December 11, 2010

Building a tunnel over a tunnel

We have started putting up our new high tunnel this week. We are building it over the existing tunnel because we are still harvesting crops inside it. We also wanted to get the ground posts in before the ground freezes. Also, we wanted to get the hoops up when the wind wasn't blowing. We had to carry the hoops over the existing tunnel and if they were to fall over and land on the tunnel, it would rip the plastic and cause lots of problems. We were lucky to have Derek come out and help us.

I spent 1-2 hours measuring and squaring up the area. Then two nights setting the ground posts. Then finally one more night putting up the hoops and purlins.

Hoop C


Hoop C with New Tunnel over it.


New Home for Hoop C


Next up, install base board, hip boards, and end walls. Cover the endwalls with plastic or old storm windows and then prepare for plastic to be pulled over it.

Looks like a busy Christmas Break for us!

November 21, 2010

Update on disassembling new high tunnel

Today I got to spend 5 hours tearing down the new high tunnel at it's current home. I got alot done, but if I would have started earlier, I would have had hoops on the ground too!

Here is a little time lapse photo work!


North wall gone
North wall gone

South wall gone
South Wall Gone

Baseboard and center and right purlin gone
Baseboard and two purlins gone

All I have left is the left purlin and the 12 braces in the corners and we will be ready to take the hoops down. Finally, load it all up and head west!

K-State Cauliflower

I have been eagerly anticipating this purple cauliflower. I ordered seed in mid January. The seed got back ordered and I didn't receive it until the May. I planted it and set these plants out in early June, a month or more late! The weather turned off HOT and the plants stopped growing. Bugs and grasshoppers ate the leaves to almost nothing. Then in August they started to grow again and finally on November 20th, I have purple cauliflower. It has been a long wait, but oh-so good! Now I wish the other 50 or so I planted in August would do something, but I know it is too late. I must get them in sooner next year!


We also picked some white cauliflower and broccoli along with yellow and orange carrots. Who says we can't eat the rainbow?


November 7, 2010

We are growing again

We are the proud new owners of a used 30 by 48 ft Stuppy's Powerhouse Greenhouse. We are going to use this huge metal frame for a high tunnel. This high tunnel will give us an additional 1,440 square feet of growing space. I am very excited about it. I will have to tear it down and rebuild it at our house, but who isn't up for an adventure.

Here is a picture of the greenhouse in its current location.

New Hoop House

Here is a picture of the endwall

End wall of new hoop house

My hopes are to have in down over Thanksgiving Break and start working at putting it back up ASAP. I hope I can get the ground posts in at least before the ground freezes solid.

October 23, 2010

The difference a week makes

When spring rolls around and gardeners plant out their transplants or put seed in the ground, it doesn't seem to matter if you get it planted this week or next week, by the time it comes to harvest, they both seem to produce at the same time.

However, when you are growing in the fall, it is said every day a crop is not growing can translate into 2-3 days later on the harvest time. That is why it is important to get your fall crops planted in a timely manner.

WHY? The reason has to do with day length. Every day, after the summer solstice on June 21st, the days start to get shorter. While at first it isn't very noticable, it does make a big difference the later you get in the season.

I have a great example of what the difference a week makes with carrots.


The carrots on the right were planted on August 16th. The carrots on the left were planted on August 22nd. The same seed was used, they were watered the same, they were grown in identical situations, the only difference is the planting date.

You can also notice a difference in whole garden plot.

August 16th

M1 Outside Growing space

August 22nd

M2 Outside Growing

So the next time you hear the saying, "What difference does a week make" you can say it means alot when talking about fall gardening.

October 17, 2010

Fall and Winter Garden

To all my RVP customers, I wanted to share where all your produce is coming from this fall and winter. Want to learn more, My fall and winter garden consists of 3500 square feet of high tunnels and 1000 square feet of low tunnels.

Here is Hoop A
From left to right, Radishes, Beets, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Haikuri Turnips, Some left over broccoli, Lettuce, Napa Cabbage, Joi Choy, Red Choy, Tatsoi, Longevity (a type of tatsoi I guess), and Arugula.

Hoop A all

They all still need mini hoops and row cover to cover them, but that is on the to do list.

Hoop C
My most mature crops and most recently planted.
Left to right, Lettuce, Kale, Spinach, Under the cover Green onions, Bok Choy and Napa Cabbage, Freshly Planted Haikuri Turnips and Carrots

Hoop C

Hoop D
This building grew Bell peppers and Cherry Tomatoes this spring and summer. I tore out the cherry tomatoes. Too overgrown and slowing production. The bell peppers are great. They are loaded and I have been picking bunches every week for the Farmers Markets.

