No Chickens, No Broccoli

March 7, 2010


We had kind of a hard weekend in terms of farm progress. Caleb and Kristin went to the ‘Chicken Swaps’ where a bunch of people bring chickens to sell. There they saw Wendy and Jerry Custer from whom we were thinking of buying our laying hens. And they had just sold all of their laying hens that morning. So we need a different chicken source.

Then tonight we were planning to do our second round of broccoli seedling planting, but after Matt and Caleb had everything set up, we discovered that we couldn’t find the packet of seeds we had used several weeks ago. Oops. Tomorrow I’ll have to buy some more… (see picture of sad planting trays with no broccoli)

In better news we bought and transplanted some spices – mint, cilantro, thyme, and basil. Matt and I finally packed up the soil samples so we can ship them to the extension office for testing tomorrow. Caleb did some tree pruning and Matt cleared out some garden beds.

We’re teaching Lucy to read local texts.


I love that you said you are all teaching Lucy to read local “texts”. Ah, that takes me back.

Amy D. (formerly Amy K, AKA "Cuz" — March 8, 2010

Don’t know much about the Virginia countryside. Does it provide some naturally occuring food sources such as asparagus, rhubarb, mushrooms, or chammomile?

Warren Sancken — March 10, 2010

We do have some asparagus growing and mushrooms. We may have chamomile, but I have no idea how to identify it. Rhubarb doesn’t grow well in Virginia, it’s too hot.

Kristin Thomas Sancken — March 10, 2010

We’re eager for spring to announce itself with some asparagus…any day now.

Like Kristin, I’ve heard that it’s tricky to grow rhubarb some places in VA, but it does grow in places with higher elevation. Rhubarb is one of my favorite desserts, so I hope to get it established. I know it isn’t very agriculturally sound to try to force a plant to grow where it naturally won’t grow very well, but I want to make a best effort.

I have to admit that I’m a little nervous about collecting wild mushrooms. However, I heard in workshop on Saturday about some folks who were using their forested land to grow shiitake in old oak (or sweet gum) logs stacked up like Lincoln logs. They sell for $16-20/lb here, though it’s unclear how much labor costs are.

I think I heard that chamomile attracts beneficial insects, so maybe we should plant some.

We have some wild blackberries on the property…if we get to them before the birds.

By the way, this workshop I went to mentioned other things you can cultivate in wooded land (or collect if you’ve got them wild): ginseng roots ($400/lb. but takes 10 years to establish and theft is an issue), golden seal ($35/lb.), and ramps ($12-16/lb.). The herbs weird me out a little because I don’t know much about them. I’d like to try a ramp; I’ve heard they’re good cooked, though a little strong raw.

Has anyone had a ramp or any other wild produce? I think the only wild stuff I’ve eaten are wild strawberries as a kid in IL and deer meat very recently.

Caleb — March 14, 2010

I should note that Lucy is learning how to front-load her theses and unpack the argument from there.

Caleb — March 14, 2010