October 11, 2011

Whats in season?

What's In Season -Eating the Right Way

Although we’re in the thick of it as far as timing and weather and urgency to get things out, our spring schedule is slower than it could be, and the time spent in the  field days are so far fairly laid back. Slowing things down is the start-up stuff: a ton of tillage to do (working in the grassy remnants of last year’s fields), water for irrigation to put in place, seedling starting,seedling house, plastic mulch to run, chicken house to build, new pump shed to build and a long list of other basic things that we have to put in place along with starting the season’s crops. Getting it all rolling together at Kirup Valley Farms land, now that’s fairly intense!

Last year I noticed that on several occasions I put on rain pants before it began to rain and then proceeded to work comfortably in whatever the inclement conditions. This was a notable improvement of my previous tendency to wait until I was in the middle of a rainstorm to acknowledge the weather and  wear my protective clothing, and I decided my new-found attention to preventative measures was a sign of mental maturity.(think old man and aching bones) And I was “proud” to count this rudimentary example of common sense among my attributes until earlier this season, when I realized during one of the heavy rainfalls of July    ( our Winter ) that without my noticing my fuzzy coat and rain pants had grown so old and permeable that they were best considered a wind breaker rather than functional. Intending to trick myself into acquiring a new rain outfit that would actually repel rain, I threw out the old set and then promptly undermined my claims of common sense and self-reliance by failing to replace it before our South-west region was inundated by  more rains. I bought a pair of good quality ones that cost over a hundred dollars only to find out they did not fit me.  So I bought two more cheapo versions and  at least they fit me. I think I should have them for the next few rainy seasons for sure.

 After months of starting seeds and transplanting seedlings the season has turned to Spring time and Summer is not far away.  At times of great activity on the farm, when there is no planting bed that doesn't require attention and to weed or harvest or trellis one crop is to do so at the temporary expense of another crop of equal need, I am reminded that all such work is precipitated by the relatively calm act of planting a seed. Transplants take precedence over seeds. But to plant a seed is to commit to the lifespan of the plant it produces, and by the way that work starts more work; work we now find this  "Boss over Nothing" caring for a crowd unruly compared to the kernels we introduced to the soil during the first days of Spring. Each seed contains not only the potential of a plant and its vegetable crop, but the chart of  all our work that will follow it’s sowing. The hustle, care and attention that structures our days in this part of the season was present in each seed we sowed during a quieter time, and if we are surprised to find that they have grown to fill the ground around us it is because we remember that time, and it was not long ago. It feels like only hours ago that the planting was done and now soon the harvest will be on top of us. Not much blogging gets done for sure as every moment is being spent on the field. Days flow into nights and picking packing washing and driving all fold into one big calendar of events.

Why eat seasonally?
People have asked this Farmer John  “why should we eat seasonally?”

It's the easiest way to eat healthfully, support local farmers, help the environment, and save money! Seasonal food usually comes from local farms, so produce is picked at its peak of ripeness and most nutrients. Less fossil fuels are required for shipping, and food passes through  allot fewer hands, returning more profits to the actual growers. And, best of all, buying what's locally abundant is less expensive for you as well! We believe in this at Kirup Valley Farms and are spending more time building up the house veggie patch and garden area. Yes even this farmer has to share space with his children’s and farm bosses’s  garden beds with a bed of his own to trial and test  varieties of seed along with Horseradish and other veggies that he cannot plant or is not allowed to plant in the fields.  This farmer has been investing in this by giving a helping hand in making a few beds and bringing compost to them. Just the other day I went and picked veggies in my daughters garden beds. Hmmm! is that called theft by work of others?

Why organic means diversity...

Unlike most conventional farms that plant the same  mono culture crops year after year, most organic farmers plant diverse crops to build natural soil fertility. Many people are so conditioned to the simple, conventional crops that saturate our supermarkets (think iceberg lettuce, broccoli, potatoes, packaged carrots), that they have no idea what these new, organic grown  produce items are, let alone what to do with them. Many people come up to us especially at farmers markets and ask  "What is that?" Pointing to an eggplant or beetroot. For example we took bunches of Chioggia Baby Beetroot and sold only one bunch.  We brought them back home rather than to give them away.  We always try to grow what others think as “unique”  rather for us  are  considered as “normal”.

Seasonal Corn most
Bi-color (white and yellow kernels), aka two colored corn, is about to be planted right now. The  Golden (yellow kernels) are going to be grown this season. We are also growing two other varieties of corn. One variety is from certified organic seed and the other is a Polenta Corn or a roasting corn.  The certified organic seed is going to be used to grow more corn  in the future for our chicken friends as feed.  The Polenta corn is going to be grown this year as seed for next year when we can use some for grinding into polenta.

When buying sweet corn look for: Corn in the husk. Plump, evenly spaced, shaped and colored rows. Husk should be bright green and 'snug'. Avoid pre-husked corn, or corn with flattened, tightly packed kernels.  Don't worry about a corn worm at the top. They're common in sweet organic corn near the end of the season. Just cut off the tip after purchase.  We are growing non-GMO   sweet corn and plain corn.
Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag. Remove husks right before cooking.
Cooking is the easiest way to cook sweet corn: Boil a pot of salted water. Turn off heat, immediately put corn in, and cover. Wait 5 or 10 minutes and enjoy. We average around 7 minutes from field to pot. That must be a worlds  record for a commercial type of crop to food source.

Early Garlic picked  CRUNCHY!
One garlic bulb consists of numerous cloves. The cloves and the entire bulb are encased in a paper-like sheathe that can be white, off-white or purplish. Purple-skinned Mexican or Italian Red varieties and the large Elephant garlic variety are less pungent. Fresh garlic is available in small quantities this season starting in January, but cured (dried) garlic is sold year-round. We have planted several rows of 3000 cloves in each row.  Most of our garlic crop this year is going back to seed production. We have  saved a giant white garlic variety for seed as well. This way we have two colors available to sell at.www.kvfarms.com.au

Separate from skins and slice, chop, or crush. Use to flavor soups, sauces, marinades or dressings. Roast the entire bulb in its skin until soft to spread on bread. Look for: Plump, firm garlic with unbroken skins. Avoid garlic that is soft, moldy or has begun to sprout. Size is not an indication of quality.We usually sell the smaller ones and keep larger cloves for seed. Storage: Store in a cool, dark place away from heat and sunlight to prevent sprouting. Once the head has been broken, garlic stays fresh for only a few days.

Green Garlic
Green garlic is garlic that's pulled from the ground before a bulb forms, when it looks more like a fat spring onion or skinny leek. It's very aromatic and has a mild, fresh, sharp, herb-like flavor.
Use it in the place of garlic, green onions or scallions. Most people cook with the white and pale green parts, but you can use the tougher green tops in broths. Look for: Dry, slightly firm, shiny green garlic. Avoid those with brown areas or slimy stalks. Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag, or stand upright in water with a plastic bag around it. This is available only by special request from Kirup Valley Farms.


