A Dr. Seuss Jingle

Harriet Kattenberg : September 4, 2015 3:50 pm : Blog

Gulp! Where did summer go?

The last time I sat in front of this keyboard and tried to put coherent thought into text was mid-July. Really? With the heat and humidity of this past week, it felt like July or August. But here is September!!!

As uncomfortable as we were this week, the thought that Jack Frost occasionally pays a visit in September was not at all comforting. We’ve had frosts as early as September 15.

Long balmy falls make for more profitable bottom lines. And as much as I enjoy being outside, growing, doing, bending, picking, lifting, hustling, and yes, even being totally exhausted, we must face reality, and the always judgmental, bottom line. So as much as Alissa and I would just like to sit, sleep in, cook, and clean, we have to keep going for another nine weeks. Which boiled down, means ……

You only have nine (9) more Farmers Markets this season!!!

Do not delay!
It’s time to make hay (or salsa or pickles or Caprese.)
New potatoes with butter. They will make your tongue flutter!
Visit Falls Park Farmers Market (and Seedtime) TODAY!

I bet we have more than you can eat in a day.
In any way.
Without having to eat hay.
But you may.

Eat hay.
If you wish.
In a dish.
Without any fish.

Potatoes in purple.
Tomatoes in pink.
Wash your lovely leeks in the sink.

Our lettuces are healthy.
They don’t make us wealthy.
But they taste better than hay.
Any day.

Hail to our kale.
It won’t make you frail
But will build muscles
And brains.
Forget eating grains.

Onions and garlic.
Shallots sure hit the target.
Broccoli is a scream.
Our cauliflower is green
And purple, it seems.

So Saturday is the day
To stop eating hay
And veggies are the way
To brighten your day.

This jingle is a marvel
At Seedtime and Harvest.

Eek! I’d be much smarter
If I worked much harder.
And left this old keyboard
To go fill up the larder.

Nine weeks!!!! Don’t miss it!!!

Harriet @ www.seedtimeandharvest.net

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Naked? Never!

Harriet Kattenberg : July 10, 2015 3:49 pm : Blog

Ok, I know … Some people like to be naked.

In the shower and bathtub? Yes.
In bed? Some of us.
On the beach? … Well…. It probably depends on the beach.

But on the whole, we spend more time in our clothes than in our birthday suits.

Soil feels the same way.

Rototill the besmidgies out of a piece of ground … a garden, the front lawn … and before you can shout, “SOIL LOVES TO BE NAKED,” tiny little seeds will be sending out thread-like white hair roots. And before you can shout again, “I WANT TO KEEP THIS PIECE OF GROUND NAKED,” those little seeds will be pushing up tiny little shoots, soon to turn green, and those little shoots will grow as fast as a banshee.

Return to that naked piece of dirt a few days later and it will be covered with something, anything green.

A fellow veggie farmer told me about his stint working for a commercial greenhouse. “The floor of that greenhouse complex absorbed every chemical and weed killer used in their industry. AND most of it was covered with either concrete or rock mulch. Yet whenever a bit of soil was exposed, a weed would spring up. It was totally mindboggling that anything would want to live (or could live) on that floor.”

Naked soil leads to erosion and compaction. Erosion from rain, erosion from wind. Compaction from tractor tires, Gator tires, human foot prints.

At Seedtime, our goal is NO NAKED SOIL. EVER. A lofty goal!

We do farm somewhat traditionally. Till the soil. Break it up. Make a nice seed bed. But then we leave the tradition behind. As soon as two rows are planted, we sow a cover crop between them.

Early spring sees strips of buckwheat between rows of potatoes and tomatoes. Winter rye is seeded between beds of kohlrabi, cabbage, and broccoli.

This year, we are experimenting with a mixture of plants that will eventually bloom, providing nectar and pollen for our honey bees.

Yellow and white sweet clover, phacilia, lupines, daikon radish, mustard, hairy vetch. What a delight to our senses when these plants bloom and bustle with bees, gathering nectar and pollen, winging it back to their hives.

The hours and labor we invest in cover crops would probably shock us. Some would say we are foolish. But the soil and its living millions of microbes thank us. All kinds of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects will be happier and healthier with a varied diet.

No erosion.

No runoff. The lush cover of plants and roots holds every drop of rain, storing it for another day.

Microbes … fat and sassy.

After all ….

Who wants to be naked?

Harriet @ Seedtime and Harvest

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King Corn

Harriet Kattenberg : July 3, 2015 3:46 pm : Blog

cornMy eyes were opened this week. Shockingly opened!

I shared with Joel. His eyes suddenly opened.

I shared with Faren. His eyes suddenly opened.

All in the neighbor’s corn field.

Michael Poellen wrote about King Corn in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Corn is in so SO many foods. Anything processed has a high probability of having corn-something on its ingredient list.

Every second year corn surrounds our farm. Farmer Brown is old fashioned; he still rotates his crops; corn one year; soybeans the next year. With the ethanol craze a few years back, some farmers still plant corn on corn on corn on corn.

Imagine what your gut would look/feel like if you only ate one food, regardless if it was a healthy food or a processed food. We all know we need diversity in our diets to supply as many different vitamins, minerals, and sources of fiber as possible. So with only corn root exudates as food, the soil and its microbes are sick, too.

But I digress.

Corn. The wisdom of corn.

I never thought I, of all people, would praise corn. I don’t like to grow corn, weed corn, pick corn. I do, however, like to eat sweet corn. That’s it.

But the other day my eyes opened to the wisdom and power in the design of corn.

We had one tenth inch of rain, refreshing our hearts for a few hours, but not enough to slow the work schedule or dampen the soil.

