Joshua's, a Restaurant and Bar in Southern Maine

Easter Orchard Farm

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 September 7

 I am through planting this year, except maybe garlic. Over 2,000 pounds of onions are in storage with about another 1,000 still getting bagged. Winter squash is curing in the field to come in before frost and the kale and collards have finally found weather they like. Temperature went down to 35 one night this week; that's scary, but the 15 varieties of tomatoes are doing fine.

June 12

Peas are flowering, beans are up, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, Brussels sprouts have all been transplanted and are looking healthy. Harvesting lettuce, radishes, arugula, asparagus, dill, cilantro, beet greens, chives, and spinach.  All of the vegetables and herbs I haven't mentioned are doing just what they should be doing at this time of year as are the weeds all of which is keeping me in good shape.

May 14

The first radishes from the garden went in salads last week. The winter radishes (watermelon radishes) lasted through the winter. Imagine that, I supplied Josh with radishes for the whole year!!  Asparagus and arugula are also fresh from the garden now.

April 4, 2013
Started planting!
 

March 7, 2013

Josh still has carrots, parsnips, winter squash, watermelon radishes, frozen sugar snap peas, frozen English peas and frozen green beans from last year’s garden. The frozen veggies are nearly as good as when they were fresh from the garden. Some, if not all, of this bounty will last well into the spring, certainly until the asparagus comes in in May.

  
 November 18

Best garden ever producing over 9,000 pounds of vegetables for the restaurant. There are still carrots and parsnips in the ground covered in the hope we will be able to dig them when the supply in the walk-in runs out. Some of the parsnips are uncovered as they will survive and be wonderful in the spring. Arugula and parsley is still looking good in spite of temperatures hitting the low 20s.

 

August 2 2012

I’m proud that in spite of 26 days without rain the crops on the knoll, too far from the house for me to provide water, were all doing well. We had the best pea harvest ever (Josh froze some for winter plates), the potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions and Brussels sprouts all came through without ever wilting or showing any signs of stress. Three cheers for organic matter. I was happy to get some rain last week--just a little over an inch in showers over three days--now I’ll be able to plant some cover crops.

Overall I’m having a great year. Cutworms plagued me wiping out the first planting of Brussels sprouts and my nemesis porcupines ate all the first planting of corn. I’m sure there will be other interesting challenges yet to come but so far I’m very happy.

May 22, 2012

This time last year the fruit trees were in blossom. They bloomed a month earlier this year. The blossoms were killed by a 23 degree (F) night April 30. There were a few flowers (maybe a couple of dozen) a week ago which are my only hope for fruit. Other than that it has been a good spring. I was able to start planting the hardy vegetables March 21 this year, three weeks early and the asparagus also started producing three weeks early. The peas started blooming today.

September 2011

One of our customers at the restaurant asked if she could come out to the farm and help weed. I said sure and the next time she and her husband were in I asked her, before she had a cosmo, if she was serious about helping out. Connie Brown came to the farm five mornings a week at 9am and worked until 1pm. What a wonderful help!! She not only weeded she spread mulch, picked beans, became adept at wielding a hoe and was a tiger at chasing down potato beetles, cucumber beetles and squash bugs. There is no doubt the potato yield was better because of her efforts and the gardens looked the best they ever have. My gratitude knows no bounds. She also harvested the onions.

August 3, 2011

Josh was wondering how many pounds of vegetables he got from our farm so here's the figure for last year--5,812 pounds, nearly 3 tons. This year I'm having the best garden ever so the figure might be higher but, as with every garden, there are some disappointments. I used old parsnip seeds and got poor germination so that crop will be smaller but the worst is the porcupine that learned how to get under the electric fence that has worked so well the past couple of years. She has destroyed over 50 broccoli and cauliflower plants. Unless I can eliminate her she will eat Brussels sprouts and corn. I have been working on this problem for nearly a month. Wish me luck.

May 19, 2011

 The apple and pear trees are blooming which is nice but I'm worried that the four days of rain and drizzle may be a problem as it keeps the bees from doing their job. Just before the rain started I was able to transplant corn, parsley and celeriac. They have enjoyed the water settling the soil around their roots. All the crops that are in the ground (peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, dill, onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, mache, beets, chard, kale, collards) are doing just fine. I also cultivated all the crops that needed it before the rain giving me a hand up with the weeds but they are coming again and I will need to cultivate as soon as we get a little dry weather. I managed to control all the animals that eat my crops with electric fencing up until last year when the turkeys decided they liked lettuce and arugula. I'm worried they will expand their palet plus they fly over fencing. My current plan is to scare them away with firecrackers. It might be working but too early to tell. Wish me luck. The cold rain has slowed the asparagus harvest considerably.