Leeks have a complex yet mild flavor, and are very versatile. You can dice them, or cut them into rings or matchsticks. They're often used in soups, as a side dish, deep-fried or sauteed in the place of onions.
Look for: Firm, smooth, unblemished leeks with brightly colored leaves. Avoid those with withered, yellowed or slimy leaves, or any that are overgrown. (They develop a woody core that's unusable.) We try to harvest our Leeks as a medium size which translates into a more tender leek than those GIANT sized ones big enough to fill 4 pots.  The ones you see on special at your local supermarket.  Storage: Cut off some of the green tops and refrigerate in a plastic bag. Wash thoroughly before using.We usually slice a single line than separate the skins to get a good blast of water in them.  Advice wash well as in Western Australia the soils are a bit sandy and that does not translate into good flavor.

Onion, Basic Round
aka storage onions.
There are three basic types: yellow ("generic" onion), white (cleaner, tangy flavor), and red (sweet enough to eat raw). We do not spray our onions with any chemical sprays or chemical based insecticides.  Customers have told us that that our onions do not taste “chemically” in flavor. One customer has reactions to eating store bought onions and not with ours.She told me this after buying all the onions in the local farmers market. Made me wish I grew more.To minimize crying, chill the onion before chopping. To mellow the flavor when serving raw, soak onions in ice water for 30 minutes beforehand. Onions' pungent flavor sweetens after cooking.
Look for: Dry, firm, shiny onions with thin, papery skin and a tightly-closed neck. Avoid ones that are sprouting, or have dark, soft or moldy spots.
Storage: Store in a loose, non-plastic bag in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated place. For longer term storage, wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate.Use within 24 hours otherwise discard as onions can absorb smells in the refrigerator.

Onion, Cipollini

An Italian version of the pearl onion, with a rich and sweet flavor. We are growing limited amounts of this onion this year due to having to buy the seeds in small numbers.  Germination was erratic at best on them and for that reason only a few red and brown varieties are being grown for the restaurant trade in Perth.  We will try to grow some golden versions and pack them in punnets for restaurant trade as well this Summer.

Onion, Green/Scallion

aka spring onion...

Scallions are onions that are pulled before a large bulb has formed. Here at KV  Farms we are growing three varieties this Winter and Spring . One variety went to seed early on called Red Beard and we are not happy with the performance of that. The other variety is similar and we are not harvesting much of that one either.Finely chop to use raw in salads or as a garnish, or cook them briefly in soups, sauces, stir-frys.

Just planted 30,000  Torpedo Onion Seedlings
A mild flavored , football shaped onion that can grow long and elongated in size depending on the season grown.  We have realized that growing it during the Winter months is not a good idea.  They are very popular and we cannot keep up with the amount grown and even demand.  We started out with an original trial of 50 seedlings  and now they have grown to over  30,000 seedlings transplanted each season.  They are a wonderful onion but  require plenty of attention and care. Local pub  Kirup Tavern home of Kirup Syrup uses them in their menu. They are popular item  in the Farmers Markets as they sell out first and popular due to their colour.


We are trialling several thousand shallot seedlings this summer and they are in the ground as we write this . We too are curious on how they will grow as we have never grown them before. Always worth a trial. Follow this blog and we will keep you posted on the progress.

Chioggia Beetroot 

Beets       Common beets are all red. There are also golden beets, white beets, and chioggia beets (white and red stripes inside, aka candy cane). Our first crop failed this winter due to many factors and we ordered 5000 seedlings to be grown out of the Chioggia Beet root. They are the sweetest and next are the Golden Beets. 5000 seedlings should be here any day for planting. Red are common and we have not planted them.

Best roasted, boiled or steamed. (Add a little lemon juice to help beets retain their color.) Beet green tops can be cooked separately for other dishes. Raw beets are also good for juicing.
Look for: Smooth, unblemished, hard, round beets, 3" diameter or smaller. Check that the tops are still attached (so the color doesn't bleed) as well as the taproot on the bottom.
Avoid beets with soft, moist spots or flabby skin, and those that are too large (take forever to cook and can have a woody core).We have been successful in cooking them but like the medium sized ones the best.
Storage: Cut off greens before storing. Refrigerate greens in a plastic bag. Refrigerate beets unwashed and un-skinned. Cut right before use; skins slip off after cooking. We use our own Farmer Johns  Extra Virgin Olive Oil to marinade them with lemon juice and fresh garlic for a wonder cold salad on a hot day.

Sweet memories of some serious watermelons.Wear that back brace as a OHS  warning sticker is  needed.

This year the crop of seedless watermelons is doing well. Interesting that the seedlings planted two weeks later are doing much better than the first lot we planted  as they were hit by cold nights . Apparently they do not like the cold.  We planted several thousand of the seeded variety  to pollinate the seedless one.  We are growing two types of seedless  watermelons.    The seedlings can be hard to  grow and really finicky.  We have had to add liquid calcium to counteract the low calcium levels in our soil this year.  Reminder note to self to spread  lime this Winter.  Well this farmer must close for the night as there is farm work to be done in the morning so until next time.Happy Reading. 


Eggplant  that looks nice with other veggies
Over 5000 versions of a purple striped Eggplant have been planted and are about ready to harvest for the markets.  Elvis the wholesalers top Salesman is waiting for these.  The picture you see was taken last Summer  when Farmer John Trialled 500 plants and was very sorry he did. Now that 500 has multiplied to over 5000  plants. We cannot help ourselves and really like the color. We even have a Japanese  Variety that is so delicious  it can be eaten raw or in Tempura dishes.  Storage: Use as soon as possible as Eggplants do not keep long. Look for firm and clear skinned versions when buying.

October 3, 2011

Ordering seeds and Planting seedlings

For those not active in farming full time for a living I can say that it is a daunting task.  One needs self motivation talks every day just to get out of bed and go to work.  People think that one can go and do this sort of thing day in and day out with complete ease. Maybe I am wrong but think that folks forget that sore muscles and aching backs come with the job description.  One never can find the job description before getting the position.  As  the  Big Boss over Nothing I find myself complaining to the complaint department and never hear back about it. I guess talking to ones self and complaining will only fall upon deaf ears.

In order to spare you the boring details of reality  I will tell you that things have been moving at a steady pace. Our first attempt at pulling worn out plastic mulch imported from China was a dismal failure.  The  brother-in-law came over for a few  hours to help out and left very tired. Another friend  Alex  came and helped but the weather was miserable and it was  a rainy day with showers so only a few rows were lifted.

  My son decided he wanted to help so he lifted a few rows.  Not enough rows left over from last seasons crops have been lifted as several farm projects  needed working on.

Our "Chook Majal" has been worked on with the gutter installed and a cage built on the inside to hold breeding stock and the baby chick  area was worked on.  With that part done an attempt was made to work on the  roosts  but a debate on issues relating to that are not finalized.

In the meantime a debate over the costs of seedlings erupted and seeing how the price has doubled in the last six months required  some drastic measures to be taken.  I did some research on my fave  Internet channel to find out ideas for a seeding machine.  After much viewing and search engine searching it was decided to build our own.  We now have one vacuum attachment that will place seeds into seedling trays  for us at 128 seeds at a time.   The next project started but not yet completed is  the seedling house where to store these  new seedlings.  We have several thousand in the little greenhouse but they need to go out  to make way for the next seedling planting.
Seedlings arrived and in the shade of the giant pine tree 

Seedlings loaded on the tractor for the trip out to the paddock

Close up view of water trans-planter wheels

Overloaded with liquid fertilizer mix of seedlings, humates and fish emulsion; all that is missing is the people.