Outside rows are bell peppers and under the row covers I have spinach and lettuce. I just transplanted the 250 plus lettuce plugs yesterday and the spinach is coming up or getting its true leaves. I still have grasshoppers in here and they love spinach. They don't mind the lettuce, but they will eat the spinach down.

Hoop D

On to the Movable Buildings. I have two movable buildings and I have crops growing outside and I am going to move the buildings over the crops soon. One probably this week and the other one once I loose the green beans or in about two weeks.


Haikuri Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Carrots, Haikuri Turnips
M2 Outside Growing space

M2 Has the same crops growing in it as M1.

M2 Outside

M1 also has green beans growing inside.
M1 Green Beans

Low Tunnels Broccoli and Cauliflower.
I have over 400 broccoli and cauliflower planted. They will go under row cover soon. I have to get a lot of other stuff done first!

Broccoli and Cauliflower

3 heads of Broccoli

The first low tunnel hoop.

Low tunnel hoop

Brussel Sprouts

They go planted too late, but we are going to see what happens.

Brussel Sprouts

Last outside planting of Green Beans.

This was a last second Hail Mary Planting. I have rinsed the frost off of them once and I have picked 40 pounds of beans off of the first picking. I am hoping to get 1-2 more pickings!

Outside Beans

October 5, 2010

Flip That High Tunnel

HGTV's got nothin' on Jay.

In the past few weeks, he has torn the spring/summer crops out of Hoop A, C, and D, the three largest of our high tunnels. Out came the tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes, and in went the fall crops. And that is how this:

became this:

and this:
became this:

 We have spinach, lettuces, bok choy, carrots, and a lot of other greens growing in two of the big buildings now. And, in building D, the peppers are staying for now. They are loving the elbow space and have really flourished in the past few days. It seems odd to pick fresh salad this time of year, but it's a very, very good odd.

October 4, 2010

Fall and Winter Salads

To eat local foods and what is in season, one has to think about eating salads here in the fall. We have a huge variety of greens that we are growing and selling this fall/winter. They are all being grown in our high tunnels.

Here are just a few of the different varieties we are growing this winter. We have over 10 varieties of lettuce, 3 varieties of spinach, 2 varieties of Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Arugula, Kale, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi and beet greens.

These greens are very cold tolerant and some will continue to keep growing through the winter. They all will be put under rowcover as soon as I can find the time to make that happen! We are continusely planting to keep a steady supply of greens available. I just planted spinach on October 3rd. With any luck it will be ready to harvest by the 5th of November. I have over 400 more transplants to go out ASAP!

Check out what we are harvesting currently.
8 ounces of Salad Mix
Black Seeded Simpson

Green Salad bowl

Red Saladbowl
Red Sails

8 ounces of Spinach



September 15, 2010

Fall Harvest Begins

I don't know if fall harvest is beginning or summer harvest is just continuing, but we have some new crops to pick this week. The habaneros are ready, in full force. We have red, chocolate, and orange habaneros and a tiny but powerful pepper called White Habanero. And now you know what goes in the Habanero , Chocolate, Hot Lava Jelly and White Lightning Jelly!

The second round of carrots this year are possibly more beautiful and plentiful than the first. Check out the result of picking just five feet:

And it's not just the garden that's looking good. The soybeans surrounding us are huge, especially for dryland beans. I grew up in an area where the only soybeans grown were double-cropped beans (aka planted after wheat harvest and harvested in time to plant the next wheat crop). So, these huge soybeans continue to amaze me. We can't take credit for any of them, but it's a nice sight to see out your window.

Coming soon: spinach, lettuce, Napa cabbage, and Bok Choy.

September 6, 2010

Introducing Republican Valley Produce

What is it?

Republican Valley Produce (RVP) is an online Farmers Market, the first of its kind in Clay Center. Also known as a Community Supported Agriculture or CSA, we offer fresh homegrown produce, meats, baked goods and jams and jellies. RVP is a group of farmers who are reaching out to those too busy to visit a Farmers Market or those who just like to sleep in on Saturdays.

How does it work?

