Goodbye to 7 Acres

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Sad to say good bye to my past home, but also proud of how the place looks after so much work and love went into it. Hopefully those garden terraces stand the test of time.

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Fire Tongue Farm

Fire Tongue Farm is born. Organic chile peppers for all!

I am so excited to tell you about my new farm: Fire Tongue Farm! We are growing organic hot peppers and specialize in smoked peppers. Please check out our website and tell me what you think. I am so excited about this project. We are working so hard to get things up and running. Thanks for your support!

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Orin’s Chalkboard #3

My best rendition of a classic a la Thomas Whitman (the gopher master).

My best rendition of a classic a la Thomas Whitman (the gopher master).

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1st Rotation Begins

The last four weeks was full of spring time blooms, nigella blossoms in the Garden.

The last four weeks was full of spring time blooms, nigella blossoms in the Garden.

The first four weeks of the Apprenticeship have come and gone. In the Chadwick Garden we hosted half the group (20 apprentices) for the last four weeks. The first month was a whirlwind and we covered many topics with the crew in a short time. We held classes on composting, bed digging/manual tillage, tractors/mechanical tillage, cover crops, transplanting, sexual propagation, asexual propagation, rose care, garlic culture, deciduous fruit trees, citrus fruits, fruit tree thinning, and pome fruit grafting. Over the past 4 weeks, 55 of the Garden’s 117 beds have been cleared of cover crop, single dug, and planted. We cleared, mulched, and sowed buckwheat on the citrus slope and gave two foliar feedings of fish emulsion and kelp to the citrus trees. We cleared and cared for about 1/3 of the apple blocks in the garden and harvested 1/4 of the garlic crop. The potatoes planted in the first week are ready to be hilled up and the dahlias we planted last week are just starting to emerge. We installed a new set of six rose terraces in between the pear triangle and the main slope. We planted 8 new bed ends on the main slope. We took hundreds of cuttings from our perennial bed ends and grafted over four hundred apple and pear trees. We sowed thousands of seedlings and pricked out our pepper and flower transplants.  We planted out a block of onions, a block of annual cut flowers, a block of cutting lettuces, a few blocks of kale and cabbage, and even a celery bed. We caught gophers, voles, rabbits, and wood rats. I even heard rumors that one apprentice caught a gopher with her bare hands.

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Tabin Row

Tabin Row. My new home for the next 6 months. Two canvas walls, a plexi-glass roof, and two wood side walls never felt so welcoming.

Tabin Row. My new home for the next 6 months. Two canvas walls, a plexi-glass roof, and two wood side walls never felt so welcoming.

And so community life begins. I will spend my summer with 45 other apprentices at the UCSC Farm & Garden. We will live, work, and learn together everyday for the next 6 months.

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The Chadwick Garden

My best try at mapping the Chadwick Garden. Of course, the place changes by minute so this already a relic.

My best attempt at mapping the Chadwick Garden. Of course, the place changes by the minute, so this is already a relic.

I want to introduce you to the Garden. The history and magic of this place is immense, but I won’t go into all of that right now. I just want to show you what I see. A steep, south facing hillside in the redwoods above Santa Cruz. About 2 1/2  acres covered in a thin 18″ sheath of black gold set down by 40+ years of back breaking work.

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4 New Hives in the Garden!

UCSC Apprentices installing new hives in the Garden. Now we have 9 hives total for the season.

UCSC Apprentices installing new hives in the Garden. We have a total of 9 hives this season.

When I put a bee suit on I look calm and composed. But my insides are squirming and it feels like my stomach is flipping over like a steak hot on the griddle, sizzling and simmering painfully with each somersault. My first memory of stinging winged insects is stepping on a rock, that turned out to be a hive while backpacking in the Sierras with my family. I was stung all over, but I remember vividly my swollen lip that kept me from chewing the already unappetizing dehydrated backcountry food for the rest of the trip. As I grew older I became more familiar with the different types of stinging insects that came alive every summer in California. So familiar that my Little League baseball coach coined my nickname Sting, more for my record number of swollen arms and feet that season, than base hits or RBI’s. Even as an adult I found myself submerged in the safety of a swimming pool, stealing gulps of air and anxiously waiting for an angry pack of hornets to disperse on my last vacation to Mexico. It should have been common sense not to dig up the coconut tree those irritable hornets called home. So I was expecting the worst when 4 new hives arrived for the Garden and I (being the official beekeeper of the UP Garden) was put in charge of leading a group of apprentices through their first (and my first) hive installation.

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