More work and never enough hours in the day is all that was running through my mind at the time.

Final results with the first planting of onions,shallots, and Italian flat onions

  Only two weeds were detected in the entire amount so I was happy with that turnout.  24,000 seedlings of various onions. Our Red Torpedo Onions were the largest amount  planted, Shallots, Red Flat onions and Flat Brown ones.  Because of the delays  in planting them they sat around for almost a week waiting to be planted.  Rain along with  some hail delayed the planting and getting the ground ready for them was a bit slow.

Well I am here to tell you that with a huge push we planted them in one and a half days worth of planting time.
In between that work, some harvesting of our current crop of purple torpedo onions took place and an order for 50 bunches was delivered to the local fruit and veggie shop.
The final product Purple Torpedo Onions  ready for delivery

All in all after long hours  of work we are moving forward with Spring planting.  New  seeds arrived and after looking all over this country for Orange Thai Chili seeds that will replace the ones that were discontinued we have finally been given 54 seeds to do a Trial plot of them by a local seed company.  This is good news for our Favorite small Business Owner  Susan  from Twisted Pickle     www.twistedpickle.com.au   in Rockingham.   She makes a Orange Sweet chili Sauce  from them which is delicious and full of flavour as well. 

Since our last blog with the long list of veggies we plan on planting we are adding a few and taking away a few . A shipment of seeds was removed by WA  AQIS  as rejected and so  we are planting around them.
We are adding a few different varieties of Tomatoes and baby romas, Pink Grape tomatoes and a orange grape tomato.

In addition to that we are adding more Gem Squash to the line up as they are popular with the kids on the table and they last a long time with storage.  They don't do too well with the powdery mildew but that can be helped along.    We are trialing three different versions of them. Two are Hybrids by two different seed companies and one is an OP  version  that we are adding to the list.  Two types of Paprika  are being added to the list . A red long Paprika ( Susan at Twisted Pickle makes a supremo tasting Sweet Paprika Salad Dressing with them) and a Yellow Long Paprika.    In addition a small squash called Sunburst  is being added to the Zucchini seed areas.

Due to the fact that we are trialing  the Orange Thai Chili we will not be growing the Yellow Thai Chili that we thought we wanted to grow to replace it.  Oh well these things happen. Until next time thank you for reading this far on what we are doing.

October 1, 2011

Spring and Boysenberries

The first day of Spring has passed and along came Fathers Day( really should be called Farmers Day) as well. I thought to myself that at least one day in a year I could have off.  Well I was really wrong in that department as the boss asked me to do a huge long list of building chores that needed doing before the next part of the giant chook shed we are building is completed.   Pictures will eventually arrive.  My shoulders were sore from all the activity and it was a good thing that I had the chiropractor visit scheduled  for the day after.   The only thing on the list that did not get done was the replacement of the main water line  going under the concrete  slab and foundation.  We had to hammer and chip away at all the bricks and concrete covering the pipe and that was why I think my arm muscles are sore today.

I got a few hours of tractor time in today undercutting last seasons plastic mulch rows and have a few more hours of that type of activity planned for the morning as well.    Now  to more stories about what is going on. 

We have 10,000 seedling cells  coming to this farm in the next week or so and there is still so much work needed to be performed before their arrival. While on the tractor I was adjacent to the prunes and plums that were pruned and was amazed at how fast they jumped into blossom.  These are a very white blossom.  Similar to Boysenberries.

Here at KV  Farms  we have  several hundred Boysenberry, Logan Berry and Marion Berry plants  in the ground. Some are in a school location and sit there waiting to be transplanted properly.  Maybe next year on Fathers day. 

Until that time comes  the ones in the ground need to be maintained and that is why people balk at the price of berries in punnets.  One has to prune and maintain them constantly  just to have larger sized fruits.

The amount of pests that love the pollen of the berries is greater than plums or prunes.!! Hmmm wonder why.  Who would not want to eat a berry rather than a prune.  Here is an interesting fact. Boysenberries are a good fruit source of fibre which maintains bowel regularity, thereby helping to prevent bowel cancer. Fibre also helps to maintain normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Recently while travelling in Vanuatu I bought a bag of frozen Australian Boysenberries and made a " no bake" Boysenberry & Sour Cherry pie there.  The people  that tasted it liked it and had never tried such a fruit before.  They don't grow there.  The boysenberries have been calling my name as they need more maintaining done on them.  Pruning and working with them always gives me cuts and scratches. One can feel miserable doing the work. Somebody has to prep them and others do the picking.  Boysenberries are also a fairly good source of vitamin K which is needed for blood clotting (helps wounds to heal properly), and to help build strong bones.  At the same time Boysenberries also contain fairly good levels of potassium which is needed for balancing the pH of your body, normal muscle growth, and for a healthy nervous system and brain function.  So after getting exhausted just thinking about the hard work needed I am off to work knowing that I wont have a breakdown  yet, my bones will be stronger and my blood will clot better not right away  but at some future point in time when I ride past them at the beginning of the fruiting season and pick that first luscious fruit and place it into my mouth .

August 13, 2011

A farmer allows many weeds to grow and many seeds to list!

Hello after an absence of  six,  yes six whole months of no blog news.  There must be a reason you say.  Yes there really is. If you have been following our blogs  over the past year you will see some irregularities.  This farmer has a life.  Not really!  Actually many things have been going on here at Kirup Valley. What?   Well we have been busy picking and packing the fruits of our labor.  We also had a shutdown of all  activity for a period of 9 weeks where the farmer had to leave the country to go places where  bananas grow cheaper than in Australia.  This farmer went to Vanuatu.  In the meantime the weeds were growing like crazy as weeds will do.
Anyhow back to the farm information business at hand.  Onions and leeks were planted at the end of Summer here and now they are in full harvest mode.  Everyday  bunches of onions are being harvested by hand and being sold to the various outlets we have.. A local Fruit and Veg shop stocks them every week. Our famous wholesaler Elvis  is crying out for  MORE  every week. We even send them to the farmers markets located in Perth.  We are harvesting Green &  Red Thai Chili and a few Jalapeno's now.  We slashed several thousand plants of Jalapenos recently to make more room for next seasons crops.  If you are wondering what we are planning on growing this upcoming 2011-2012  season here is the list. Not the entire list as we have to place a disclaimer here.  We have the seed on hand but sometimes the vagaries of farming collide and germination is not to great.

So to the LIST: Not in any methodical order at all.

