The News from Windflower Farm
Hello from Windflower Farm!
What’s in your share?
- Garlic (2 large bulbs)
- Ginger root
- Green Romaine or red leaf lettuce
- Mustard mix
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet peppers
This week’s News comes from Daren Carroll, a member of our staff. Next week we’ll send your last Windflower CSA boxes of the season. You’ll get Daren’s squashes, more ginger, garlic and sweet potatoes, a whole lot of greens and more.
Don’t forget to sign up for our winter share here: Windflower Farm’s 2021-2022 Winter Share (wufoo.com)
Have a great week, Ted
What’s new on the farm?
Hi! This is Daren Carroll, guest-writing for Windflower Farm this week. You may remember my name mentioned earlier- I’m a long-time worker at the farm (14 years? 15? Not sure), and I also grew some of the butternut and delicata squash you have received (or will next week). I operate my own farm in my spare time- and as I like to joke with the Blomgrens, I now come into Windflower a few days a week as my “recovery days.”
I thought I’d share a bit about how I grow my winter squash. My interests have included history,anthropology, and agriculture, so I like studying pre-chemical revolution farming, when everyone was organic by default. So I went and studied how the Haudenosaunee (pronounced Hoh-deh-noh-SHAW-nee, listen here) grew corn, pole beans, and squash together. This is commonly known as a Three Sisters system. Most of upstate New York was farmed and hunted by the Haudenosaunee, so I figured their system would work best for the climate. Native Americans from Central America to Canada used this system, but it contains many variations for latitude and rainfall. Very few people use it on any scale larger than a garden, since it’s not friendly to mechanized planting or harvest techniques. I do almost all the work by hand. I adopted the spacing as recorded in Parker on the Iroquois, by Arthur C. Parker, written in 1968, who interviewed folks who had learned the pre-colonial techniques directly from Seneca practitioners in the 1800’s.
So, my butternut and delicata was grown in the partial shade of corn hills. Seven or eight corn plants are sown together in hills that are 6 feet apart in either direction. The corn enjoys full sun, and while the hills are a bit crowded, they’re still able to yield well. Squash is then sown or transplanted, one or two plants between every corn hill. Squash generally likes full sun, but by the time the corn is casting shadows in late July, heat stress can be an issue in squash- so, a little shade now and then is actually helpful for the plant.
For the corn, I grow an heirloom landrace called Hopi Blue. I retail some as seed online, wholesale some to Fedco Seed Company, and finally, I make all the grits and tamales I want out of the remainder. I selected an heirloom pole bean called Iroquois Skunk Beans (named for their coloration), which I retail as seed. The squash understory provides weed control for those other two crops, so it’s nice to cart off several hundred pounds of it, long after it’s already paid for itself. Not that I don’t charge for it- Ted and I have a trade deal going!
These final squash deliveries are paying off the Farmall 140 cultivating tractor I got from him. If you’ve followed the newsletter already, you know of Ted’s fun projects in building new cultivating tractors, or modifying the various “Gs” that have come to the farm. So I scooped up one of the retired clunkers of the fleet, the old 140 I used to clock a lot of time on, hilling Windflower potatoes. These 140s used to be the workhorses of many row crop farms across America, and now they get scooped up by organic farmers. The wheelbase is 6 feet, 1 inch wide, so I adapted the Seneca corn hill spacing around that so the 140 can do some of the early weed control. I largely manage it with a weekly wheel hoeing ‘til early July, when the squash takes over.
If you want to learn more wonky details about how I do the Three Sisters plot, I have a page about it on my website- (https://gradentalunfarm.net/pages/growing-a-three-sisters-plot) The site is also my portal for ordering the corn and bean seeds, and the many garlic varieties I grow. I specialize in heirloom varieties from around the world, and also a few newly bred types from true seeds via flower pollination- which is rare, but still possible. I am a bit of a garlic nut, and that’s the main focus of the site, but you can learn more about the Three Sisters systems and the varieties I grow. Meanwhile- enjoy the winter squash and other veggies coming- I know I’m loving butternut season!
My main page- https://gradentalunfarm.net/