April 5, 2011

 The April Fools Day northeaster dumped 8 inches on the gardens but I was still smiling because I got in the first planting of peas and lettuce the day before. It is seldom the ground is dry enough to plant in March but with the snow cover keeping the frost from getting very deep the ground dried early. Of course, if it hadn't snowed, I'd still be planting. The new snow has melted but the ground is wet and old snow still lingers on several sections of the gardens.

March 26, 2011

The gardens have been under one to two feet of snow all winter which has kept the frost from getting very deep. I dug parsnips last week. Now all I need is three or four days of sun and dry weather for the ground to dry enough for me to work it: then peas, spinach, lettuce and arugula seed will go into the soil followed soon by beets, chard, kale, collards, salad greens, radishes, carrots, onions, and leeks. I love to tell people this because inevitably someone will be amazed that I can plant so early. I'm a magician! Of course, it is just knowing which seeds can germinate in cold soil and can withstand reasonable frost.

 When this planting is done, I'll prepare the soil for transplanting broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, beets, and lettuce. I'll start transplanting about May 1. Then I have the pleasure of watching the transplanted beets and lettuce race to maturity with those planted by seed. The transplants will be set back while those directly seeded in the garden may be set back by frosts. The race will be on and it will also be time to start harvesting asparagus from the 30 year old bed. I'm going to plants some more aparagus crowns this year which should start producing for me in two or three years. I have started peppers and eggplant indoors but they won't go our until about June 1 when the danger of frost is past.
Can you tell I love this time of year? 
 
November 11, 2010
 Still from the garden: cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, parsnips, carrots, radishes, beets.onions, wnter squash, leeks, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, chervil, mach and kohlrabi. If the turkeys hadn't taken a liking to arugula and lettuce, those would also be available.
 
August 14, 2010
 When people ask what's from the garden I'm at a loss to answer because there is so much. Easier to tell what isn't coming in now. Sun gold tomatoes and Taxi, a yellow heirloom, just started coming in. There are lots of big beautiful green tomatoes that should start turning red soon.
 
July 22, 2010
I try to harvest the summer squash before the sun hits the patch so I'm not too hot in a long sleeve shirt and pants to protect my arms and legs from the plant's defenses. Lots of beans coming in now as the peas wind down. Chives, radishes, arugula, lettuce, beets, dill, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, chard, kale, collards, basil, celantro, eggplant, peppers and scallions are all coming in now supplying the chef with about 80% of the vegetables he needs. I'd better get back to my hoe.
 

 

March 22, 2010

 Frost is out of the ground 2 or 3 weeks early this year. I have lettuce, onions, leeks, parsley and celeric stated indoors. I plan to start broccoli, cauliflowwer, kohlrabi and more lettuce tomorrow. I'm a little worried by this warm weather; the asparagus may decide to pop up too early and get caught by frosts that I'm sure are still to come.

 

October 3, 2009

Everyone is asking if I have put the garden to bed for the winter. Actually this is a fairly productive time with lettuce, two kinds of radishes, kohlrabi and arugula for salads; along with beets, carrots, chard, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, dill, chervil and cilantro which are frost hardy. Incredibly the beans, summer squash, peppers, eggplant and corn have survived three light frosts and are producing small amounts. The winter squash has been harvested and we are in the process of getting the onions in—two vegetables that Josh will have to use through the winter. My work for the year won’t be finished until after Thanksgiving.

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Bobby Andrus harvesting onions

June 15, 2009

Lettuce, arugula, chives, radishes and asparagus are coming from the garden now. In another week I'll stop harvesting the asparagus so the ferns can grow and collect energy from the sun for next year's crop. I'll also fertilize the bed with compost and cover with 6 inches of grass clipping mulch.

I was pleased to see the first planting of beans break through yesterday. They need warm soil to germinate and we have had some pretty cool and drizzly days. There are some incredibly cute Zepher summer squash less than an inch long. Two plantings of corn are looking good, there are blossoms on the early peas and the tomato plants are beginning to take hold which means I'd better start snipping out the suckers.

I better get back to work.