Yellow -Long
Lebanese 3 Varieties - Light green color
Lebanese - White
Zucchini - Spaghetti type
Round Ball- Green
Yellow Straight neck - Warty
Squash List
Yellow Crook Neck
White Patty Pan
Delica - Looks like Jap Pumpkin  ( for those who follow this Blog in USA   see Kabocha .
Giant Pink Banana
Gem Squash - S. African Round
Sweet Dumpling - Acorn type
Green Romano Beans - Flat type - French .
Yellow Butter Bean-French
Purple string bean-
Big Borlotto Bean
Orange Amber ( Small orange eating type)

No Butternut or Halloween type grown
Red Round Variety ( Not growing any Brown onions.) sold in kilo
White Lisbon -Spring Onion type - smaller than Torpedo  sold in bunch
Torpedo -Red Italian and French  sold in bunch of three or four
Shallots - Dutch Gourmet sold by kilo
White Onion- Flat- Italian Gourmet  sold as each
Onion Bergamo- Brown Flat- Italian Gourmet  sold as each
White Giant Fresh peeled onion - French Gourmet sold as each
Purple Spring Onions- Bunches
Red Mini- Gourmet in Punnets
Brown Mini- Gourmet in Punnets
Barletta- bunch
Spring onion- green
Beet Root
Chioggia- Bullseye
Gold Beet
Sweet Corn
Bi-color - 2 plantings only
Yellow -2 plantings only
White Sweet - 2 plantings
Corn  Maize- for chicken feed
Corn Maize - for ground polenta
Hot Chili
Yellow Jalapeno
Green Jalapeno
Birdseye - in punnets 125 gr
Thai Chili- in Bags 250 gr.;1Kg & 5 kg
Togarashi Chili,  also known as Takanotsume -  in 125 gr punnets  250 gr bags, 500 gr bags
Brimstone- 1kg bag & 5kg  box
Poblano Chili- Mexican- Limited amount
Black- medium size
Lavender- medium
Purple - Long
Purple- Round
Purple- Fingers
White - medium
Green Thai
De Barbetane - long French dark
Black ball - Japanese for Tempura.
Seeded - lg size
Yellow Long Bullnose
French Marconi Bullnose- Heirloom
Hungarian sweet Bell  Paprika
French -Frying
Mixed medley Grape -Two colors in Punnets only -Bulk orders
Cherry - in punnets only
Golf ball - salad type
Large - French
Yellow Tomato- Lg.
Roma Tomatoes
Regular- med sized
Mini Roma
San Marzano
Gold Mini Roma
Gold cherry
Crystal White
Long Green
Other Category
Parsley- two types - leafy & curly
Coriander aka  Cilantro
Basil- Genovese
Basil- Thai
Okra- green

So you see the list is extensive and exhaustive. If you have read it this far I congratulate you for have more patience than I have typing it all out.    Well the seeds are all here and in place. Now it is a matter of getting the ground ready and putting them into the ground.   Who said farming was easy.  Market garden farming is not easy.

Until next time
Farmer John

February 5, 2011

Plums and Chilis

Plums and Chilies

Plums this year have been so sweet that the sugar just drips off your chin when eating them. We have so many varieties of plums on the farm here in Kirup Valley that we lose track of which ones are ready to harvest and what variety. I should have posted a sign where they are but that got lost in the dream of getting everything done at one time. Even the Prunes which we are picking at the moment are sweet.

Chilies on the other hand are HOT!!!!!!!!!!! We grow them very hot here. For some unknown reason we grow them hot here. It must be the poor soils that we are dealing with that makes them grow hot. The other day I saw while picking green Jalapenos that there was a eat nice bright red colored one waiting with my name on it. Well later that day for lunch I said "Oh yeah" I will eat that one. and when I took that first bite one is able to gauge the heat from that bite. It was not too hot so I bravely took the next step and OUCH the flame just hit me so hard that I got the "Heat Hiccups" You know that awful feeling of heat Scoville Units jumping around in the back of your throat. For those of you who eat with heat you know what I mean.

Well I ended up throwing the other half of that Jalapeno away. Was way toooooo hot for me. Mind you I love some heat but this one caught the compost bin on it's way out.

Earlier in the week a good friend was over to get some chillies and stayed for lunch and during lunch he had 5 chilies of a new variety we are trialing this Summer. Cheyanne is orange and thin skinned. Hot as can be, but not as hot a a Habanero. Anyhow that one that I ate gave me heartburn for two days. Here is what it looks like.

Some might think it is not dangerous by being orange in color. It is hot. I had a green one today and I did not change my mind one bit.

Now on to the rest of the chili crop. Yellow Jalapenos are doing well and came first on the scene. Than the green ones and Soon the yellow Thai chili will come good. The red Thai chili we planted is coming up well too.
Perth has a Chili Festival in Fremantle every year and last year I went to see the sights and taste the heat there. I handed out a few business cards and got a call for a chili cook who want to buy some off me.

We have a new variety called BRIMSTONE it is very similar to size and shape of the orange Cheyenne but Bright Red in color. We are selling this to Harvey Cheese this year. Robert there is going to make a very hot chili cheese from them. Select buyers will get a chance at using this chili. We own the seed and this seed is not available for sale.

Sweet Corn is going to be available in limited amounts this year. Over a ton of Banana Squash has been sold locally and through Elvis our man in the markets. Not much else is news. We keep on picking and packing and working night and day to get things done around here. The onion crop is curing for those wondering and yes we will try to get more pictures posted.

I wonder what a Prune and Chili jam would taste like?

December 21, 2010

Chicks are born and Elvis keeps calling

Some of our Apricots.

One Torpedo Onion

Hello again,

Summer is here when you know baby chicks are being born on a regular basis. I went this afternoon to collect eggs and check on the two nesting chickens when all of a sudden my daughter says look here is a broken shell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! with a shriek! Well Chicory our very male rooster did not like that and ran towards her. I warned her just in time and he backed off. He has a problem chasing the little kidlets going in there. Four baby chicks showed their faces

These two last weeks have been so busy with activity it is hard to figure out where to start.

We found out that we have lost thousands of dollars worth of seedlings that we planted out. We did everything by the book . We documented the planting the spacings the pre-plant fertilizers and everything was just right for a promising season. We noticed things were not right until one day the bell rang in my head that it was not "MY" fault. I got an email saying that 4000 onion seedlings were dead and could I send more seed. After investigating the death we were able to figure out that our seedlings had gotten nitrate poisoning on a certain delivery date.

Some of our seedlings were stunted and others refused to grow. The onions took the hardest hit and 3000 sets of our white barletta onions died while 5,000 sets of our torpedo onion from our second planting were dead. The chilies that were part of that lot are stunted but still alive.
Brown Onions

We have been picking our torpedo onions from the first planting and here are some pictures.(at top) The stunted onions are deformed and have weird markings with the roots curled up and growing vertical inside the leaves of the onion. The onions below were part of the first planting and are brown cooking onions. They are doing well and a majority of them can be classified as jumbo size potential. The first planting of Torpedo onions were mistakenly seeded into one per cell or two and three per cell and not per our instructions of 4 seeds per cell. Well the ones that were single cell version grew out to be these huge bloated looking torpedoes. I picked them and sold them to a local fruit and veg shop. Nothing beats a novelty !
Fruit is in "Full Speed Ahead" mode with us battling the Silver- eye birds along with the Port Lincoln 28's (parrots) eating the apricots. We picked about 500 kilos that is 1000 pounds almost for most of you American readers. Last year we had less than a kilo of Apricots.

We have been making jam, stewed apricots giving them away and basically trying to use them up.

