Farm Journal: This Week at Luna Hill

by Angela aka Farmer Jane on June 27, 2014 · 6 comments

June 27, 2014

18

Potluck at Luna Hill


Tomorrow night is our first potluck! We’ll be grilling up hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken. This is a good ol fashioned barbecue for those who will be attending. The sign up is still open on ourEvents Page and also on Facebook Events. If you’d like to come, please click the link to join us. I’ll contact everyone tonight to let them know what to bring.

Dom and I will be providing the chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh salad, and a few side dishes made with ingredients from our garden.

Hope to see you there!

Ducklings and Chicks





The ducklings and chicks are all doing wonderful in their new outdoor temporary home. We did loose a few sick ducklings a few days ago after they drowned. I didn’t think they could even get into the little bin of water, but somehow they managed to drag their bodies in. They couldn’t get out of the water and since their legs weren’t working properly, they couldn’t stay above water. It’s sad, but at least they aren’t struggling anymore. I was at the point where I thought I would have to cull them since they weren’t recovering. I believe they had organ damage, since although they were eating and drinking, they weren’t gaining any weight and they were stunted in size. My last count of living ducklings was 21, with us losing a total of 9 ducklings since they arrived. They are one month now and doing well.

The chicks (now pullets) are doing well, and enjoying their time outside as well. They haven’t taken to roosting in the mulberry tree, but suspect that they may catch on soon.

The Sweltering Summer Heat


It has been very hot outside. Too hot to plant, and way too hot to be out in rubber boots. We’ve been watering, weeding and waiting for the high temps to break. The heat is also revealing which tomatoes I’ll plant next year, and which one’s not to. Some tomatoes do well in our dry hot climate, while others struggle to survive. I’ve observed Black Krim (pictured above still small and yellowing against the fence) to be an heirloom variety that may not be suitable in our region. The poor things are stunted, yellowing, and looking very sad. I haven’t pulled them out, but I’m not giving them any special attention either.

Our star in the tomato garden is the Brandywine. This baby is lush, green, and starting to put out some gorgeous fruit! It seems to enjoy 100 degree weather, and is stunning to look at. The scent it puts off is intoxicating also. If a gentle breeze blows by, you can smell the Brandywine fragrance.

Next up are Yellow Pear tomatoes. These guys also perform well in our area. This will be the third year we’re growing them, and they never seem to disappoint.

The last variety we have is the Roma tomato. The Roma is also performing well, and doing great in 100 degree temps. I would like to grow a few more new varieties next year of hard to find tomatoes. Any suggestions? It should be a tomato that can handle the heat and won’t require shading in the late day.

The shade cloth I put on the brassicas last week has really helped to take the heat stress off them. They stay perky and upright even at the hottest part of the day.

Onions and sunflowers are doing well. Purslane has been coming up, and I love that it makes a natural ground cover. By the end of the summer, the onion bed should be covered in purslane. Growing next to the fence is another weed I LOVE…pig weed. As long as it’s not growing in an area that will compromise crops or individual plants, I love it being in the garden.

Pig weed pictured on the right (amaranth) next to the white wild flowers is a wild edible weed and doubles as a great trap crop. Flea beetles LOVE this weed, and I’m more than happy to allow it to grow and get eaten, if we can come to some sort of arrangement that the bad bugs can have their fill of pig weed, while leaving my good plants alone.

The agreement has been kept so far, and I get to monitor what kind of bugs are in the garden depending on how much of the pig weed they eat. Weeds can play an amazing part in garden if we let them.

Comfrey and squash are getting along and growing beautifully.

Sunflowers are large and in charge.

Eggplant is struggling a bit. They love the heat, but something else has been loving it as well. Neem oil seems to help and the new little ones are coming in okay, but the older eggplant have something chewing at the stem. I’m hoping that after this next treatment of neem, we won’t have any more issues with the plant. It’s just starting to blossom too.

A volunteer on the other side of the fence! It’s the first time we’ve ever had a vegetable try to infiltrate our garden! Bugs and birds? Yes, small rodents, rabbits and snakes…yup. But fruits and vegetables trying to get in? I LOVE IT! So, this veggie looks like it could be another acorn squash, by the shape and color of the leaves. I had an acorn squash show up in one of our garden beds last year, but not in this area. I took a picture of it last year, because we didn’t plant it, nor did we ever grow acorn squash at that point, and we never watered it or tended to it. It was delicious by the way:

I love volunteers!

The squash patch continues to grow and do very well. They’re just about ready to take off and fill the area!


Arugula and flowers continue to grow. They struggled a little in the heat, but have recovered well.

Another cool volunteer growing near the onions. It looks like it could be an Armenian cucumber or some sort of squash.


