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Hot in June

June 27, 2021

I don’t have to tell you it is hot this weekend. Really hot. I don’t think I have experienced anything as hot as it is supposed to be today in Oregon. 112 degrees is the forecast here at the farm. 112 degrees. Yikes! I am a bit worried about it. We have been over 100 many times, but 112? I am not sure how the plants will do in that much heat. And while I think plants can be pretty resilient, I wonder if this will be too much.

We’ll help the plants get through the heat as much as we can. We made some preparations on Friday, covering lettuce with shade cloth (pictured above) and throwing a mud slurry on one of the hoop houses, to provide some shade. I expect to spend a lot of time these next few days keeping everything hydrated. Other than that, we will hope for the best.

Despite it all, we will have plenty of vegetables available this week. Plenty of vegetables that you can eat without cooking, to keep you and your kitchen a little cooler, and help you feel refreshed on a hot day. And, hey, I just checked the forecast for the rest of the week…it is down to 88 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday! That sounds pretty cool after this weekend!


Where Are the Flea Beetles?

June 20, 2021
The most perfect cabbage I have ever grown.

I probably shouldn’t say this, because I will jinx myself, but a lot of our usual pests have not shown up this year. Don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty of pests to deal with, and some are doing some real damage. But overall, things are looking pretty good, pest wise.

Just look at that head of cabbage! It is absolutely gorgeous! That is the most perfect cabbage I have ever grown. No slugs, no cabbage worms, no flea beetles. I will probably find some of those later, but right now I see cabbage heads that don’t have any damaged leaves to peel away. (I will peel some down to get the cabbage to a manageable size.)

We finished digging our first bed of carrots yesterday. We dug a whole bed of carrots without one vole bite! Granted, it was one of the short beds, at 90 feet long. But still, that has not ever happened to us here before, that I can recall. The vole and field mouse population has been climbing the whole time we have been at the farm in Rickreall. We think it finally crashed this past winter. The carrots are certainly evidence of that.

To keep things real, I will tell you that the gopher population seems to be growing. They have eaten quite a few cauliflower, broccoli, artichoke, and lettuce plants. Cauliflower, broccoli, and artichoke plants are big. Too see them disappear down a hole in the ground is pretty frightening. We bought a bunch of new traps and are trying to catch as many as we can.

Aphids are another pest that has been plentiful this year. It takes a while for our native ladybugs to emerge, but they are out now, in good numbers, eating up all those aphids.

So, we’ll be thankful for the pests we don’t have, keep working on the ones we do, and enjoy the beautiful, relatively pest free produce, as long as it lasts.

Farm Crew

June 13, 2021

Steven and I have been fortunate to work with some great people on the farm. This year is no exception. We have a fantastic crew that helps us do everything from seeding, planting, and weeding to harvesting, washing, packing, and making the dried products. These are the people behind the produce (in order, left to right in the picture).

This is Hilary’s third season on the farm. She is our crew leader and the magic behind the Garden Goodies, Roasted Garlic Salt, Vegetable Bouillon and other dried products. Hilary grew up in southern Oregon and has worked in the wine and restaurant world, as well as a goat farm, before working with us. In her spare time, she enjoys mushroom hunting, foraging, surfing, and has recently taken up disc golf.

Shelby started working on the farm in late April. She hails from Vermont, where she worked on an assortment of farms, working with both animals and vegetables. She has also worked in carpentry and built her own tiny house. Shelby enjoys foraging, and has her own medicinal herb farm, Medicine of the Mountain, which keeps her farming all week.

Our newest crew member is Carson. He grew up in California and comes to Oregon via Texas and, most recently, Minnesota. He is taking some time away from his career in software development/data analysis to learn about organic food production. In his spare time, he works on his own software projects and stays engaged in the software development industry.

And finally, in the foreground, is Layla, our new, unofficial farm dog. She is actually Shelby’s dog, but we’ll call her our farm dog, while she spends time here.

Field Walk

June 6, 2021

Look what we found! The first cherry tomatoes!

Each week, Steven and I take a walk through the farm together, what farmers call a field walk. The first objective is to decide what will be ready to harvest the next week (or at least, which ones we think will be ready) and how much we think we can harvest. That determines what we will bring to the farmers market, make available for orders, and offer to LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem. Tomatoes are coming, but it will be a while before we have enough sell!