Now last but most important on the news front is Boysenberries! Yes those yummy things that grow on vines full of thorns. Normally we get friends to come down and pick the fruit each year but this year they have been late in getting here to do that. So missus farmer has taken it upon herself to pick them all. We cannot wait for the friends to come when they have to so the fruit is going into jams. preserves, and even frozen whole.

There is nothing that tastes as nice a homemade boysenberry jam in the middle of winter.

Now for the final thought for those of you who are wondering about why Elvis was in the title. Well Elvis is alive and well in the form of one man show. You see Elvis is the floor salesman at the Canningvale Markets wholesaler. He sells all of our produce and every time I call him up he says to send him "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRE. You never send enough." At times he is hard to understand as his English can get broken up with Vietnamese sounding vocabulary. But at the end of the day everything is sold. Somethings in life are worth waiting for; baby chicks!
Have a wonder filled week.

December 5, 2010

Onions cause Headaches!

Onions Cause Headaches is the Headlines at Kirup Valley Farms.

Just recently we were ready to plant out 3000 of our torpedo onions when an email came from our seedling supplier saying that we had to bring more seed in to replace the dead ones. Well I thought that weird that 3000+ seedlings were dead.

In the mean time I thought I was going crazy in the head from Onionitus a rare whooping cough of onions. In reality I had the Whooping Cough and not the onions. I was looking at some of the rows and thinking we had some weird onion dieback disease. I was wrong. I could not have done anything that drastic to kill off over 3000 of our white Barletta seedlings. Yet they were dieing and I could not do anything about that. In blotchy areas the same thing was happening with our Torpedo onions. I checked on our gold grape tomato seedlings that were nicely in the ground and almost all of them were either dead or very stunted. I brought this up with our seedling people and eventually heard back from them . I went in for a meeting and verified that all the seedlings from that delivery date where affected. Here "I " thought that I was losing my mind and ready for the looney bin.

Since than we have had issues with germination rates and so our seed supplier kindly express mailed us 27,000 more seeds to sow out. Hopefully that will take up the slack of lost seedlings and such. Our leeks are looking well so far and the 1000 Brown and 1000 red onions are growing exceptionally well.

Since I wrote the post about planting our leeks, onions, torpedos and barlettas, I’ve had a number of emails from people asking about onion harvesting and storage.
The first thing I have to tell them is that in many ways it’s too late to start thinking about harvesting and storage now as many of the decisions have to be made before the crops go in.
So, I’ll wind the clock back to the start of the process and work my way through that before detailing the final means of storage.
The first decision made awhile ago was to calculate how many onions you want to store and for how long.
In our case, we need at least 10 month’s worth of onions. We use about 10 onions a week, which means aiming to have 450 edible onions in storage.
We then have to allow for spoiling – a noticeable proportion will have to be removed early on as examples with unseen rot or damage come to light, then a small portion are removed over the following six to eight months, and finally about one in- four go off in the final couple of months.
It means allowing an extra 20-30% for waste or rotting, to give about 600 onions.
But to harvest 600 onions, you also have to allow for seeds that fail to germinate, seedlings that fail to grow, pests, disease, wind damage, lack of rain (or too much), etc...
In our location and conditions, that means allowing an extra 40% for wastage. That means planting at least 850 - 1000 onions, which is a considerable amount of space and along with a big amount of work. Both of which have except my back aches when thinking about the work part.

The same calculation applies for our garlic and torpedo onions but with different variables.
In the case of garlic, there’s no point in trying to meet our year-round need unless I change our plans and plant several thousand cloves.

Torpedo onions on the other hand, have proved extremely reliable and free of disease for the third year in a row.
Having decided to grow 2000 onions, the next consideration is the varieties.
The best-keeping onions are late maturing onions with thin necks, transplanted from seedlings.
Onions grown from seed have to be sown thickly into trays in August, have their tops clipped to about three inches in late September then be set out in rows in October. This gives the onions plenty of time to grow, develop and mature through the long days of summer.
Thus far, the plan for harvesting and storing onions is to plant at least 2000 with the majority grown from seedlings and an emphasis on varieties that store well.

The key things to remember with onions are that too little water will result in a much stronger flavour, they must be kept free of weeds and they need the benefit of those long summer days so they must be planted out as soon as possible. We are growing all our onions under black plastic mulch.
Having successfully grown the onions, we now come to the part that I’ve been asked about – harvesting. The usual advice is to wait until a third to a half of the onion stalks have fallen over naturally, and then carefully knock down the remaining tops with the back of a rake.
You’re then supposed to wait another week or so while the onions dry in the ground before lifting them and allowing them to dry in the sun for three days to a week.
But that pre-supposes warm, dry weather. In our case, once about a quarter of any given variety of onion has fallen over, we regard them as ripe for lifting and keep watch on the weather.
As soon as we get a clear, sunny spell with little or no clouds in sight, we lift the onions and lay them out on plastic bread racks we got from a local friend.
The combination of heat from the roof, plus the direct sun gets the drying process off to a good start.

We keep the doors open during the day to ensure good airflow and let the onions cure for at least a three weeks – longer if there’s any green or moisture in the necks. The stalks are cut off to one-inch stubs after the first week.
Once the onions have cured, we put them in net bags and hang them up from the rafters in the shed. The good airflow keeps them cool and dry over the coming months.
Onions intended for immediate eating - our purple torpedos and barlettas- have their stalks cut slightly longer and are bundled into packs of four. These go to the wholesale markets or to the farmers markets we attend. They are popular sellers.
If the onions start to sprout, they’re not wasted as the green tops make a delicious addition to soups, salads and stir-fries in later winter and early spring. Even our chooks like them.
And when we’ve lifted the very last onions of the season in early autumn, it’s time to start planting garlic for the following year and to plan the next season’s harvest of onions .

On a brighter note we have finished planting out thousands of watermelon seeds along with thousands of Rock melon seeds too. Some of you know them as Rockies or Cantaloupes.

We have several rows of white Lumina "Ghost" pumpkins which we liked last season as they had a really nice eating quality to them. Also planted were two long rows of Gem Squash ( a South African delicacy) and two rows of JapPumpkins aka Kabocha Pumpkin. Still left to plant are 1000 gold grape tomato's, a few thousand yellow butter beans and a few thousand of purple bush beans.

Ok I am tired of thinking in thousands. Wait till the time comes to pick all these "thousands"
Another headache yet to come.

Until next time,

take care

November 14, 2010

Boys and their Farm Toys

Some how I always thought one needed tools and more machines to farm. I was right.
When we first started "farming" we did not know how like most everyone else starting out to work the land. Mind you we had a collection of books but like most other beginners books are great for theory but when it comes to practice it is another story.
A neighbor came by one day and gave us a hand for a few hours and that opened our eyes to implements that would help us. Our region is a fruit growing area and so vegetables on a large scale are few and far between. That friend grows tomatoes for a living.

So finally after planting thousands of transplant seedlings by hand we had built two implements and modified a third implement. The third one was imported from USA and a few things were added to it to make it more efficient. The implement on the left is a plastic mulch layer which uses 1200 mm wide plastic mulch. It has been converted to use 900 mm wide plastic mulch.
It can dispense two rows of T-tape ( irrigation lines) or single row. With the wide plastic we can do our onions and any intensive crop now. Previous seasons we did not use it and lost plenty of money due to weeds and water evaporation.

