Spent a great day harvesting tomatoes, melons and corn with Steve Quirt. Past and new students can be involved with the IVC farm through the newly formed "Dharma Farm Club." The greenhouse is housing brassica seedlings, more seeding later for winter planting. IVC is in process of being a registered organic farm, more on this topic later too. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Oh, and I picked zucchini blossoms. Going to stuff with polenta and goat cheese and other secret ingredients.
Scratch and sniff
We enjoyed a talk given by Anita Sauber, who is an organic inspector with the County of Marin Agriculture Weights and Measures Department. Anita spoke about the Marin Organic Certified Agriculture (MOCA) program that was launched in 2001. The Marin County Agricultural Commissioner's office was one of the first counties in California to offer an organic certification program to qualified agricultural producers and handlers.
There were several entities that got MOCA off the ground; the community & growers, Marin Organics along with Ellen Straus, Marin Agriculture Department, the support of Marin County Supervisors and the University of California Cooperative Extension. Anita said MOCA was the result of a desire to create something that the community wanted.
In a way this mirrors the IVC program for it took several entities to work together to create the vision and components needed to launch the inaugural IVC organic farming class.
Farm / melon planting
We had a visit from Joel Kiff of Ridgeview Farm in Alexander Valley. Joel's been farming well over 30 years and is known for his tasty sweet melons. His varieties include; Ambrosia, Sugar Nut. French Orange, Pretty Baby and Sugar Baby
Joel stressed that the soil determines the taste of the melon. He grabbed a handful of IVC soil, sniffed and tasted. He brought us a roll of plastic mulch to plant with and we planted half with plastic mulch half without. With cool nights you need to keep the warmth in. Oyster shell flour was used to add calcium and prevent rot around the melon. We plan to have a taste competition at the end of July.
We T Taped like mad, planted melons, more cover crop, mexican sunflowers, corn and basil, cleaned up weeds, thinned the cover crop...it was a long satisfying work day.
Cover crop coming in nice
Class reminder - Your journals are due on May 13th and it's a long work day at farm.
Lecture recap - Managing Bugs and Blight
Wendy always centers us on what's important on keeping the farm functional by "working for the fertility for the life of the ground." Our class is already feeling the flush of success while gazing at our greens that only seem to have beneficial lady beetles. Steve said it would be interesting to perform another soil test at the end of season to map out what has occured. Also, beware the pests will come
Causes & considerations for a farmer - the geoghraphy, climate and weather. What can I grow? Look at overall health of plants your planting, consider how you treat them from the very start, what are the natural predators and insects, observations of different stages of plants.
Funny, Wendy remarked that she sees herself as a "pest" of european descent pestering the landscape.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process in which you don't just observe the plant and its disruptive pest, but look at the whole garden or farm ecosystem. The main 4 points of IPM lectured from textbook Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Peirce:
1. Cultural conditions & procedures - check your soil fertility, cleanliness on a farm is essential, no piles, pathways are clean. Know what the damage is and possible pest present, growing plants that will repel the pest or companion planting, taking better care of your plants, rotation of crops
2. Physical & mechanical controls - hand picking, barriers, netting. washing plants, trap setting
3. Biological - introduce beneficial organisms and natural predators
4. Chemical - in the form of safe often homemade applications to more toxic appliations.
The only thing to do from here is to walk around IVC farm and our own home gardens and observe and keep our Golden Gate Gardening textbook close by. More on IPM from next lecture.
Below pictures of IVC work day - planting of corriander, cosmos, zinnias, beans. More cover crop planting. Seeding in the greenhouse. Rotilled & groomed for class planting, loader used to get rid of rocks. Oyster shell hill now a smoothed out pathway.
Wendy transplanting seedlings of Mexican sunflower in IVC greenhouse
Our first IVC harvest for the College of Marin Indian Valley Campus dedication, tour of farm and luncheon on May 8, 2009
Steve Quirt and visiting guest Patty Hamilton from Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery gave a lecture regarding the variables of providing water to plants. Patty said the first thing to consider is a filter. Water quality from either city, well, pond, or spring water determines the components to choose. The disc filter shown far right has 26 times more filteration then a screen, plus the it's removeable and easy to clean mineral buildup. It can be placed in different positions as well.
Plant characteristics and type of soil and how much water capacity can determine a drip, overhead, or combined system. Your soil determines the capillary force and how irrigation will work (e.g. sandy soil with drip will result in a carrot shaped capillary action around the root system, capillary action with loamy soil will spread the water in a more circular area around the root system of the plant.)
Soil type and plant characteristics will determine different watering zones and pressure regulators and types of emitters. At IVC we are currently using T Tape for our row crops.
Below an example of T Tape. Lettuce varieties include: Nova, Red Neck & Butter Esmeralda. We thinned out the lettuce for more leaf coverage.
Out at the farm Steve stressed the importance of hand sampling your soil to monitor the soil and capillary action.
Calculations to consider; you want to design a system to use 75% or less of your available water in each zone. T Tape requires 10 psi operating pressure. 8" spacing uses 40 GPH per 100'; 12" spacing uses 24 GPH per 100'. The heavier the T Tape the longer it will last.
Below Patty Hamilton answering questions regarding irrigation system currently being assembled.
The day ended with creating more beds for our cover crop of: mixed flowers, red clover,calendula, flax, field peas, white milet, and black oil sunflowers. Below applying compost to beds. Rain is in the forcast. We will have to adust our timers. I think I'll rent the movies Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring and pour over my Harmony Farms catelog.
At the IVC farm, West Marin grower Peter Worsley gave the class a lecture on discing, ripping and rotilling with a tractor. We learned about the universal 3 point hitch and spacing of row crops. He then proceeded to disc and rip our field, spread manure in readiness of our new herb and benefcial insectary plants bed.
Below, Liza notices the pupa and adult ladybug stage
Below creating bark walkways between tomatoes
Building addtional tomato trellis fence, melons will go in to the left of tomatoes.
Henry of the Marin Conservation Corp after a long day of putting in IVC irrigation.