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Showing posts from 2006
Hi ho -- the Frog Log has been dormant, to be sure, but then frogs do hibernate. My friend and writing buddy, Tom Hines, who has been immortalized in several blogs, finally took the bull by the horns -- or the frog by the legs -- and wrote his own Frog Log. I appreciate the wake-up call, but I'm still moving kind of slow in this cold weather. I'll let Tom fill y'all in for now and I'll return soon. I did stop by the Farmer's Market today and a few intrepid farnmers were braving the low twenties temps. One of them was an organic grower bringing in fresh greens from his hoophouse. Good for him! If Ken has his way, the 100 ft. hoophouse he has been building this winter will be full of greenery next winter, and we'll see you at the market year-round. Here's Tom: I'll walk with Jupiter in the cold woods. I'll think and amble as he lopes off after deer. The gardens rest, only bushy green kale dares stand, still life like into the new year. Short cover g
It looks as if fruit grows from a branch, but growth comes more truly from the gardener's hope and the work of sowing the seed that grew inside the fruit. --Rumi We're finished with the growing season for this year. I hope to keep offering food for thought on the Frog Log. Stay tuned and thanks!
This Saturday may be our last market for the year. We don't quite know how the lettuce will "pick out" but if this Saturday isn't the last, then next Saturday will be. That means that we have trucked on down to the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market for six and a half months this year; that Ken King and designated family members have rousted out of bed at 4:00 AM for almost 30 Saturdays and 25 or so Wednesdays; that friends and family have pitched for just as many Tuesdays and Fridays helping to harvest and make salad mix for next day's market; that countless seeds have sprouted, grown to fullness and offered up their ripe richness to harvesting hands; that brightly-colored rows of vegetation have decorated the garden in a changing patchwork throughout the season; that bowed backs have moved slowly through the rows, keen eyes and nimble fingers creating order in cultivation or harvest; that hundreds of boxes have been filled, trucked to market, emptied and dispersed, a
Okay, the garden really looks different now. Most of the remaining crops huddle under white polyester-filament row covers, hoping to survive the present cold snap. Amid the long white humps of covered rows, only the kale and collards stand tall, flexing their vegetal muscles as they tell Jack Frost to bring it on! If the lettuce makes it through the next few days, we will have salad mix fior another week or two. We'll also have greens, onions, beets, and some of the best-flavored winter squash we have grown in years. Hopefully customers won't give up on the Farmer's Market just yet. We growers have our tricks to extend the season. There will be plenty of good pickin's at the market, even long after the first frost. And if you arrived at this Frog Log to learn more about the Oct. 28. party...hope you can make it! With the Tigers winning their third game against Oakland tonight, it's starting to look very likely that they will be in the World Series! And if that is
The garden looks different now that Fall is truly upon us. The leafy greens have taken on a darker hue; the reds are more bronzey. And the texture of the garden has become more homogenous. The tall corn stalks have been chopped, errant weeds have been mowed, and even the bushy tomoato vines now lie in a tangle on the ground, pulled from their supports by the weight of plump tomatoes. All the crops are lower, closer to the ground; and as we make the final harvests, the bare earth prepares to be tucked away, to rest and restore until the growing season returns. And we are on our last bean patch. Now I have written about beans before. And Tom gave me a hard time for saying I was tired of picking them four times in one Frog Log. Okay, maybe that was a little excessive, but then we pick an excessive amount of beans! We start picking in mid-July, right around the Art Fair, when everyone on the market has beans. But when most other farmers go on to tomatoes and corn, we don't stop planti
Paper or plastic? A question that I found mildly irritating when clerks and baggers started asking it in maybe the mid-eighties. In those days, I was certain that of course I wanted paper; I wasn't about to fuel unnecessary petrochemical use with those increasinly ubiquitous plastic bags. But then plastic bags started being made out of HDPE #2 and #4 plastic, a material that can be recycled. So it got a little stickier at the checkout counter. Do I choose paper and make a small contribution toward lessening the pollution from petrochemical refining, or do I choose plastic and save a tree --or at least a twig? Of course the best answer is neither, and bring your own reusable bags. I always opted for paper, even when the plastic bags could be recycled, since we could always reuse the paper bags at the market stall anad give that tree a little more go-round. Yep, in those days at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, paper was the bag of choice. The helpful market manager even kept a sm
Well, it's Fall and farmers are tired. In conversations with several of our organic farmer friends, the talk is of sore backs or scaling back. Three out of the five Frog Holler family members are nursing sore spots, although one can possibly attribute his to a nine-inning, full-tilt game of whiffleball! No doubt about it, organic farming is physically challenging and the reaction to the work in body, mind and spirit, builds up over the season. Now we can feel those big melon patches that needed to be hoed, and then hoed again, and then hoed again before we ever tasted a melon. Or we can look back on the tomato patch that we planted with high hopes and realize that, although we waded through those tangled rows of vines and weeds over and over, we didn't really get a crop. Or how about all of the broccoli those cutworms ate in the early spring? Or the mysterious disease that took out all the cucumber vines in Southeast Michigan, from what I hear and have observed in our field.