The transplanter is the large green thing. When this picture was taken it was not finished. Since than it has been wrapped in Shade cloth and can carry 3000 plus seedlings at one time.There are two 200 litre tanks given to us courtesy of James that are attached and with them we pipe into the ground liquid fertilizer mixture for pre-planting the seedlings. We use a blend of Molasses, Liquid Humates and a small amount of natural fertilizer to place the plant into the bed.

With this implement we can plant 3000 onions in an hour while if we had to do that by hand it would take two adults a few hours almost the day in labour to transplant. This way we can transplant 2000 chili plants in an hour or 3000 onion sets in an hour. We can do a entire area in short time. I had custom made transplanter wheels welded up to do 4 rows at one time. We have Pepper,Eggplant wheels, Pumpkin,melon wheels and other various wheel spacings to help us plant to the right spacing.

With transplanting 10,000 chili plants last season it would have taken us a week to do it in this fashion. Now, it can take a few hours to do and still be shaded. Last year the Farmers wife was pregnant and helping to transplant by sitting on the ground and crawling along. This way is a HUGE way better. It will also allow us to plant intensive seed crops like melons and pumpkins along with sweet corn in plastic. Just the other day I commented how I hardly spent any time weeding the onions. We do want to use the bio degradable corn based plastic mulches and we did shop the prices but being twice to three times the price of the normal plastic we did not have a budget to buy them. One of these days when we convert to certified organic we will.
The 3rd implement on the far right is a multi purpose tool. We designed it to carry two people on the back to either hand weed or to harvest onions , or garlic. You could also use it to harvest any ground crop. It can also remove the plastic mulch cut it and dig it out. It wont rewind or wrap the T- tape up. We have the parts to build that one later this year. This winter a friend James and myself spent days of slogging around int he mud removing last seasons plastic mulch and T-tape. This will make life easier. That is the goal for this farmer.
So until next time,
Farmer John going to work the fields

November 13, 2010

Watermelons are not going to be my Friends

Recently in Japan ( see photo above) a farmer came up with a novel idea of growing heart shaped watemelons. Here at KV Farms all we want to do is just grow plain ol' melons. We love the shape of them but at the price they are selling them I dont think the farmer was growing too many of them. He probably makes more money in a season of growing heart shaped ones than we do working all year.

It wasn't until 1615 however that the word "watermelon" first appeared in the English dictionary. Nutritionally, the watermelon is fat, sodium and cholesterol free; an excellent source of vitamins A and C; and contributes fibre, iron and potassium to the diet. Watermelons also contain an important phytochemical (plant compound) called lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful anti-oxidant. Apparently helps mens prostates and reduces blood pressure. For that part I am not sure it reduces the farmers blood pressure as mine was raised high by the farm help recently.

You see we decided to grow 2000 watemelons via transplants. The idea behind that was to get a headstart on the growing season. Well the day chosen for the work was COLD. Perfect I thought for doing the transplanting as the plants will set better into the soil and take. The two people appointed to plant them did not want to come out of the house as their complaint was it was tooooooo cold. Farmer John being the resident tractor operator was not happychappy.

They eventually got over it and 2000 seedling transplants were put into the soils. Next to them is a funny story about how we trial things here at KV Farms and follow them to a success or to a failure.

Last summer I grew a small row of Bannana Squash, a large watermelon shaped pumpkin like squash. Well we only grew it for our personal consumption. One day Elvis our man on the floor of the wholesale markets asked if I had anything else to send up. I said yes on a joke and mentioned the BS words and he said send them up. I called to see how they were selling the next day and by 9 a.m. they were sold. He wanted plenty more and I sent them up. We ended up have the miserable small ones at the end of season cleaning time. Well this year we have planted over 1000 of these little guys

September 30, 2010

Dismal year reults and start to a new season newsa

Dismal year 2009-2010 crop results were poor but we closed out the year owing money to various entities which shall remain anon to protect their rights. Many things went right and many wrong. Some of the crops we planted here on the farm for our own consumption turned out to be best sellers. We never got any to eat but that is the life one leads when farming.

This year we are changing our work gears and gearing up for certain crops that we know will give us some better returns. And yes like last season I am planting certain crops for the house and friends, namely Leeks, Red onions and Brown ones. In additions we are planting about 20,000 torpedo onion sets in bunches of 4. Also 20,000 of the white Barlotta Onion which looks like a spring onion with a golf ball attached!

We are in drought mode at the moment as the rainfall we have gotten has been dismal to say the least and not much rain does not help. Our soil is dry and for that reason I am placing more organic matter into the soils . I ordered 80 tons of compost blend to improve the soils and help with moisture retention. This winter I have to plant out a major crop of Green Manures into the soil to help hold the moisture for next season.

We are putting in some different varieties of Grape Tomatoes, Pink ones, yellow pear and 2000 of gold grape tomato.

Bannana Squash is going into the ground as well and sweet corn is getting a late start this year as we were hoping for more rain.

10,000 chili seedlings are going to go into the ground as well, gold ones, red ones, jalapenos and brimstone and elongated fruity Habanero style chili. Hope to see how they perform.

Until next time happy farming

November 7, 2009

Just the Farm Facts Please!

Well time is flying by so fast that one forgets that one should take more time out to update this farms blog. Oh well. Please forgive the Farmer John for being slack in this department.

Many things have transpired since our last update here at Kirup Valley. The entire Southwest is abuzz with farmers getting in their vegetables. All the neighboring farms are planting and getting their veggie patches ready. So far this season we have gotten our second batch of seedlings around 8,000 with the first batch of 13,000 in the ground and growing. Of the second batch of seedlings we put in 1000 sets of between 2 - 4 Italian torpedo onions right away. This week and next we are hoping to plant the rest.

I am still working the local Farmers market in Eaton Fair Shopping Centre located inside the mall itself. It is still new and small at this stage but hope to see it grow in the future. Once the season kicks into full swing we also hope to go to Fremantle again.

Rain showers have come and gone and the weeds have gone ballistic in growth. For some unknown reason our chili pepper patch has tons of grass weeds growing where none was growing before. This is odd but that means I have to go out and weed that much more. I have already done one pass of hand weeding of tomatoes, capsicums and sweet corn. Wild rabbits ate up and down two rows of sweet capsicum peppers AKA Bell Peppers. I hope they come back. I was forced to place bait out for them as there are way to many all around the farm multiplying.

I saw some other pepper rows eaten while doing the hoeing.

We have transplanted several thousand sweet corn seedlings and they are growing well. I interplanted several varieties of pumpkins and also a row of Coriander AKA Cilantro. My children call it Stink Bug Plant because they say it smells like them. I like it anyhow.
The four rows of about 500 sweet corn per row that were direct seeded are doing well and sprouted up quickly They seem fine and possibly will catch up to the other corn.

I planted a white pumpkin, regular pumpkins and plenty of Butternut Squashes as well.

This coming week has a kilometre long TO DO list of things like Get more rows ready for Tomatoes, transplant more Bulgarian Carrot chilies, eggplants two varieties, plant the heirloom tomatoes, and several rows of zuchinis.