Tomatoes everywhere

A view from our porch

Grapes are doing well, although this is their last year in this spot. They have struggled over the last several years, and we’ll be moving them to the courtyard next winter. For now, I’ve just been cutting back the canes which just seems to make it more determined to grow. They have also been treated with neem oil which has prevented flea beetle infestations. We do have flea beetles this year, but they have been sticking with the neem-free meal of pig weed. I’m happy to oblige. :)


Our massive continuous lettuce bed. The water lines are laid, and now we are just trying to decide whether we should go ahead a plant all the beautiful lettuce, or wait until the rabbits are caught. We have a number of bunnies on our property (I’m hoping the snakes will eat them) and while they haven’t eaten any of our plants, they might eat all the lettuce. They haven’t touched the arugula or spinach, which is a good sign, but we’re unsure what our next step will be. The bunnies are small enough to JUMP right through chicken wire. Yes, that small! There is no keeping them out at this point, so we have been trying to come up with some strategies to keep them off our lettuce patch.

Any ideas? Please let us know!

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend,

Angela aka Farmer Jane
Owner, Luna Hill Heritage Farm

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine Baker June 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm

WOW! What a garden. I can’t believe the bunnies aren’t eating your plants. Not a day goes by when something doesn’t get eaten here. The ants are stealing the zucchini pollen … we never had that problem before. I wish they’d take it to the female flowers, but apparently they don’t.

Anyway, you’re doing great! Why do you wear rubber boots in summer? Because of snakes?

Reply

Angela aka Farmer Jane June 29, 2014 at 9:15 am

Hi Christine,

I’m thinking that it’s the combination of neem oil and Sal Suds soap that’s keeping them away from everything. We don’t spray the weeds with neem, and we do have a lot of blister beetles, flea beetles, squash bugs, grasshoppers, and aphids eating the pig weed. I know we have the pests, they just haven’t feasted on our plants that are treated with neem. The other thing the bunnies may not like is our homemade fish emulsion and compost tea. It’s not a pleasant scent for bugs or bunnies. Now, once our squash plants start to blossom, we’ll see if the bunnies stay away.

We do have lots of ants, but in the garden beds treated with beneficial nematodes, they and most grubs are devoured.

My rubber boots keep my feet dry. I really can’t stand having sloshy shoes or boots when I water everything. We do have snakes, but I haven’t seen them yet, so I haven’t identified if they are poisonous or not. I love snakes and have been bitten several times (nonpoisonous…just can’t stop trying to catch them) in the past, so bites don’t bother me.

I need a nice pair of waterproof desert work boots. :)

Reply

Christine Baker June 29, 2014 at 11:24 am

I got beneficial nematodes too, paid over $100, but we still have cut worms, think I got a bad batch.

So the boots are to keep you dry, you must have a different watering system. It sure is looking great!

Regarding tomatoes, I’m surprised you don’t grow them under a shade cloth. I don’t even bother with full size tomatoes anymore because even in the shaded hoophouse they just don’t set much fruit. Could be our soil too, but the cherry tomatoes do much better and the Peace Vine is my personal favorite.

Reply

Angela aka Farmer Jane June 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Which nematodes did you get? There are three different types. We got all three to cover the widest variety of bugs and invaders.

For watering we use an oscillating sprinkler in the morning which draws the birds into the garden to eat bugs, and then we do use the weeper hose. We don’t have weepers everywhere, so I need to drag the hose all over the property to reach established trees.

I want to work with tomato varieties that don’t require shading and can thrive out in our heat and sun. So far the Brandywine and yellow pear tomatoes are top performers, and Roma is still pulling its own weight too. I’d like to see what other varieties will do well out here too.

Reply

Christine Baker July 3, 2014 at 11:02 am

We got two kinds of nematodes, can’t remember the names now. I had talked to the guy in Tucson and that’s what he had recommended for cut worms.

No sprinklers here since we’re off the grid and haul the water, installed gravity drip in most locations now.

I’ll be awaiting the results of your quest for tomatoes that don’t need shade / wind protection. I’ve pretty much given up, although every year I plant some extra seedlings into the gardens — just in case. The yellow pear did well here too, although mostly had them in the hoophouse and this year the seedlings died in my crappy homemade soil because I was so late with everything and didn’t get them planted. I don’t know how you guys do it — you have so much going on!

Reply

Angela aka Farmer Jane July 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Here’s a link to the company we get our nematodes from:

http://www.buglogical.com/beneficial-nematodes/

We purchased the 150 million beneficial nematodes that combines all three types.

We’ve had temperatures here in the low 100′s and the tomatoes all seem to be doing fine. The only ones that have languished are the Black Krim. They’ve yellowed and are stunted. Everything else is thriving. I did put a thick layer of straw down, and weighted it with wood mulch, which does help keep the soil cool. The Brandywine tomatoes are doing the best out of the tomatoes. We are also using homemade fish emulsion and compost tea weekly. Next year we’ll see how the Purple Calabash tomatoes do.

I’m not sure what zone you’re in, but being in the high desert, I’m sure you are very familiar with how wacky our zones can be. Where I am, I’m convinced we’re in zone 6, but go a few miles out into the mesa, and you’ll hit zone 7, and in parts of ABQ where figs thrive, I’d swear there are pockets of zone 8. I’ve also found that since our weather can be so erratic, we’ve decided to plant tomatoes from now on when we start to see the cottonwood seed fly. I would much rather grow things according to the natural cycles of our local flora, than when the weather man says we should. I believe Native Americans used to plant corn according to the budding of the oak trees, and as we discover the nuances of our crazy climate, I think we can lock down something that in the past has always been so hit and miss.

Reply

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