Well, I got called on my last entry when I was whining about the pole beans. Tom, my friend and writing buddy, rather gleefully pointed out that the beans could not "rappel" up the poles because rappel only refers to going down. Well, I was wrong, but I was also right because those beans never did go up the poles; they mae a weak attempt and then RAPPELLED back down to the ground. And although pole beans have a flavor and substance that is so reassuringly beany, we had to stop picking the patch. We did give Tom a chance to pick it, as a reward for his astute blog reading! We exchanged pole bean picking for melon picking, and that was a pretty good trade! Just as mysterious as the pole bean's inability to climb is the rich sweetness in almost all of our melons this year. The sun, rain, heat and melon fairies conjoined in just the right combination to bring us a bumper crop. Finding that right combination is what must keep farmers, apparently gamblers at heart, coming back
Pole Beans. You see them pictured in the garden catalogs - lush vines covering six-foot high poles that have been arranged in a teepee shape. There is always a cute kid peeking out from this leafy green playhouse. Okay, we set up lots of pole teepees; we planted and watered this old-fashioned variety of pole beans, and we even taped the vines to the poles when they seemed to struggle with the concept of expertly wrapping themselves around those poles in order to rappel to the top of the arrangement and create the picture perfect bean house which would also make it mighty darn easy to pick those beans conveniently dangling at eye level. Forget the catalog pictures! I'm out there on a late Friday afternoon. It has been a long picking day and it's hot. The bean field is pitched to perfectly catch the full force of the late afternoon sun. Did I mention I was tired? Did I mention that the "pole beans" all lie in exquisitely tangled piles of vines, beans and leaves at t
I was just listing some of the fresh herbs that we will bring to market for the "In Season" section of this web site. The spell checker didn't like the word "Arugula". When I right-clicked for its suggestions, I got "argyle", "regular", and "Uruguay"! Obviously my spell-check program needs to get a little more hip! With the growing interest in fresh vegetables and traditional cuisine, Arugula, though admittedly more popular in Europe, has become at least familiar to many American shoppers. We were the first growers to bring Arugula to the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. Sometimes we called it "Rocket", which is an English version of the French name, "Roquette". Arugula is the Italian name of this tantalizingly spicy/nutty flavored herb, and this is the name that seems to be winning out. I remember early days offering customers a taste of this unfamiliar green. I also remember the customer who, after her first
Heat and rain - it has been downright tropical and this would have been the year to grow papayas and mangoes. :) Instead we'll have to settle for our homegrown tomatoes that we have been enjoying for a week or so. They have such a sweet and rich flavor. I have always said that our vegetables taste like fruit, and our fruit? Well - oh, but I said I wouldn't go on any more strawberry rants! (They did taste like ambrosia!) The rain and heat is helping the vegetables to grow, but the weeds are happily growing as well. We have been cultivating nonstop it seems. Along with the weeds, certain insect populations have exploded. Many of you who garden know about the flea beetles in the early spring. Some of those little buggers are still hanging around. There are no great treatments for flea beetles that I know of. A lot of organic practices depend on timing. In the spring, if we can protect the vulnerable plants until they are big enough to resist decimation by these voracious little b
I sort of fell off the Frog Log for a while. We had some catching up to do after the party. It probably isn't the best time to schedule a party right in the middle of the growing season, but we're not sorry! Hopefully we'll get some rain soon to bring the crops home. Tomatoes are just on the cusp of ripening. We have been eating some early starters and they are delicious!