The hours are starting to stretch from sunrise to sundown with work. I think I am sometimes over doing it, but perhaps need to learn the meaning of the word "efficiency".

So until next time,

Farmer John

October 10, 2009

Spring is finally here!!

Spring is here! Finally. I was getting stir crazy in the month of September as my seedlings destined for planting were pushed back for a good reason. We had 22 days of rain out of 23 days in that month. I looked at them and they were too small to plant out.

This caused some trouble for me recently as I got all the September seedlings delivered the first week of October. 13,000 seedlings to be more exact. This was just the first Springtime Delivery.

We will be getting seedlings all the way into January for a total of 62,000 seedlings this year.
We have decided not to plant any more winter crops as the amount of rain and cold did nothing for us but ruin the crops as the tractor could not travel over the ground than. The weeds took over as well as the wild ducks. They ate all of the Collards. So much for growing Collard Greens.

Anyhow this past week has been busy with getting the ground ready and planting out Chilli plants and Habaneros. We also will be planting 4500 tomato plants as well.

Sweet Corn will be transplanted for some early starts as well. While planting the colored capsicums ( for those of you in USA Bell Peppers) the planting assistants mixed up the seedlings and now will have them all mixed up Yellow, Orange, and Red.

We were able to throw out some Dolomite Lime as well onto the fallow ground that we are going to use this year. I know it is a bit late but oh well better late than never. We had a few spring showers so that helps.

So until next time. Take care.

August 29, 2009

Chile Lovers News

Greetings Chile Lovers

When we started our little farm5 years ago, I knew there were other chile heads in Australia. What a pleasure it has been to discover so many of you share my passion. Last year, we grew so many varieties of chilies here at KV Farms that it became almost a nitemare. The seedling factory complained that we had to many varieties. Later in the season we had some sweet mini bell pepper seeds we had saved from the previous year come out hot. Not every one came out but one in 10 came out hot to the point that one customer at the farmers market came back and told me that her daughter loved them until she came across one hot one. I did warn the buyers about it in advance.

I was so busy last summer that I had planned on attending the Perth Araluen Chili Festival with my main Taste Tester Jaques. I live for making him cry with all the hot chilis we try to grow here. I make myself cry when I eat our super HOT Jalapeno peppers. For some reason I just grow them extra hot. I cannot share the secret with you but trust me it makes the ones you buy in the jars pickled taste sweet. I had a wholesale buyer track me down to complain about them as well. He mentioned that the Mexican Restaurants wanted more but not as HOT!

The new superhot varieties were the best-sellers of the 2008 season, along with a upswing in Spanish varieties. People must be cooking up some hot tapas plates. The Nagas, Bhuts Jolokias and Jalapenos sold out quickly and I already have a long waiting list for this season. In 2007 we grew the Bhut Jolokia, the worlds hottest chili pepper which made my Chief taste tester Jaques cry. Mind you he cried when he bit into our Mustard Habanero as well. I gave Robert at Harvey Cheese a sample to make the Worlds HOTTEST Cheese from them. They have success from that and I have tasted that cheese. Makes your sweat pour out.

I prefer not to grow hybrids and favor the superior taste of open-pollinated varieties.However many times Hybrids are the only available types for certain sweet capsicums and chilies. Keeping heirloom seeds alive and viable is the key to preserving our biogenetic diversity. My plants always have been and always will be grown naturally, without any chemicals or pesticides. When you see me selling fresh fruit and vegetables ; yes that includes hot chilies, you know you are purchasing a product that has been produced with methods to protect our environment and for future generations as well.

We also grow sweet peppers, tomatos and tomatillo plants. There is nothing to compare with eating a salsa fresh out of your own garden. Add some fresh Jalapeno to spice things up a bit too. It can make the difference in the flavors. We hope to trial some Jicama as well as some Papua New Guinea Jolokia Chili's

I enjoy meeting customers face to face at the Farmers market. Ask about all the varieties we have available. I had many requests for more of the Ancho style chiles from Mexico so will try to grow a few this summer. We have regular customers like Susan from Twisted Pickle Gourmet Pickles and Relishes who buys many different varieties of chilies and sweet peppers for their sauces, relishes and sauces. (www.twisted pickle.com.au)
If you wish to order just call or email and we can try to fulfill your order with a free delivery to Perth when we come up. I will publish in a few weeks the various varieties of chilies we plan on growing this summer.

Thinking about chilis, well we have made our own Chili Infused Olive Oil. We used our own home grown Bulgarian Carrot Chili to infuse our own Extra Virgin Olive Oil with. That is available this summer in 250 ml bottles.
Here's to a good growing season!

Farmer John

August 28, 2009

More boring farm news

Hello Again, For some reason the combination of raining days mixed with sunshine and bits of hail have driven this week into forgetfulness. I thought I had Spring Fever for a minute. I ended up tilling some new areas of the farm to get ready for Summer planting and never finished it.

By the time Wednesday rolled around I was ready to go to a local auction to see if any bargains were available. I got three rims and three tires with rims for $35 dollars. I will send them to a friend in PNG. All the other farm implements went for too much money.

I planted around 700 sweet corn seeds into trays for an early planting of corn. This is one way we can get a head start on summer sweet corn. I will plant another 1000 next week as well to get ahead. This way if we start them off a week apart I can plant them a week apart in the soil and hopefully pick them a week apart. A friend Simon Callcut taught me this trick.

On Thursday The same Simon came around and gave me a hand with the groundwork needed to start the new greenhouse. He imported it from the USA and is now moving to the USA so he ended up selling it to us to have on the farm. It is 30 feet wide( 10 Mtrs) and 100 feet long (30 mtrs). We have room for two more of the same size all next to each other. Just a dream at the moment. One will be enough work to get used to.

We worked hard all day till dark to pound the 50 steel pipes needed to hold the arches going across the greenhouse area. This is the most important thing to do right as they all have to be precise in height and distance from each other. The plastic will not lay perfect across them if that is not done right.

This morning was cold and raining so I got a break from farming and relaxed after breakfast. When the summer season is here that will only be a memory.

I was able to finish leveling and pounding in the steel pipes with my son helping me holding the level and he actually finished tapping them in.

We than went to pound some wooden stakes to place the corners of our new chicken coop house.
So far the size is 6 metres wide and 12 metres long. We hope to have 150 chickens by next year to have our own full production of eggs for farmers market sales. Eventually when we apply for certification they will be included.

I have to build a fence on three sides to keep them in . About 1/2-3/4 acre of land will be their free range. We are not sure of the exact size so have to measure that soon.

Our vegetable picking machine is still not ready to be delivered hopefully next week as the final touches are getting installed. The mechanic started it up for me and showed how much has been done to it. I will post pictures later on of this contraption.

Well, there is much to be done this weekend so until next week See ya.

Farmer John

August 25, 2009

Winter Blues More News

I am hoping that winter is almost over and Spring is here. The peach trees in the various different orchards have been pruned, fertilized . I think I have to spread a bit of lime around them as well to sweeten the soil. A friend told me that to make them sweeter in taste I should place some around them . I know they are sweet but a bit more sugar never hurts.

