Upper Bucks County did not come to fruition.

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Still, it was more than a bit disheartening to see how much standing water we had in the fields (again!) this morning. It was pretty intense downpours at the farm last night, especially tough in the middle of strawberry season. I must admit, one of the downsides of being a farmer is that when your crops are growing you lose the ability to be lulled asleep by the sound of rain- instead you lie awake thinking about what veggies are suffering in the deluge. Still, it is always amazing how resilient crops are, just like us farmers I guess! We keep planting, and the crops keep growing, some better than others. But in the end it all comes together in a robust share.

6/9/15, CSA share #2

6/9/15, CSA share #2

This week’s harvest contains a veggie that may be new to many of you. Agretti, an Italian vegetable, is the hot new food trend that chefs are clamoring for in their kitchens. It’s needle shaped leaves are succulent in texture- the tender tips are the tastiest- the tougher base of the stems can be removed before cooking, Also known as saltwort, or friar’s beard, or land seaweed in Japan, it is close in taste to spinach, albeit with a saltier flavor. It is traditionally served with oil and lemon, a theme I replicated by very lightly sautéing it (to retain its bright green color and texture) and adding a dash of fresh squeezed lemon juice. We enjoyed it both sautéed and served with pasta (agretti spaghetti, anyone?) as well as a topping on our homemade wood fired pizzas. A quick google search will bring up a variety of recipes if you are still feeling stumped. We hope you enjoy this special treat in this week’s share!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.

The rain may have been falling but the smiles were bright at the start of the CSA season at Blooming Glen Farm. The wet weather has brought an end to the month long mini drought and scorching summer humidity. Temperatures have dropped a full 40 degrees since the weekend- another predictably unpredictable spring! We do like drier weather here at Blooming Glen- it means we can plant on schedule, and irrigation allows us to keep the crops growing. However, I’d never seen our soil so alarmingly dry, and certainly a lot of our spring crops suffered tremendously from the heat- the peas in particular. Despite that, I wouldn’t have minded the rain holding off a bit longer until after the strawberry season, or at least falling a bit and then moving along. Alas, not the case, but the berries are still looking beautiful for those brave enough to venture out in the chilly drizzle and slog through the mud to pick them.

2015 May1It’s always a welcome change of pace here at the farm when the CSA starts. It’s wonderful to see new and returning members- clad in their bright raingear this week!, and to witness the collective excitement for fresh picked veggies. We have committed to consistently growing spinach this season- so far we’re off to a great start. The share this week contains a variety of spring roots: french breakfast radishes, a milder yet still spicy radish, as well as hakurei turnips and kohlrabi (or as one of our crew members coined- “purple alien plums”).

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All three of these roots are wonderful grated raw in a slaw. Check out our previous blog post on slaw variations for some great recipe ideas. Don’t forget that you can always enter a veggie into the search box of the blog, or check out our recipe section on the website.

6/2/15, CSA share #1

6/2/15, CSA share #1

Also in this week’s share is green garlic, a young garlic pulled fresh before it bulbs up, with a sweet mild garlic flavor. It can be used like a leek or scallion- I just chop the whole thing up- bulb stem and stalks, and sauté it first with a few spring onions, then add whatever greens I am cooking. Enjoy!

Next week, Wednesday June 10th, is our first boxed delivery shares to Beth El Congregation in Yardley, and Crossfit Summa in Doylestown. More information on pick-up protocol at these specific sites will be emailed out to those members tomorrow, so keep an eye out. We are excited to be partnering with these new communities of members. Thanks!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.

Despite the past two days of passing showers, May has been an incredibly hot dry month on the farm. We are lucky to have a robust irrigation system that we have established over the years, but that system doesn’t function without the work of an irrigation manager. That person this season is Justin Seelaus, and he’s had a busy month with extremely hot temperatures and a lack of rain.

The average rainfall for our area for May is around 4 inches. So far we have received a little less than an inch this month- and that was all in one day. Despite the steady supply of water provided to them since transplant, spring crops are certainly suffering due to the extreme heat. Our sugar snap peas are looking pretty pitiful, despite the attention we have lavished on them over the past month. However, the heat-loving cucumbers and summer squash and tomatoes are growing in leaps and bounds.

