Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meanwhile Back in the Dirt....

The Culprit!

The caterpillars that have been helping themselves to much of our fall plantings, now have an identity. Kimberly Schofield, Program Specialist-Urban IPM at our local Texas AgriLife Extension office, quickly reported back to me from this simple picture I submitted asking about our furry, hungry creature. Seems it is a variety of the salt marsh caterpillar. It becomes a white moth. For more detail, she provided this link;

The list of what they eat is as long as my arm, and included most of our fall crops;

beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, lettuces, onions, peas, tomatoes, and turnips.

I'm going to add, Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower to that list!

It is great to know that this service is available to everyone from our extension office. She even recommended the organic control method for me;

Spinosad and B.t. kurstaki - both are bacterial controls.

One is specific to Lepidoptera and the other, Spinosad, is more of a broad based insect killer so we are careful NOT to spray on anything were our honeybee friends would be working, such as open blooms. Both must be consumed by the offenders to be effective.

Our "girls" at work!

They were eating up the BT as fast as I sprayed it on new plantings. But the spinosad was also used after 3 sprayings of the BT seemed less than effective, and still we are getting severe pressure from these guys. Knowing that they also feed on the broad leafed weeds, perhaps means they are not making enough of a meal out of our crops to consume enough of either bacteria to kill them. After all, our plugs only have about 4 leaves on them when they hit the soil.

Baby Cole Crop Plants

I'm holding the Brussels sprout plugs in the greenhouse for a little bit, to make sure we have had a reduction in the numbers of caterpillars and to let the plants get a little bigger before we subject them to these creatures. If they can make enough food/store enough energy in their root systems, then they will have a better chance of surviving an attack. Or, maybe they will finish their cycle....we can hope!

There is still time to get in more seeds for late fall & winter; carrots, radishes, kohlrabi, turnips, beets, lettuces, cabbage, cutting (green) onions, chard, assorted mustard greens and various other cool season things, which are going to actually germinate better now that the soil temps are cooler. They don't much like the soil at 85 or higher and you'll generally get very spotty germination results in that situation. We still have about 12 hours of sunlight a day, plenty of time to get these cool season crops going in time for holding them over the winter for early spring harvesting. We're expecting a bit warmer than normal winter season with dryer than normal conditions - both not so bad compared to last year's monsoon and ongoing arctic blasts.

So, onward we go - squishing our way through fall and replanting/resowing to keep our garden baskets filled!


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chefs for Farmers - Through the Farmer's Eyes

photo courtesy of

Chefs for Farmers' table for 100

Field to Fork - in the Field

Well, somewhere in between cleaning up, putting things back in place, feeding critters, planting fall/winter crops and harvesting same, I've managed to put down a few thoughts about this weekend's intimate dining experience for 100 of my newest friends. Most I'd never met, but many I imagine I'll see again, as we all certainly have good food in common and a passion for that which comes from local farmers.

Guests enjoy farm to field - in the field

Blue Lotus Floral Design Decorated the Tables with Natural Selections that

Complimented Nature in its Magnificence

Click the link above for more pics by me and our WWOOFer, Kyle Watson, and other coverage of the dinner on my neighborsgo blog or on Eden's Organic facebook page here for even more notes and other articles about the dinner.

This was truly a first of its kind dinner of this magnatude outdoing our Barn Aid by 7 chefs and about 60 guests. The tables were set up in a long row out in the gardens, well, right next to them in the pasture anyway, where we all ate like a big happy, gourmet food, fine wine dining family.

Susan Pollard and her Girls

We welcomed guests to the farm as many are each 1st and 3rd Saturday morning by a host of local farmers introducing their farms and wares. The Texas Honeybee Guild's girls stole the show and Sonja's hefty loaves of freshly baked breads were drooled over as newcomers to Eden's learned they can experience all of this and more at our market days.

Chef McCallister and His Host of Featured Chefs Introduce the First Course

The chefs were happy as larks, helping each other assemble their plates and just giddy with comments about the local food that was used to prepare each unique dish. Chef Abraham of Salum chose to see what we had at Eden's that he could create with and settled upon the now ever more popular Cucuzza, an Italian gourd harvested as a young, tender fruit and used as a summer squash could be. However, I don't think Cucuzza has ever seen a dish like it was used in Sunday night - Seared Scallop with Eden's Cuccuza, Caprino Royal's Goat Cheese, and Pancetta Bread Pudding with Grain Mustard Vinaigrette drizzled all over. Mmmm Mmmm Good!
Other farms besides Eden's that were featured at the dinner were MOTLEY FARMS, CAPRINO ROYALE, TASSIONE FARMS, BARKING CAT FARMS, & CAPRINO ROYALE

The weather could not have been more perfect, you'd thought we ordered it in special as the cloud cover that kept us all cool for the set up broke up just as the sun began to set in a spectacular display of colors over the farm. Soft music played in the background and each guest was treated to a gift bag filled with various yummies including a pumpkin bread loaf or muffin by Eden's Market Day's very own, Bedford Bakery -set to open any time now in Bedford.

Susan Pollard, the queen bee of DFW & I enjoy a toast over the 1st course

Susan Pollard of The Texas Honeybee Guild was my dinner guest for the evening and we laughed and ooo'd and aaah'd over the best dinner either of us had been fortunate enough to eat in a very long time. Where else can you get 8 fne chefs and an attentive wait staff to keep your wine glass filled and your empty plate cleared all in the company of great people and somewhere that you don't have to do the dishes!

I think folks will be reminicing about this event for awhile to come - at least until the 2nd dinner in the Chefs for Farmers series kicks off in Decemeber out in Fort Worth. Details to come soon.

In the meantime - the broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard and cabbage are being planted along with mustard greens, mizuna, lettuces and other cool season loving crops that will feed our CSA and market shoppers throughout the season - the caterpillars are munching, at least till the weather changes from summer back to fall again and Life on the Farm goes pretty much back to normal.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!