Each member of the CSA starts up an account, with a $10 membership fee and $20 minimal balance. Each week, we will total your purchases, and this total will be deducted from your credit on your account or, if your purchase is more than the balance on your account, you will pay when you pick up your order. Our season will run from September 28th –November 2nd Guaranteed!
Extended season will run from November 9th- December 21st (if weather allows.)

Membership will be limited to 20 memberships this fall, more in years to come.

What does a typical week look like?

Thursday: Our growers submit what they will have for sale and the quantity.

Friday: The market will open up for orders. You will get an email from the market manager and will have until Sunday at 5:00 pm to place your orders online.

Sunday: Orders are compiled and totaled.

Monday: Your order will be picked, baked, and prepared for you.

Tuesday: At 5:30 p.m., you can pick up your order at one of two locations: Clay Center or Clifton. Other locations maybe added if there is enough interest.

What will be available through the market?

September: Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers, Leeks, Carrots, Haikuri Turnips, Okra, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Radishes, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Buffalo, Jellies, Pork and much more

October: Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers, Leeks, Carrots, Haikuri Turnips, Okra, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Radishes, 9 types of Lettuce, Salad Mix, Arugula, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Spinach, Kale, Green Onions, Tatsoi, Kohlrabi, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes, Jellies, Eggs, Buffalo Meat and Pork

November: Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers, Leeks, Carrots, Haikuri Turnips, Radishes, 9 types of lettuce, Salad Mix, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Spinach, Kale, Green Onions, Tatsoi, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Sweet Potatoes, Jellies, Eggs, Buffalo Meat, and Pork.

December: Leeks, Carrots, Haikuri Turnips, Radishes, 9 types of lettuce, Salad Mix, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Spinach, Kale, Green Onions, Tatsoi, Beets, Kohlrabi, Jellies, Eggs, Buffalo Meat, and Pork.

We are also looking at adding locally made cheeses and honey.

Why should I become a member?

Through the RVP, you will get first pick of locally grown produce, meats, baked goods and more. You will know who your farmer is and where you food is originating. You can shop online for your groceries and pick them up at a location convenient to you. And, you will be supporting area families with your purchases.

How do I become a member?
Sign up today by contacting me, RVP manager:

Jay Sleichter
1282 21st Road
Clay Center, KS 67432

August 30, 2010

Bugs? What bugs?

I just stepped out my back door, at 9 p.m., near a light, and the most amazing thing happened. I did NOT get swarmed by bugs! I don't know if that means the weather is about to change, but I think it does mean we won't have as many insects to contend with for our fall crops.

A girl can hope, right?

August 29, 2010

Flowers for Fall?

Jay likes to grow a wide variety of produce, and this fall he even grew a few flowers. Of course, the girls thought this was an awesome, fabulous, great, stupendous idea... as long as they were pink. And so, they compromised:

Mobile high tunnel 2, filled with zinnias and sunflowers
Sunflowers, just before "harvest"
Maggie got special Daddy-time and the honor of picking the zinnias
Displayed at market, aka Maggie saying "Daddy, it's too hard to smile at 7 a.m. on a Saturday."

The flowers didn't sell very well, but most new products don't sell the first week we've offered them. Besides, think how lovely my house looks!

August 27, 2010

Busy bees, busy bugs

We are so very busy right now. The garden and market business is Jay's summer job, but for school teachers, summer is over. I'm also in school full-time now, and we don't have any paid hired help. So, gardening is done in the evenings and weekends.

Thankfully for us, the garden slows considerably in late August. Because the high tunnels put us ahead of season in the spring, it also makes our end of season one come sooner. Season two, however, is in it's infancy. The fall crops are all planted and the weather has been favorable. The bugs, however, will be our problem this fall. It seems they have "found" our garden spot and are feasting away. The sunflower plants looked ideal on Sunday night; on Monday night, the leaves looked like Swiss cheese. And, let me tell you, the very hungry caterpillar is  cute in a book, when he eats all those lovely picnic foods, but in real life, he is one ugly contender. Even the pretty white butterflies are looked at with disdain in our household. If only us busy bees can stay ahead of the busy bugs, we should have produce for months to come!

What is going on at the farm?

What is going on at the farm? Well that is a wonderful question. Everything! We have been so busy doing everything that we haven't had time to post any new information. With school starting, it has been hard to make everything happen, however with the rain and cooler weather, it makes working outside much more bearable.

What is happening......