The second objective is to observe the crops. What is doing well? Are there any problems popping up? Last week, We noticed the winter squash were struggling, even though the starts we planted out were some of the best we’ve ever grown. Nights had been cold and it had been very windy. Then we saw that striped cucumber beetles were emerging and starting to eat the leaves. We decided that we would spray the plants with a fish fertilizer, to give them a boost, and also a powdered clay product (no chemicals, just powdered clay, called Surround) to help protect them from the cucumber beetles and the predicted heat. This week, they looked a little better (also thanks to warmer nights!), but we will give them one more spray for a second boost and round of protection.

The third main objective is to set the work priorities for the coming week. What needs to be hoed? Trellised? Fertilized? Which fields and beds are the next ones to be planted? Next week, we will prioritize hoeing, pruning, and trellising tomatoes.

Even though Steven and I both work full time on the farm, we don’t work together very often. It is good to see the farm together.

Crop of the year

May 30, 2021
Freshly dug Yaya carrots

I am hoping this will be the year of the carrot. Each year, some vegetables do amazingly well, most are fine, and a few struggle. They can struggle for various reasons. It could be weather; either too cold or too hot. It could be a pest or disease problem. Or sometimes, a crop may be not be prioritized in the long list of things to do. The last few years, carrots have been a struggling vegetable for us. When we’ve had them, they’ve been great, but we didn’t have many. There were a few reasons that fell in the pest and priority categories. First, seed germination was low, because of an insect pest that seed growers faced. It was hard to get a good, full bed of carrots growing. Then, we didn’t prioritize weeding, and the carrots had to fight the weeds on their own, which didn’t turn out well. Finally, last year was a terrible year for voles and field mice (terrible for us, great for the voles and field mice). Many of our carrots were eaten by voles and field mice before we could get to them. The result was, we didn’t have a lot of carrots.

This year, we are off to a good start with our carrots. We still are facing low germination rates with the carrots, because of the same insect problem for the seed growers, but we are planting more carrots to make up for that. We are also trying very hard to keep up with weeding. So far, our first four plantings of carrots are looking good, weed-wise. Finally, we think the vole and field mouse population has crashed. Their population tends to grow and crash on an seven year cycle (increase each year, then crash the seventh year). Last year was year ten of growth, about time for a crash. The result: we have carrots this week! We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of the season!

Market Season Begins!

June 5, 2018
One of our new NOVOgen girls.

Just a few posts ago, I was writing about the end of last year’s Kenton Farmer’s Market and here we are, the beginning of this year’s market season! Where does the time go?

This spring we have been doing our usual things: waiting for the rain to stop, planning, seeding, prepping the fields and planting. Now, we harvest the bounty from our work.

The Bethel Farm Stand

Last Saturday, we opened our farm stand, just down the road from our farm. It is a pretty small affair, but we have enjoyed meeting our neighbors. You can find us with produce from our farm on Saturdays, from 10 am to 2 pm, in front of the Bethel Community Church, at 7575 Bethel Rd. in Rickreall.

Tomorrow starts the Kenton Farmers Market. We are excited to be back for our second year and are looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones.

Here are some of the highlights of the winter and spring on the farm:

Work on the packing barn (formerly called the pole barn) continues. Being a civil engineer who worked on sewers/storm water, the first project for Steven was the drainage/storm water management system. Then, he perfected his construction skills by building out the interior of our new packing barn. He framed the walk in cooler rooms, bathroom and space for the wash area. He did some work to facilitate the electrical service installation and we now have electricity! The rest will have to wait until work in the field slows down and he can slip away, back into the packing barn.

We have a new flock of hens. In mid-February, we picked up a new flock of laying hens from Jenks Hatchery in Tangent. We went with the NOVOgen Brown Egg Layers again, because they are calm, friendly and productive. We bought thirty hens, but we noticed fairly quickly that one was different. Instead of the orange/red color, it was white. For quite a while, we thought maybe it had a little more Leghorn than the others, or was some aberration. After a few months, we started thinking, could this be a rooster? Not too long ago, we got our confirmation, when it started crowing. We learned that sex-link chickens are not foolproof.