Spring garden
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Early corn, broccoli and kohlrabi, onions mulched with grass clippings, lettuce and helper Dani

September 10, 2008
I will plant arugula today, the sixth planting. It will mark the end of planting this year. Its been a great year, mostly. Excellent squash, beans, onions, potatoes, corn, eggplant, arugula, lettuce, broccoli, kohlrabi and herbs. Every year has its problems. This year the major problems were with peas and tomatoes. There has been an unusually high amount of damage in the first planting of carrots and the first two plantings of lettuce were pretty much wiped out by cutworms. But I should be focusing on the positive and it was certainly the best eggplant year I've ever had. Same for broccoli. Brussels sprouts look good but are still growing. They should start filling out pretty fast soon.

June 26, 2008

It's raining so I'm not going back out in the field and Barbara has enough staff so I don't have to be at the restaurant. That's why I have a minute to write this. Thanks to some help this year (Aaron Fortin, Kristin Shaw, T.J. Holbrook and, starting tomorrow, Trevor whose last name escapes me) the garden looks great. The last of the asparagus for this year will be harvested Saturday and the ferns will be allowed to grow and soak up the sun's energy for next year's crop. Cutworms have wiped out my first two plantings of lettuce but I think the next two will make it. I'm harvesting peas now but they also took a major hit from cutworms not to mention some germination problems.

I hope the problems are behind me. The tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, beans, basil, onions, carrots and radishes look good. In addition to the peas I'm harvesting arugula, chives, dill, and kohlrabi.

April 28, 2008

If only I hadn't had my confidence shaken last year, I would have amazed people in late March by telling them I would be planting the peas in about two weeks. There was still a lot of snow on the garden April 1st yet I was able to plant ten days later. The snow that covered the garden from mid December until April insulated it so there was no frost in the ground. When the snow melted the water was able to percolate down and the garden dried in just a few days.

It is raining today which is why I have time to update this. The beautiful dry days have made it possible for me to plant peas, lettuce, spinach, onions, arugula, scallions, radishes, carrots, parsley and leeks. Today, before it started raining, I transplanted some of the broccoli and kohlrabi that I started indoors. These tender seedlings may be killed by a frost if we get a fairly hard frost before they get acclimated but all of the things I have planted will survive any frost we are likely to get.

I am two weeks ahead of last year and at least a week ahead of a normal year. I cut the first asparagus spears (only 3) yesterday. They will wait in water until I can add a few to make a meal for me. It will be a couple of more weeks before I have enough for the restaurant.

Not only did the carrots I protected with bales of hay survive the winter (Josh has been working through 40 pounds of them) but there were some that were protected only by the snow that also survived and were good eating. There was no wait to dig the parsnips.

March 25, 2008
The garden is still under at least a foot of snow. It is not looking good for planting the peas by April 15 which I have been able to do for every year but one since I started gardening here in 1972. The exception was last year. Hmmm.

As soon as the snow clears from around the hay bales out there I will roll the bales back and harvest the rest of last year's carrot crop. When the frost leaves the ground, I'll harvest the parsnips that I left in the ground for that purpose. Along about mid May the asparagus will come in and then the peas and lettuce and, oh boy, I can hardly wait.

I have started parsley, thyme, eggplant, celeriac, lettuce and some flowers in the house under grow lights. It feels so good to have my hands in soil again and to see things growing.

December 2, 2007

Garden work is finished for this year and I’m already looking at seed catalogues. My favorite is Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Albion, Maine.

This year was my best so far due very much to Barbara and Josh releasing me from restaurant duties most nights. There are enough onions and winter squash in the cellar to take Josh through the winter. Brussels sprouts and leeks should last another week or two. I didn’t get all the winter storage radishes harvested before they got frozen in but he should be able to get through the end of the year and carrots should last through January.

I’ve got some thoughts on doing even better next year. Instead of planting the peas in a block I’m going to plant some other crops between the rows so they will get more sun and air in the hope of staving off the mildew. I noticed this year that the east end of the rows where the sun hit first were healthier.

October 23, 2007

Frost came more than a month later than usual (“Usual” being since 1972 when I started gardening in Maine.) I’m still harvesting carrots, parsley, arugula, radishes, Brussels sprouts, kale, leeks and fennel. I have some lettuce that could be harvested but I’m waiting to see if I can get it a bit larger. It is pretty hardy. Over the years I have been able to put lettuce from the garden on our thanksgiving table. There are enough onions and winter squash (4 varieties) in the cellar to get us through the winter.


I’m still planting but not vegetables. As I clean up areas like the squash patch I plant winter rye to hold the soil over winter and add nutrients in the spring when I till it in

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The garden in early September

June 27 - Buttercrunch lettuce, garden cress and soon radishes for salads. Peas will be coming in soon also, just in time as I need to stop harvesting asparagus to give the bed a rest for next year. Arugula, scallions and beet greens continue.
I had to put up the electric fence this week as a deer got into the first planting of carrots. I had to replant the beans and cucumbers as the cool weather in early June didn't warm the soil enough for the seed to germinate. It is hot and humid today which is why I'm inside in the middle of the day. Not good weather for the farmer but the plants are loving it.

