May 4th

Riverbend Farm Newsletter                                                 May 4, 2013


We are going to need some help this week planting onions – see below.

 It has been an interesting couple of weeks.

 You might have heard about the snow they just got south and east of us. Yuk.  When the weather was warm, the frogs were singing and there were even a few swallows around. The maples and popples are starting to flower. The river is going down a little. It never got out of its banks this year, but it was right to the top.

 We have mostly missed out on the last two snows.  We got enough to make the grass white from the first one. The second one missed us completely.  Nice. In addition to being wet, the snow cools the ground down to 32º and brings all the microbial activity to a halt. Soil takes longer to warm up and dry out after a snow than when it rains. Of course the soil has to dry out before it can be worked.

 The day after I sent out the last newsletter we woke up to no water. We had electricity, but the water was not running.  There  was power at the Start and Run  terminals on the motor controller, so it seemed like the pump was dead. A call to our local well company had a guy ( Jim) here in a few hours.  He checked a few things,  pulled out the old pump and replaced it with a new one. $1200. Turning  on the power did not result in any water.

 There was water coming up alongside the well casing, which was a bad sign. It was getting late so we just ran a  garden hose from the down pipe to an outside faucet and still didn’t have any water. The  inlet line from the well to the house had to be disconnected to make everything work. The water was coming in and going right back out.

 The thought was that the hubless connector had failed so we had to dig down to find it. Andrew, Noelle, and I took turns digging and eventually found the connection without cutting off the electric line to the pump. The digging resulted in a hole that was seven feet deep and about five feet across. Throwing the dirt out of a hole like that is harder than you would think.  A couple days later Jim was back and discovered that the plastic line to the house had become brittle and snapped off.

 Every valve in the house was put off by the change in the system. I don’t know if it was the increased pressure or that sand had got in due to the broken pipe, but the toilet fill valves, the water heater temperature/pressure valve, the shower, the water softener, etc. were all dysfunctional.  And every old fitting leaked.  But it is sure nice to turn on a faucet and have water come out.

 About the same time, my computer went on strike. It was so slow. The Norton Anti Virus was coming up with errors and it turns out that there was some virus  slowing the system down. Needless to say, Norton AV is not running on my computer at this time. The new computer shop in Delano found and fixed the problem for $60. Seemed like a good deal to me. The owner (Ken) and his wife are opening a wine bar in Delano. Brave souls.

 We did actually do some farming when we had those few nice days last week. Most of the snow had melted and I was able to get in with a disk and work up a little ground for lettuce and kale transplants and  some direct seeded arugula and radishes.  By about Monday the arugula had come up.

 On the downside, the deer have already found the lettuce and started eating it.  Usually they won’t touch it until it is almost ready to harvest. And once they find a source of food, they return to it. I may have to move the lettuce patch and cover it until I get the netting for the ten foot fence.

 I also managed to get some oats and peas planted. Part of them will be harvested for seed and part will be a green manure crop. The overwintered kale, beets, turnips, and radishes that are being grown for seeds were planted on Monday and by Friday some of them were sending up seed stalks. A few of the buds are turning yellow, getting ready to open. Jean Peterson is growing the brussel sprouts for seed. Jerry Ford has the cabbage, and Amelia is growing the Lacinato kale and red beets.

 It will be very interesting to see how this works out.  Usually the plants that are overwintered are started in late summer. I think that would be a good idea since most of the old leaves rot in storage and the smell of rotting cabbage is not good. The younger plants are also supposed to overwinter better.


I’m in a bit of a jam with planting onions. We were going to have a crop mob last Saturday, but Friday was the first time I could get in the field here, not to mention that I had been planning on putting them in at Cathy’s. Her fields are even wetter than ours and the road over to her place washed out. That’s is another story.

 The April crop mob was postponed to this Saturday, but the rain Friday night and this morning made it too wet to plant. The temperature has gotten up to 36º by noon and it is a little breezy. Not prime conditions for crawling around on cold wet ground planting onions. The crop mob for today has been canceled.

  With the crop mob there are 20 or so people who plant and we get a lot done in a hurry. That is not happening with onions this year. We will start setting them out next week with just our crew. And then there are the 10,000 tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that need to be repotted since they will be going out at the end of the month…

  If you are not busy on Wednesday the 8th,  we could use some help planting onions.  If you are interested, send me an email.



  ps  Carl Blanz at Three Crows is looking for an apprentice cook to work with him and  learn the restaurant business. Carl and Gina are taking Three Crows to the next level are venturing farther into sourcing local food.  If you know someone who might be a good candidate or might be interested, have them give Carl a call 763-972-3399.