8May2009

Haygrove = 2 weeks earlier!

So happy to write tonight after the most productive past two weeks!  We have been so busy laying biodegradable plastic for the onions and potatoes, successfully getting those crops in last week, then transplanting all the rounds into the Haygrove – ensuring weeks of amazing produce, then potting up tons and tons of plants for our sales to Gardener’s Supply Company’s retail store as well as our customers at market.  We even found some time to harvest dandelions for that all-important Spring ritual of making dandelion wine.  It’s time, folks!  There are dandelions galore – and I’d say this Saturday or Sunday are the last days of this bloom if you’d like to make it – recipe at the end of this post.  All of this and last week’s efforts culminated in this morning’s harvest of nearly 80# of various greens to bring to the first Downtown Burlington Farmers’ Market!  After quick reflection on last year’s market inventory sheets – we didn’t have greens until the Memorial Day market last year – putting us squarely 2 weeks ahead of last year.  This is due to several factors – the amazing weather we’ve had this Spring, our organizational and planning skills, and finally – the Haygrove – doing exactly what we hoped it would do!  We are pushing the early season a full 2 weeks earlier than we have ever before!  We will even be getting our tomatoes in this week – which is nearly a month earlier than last year (I must confess that last year we got our tomatoes in way later than we would’ve liked to last year – due to many factors; fava beans were left in the tomato spot too late, grafting the tomatoes automatically makes us 10+ days behind…)!  Needless to say, we’re feeling good and realizing those 12+ hour days that means it’s Spring.  We’re feeling frantic, though, with all that needs to be done – we’re moving the gigantic geese and ducks out to the farm this week, moving the broilers outside, and receiving the next round of rare breed heavy chickens on Monday or Tuesday; what’s that they say about a rolling stone gathering no moss?  If that’s true, then we are certainly some shiny and clean stones working up a storm at Half Pint Farm!  Life is good – there is a terrific green smell in the air, the grass needs mowing, the soil is perfectly moist, the crops are in on time, the weeds are being held back for the moment, and the animals are happy.  Hopefully it doesn’t rain at market tomorrow, but even that would be OK, too.  Some pictures of our progress, and the dandelion wine recipe, as promised.


Using the new mulch layer to lay the biodegradable mulch at our field.  Using this machine saved us 3 days – we normally lay it by hand!

A 3 hour job to lay 19 beds.

Planting potatoes into the mulch – we also had our friend Chris Wagner help us on this day – we was a huge help on both the potatoes and onions – thanks, Chris!!!

The onion tunnel – looking so good!  Nothing we hate more than weeding onions – this mulch has been a life-saver in that department!

Making the delivery to Gardener’s Supply Company!  We did 3 wagon loads just like this one – and that’s only a little less than half the total!  Nice early season revenue…

Geese & ducks looking good!  We can’t wait to get these guys out to the field this week!

We’ve been training them to grass and weeds from the farm – hoping they’ll take to it naturally!

Spencer plucking dandelion heads!  A lot of recipes say to remove all the green around the petals – we never have and never will.  This is an unnecessary step, not to mention time consuming.  The amount of dandelions in these bags totaled 5 pounds – just so you can get a sense of volume. 


Dandelion Wine
  • 2 Gallons, or about 3 pounds of dandelion heads
  • 3 pounds of raisins
  • 10 pounds of sugar
  • 6 tsp. of acid blend (citric, tartaric & malic)
  • 1 tsp. of grape tannins
  • 2 tsp. of yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkt. champagne yeast
  • 5 gallons of spring water (or well water)
  1. Combine all above ingredients in a 6 gallon pail.  Specific gravity of 1.11 – 1.13.  Cover with a plastic bag.  Let bubble and ferment happily for 10 days at room temperature.  Every couple of days in those 10 days, stir the mixture.
  2. After the 10 days, rack the liquid off of the solids into a 5 gallon glass carboy.  Cork the carboy with an air lock stopper.  Let it do it’s thing in a dark corner of your house for 6 to 9 months.  
  3. Every 2-3 months during those six months, rack the liquid off the sediment.  Put back into carboy and wait.  
  4. If you start it in May, it’s ready to bottle in December.  It’s a great taste of Spring in the dead of winter.  Enjoy!!!
  5. All of the ingredients can be found at your local homebrew store – in our neck of the woods, we go to the one in Winooski.  Have fun!!!

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