This time of year is the peak of transplanting for the season- Justin must hustle to keep the baby plants watered when they are their most vulnerable. And with every new planting, a new field gets added to the irrigation schedule. After an initial soaking in, the goal is to water everything two times a week, for at least 2 hours at a time. This mimics about a half inch of rainfall with each watering.

Justin hooks up drip irrigation on the greenhouse heirloom tomatoes.

Justin hooks up drip irrigation on the greenhouse heirloom tomatoes as the crew transplants them into the ground.

“One of the things I really love about being irrigation manager, is knowing I have a direct correlation with the plant success (or doom!) and seeing noticeable growth from day to day, especially in crops like cucumbers and summer squash. ” Justin’s job takes him around the farm on a daily basis. “I get to walk the fields almost everyday, I have an intimate connection with each bed and each crop.”

The majority of our crops are watered with drip irrigation, though we still do a fair share with overhead irrigation, which is delivered through above ground pipes and sprinkler heads. Overhead is used on bare ground crops like potatoes, beets, carrots, radishes and turnips. We use sprinkler heads called the R2000 Windfighters- aptly named because they actually function better with a little wind, critical on the hill tops of Blooming Glen.

From a water conservation standpoint the value of the drip tape cannot be underestimated. Buried a few inches underground, and then covered by the black mulch, the drip allows us to use less water to achieve the results we need.

On the left is a field of potatoes on bare ground, irrigated with overhead sprinklers. On the right is a field of potatoes planted on black plastic mulch, irrigated with drip, and covered with row covers.

On the left is a field of potatoes on bare ground, irrigated with overhead sprinklers. On the right is a field of potatoes planted on black plastic mulch, irrigated with drip, and covered with row covers. Notice the size difference of the plants.

Each bed, depending on the crop, gets one or two lines of drip. Cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and melons, 1 line; fennel, kale, and onions, 2 lines. So far this season we have laid 16 rolls of drip tape- that’s close to 23 miles of drip irrigation bringing life sustaining water to our plants that Justin has to monitor and repair if needed.

You may spot Justin cruising the farm on the orange ATV we call “The Shark”, one of the perks of the job. This Del Val grad is constantly on the go, turning water on and off in various fields, accompanied by his bucket of parts- connectors, end plugs, tools to build the manifold, knife, screwdriver, cordless drill, pvc fittings, pressure regulators and pressure gauges.

Tools of the trade.

Tools of the trade.

The drip lines are laid by the tractor drawn implement, but they all come together out of the fields into a manifold that Justin builds, and each manifold gets a pressure regulator. The drip lines function best at 12 psi, but the well is set at 50 psi, the optimum pressure to run our Windfighter sprinkler heads. Pressure regulators are used to bring the pressure down to keep from blowing the drip lines out.

Even though the drip lines are buried a few inches in the soil, they can still get holes in them during the transplanting process. A certain amount of Justin’s time is spent repairing leaks. The biggest culprit, besides tractors running over the manifolds, is driving in stakes for trellised crops, of which we have about 2 acres. This activity can quickly make swiss cheese out of the drip lines if the crew isn’t careful.

Another crucial job of the irrigation manager is fertigating, which is running fertilizer through the drip irrigation system. Right now Justin has been fertigating the strawberries with a certified organic fertilizer that contains seaweed, calcium, and other vital nutrients that aid in bloom. We also utilize a fish and kelp blend to provide support to the growth of our leafy green crops.

According to Justin one of the biggest challenges of the job is finding the sweet spot where you are running as much water as you can without overburdening the system to the point where it loses efficiency. “It’s something I have learned by observing pressure changes in the lines as more water is turned on.”

Justin makes weekly and now daily maps to plan out his irrigation schedule.

Justin makes weekly and now daily maps to plan out his irrigation schedule.

The ground is still a bit damp from the rain we had a few days ago, but soon enough Justin will be heading out to hook up the drip lines on the newly planted field of sweet peppers, juggling his daily water schedule between the regular farm jobs like harvesting and weeding, and heading home at the end of the day to empty his pockets of all the miscellaneous drip connectors he’s accumulated over the day.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is entering its 10th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. Tricia is passionate about food, art and nature and the intersection and expression of all three.