This past Sunday we fertilized the pears, white peaches,nectarines and a few plums. That is hard work to shovel composted cow manure around the trees. We also set up an extention to our Boysenberry Patch as we had tons of baby berry bushes in a school but they were not getting the care they needed to graduate into our Boysenberry University so I decided to send them to TAFE. In the USA they call that Junior College. We ran new posts and wire to hold them all up in the future and this coming weekend we will transplant them all. We have Loganberries, Thornless boysenberries and plain thorny Boysenberries.

I think our row of boysens will be well over 200 metres (600feet) long. On a hot morning that is a long way to pick a row of berries. I always admire others who sell berries for the intensive labor that it takes to harvest them. Nevermind eating them. I promised myself not to make jam from them anymore. Boysenberries are from the blackberry family. The old canes have to be cut off at the ground, and the new canes have to be tied up on trellis wire. Fruit is only born on one year old canes. It is a lot of hand labor, and the canes are thorny. Hopefully time spent on tender loving care now, will result in a bountiful crop of sweet delicious berries really soon.

Two days this week was spent pruning and fertilizing the boysenberries. At times that can be hard. We have had spring like showers where it rains hard for a while , stops and starts all over again. Hopefully three more days of intensive work will have them ready for summer.

Today we will plant some sweet corn in trays to get a small headstart on the corn season.
about 500 should be enough. As soon as our new seeding planter arrives we can plant out an acre or so of the sweetcorn. Our plan is to plant about 500-600 a week. That way the staggering effect will give us enough sweetcorn for the summer sales we plan on having.

Well back to work, seeya real soon.

Farmer John

August 17, 2009

New Farm Surprise

I seem to have this ongoing headache virus that is going around these days so not much went on today. I had to go to town to pick up the sprocket shaft and new sprocket that was SUPPOSED to be ready at the engineering firm . I showed up and it was not even touched.

Anyhow the shop leading hand said it would be done in the morning. I had spoken with the owner the other day about needing a trailer to carry our fruit bins around the farm when picking fruit. I could not afford the $2000.00 to have one made that does the same job. I saw an old trailer sitting in the corner of the yard. I offered to buy it from him but he told me that I could have that one for FREE! Was I happy. Mind you it weighs a ton and is HEAVY DUTY ; has plenty of rust all over it too.

It has one new tyre and an older tyre which I don't mind. It will be used on a seasonal basis so those things do not affect the quality of fruit we will pick. I had the workman load this trailer onto the back of the ute and off we went. It was a good surprise gift.

I purchsed more steel to add to the Tomato Picker along with bolts and a few odds and ends and by the time I arrived back it was dark. So much for getting anything done during daylight hours.

I have a friend coming in the morning to help me install a new fence to keep the horses out of the rose bushes. I just don't understand why they like to chew on those things. It must be sweet to their taste buds. Definately organic. I have to clean up all the peach prunings as well so busy days ahead of me.Some days on the farm one hopes to get many things done yet the "To-Do" list never seems to get any shorter. I won't mention the " Honey-do list" in this blog. That will get me in trouble!

August 15, 2009

When something occurs on the farm we call it NEWSA.

This past week was a busy one as we are gearing up for SUMMER! yes the time of year we love and hate. We love the fact that everything grows quicker but hate the fact that we have to work twice as hard to move all that winter fat from our bodies.

For those reading this in the Western Hemisphere our seasons are upside down and back to front of yours. We start planting seeds and transplanting seedlings in September and October mainly. From that point on we keep transplanting all the way into January& a few things into February.

This past week I was able to get the seeds out to this really nice lady that manages to listen to all my ideas, talk about travelling and all sorts of things. I found out that I forgot that I had a order of seeds planted to get an early jump on the growing season and they will be ready as soon as I want them or the weather turns. As of now the days are still cold. Just today we had hail and rain.

This year we should have about 15,0000 seedlings and about 5000 direct seeded plants like melons, zuchs, pumpkins and cukes.

We have a contract to grow Yellow Grape Tomatoes, Red Grape Tomatoes and Costco sized Mini Capsicums as well.

That will keep us busy as well during the week. On the weekend we still plan on selling veggies and fruits in season at Fremantle Farmers Market in Fremantle.

We bought a second hand plastic greenhouse 30 feet wide by 100 feet long from a certified organic grower who was moving to the USA. This will help us to increase our winter and summer production of veggies. It will help us get a big jumpstart on any produce we wish to grow.

This past week I was so busy pruning peaches getting them ready for this summer that time flew by. I was able to meet with my neighbor farmer Jonny. He gave me a un-used piece of machinery we call the Cherry Tomato Picker. I am the fourth owner of this "antique" . I call it that for the simple reason that it is held together by 1/2 ton of steel welds. Over the years anytime something broke, it was repaired by adding a few welds and some more steel onto the machine.

The machine did not have a motor and was missing a few parts. I was told the bearings were shot and it was missing a hydraulic hose. No worries I thought. Well so far I have ended up taking it to the local mechanic to fix. The bearing were gone on the drive shaft, the whole mess was frozen in place and could not be removed. I also found out that the axle below the drive shaft was bent in the shape of a banana . A oil leak on the oil tank was found as well. So several hundred dollars later it is still in the shop and awaiting a motor, new shaft, machine shop replacement of a sprocket and cleaning up of the shaft. Than when this thing is finally finished we will come up with a name for it. IT should run like new once all the repairs are done to it. So, if you can think of a name go ahead and post it.

Welcome to Friends of Kirup Valley Farms Blog

Hello and welcome to Farmer Johns Blogspot. I am new at this so please bear with us as we work through the mechanics of this "Blogin" thing.

Many of you have wondered what goes on in the daily life of a farm. Well for one thing we are at this point in our lives working towards organic certification. Because of all the ramification in becoming certified we classify ourselves "Spray Free".Chemical Free is another. This is the terminology used by those of us who farm this way as "limboland" farmers. We cannot place ourselves into any particular " label" .

We do not spray chemical or chemical based pesticides on the vegetable and fruits that we grow.
We do believe in using no chemical based sprays and organic formulations that help control the bug population.We do however use on a rare occasion when pests are out of control an OMRI and Australia approved  natural sprays.

This season is going to be year number 5 for this farm. We found out looking through some papers we found that this farm was abandoned for many years but was Organically farmed beforehand.

Our goals this year are to increase our production of vegetables as well as fruit.
We have already bottled our own Farmer John's Olive Oil, We also have this year a new line of Lemon Infused Olive Oil.

We eventually  plan on bottling a Kirup Dew Drops some  year. This is a yellow jalapeno chili pepper sauce.
We also have on the planning board a Habanero Peach Salsa and also a Kirup Champagne Sauce. This is a Habanero Chili based sauce for those who like it a bit hotter than normal heat.

We had a complaint that I grew our Jalapeno peppers too hot this past season from a Vegetable Buyer who said his Perth based Mexican restaurant buyers complained to him. Oh Well one cannot please all the chili heads in the world. I normally grow all of our chillies HOT!!!! that is what they are there for. I recently burned my own tongue with a hot OP  Jalapeno.

We had over 87 different trials last summer of vegetables and have narrowed the selection to a few this year.