Irrigation tape

Irrigation tape

However, in the corn field, the soil around each plant was visibly wetter than between the long rows. The soil directly around each plant looked like there was irrigation tape dripping water to each plant’s roots.

Suddenly my eyes opened. I saw each corn plant was holding all of its rough leaves up to the sky, like a multi-armed human spreading her arms wide to the heavens, asking for blessings. The rough hairy leaves gather dew and every drop of rain and directed the precious moisture down the stalk to the roots below.

No wonder corn/maize grows all over the world, from the fertile fields in Iowa to the dry lands of Mexico. Corn is tough and strong and knows how to collect water from the atmosphere and direct it to its roots. My amazed eyes ran over our fields of veggies and flowers. All coddled. None were actively fighting for survival the way corn does.

Corn truly is a king!

Harriet @ Seedtime and Harvest

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Broken Ankle Chain

Harriet Kattenberg : June 26, 2015 3:45 pm : Blog

I want bats!  I SO want bats!  Especially when I read that bats eat cucumber beetles.  And mosquitoes.  And a thousand other bugs. 
But I never (or I should say, seldom) see bats.  We had one living above our garage.  When we had a water leak and then a hole in our ceiling, we’ve had a bat or two in the house.
But I really want bats outside. 
So Sons put a couple of bat houses up on the shed walls.
Two years.  No bats.  (I can take a flashlight and pear up into the bat houses.)
This spring, one of the many Mrs. Robins living on the farm, decided the bat house made a very good platform for her mud nest.  Slightly sloped but nicely tucked under the eave.
First round of egg laying, setting, and brooding … nothing. (I always worry about the effect of the habitual habit of chemical farming…)
Second round of egg laying and nesting, Mrs. Robin raised a nice family of baby robins.  We could see the bobble heads as they begged for a morsel of worm.
Soon the now-feathered speckled babies were big enough to fly.  All left … but one.
Lonely stood there in the bedraggled nest all alone.  Quietly.  Lonely never begged for food.  I never saw Mrs. Robin feeding her; I never heard Lonely make a peep.
“Is Little Lonely afraid to fly?”
“Why does Lonely not take off like her brothers?”
Monday’s storm with its 100 mph winds … Lonely was still standing there. 
The mud nest was slowly decomposing under Lonely’s feet.  Lonely did not fly.
Wednesday morning, Lonely was on the ground in front of the shed. 
“Hurrah!  Lonely finally took the leap and tried to fly!  Maybe she really cannot fly.  Look how she hangs around in front of the shed.”
Later, as I was working with Ryan, I told him about Lonely’s fear of flying.
“Oh,” said Ryan.  “She had a clod of mud tied to her leg and couldn’t fly.  I cut the string and she flew immediately up into a tree.”
“What?!!!  What clod of dirt?”
Ryan gave the ‘clod’ a kick.  The ‘clod’ was the sidewall of the old nest built from mud, grass, and ……. old bailer net wrap.
All those big round bales you see all over the countryside after harvest?  They are wrapped in poly netting.  The big bail busting machines grind bales and twine into feed and bedding for cattle.  The bits and strings of the netting are irresistible to birds for nest building.
Irresistible but deadly.
Thanks to Ryan, Lonely had her ankle chain broken and freedom restored.

Harriet @ www.seedtimeandharvest.net

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Grandma’s Farming

Harriet Kattenberg : May 22, 2015 3:43 pm : Blog

Skies are blue.
Sun’s shining.
Wind is calm.
The soil is lightly moist: its texture a fine crumb.
Seeds are pushing up in tiny green rows.

What a beautiful day to be farming!

Coffee brewing.
Two little kids are upstairs sleeping.
Dirty dishes in the sink.
Rugs need vacuuming; floor needs mopping.
Alissa and her boys will be here soon.

What a beautiful day to be a farming grandma.

The crew is arriving.
I gotta run.
Who am I today? Farming or Grandma?

The day is over.
Grandkids gone.

I’m a’sitting.

My poetry teacher never did like my style! Oh, well. The day went quickly. I hope the grandkids had fun. We caught two snakes, four baby sparrows (Noah calls them chickies), and one tiny toad.

Mom picked up her kids for an extended family get-together in the park. Bathed the night before, hair flying, shirt and pants clashing, just up from naps, off they went to the next adventure. A few dollars in their pockets for picking-up branches, watering tomatoes, filling micro trays, planting lisianthus and snapdragons. Tummies full of milk, beef, mashed potatoes and green beans, with nachos for a snack and as-many-as-they-can-eat home-made apple juice popsicles.

“Grandma, can I have a peppermint?”

“Grandma, can I have a granola bar?”

“Grandma, can I have a cheese stick?”

“Grandma, can I have some ice cream?”


The mess and the wrappers and the dirty floor and the ½ glasses of milk and juice sometimes bugs Grandpa.

Kids growly as bears when they get home sometimes bugs Mom. “What time do they go to bed? Really?”

But you know … that’s what going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house on the farm should be about. Outdoors. Freedom. Fun. Sun. Extra snacks. More popsicles! No curfew.

We DID get the trailer loaded with lots of tomato, pepper, and herb plants. Lettuce is washed. Micro and pea shoots cut and bagged. Asparagus cut and bunched. Spinach carefully picked and bagged.

Hill garden weeded. Tomatoes tied. Steel posts stomped into the soft earth. Stock trellised. Gardens tilled. Biodegradable mulch laid. Irrigation hooked up.

It’s all poetry. In motion. Beautiful. Perfect.

See you in the morning!!!!!!!!
Henry & Harriet @ www.Seedtimeandharvest.net

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