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Enough onions to last through the winter.

June 2, 2007 Josh informed me he will use the last of my onions this week. He has been serving my asparagus since mid May so my goal of having something from the garden in the restaurant year round has been achieved. My arugula started coming in this week also. Next will be the peas which last year came in about June 20. Last year I was able to plant earlier than ever and this year I planted the first peas April 22 which is the latest ever—the first time in 34 years I wasn’t able to plant peas by April 15. Who knows, they may catch up.

            In the ground so far I have: peas, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, radishes, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, corn (the first planting broke ground yesterday), onions (lots of onions. I finished mulching them with grass clippings today.), parsley, parsnips, fennel, coriander, beets, beans, dill and scallions.

            There is so much to do at this time of year. The tomatoes and summer squash need to be mulched. The winter squash, basil, 3rd planting of lettuce, 2nd planting of carrots, 3rd planting of dill, and 4th planting of arugula are on my list to be planted. I’ve got some potatoes that need to be planted and the compost needs to be turned.

            I’d better stop here. I’m making myself tired. It’s a good thing I am doing what I love.


December 7, 2006. NOW I’m through for this year. The catalogues have already arrived and I’m planning next year’s garden which will be started indoors in March.


October 21  Many people think my work in the garden is over now that we have had a frost. Actually I’ll be harvesting for at least another month and there is even some planting to be done. I’m still harvesting parsley, scallions, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, arugula and some other greens. I have some very small lettuce growing that will probably not get big enough to harvest. I didn’t have time to plant it when I wanted to so this was just an experiment. With the warming trend, who knows?

I think Josh will have enough onions to get him through the winter and maybe enough winter squash, too.


Oh, what am I planting? Garlic which will get a start below ground now and be ready to spring forth when the ground thaws next year.

Click here to see some of my garden columns

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Zepher summer squash

Zepher was a great hit in the restaurant last year. Harvested at this size they look great on the plate and taste wonderful. They were also used as a feature vegetable with the blossoms stuffed and deep fried.
 

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Farm work begins in January with planning. I need to figure out how many rows or hills of each vegetable to plant and when to plant to provide a continuous flow for the restaurant. Lettuce has to be planted every two weeks, for example. All crops are planted in a different place than the year before. This is called rotation and is an important tool for organic farmers.

By February the seeds have been ordered. Some seedlings are started indoors in March. In April the first seeds are planted in the ground--peas, spinach, lettuce, onions, dill. These hardy seeds will not rot in cold soil and sprout at lower temperatures than most. What is even more important, the young seedlings will survive a late frost. In May second plantings of lettuce, spinach and peas go in. Corn, beets, Swiss chard, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and radishes are planted.

I have had a frost as late as June 6th but that was the only time in 35 years I had a frost after June 1st. The end of May and early June is the big push for planting. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and summer squash are transplanted. Beans, basil, pumpkins, winter squash and cucumbers are directly seeded into the garden now that the soil is warm enough for them to sprout and there is no danger of frost.

Ten days after every planting the rows are cultivated to kill 90 percent of the weeds before they are big enough to be a problem. I also mulch with grass clippings every chance I get as this is semi permanent weed control for the summer. The mulch also holds in moisture and fertilizes the soil.
There are succession plantings throughout the summer.

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Chives ready for harvest

Harvest begins with parsnips that wintered over and are dug as soon as the ground thaws. The freezing makes them especially sweet. Chives are next followed by asparagus from a large bed I planted more than 25 years ago when I had my first market garden. Spinach, lettuce, strawberries all follow along. The harvest doesn't end until after Thanksgiving. By then only lettuce, kale and Brussels sprouts are coming directly from the garden. Onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage, winter squash and dry beans have all stored their natural goodness without any processing.

Joshua wants me to get a greenhouse so I can supply him with more produce in the winter. I rather like the down time, but we'll see.

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Farmer Mort making compost

There is no organic waste at Joshua's. Outer leaves of lettuce, what's left over after Josh has carved out the best parts of a fish, apple cores and broccoli stems are a few of the kitchen scraps that are trucked out to my compost piles. Mixed with chicken manure and wood shavings to get the right balance of carbon and nitrogen the compost piles get hot to the touch. By next spring when it is time to fertilize the field there will be several tons of rich compost.