In the high tunnels, the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers are still producing. However, they are slowing down. They are loaded with blooms and if the weather holds, we will be expecting larger harvests towards the end of September. This week will be the first time for cut flowers. We have sunflowers and Zinnias. The girls are very excited about them. The fall root crops are planted in the moveable tunnel spaces. We planted 16-32 foot rows of Haikuri Turnips, 16-32 foot rows of Carrots, 8-32 foot rows of Beets. We also planted Radishes and some more turnips outside. We have 3- 40 foot beds ready to plant in one of our big hoop houses, also. We will be planting green onions, napa cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, bok choy and kohlarbi in this space. We are also going to be planting some lettuce inside to transplant in October in the tomato tunnel.

Outside is really slowing down or done. The outside peppers were a real disappointment along with the watermelon. We have a few cucumbers coming and a few potatoes left to dig. The leeks are ok, it just go to hot for them. We have 375 plus broccoli and cauliflower plants out. We will be putting them in side low tunnels as the weather gets cooler.

On the Jelly front- We have been very busy. We have made over 100 jars in the last 2 weeks. Expect to see some new jellies and we are bring back a few more.

August 19, 2010

Color wheel

Who says watermelon must be red to be delicious?


August 18, 2010

Turning Yello'

I am a pretty brave gal. Snakes, bugs, spiders, wild animals... they don't usually scare me. But, what I almost grabbed in the tomato building is still sending shivers up my spine:

Apparently, this is a beneficial garden spider, called the Black and Yellow Garden Spider. (Gee, real creative naming there.) According to this site, here's the basic info on this thing:

The Black and Yellow Argiope is a common orb web spider. Orb web means it spins a web like a circle.

Female spiders are much larger than males, growing almost an inch and a half long. Males grow about 3/4 inch long. Both spiders have a cephalothorax (small front body section) with silver hairs on it. The abdomen (large back section) is egg-shaped with black and yellow coloring.

Legs of these spiders are black with red or yellow bands. Each leg has three claws on the end.

Black and Yellow Argiopes live in fields and gardens. They can be found on shrubs, tall plants, and flowers.

The web of this spider spirals out from the center and can be two feet across. The female builds the large web, and a male will build a smaller web on the outer part of her web. The male's web is a thick zig-zag of white silk.

Black and Yellow Argiopes eat flying insects that get trapped in the sticky web. The most common ones are aphids, flies, grasshoppers, bees, and wasps.

The spider hangs with her head down in the center of her web, waiting for prey to be caught. Sometimes she hides off to the side with a thin silk thread attched to her web. When an insect hits the web, the spider feels the vibrations and comes running.

These spiders prefer sunny places with little or no wind to build their webs. Each night, they eat their web and build a new one.

Now, the one in our garden was at least 8 inches across. Okay, so maybe only 2-3 inches, but it was huge! But, I did the right thing. I backed away and left it there to kill the many grasshoppers attacking our tomatoes. However, I did NOT pick that side of the building for the rest of the day, and won't  go back any time soon, now that Jay informed me we have four "Charlottes" in that part of the cherry tomato building.

Just let Charlotte and her friends stay out of my house, and we'll get along just fine!

August 16, 2010

Planting time?

Even as most of the vegetable crops are wrapping up for the year and this is considered the end of garden season, it’s also planting time on the hill. These new plantings are all for our fall harvest, attempting to keep produce coming in for as much as the year as possible.

In the past two weeks, Jay has planted 200 broccoli, 175 cauliflower, and 700 row feet of green beans. In the next few weeks, we need to plant napa cabbage, bok choy, arugula, brussel sprouts, more cauliflower and broccoli, radishes, carrots, beets, haikuri turnips, green onions, kolorabi, totsoi, lettuce, and spinach. What makes this goal even more challenging is Jay starts back to work as a teacher today and I start school full-time the following week. Most of this will need to be done in the nights and weekends. In other words, this year our Labor Day Weekend will have lots of labor and not much weekend.

August 15, 2010

A Picture to Make You Cry

Okay, so maybe these pictures will only make you cry if you are the cutting these vegetables and don’t have an open flame nearby. (Learned that trick from Alton Brown!)

Jay just harvested the last of the onions for this year. We were happy with the onion crop, both in size and quality of onions. Of the 1800 onion sets planted, we sold all but probably 35 of them. Those 35, I chopped and froze for our use later this winter. We probably threw out less than 50 onions for the year, because they rotted before we sold them or got them froze.

I guess that means next year I can’t scoff at the idea of planting 1800 onion sets. And that is enough to make me cry!