Busy as a Bee

Now that the danger of frost has passed for this spring, we’ve really kicked it into high gear on the farm. The greenhouse is full of gorgeous plants and our direct seeded crops are starting to flourish in the warmer weather. We’ve been keeping busy, and so have our new bees! This spring we installed a hive of honey bees to help out with pollination on the farm. Many plants that we grow are self pollinating, or only require pollination to make viable seeds but will still make a fruit. The plants in the squash family need pollination from insects, such as honey bees, or else they won’t produce fruit at all. We’re hoping that more bees means more squash, cucumbers, and melons this year. If we’re lucky we might also get to harvest some honey from them at the end of the season. Honey bees are amazing creatures and we’re glad to have them adding to the biodiversity of the farm.

In other news: There are still shares available in our 2014 CSA. Click here to learn more. Also, farmers markets are starting back up for the season and you can  find us at the Carytown Farmers Market every Sunday 11am-3pm, and starting the weekend of May 3rd we’ll be at the South of the James Farmers Market in Forrest Hill Park every Saturday 8am-noon.

Teal opening the bee hive.

Teal opening the bee hive.

One of our new bees collecting pollen.

One of our new bees collecting pollen.

Cabbages in the greenhouse.

Cabbages in the greenhouse.

 

Winter projects

We’ve certainly had our share of winter weather this year, but that hasn’t stopped us from working on some new projects. In January we started a new batch of shiitake mushroom logs, and we are expanding oyster mushroom production this year as well. Our market season doesn’t start back up until late April, but we’ve already got the first round of seedlings started in the greenhouse.  If you’ve missed our eggs at the market, you might be able to find a dozen at Little House Green Grocery, along with a ton of other local goodies.  Winter is also the perfect time to sign up for a share in our CSA. All the details and the registration form for 2014 can be found here.

Gus inoculating logs with shiitake mushroom spawn.

Gus inoculating logs with shiitake mushroom spawn.

Teal with the new shiitake logs.

Teal with the new shiitake logs.

Eggs from our flock of laying hens.

Eggs from our flock of laying hens.

Summer Recap

Now that all the fall plants are in the ground and things have started to slow down a little bit around here, I figured it was a good time to reflect on the summer. June, July and August were extremely wet and rainy which presented some challenges. Wet weather means blights and mildews spread more quickly, and even though the plants enjoy the extra water, so do the weeds. Despite the weather, we harvested some beautiful veggies this summer, and more fall crops are on their way.  Our chickens started laying eggs in August, so keep an eye out for them at market. They have been eating a steady diet of GMO-free feed from Sunrise Farms in Stuarts Draft, VA, market left-overs, and whatever goodies they can scratch up around the farm.

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A chicken sitting in her nest box.

Green onions, ready for market.

Green onions, ready for market.

This baby Box Turtle hatched on the farm.

This baby Box Turtle hatched on the farm.

Sunflower.

Sunflower.

Farmers Markets and CSA

Farmers market season is in full swing now, and you can find us at two Richmond,VA farmers markets: South of the James Market on Saturdays (8am-12pm) in Forest Hill Park, or at the Carytown Market on Sundays (11am-3pm) in the Wells Fargo parking lot at the corner of W. Cary and Auburn.  This spring has brought the perfect weather for greens, so stop by the market and try one of our three varieties of kale! Our shiitake logs have also been enjoying the wet weather and have provided us with a fantastic harvest of mushrooms. If you need a little inspiration for how to cook your ‘shrooms then head over to River City Good Eats and see what Michele Humlan prepared, looks delicious! Next weekend is the first pickup for our Community Supported Agriculture program, and it’s not too late to join, check out the CSA page for more info and the registration form!

Pine Fork Farm tent at the Carytown Farmers Market.

Our tent at the Carytown Farmers Market.

Fruiting shiitake mushroom logs.

Fruiting shiitake mushroom logs.

Snap pea blossoms.

Snap pea blossoms.

Chickens!

It sure has been busy on the farm, so busy we haven’t even introduced our new laying hens!  A little over a month ago these were little more than tiny balls of fluff, but now they are maturing into real chickens.  Our new flock is a mixture of three breeds: Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and Easter Eggers. We hope that by early fall these ladies will be providing us and the farmers’ market with fresh eggs.

A lovely Barred Rock hen.

A lovely Barred Rock hen.

Day-old chicks in the brooder.

Day-old chicks in the brooder.

Teeny tiny chicken.

Teeny tiny chicken.

Greenhouse Season

This spring is turning out to be quite different than last year. I spent some time looking back at the temperatures for 2012 in the Richmond area:  the last date with temperatures in the 30′s was March 11th, and we had already experienced several weeks with temperatures in the 80′s! With nighttime temperatures forecast to be in the 30′s the next couple of days, I sure am glad to have a greenhouse. Swiss chard and Kale will survive a light spring frost, but starting them in the greenhouse will speed things up considerably. They’ll be going in the ground soon though, to be replaced by the rapidly growing tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings.

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Swiss chard in the greenhouse.

 

greenhouse

Kale as far as the eye can see.

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Green onions.

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Dinosaur kale.

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More kale.

Exciting news!

We’ve just received word that Pine Fork Farm will be a vendor at the Carytown Farmers Market this year. The market is on Sundays from 11am-3pm in the parking lot of Carytown Cleaners, 3300 W. Cary St, Richmond, VA.  The first market of the season will be April 14th, so mark your calendars! This also means that we are able to confirm the Carytown Farmers Market as a pickup site for the CSA. Shares are still available and you can find the updated registration form and more detailed information here.

Straw mulch on the asparagus beds.

Straw mulch on the asparagus beds.