We are cleaning up the farm for our festivity tomorrow. We hope that many of you can make your way out to Frog Holler, perhaps some of you for the first time. Even if the weather threatens, we can move the food and festivities into our "party barn", as my three-year-old buddy, Arianna, calls it. The Party Barn is the latest incarnation of a building that has served in previously much more work-oriented capacities. When we moved to Frog Holler, the barn was a big, beautiful classic animal barn, with a huge haymow and stalls for draft horses in the lower floor. Apparently, Frog Holler had been a working orchard with trees planted in the 1940's by Dr. Gesell. (See "History" for more background on Dr. Gesell. Also the June 11 Frog Log.) When the Gesells were no longer involved, one of their caretakers kept sheep on the farm. Apparently he had an innovative idea for managing the sheep. He kept them in the former horse stalls, but he never got around to cleaning t
Okay, this is my last strawberry rant. If you just found our site and are reading this in August - sorry - you missed one of our best berry years ever. I just tasted a berry that was sun-kissed sweet with melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. I confess to have eaten probably hundreds of berries this season, but I'm still not jaded because their flavor has been exceptional. If you're reading this in real-time, I encourage you to gorge yourself for another week! Have strawberry shortcake for breakfast! With homemade biscuits, and fresh whipping cream, you have several major food groups covered and will be doing just fine. And then, after the season's end next week, vow never to eat a strawberry until next June, when you can get fresh, organic, local strawberries that taste like they're s'posed to taste! Okay, if it's December and you want a little color on a fruit plate and don't mind that the taste is faintly reminiscent of a strawberry with slightly bitter underton
"These strawberries taste like fine wine," declared Margy, my pal and fellow strawberry picker. We had been picking for over three hours and sampling the luscious little red gems along the way - maybe we were getting a little tipsy! This is one of the best strawberry years we have had in a long time. The weather has been good and we have had access to irrigation at the right time. I understand it's going to get hot. That's not so great for the berries, so if you're thinking strawberry shortcake, you might want to add it to the menu this weekend!
I just posted the announcement for our farm party on July 2. It's a chance to share the farm and this beautiful setting with the friends we have made at the farmer's market, and through our yoga and music involvement. When you come out, you will see that the farm is much more than rows of produce. The farm is more a native habitat, with garden patches fitted into a few nooks and hillsides. Deer are abundant, and that's why all the gardens must be encircled with seven-foot-high strands of electric fence. It's the only way to coexist with these voracious, increasingly abundant, and elegantly beautiful garden pests! Wild places are more the rule at Frog Holler; we bought the property from the Gesell family who were ardent conservationists and asked that we maintain a standard of respect for the land and its inhabitants. Dr. and Mrs. Gesell's daughter, Christine Stevens, started the Animal Welfare Institute. Based in Washington D.C., this organization has been vitally
Confession - we have been eating strawberries for a few days. But today we picked enough to have a few pints to bring to market on Wednesday. Come early if you want some! We are unfortunately never able to supply the organic strawberry demand. So many factors affect strawberry production: too rainy, too hot and dry, too cool. The patch looks promising right now, but I never count my berries until they are picked! I had occasion to eat some non-organic strawberries today. At least I tried to eat them. They were big, dark red, and so tough I needed a knife to cut them! The taste was faintly reminiscent of strawberries with a bitter aftertaste. I really couldn't eat them, but I guess I'm spoiled. Strawberries, with their watery composition, absorb more herbicides and pesticides than almost any other fruit. Add the chemical mix to commercial harvesting practices, where berries are picked at 3/4 ripeness in order to withstand shipping, and you get the big tough poor-tasting berr
A full day getting ready for market. New items we will have are broccoli, radishes and green onions. Lots of spinach, lettuce and salad mix of course! We're also taking some fresh basil and cucumbers from our greenhouse. Nice to have summery veggies so early. We ate the first zucchini dish today! I realize that's a milestone now but it may turn into a millstone later in the summer. Zucchini does have a bad rep for its prodigious productivity. But although people make jokes about leaving zucchini in the backseat of unlocked cars, we rarely have too much of this generous vegetable. We always pick the fruit when they are young and tender, and we eat a LOT of zucchini! Our favorite variety, Greyzini, is so tender and sweet; it doesn't seem like the same vegetable that has worn out its welcome with so many gardeners.
Greetings and welcome to the first Frog Log! Billy and Kenny have been jamming on making this web site and I hope you will find it interesting and informative and will visit often! I’m looking forward to keeping folks up-to-date on what’s happening at the Holler from gardens to parties. Ken hopes to describe some of his ongoing work with land restoration. And Billy and Kenny will keep adding photos, links and other pertinent content. And we hope you’ll write back! We had the first broccoli and cauliflower from the garden today – delicious! They will be joining the lettuce and spinach on the market table soon, along with cukes from the greenhouse. Some small zucchini have been spotted; summer is on its way! Question: Cathy has been approached by the TV show, Wife Swap. We’re taking an online poll: should she agree to be on the show?? Let us know what you think in the message board!