In April, we had our inspection for organic certification. It was earlier than in previous years, which was nice for us. It is a little more hectic to have the inspection in the middle of the summer. All went well, and our organic certification continues.

Celeriac seed is very small, or I have a huge hand.

We also refurbished one of our hoop houses in April. We took off the plastic and let the rain wash through the soil. Salts built up and needed to leach away. Our peppers won’t have to contend with high sodium levels for a while!

We are entering a new market this season. A few weeks ago, we heard that the Salem Farmers Market was starting a new market in West Salem. We thought it would be great to be in a market so close to home. So, we applied and got in! The market will be on Thursdays, 10 am to 2 pm, starting in July.

Our artichokes survived the winter for the first time!

Lastly, we got some new phones and got ourselves on Instagram! We’re a little late on the scene, but we thought we would give it a try. If you’d like to see what’s going on (we only have a few posts so far…we are just beginning) you can find us here:

It is going to be a busy year, but we are looking forward to all the good food on its way!

Who doesn’t love a beautiful bed of spinach?


November 12, 2017
WP_20171030_007 1
Fall color on a persimmon tree

October was a good month for the farm this year. We are so glad it was not like last year, when the rain started and never stopped. Sure, there was rain this year, but there were more glorious, sunny days. The fall leaf colors were amazing. Down here, with the vineyards all around us, the hills were covered in gold.

With our good weather luck, we were able to finish the harvests that we really wanted to: dry beans, winter squash, persimmons. We still have potatoes to dig, and we’ll get what we can, but if we don’t get them all, that will be okay.

Spring oats cover crop growing in field F

The fields were dry enough that we could till under the summer crops and seed them in cover crop. Seeing a field of cover crop germinating in the fall makes a farmer very happy. The last two fields were seeded late, at the very end of October/beginning of November, which is about two weeks later than it really should be done. But, maybe we’ll be lucky and it will germinate and grow.

Also that last week of October, we planted the garlic and mulched it. Since we had small heads of garlic from our harvest this year, we invested in new garlic for seed. We went with two old favorite varieties: Chesnok Red and Inchelium Red; and two new-to-us ones: Lorz Italian and Music. We are keeping our fingers crossed we’ll have a good harvest next year.

This past week, we shelled the dry beans. We are still in love with the bean sheller we bought last year. We had a lot of dry beans this year, so it took a few days to get the shelling done. (The daylight doesn’t last long anymore.) We have our three main varieties ready to go (Black Turtle, Rockwell and Rosso di Lucca), and will have some new ones to try soon.

Unless the weather is awful, we are going to have the farm stand one more Saturday (November 18). If you need any vegetables for your Thanksgiving dinner, we’d love to help you out! It will be from noon to 4 pm, Saturday, November 18, in front of the Bethel Church at 7575 Bethel Rd. We’d love to see you there!

Last Kenton Farmer’s Market for 2017

October 4, 2017
Bethel Springs Farm at the last Kenton Farmers Market for 2017

Last Wednesday was the last Kenton Farmer’s Market for 2017. We enjoyed being at the market this year, as we have connections to North Portland. Steven grew up near Killingsworth and Interstate and attended Ockley Green. I taught at Beach Elementary School for 13 years. Steven’s parents live near Columbia Park. While we moved a distance away to farm more land, it feels good to come back to the neighborhood. We want to thank everyone who came to the market. It was great to meet you and chat, when we had the chance. We appreciated the opportunity to grow vegetables for you. We hope to see you again and get to know you better next year!

Red and orange sweet peppers, off to Life Source and Roth’s West Salem grocery stores in Salem

Our farm stand, Bethel Farm Stand, is open now on Saturdays from noon to 4 pm. It is a half mile north of our farm, at 7575 Bethel Rd, Rickreall, OR 97371 (a mile or so east of 99W). As long as the weather holds, we’ll keep it open through October….the weather forecast looks good for the next two Saturdays! If you are missing Bethel Springs Farm vegetables and are in the area, we hope you’ll stop by!

Meanwhile, back at the farm, we are still working on getting all the dry beans harvested. We are thankful for a few more days of dry weather and hope they hold on until we are done. The pole barn is almost finished now. The concrete floor was poured and the rest of the sides are up. Just the big, vehicle doors are left. Parts are ordered and they should be installed in another week and a half. We may start storing a few things before it is done!

