Thursday, September 20, 2012

Garfield Community Farm Visit

After visiting with folks from Garfield Community Farm on Monday up in Mercer County, I decided it was a shame I hadn't visited them on site in Garfield sooner.  So, this evening I remedied that.   From Wilkinsburg, they are just a few neighborhoods over so I popped over and John, Cornelius and crew showed me around their lovely garden lots.  The farm hosts a farm stand, runs a CSA, and supplies both the community of Garfield and Salt of the Earth restaurant with abundant produce.  Neat.  Check out their website and facebook site here.

Farm time

Fish hot pepper.  Aside from Hinklehatz, one of my favorite peppers.
They know what's up at Garfield.

Herb spiral garden.

Huglekultur beds.
Rotting wood with dirt on top = eventual rich composty growing beds.

Folks work on prepping fall beds.  

Tomatoes under protection.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

3 Sisters Bioshelter Tour

Today Bob and I drove up to Mercer County PA to Three Sisters Farm to check out their Bioshelter and market gardens during a PASA field day.  Three sisters grows mainly herbs and beautiful salad mixes of unusual greens and edible flowers.  They also teach permaculture design courses.  Darrell Frey talked with us about designing a "shelter for life" - basically a greenhouse environment that supports an entire ecosystem.  Support of a diverse crew of beneficial insects to manage pests was one of my main hopes of learning for the day.

Maintaining a growing temperature year-round is one of the main challenges of running the bioshelter.  In the winter, it is heated by both active and passive solar. The thermal mass from black barrels of water and concrete blocks of the growing beds within the structure absorb and then release heat.  Fans also pump in heat generated by compost into a pebble layer underneath the growing beds and a woodstove burned for a few hours is a backup heating source for the coldest nights.



Goldenrod and New England Aster

Tiny beneficial parasitic wasp on a flowering mustard plant

Dried out Queen Ann's Lace

Tansy.  If you plant it, they (the beneficials) will come!  It wily though, so contain it like mint,


Darrell discusses the cold frames at the base of the bioshelter

A little mini-greenhouse

Mini salad greens planters

Sun coming in the acrylic glazing on the roof of the bioshelter

Micro Greens grown in a thin layer of soil on newspaper in bread trays

First floor of the bioshelter. Herbs abound.

Potting station

Awesome farmstand on our way back to Pittsburgh

Farm stand goodness

Magic farmstand pumpkins

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Perfect Smoke

The smoker hasn't changed design in quite a long time.  It is a lovely tool and pumping the bellows is meditative - as you can see by my glazed over expression.  You want a perfect, cool blue-grey smoke to curl out of the tip.  The smoke calms the bees as you work them.  They busy themselves eating honey and leave you to gently examine the frames.  (Photo by Brandon Boan)

Monday, September 3, 2012


Dug potatoes today.  Smaller harvest than expected can't win them all!

Second Summer Honey Extraction: The Attic

This was months ago but never posted pictures.  It was so dang hot in the attic, the honey flew out of the combs like nobody's business with minimal spinning.  The honey was light and citrusy.  The girls are bringing in dark nectar now for their fall honey.  Knotweed and goldenrod I am guessing.

First Apple

That's right...our first apple.  From the tree our friends gave us.  So proud of the lil (bug free!) bugger.