24 April 2012

Potato Weekend

We recently had our first big outdoor planting day of the season.  Everything went smoothly and we got a ton of work done in one day thanks to our extra helpers Ellen (my cousin) and Tyler (a student at the Culinary Institute of America).  We buy our seed potatoes from a family farm in NY.  Each year we get a call in the evening letting us know that the potatoes are going to arrive the following morning.  It feels like the Wells Fargo Wagon is coming (except that we know exactly what is coming: potatoes).  This year the potatoes were delivered at 6:30am.  Luckily, Ross was available to unload the truck and lift the 50 and 100 pound bags.

The truck from Maine, filled with potatoes.

Hercules!  Lift with your legs...
 Do you know how a potato is planted and how it grows?  If not, read on.  Each eye on a potato will eventually sprout and form a potato plant.  Maybe you’ve seen this if you have left potatoes in your pantry for too long.  Since we want to maximize our yield, we start but cutting the seed potatoes we order into pieces.  We cut small potatoes in half, and bigger potatoes in thirds or fourths as long as there is an eye on each piece.  Now for every potato we buy, we can plant roughly 3 times as many.

Ellen and Sheeba cutting Yukon Gold potatoes.

 We use a tractor to dig shallow trough rows in our fields, and place the cut potatoes in the troughs.  Finally, we cover the potatoes and wait for them to grow!  As the potato plant sprouts above ground, it is also growing below ground.  For each 1/3rd seed potato we plant, another 10-15 potatoes of varying size grow below ground.  This year we planted red, white, blue (yes, I said blue), Yukon Gold, and fingerling potatoes.
Tyler showing off the toe-tap...an advanced planting technique.
Debby planting potatoes.  Schoolteacher by weekday, farmer by weekend.

Debby covering the potatoes while Tyler plants a few rows ahead.  Hurry!  She's catching up!
 We finished the day by transplanting some lettuce and beets we started in the greenhouse outdoors.  The lettuce should be ready for our first trip to the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market on June 3rd.  We planted 7 varieties of lettuce and 3 varieties of beets.  To plant these, we first roll a wheel down the field.  The wheel leaves little holes in the ground, making it much easier to plant these crops.  It was great that we got all of these crops planted just before a 2-day rainstorm.  Our ground was parched and needed rain badly.  Hopefully the recent downpour will give our potatoes, lettuce, and beets a great start!  Next week we’ll be planting broccoli, kale, collards, scallions, swiss chard, and more lettuce.  Let the season begin!

Lettuce, ready to leave the greenhouse and start growing outside.

Debby rolling the wheel.  You'd think there would be a better way to do this in 2012...

Lettuce field before the rain.

13 April 2012

Easter on Brittany Hollow Farm

Kim Mosher here, reporting as a guest blogger for the Farm Blog. You may know me from the Rhinebeck Farmers Market. In fact, some of you may confuse me with Brittany. Sometimes I play along to being the Mosher daughter (It's easier to say 'Cornell is going great, thank you!' Than explaining who I am.) But really, I am a Cordier turned Mosher, marrying the eldest son Brendan. I've been officially a part of this family for almost 4 years, unofficially 10 years (between friendship with Brittany and Ross, and lusting after Brendan). 

Anyway - I've seen my fair share of spring at the farm* - and let me tell you things are looking great! I'm sure this will be another productive year for the Mosher family - and I'm happy to see that Brittany will be around to keep an eye on things. The green house is more than under way, the garlic looks great, and the flower field looks ready to have beautiful blooms popping up all over. 

Easter is always a great time with this family. On Easter Sunday, Debby told us at breakfast that we were all too old for Easter baskets, so this year we were going to have an Easter egg hunt! And a hunt it was. Between running through the fields, the barns, and greenhouse there was much fun (and tears) to be had as we raced to find our next eggs which would give us clues for our next find. Enjoy the pictures below! 

*Disclaimer - I really don't know anything about farming besides how to complain about it BUT I promise to be back and blog about whatever farm happenings I am comfortable with! :

If you want to - feel free to check out my personal blog!
And we're off! Our clue was 'Garlic' which was tricky because first we thought that Debby meant the hanging garlic in the barn...little did we know, she meant the garlic field. 

Running through the garlic field looking for our eggs. If you look closely - you will see me lying on the ground, right after Brendan body-checked me out of the way. This resulted in a very lengthy conversation on our drive home, of me reminding him that I am his WIFE and not a sibling or football player. (We've had this conversation many times.) 

Looking for clues!

Well...that's just how I felt. 

And it was all worth it! Brittany and I were the FIRST to find our bountiful baskets. Thanks Debby!

06 April 2012

Hoppy April!

The Mosher family loves to grow things, and we love to drink beer.  It is no surprise that last year we finally started growing our own hops to use in homebrewing.  The ground here at Brittany Hollow certainly seems to agree with the hops we planted.  Typically, hops (a perennial) do not produce very many flowers the first year.  The flowers are what we use in our brewing to impart bitterness, flavor, and aroma depending on the brew.  Our hops had a great first year and we were able to harvest a few bushels of flowers to dry and brew with.  Last week, we spent an afternoon cleaning up and expanding our hop yard.  
One of our Cascade variety hop plants.  
 Hops love to climb, and will grow up to 15 feet or more here in NY.  In the hop yard, we connected a series of poles by stretching a wire tightly across the top.  As the hops get a bit larger, we will train them to climb by tying down a coarse twine from a stake near the plant up to the cross-wire.
Darryl and Ross stretching a wire across the garden.  In a few months, there will be hops everywhere!

Darryl trimming away the dead growth from last year to make way for this year's growth.

Ross enjoying some of our homebrewed IPA.
New York State has a great history of hop growing, and was even the largest hop producer in the United States at one time.  After a few bad years in the early 1900s of being plagued by blight and pests, the hop growing industry in our state fizzled.  Perhaps with today's agricultural technology hops can be successfully grown here again!

While the Mosher Brewing Co. may still be a far-off dream, I think that growing our own hops is a step in the right direction.  Another step in the right direction would be to win the lottery.