You never know what you might dig up (a Yaya carrot)

Big Harvests

September 26, 2017
The bees are still hard at work harvesting, too.

Late summer and early fall is the time for big harvests. Even though we harvest all season (and sometimes even all year), August, September and October are the months to bring in crops for winter storage. We squeeze in big harvests whenever we can, amid all the regular harvesting and other work.

First up was onions. (Garlic was really the first one, but that happened in July, so I don’t count it here.) We started a bit late, the second week of September, with pulling the remaining Walla Walla sweet onions out of the field. The next week, we tackled our New York Early yellow storage onions. Finally, this week, we finished off with the Rosa di Milano red storage onions and Ed’s Red Shallots. They are all safely in the hoop house, finishing curing/drying down for winter storage. This has been a great onions year for us, with our biggest harvest ever. We dug up more than 850 lbs of New York Early onions alone. I think we’ll have enough for the winter.

Rosso di Lucca beans

In between the onions, we started in on the dry beans. This year, we got them in the ground earlier than in the past, so they have been ready to pick sooner. Our niece and her friends helped us out with the Rockwell beans a few weeks ago. They are no longer OSU students, but now OSU alumni. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the crew. Last weekend, we worked on the Rosso di Lucca beans, before the rain. It was such a productive crop, we couldn’t finish it. We planted the same amount as the Rockwells, and even without finishing, we had harvested more than twice as much. That same weekend, we harvested a new variety, that we had just a little bit of. We’ll sample this variety and will save  a good portion of it for next year’s seed. Yesterday, Steven and I knocked out another new-to-us variety, Kenearly Yellow Eye. We were a little disappointed with the yield on this one, so we’ll have to see if the taste is worth it.

We still have winter squash, potatoes, carrots and assorted other crops, some of which are not ready to bring in yet. Time/manpower and storage space are limiting factors for us. By next year, the storage issue should be resolved with our new pole barn. It is getting closer to completion. The roof and two walls are up now. The concrete floor is scheduled for Thursday this week. Even though we  won’t have the storage rooms built out, we’ll still use the dry, insulated space for winter squash, potatoes and onions. Once the storage rooms are built, we’ll only have to solve the time problem…

Off Kilter

September 5, 2017
The sun shining through the smoky haze today.

Summer seems a bit out of sorts these days. We’ve had a lot of hot days, enough to cancel the Kenton Farmers Market once and the Bethel Farm Stand once. We had a total solar eclipse. And now there are forest fires spreading smoke far and wide, giving the days a hazy, humid, erie glow. We are waiting to hear if the Kenton Farmers Market will be canceled for a second time tomorrow, due to the poor air quality from the smoke. (Just got word that the market is on.) Maybe these things aren’t really that unusual, but they are leaving me feeling a little off kilter.

You’d think I had caught all the flea beetles on this sticky trap (and about 49 others), but no, there were still more.

As we have been harvesting and taking care of summer vegetables, we work on the fall/winter vegetables, too. We’ve been planting things out in our fall field since June, with a big push in August to get most things in, and most are in now, working on growing into our future harvests. We had a big disappointment when a crush of flea beetles descended on our cabbage and Brussels sprouts starts. Some flea beetles were already on the starts before I put them out. Once in the field, they invited all their friends over. They have a lot of friends and they were all hungry. We made some interventions, but, alas, to no avail. The flea beetles ate our cabbage and Brussels sprouts until nothing was left. I have never seen so many flea beetles. The kale is out there now, holding down the fort. The flea beetle numbers are down, and I am keeping my fingers crossed the kale will outgrow their appetites.

The impact sprayer at work.

With the help of Saffron Supply Company in Salem, we have a new way to irrigate our fields. Cover crops are an important part of our soil improvement plan. We have only planted them in the fall, when the rain waters them. Now, we can provide overhead irrigation to half of a field at once with an impact sprayer. It is a bit late for summer cover crops this year, but we don’t have to wait for fall rains to put in our winter cover crops and we are set to go for next year. This will be a big help in building our soil quality.

WP_20170903_002The pole barn keeps making progress. This week, the crew is off again, but Steven has work to do, to get some plumbing in place before they pour the concrete floor.

We found this guy in the parsley today.
Lots of bees in the corn…can you find them?