All Posts by Tony Ricci

Greenhouse Woes

The frost hit hard last week, which did a few crops in, but made others perk up a bit. Anything in the cabbage family just got sweeter.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 10/17, 2012 at 07:59 PM

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Real Life on the Farm

Last night I attended a Local Harvest banquet put on by the Student Food Initiative at Juniata College where we feasted on the bounty of many of our local farms including our own. The students also invited me along with other farmers to talk about farming. Of course I lied out of my teeth because I didn’t want to dampen the enthusiasm these folks have for the idyllic life style which they believe we lead. 

We really need young people to get involved in farming if we want to continue enjoying fresh local food. A little deception is necessary to keep the tradition going, so I avoided talking about the first 15 years on the farm.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 10/07, 2012 at 08:06 PM

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It’s the Busiest Time of the Year

It’s official. The “we’ve crossed the threshold of the autumn equinox and stepped into what should be a leisurely stroll towards winter.”

Most people think this is the end of the growing season, but for farmers, it’s really the busiest time of year.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 09/26, 2012 at 08:13 PM

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Potato Patch

It’s hard to keep focused on a farm in the middle of August. Most people think of it as the beginning of harvest time, with smooth sailing into bucolic fall days as we stuff our coolers, barns and root cellars with nature’s bounty.

In reality it’s always harvest time on a vegetable farm and August poses a special challenge because after months of ceaseless activity fueled on the previous winter’s lethargy, the farmer has to pull out of some unmentionable orifice the energy and enthusiasm that made spring planting seem so appealing.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/22, 2012 at 10:14 PM

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Ides of August

The Ides of August are upon us, which as everyone knows has no particular historical significance other than the looming advance of summer into fall.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/14, 2012 at 03:01 PM

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The Inevitable

The inevitable finally happened. Late blight has taken most of our tomatoes.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/09, 2012 at 08:00 AM

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Tomato Avalanche

We’re finally on the brink of the much anticipated tomato avalanche. Months of preparation and anxiety over late blight has brought us to the place we’ve been waiting for since last fall when frost finally took the patch to the great compost pile in the sky.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 07/17, 2012 at 08:44 AM

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The Disease That Must Not Be Named

The rain has finally let up, but not before it brought imminent danger to certain crops. The word in the farmosphere is that late blight has been sighted in certain central Pennsylvania counties.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 06/15, 2012 at 08:00 AM

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It’s Raining Again

It’s raining again. The intermittent stream that runs by our house is so full I could kayak down to the pond. Nothing like a little white water rafting after a brief interlude of weeding the beets. That’s just the way it is on a farm, you go with the deluge.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 06/06, 2012 at 08:00 AM

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Roller Coaster Ride of Weather

Last week brought with it a roller coaster ride of weather events – one day sweating into the black plastic as we lay out the onion crop; the next day freezing in an arctic wind as we try to tack down row covers to protect tender seedlings from impending frost. 

And, of course, there was the freak snow storm that came and went like a gaff from presidential candidate. It was horrible at the time, but we were over it by the next day, having forgotten what all the fuss was about as we went on with the daily task of surviving in an uncertain world.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 04/30, 2012 at 09:33 AM

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Muddy Boots

Spring has established a strong foothold in spite of some chilly mornings. The distinct smell of thawing earth has brought on the irresistible urge to roll shamelessly in the grass – or at least to get my boots muddier.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 03/13, 2012 at 09:14 AM

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Early Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are appearing a little early this year, as can be seen from the picture above showing new garlic shoots poking through the soil. Garlic is always the first crop to make an appearance and has more credibility in predicting the beginning of spring than pampered rodents. 

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 02/23, 2012 at 06:34 PM

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Late January Greens

Green Heron Farm still has a nice supply of greens this week, but order early for those items – they fly off the shelf this time of year:

Baby Arugula
Baby Spinach
Baby Chard – Green, Red and Gold
Italian and Red Rib Dandelion

Continue Reading: Late January Greens

{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 01/23, 2012 at 09:20 AM

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How Floods Affect Farms

Last week’s flooding was an adventure—one that I would prefer not repeating once every 15 years or so. We got off easy by some accounts. Most of our crops are still in the ground, although about a third of our lane was redistributed to the entrance of our house.

Living on a slope has its advantages and as long as the water keeps flowing through the basement, we’re doing OK. Getting off the farm in a flood is the tough part.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 09/13, 2011 at 11:23 AM

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Turning Toward Fall

The season is tilting decidedly toward fall, and the crops are shifting toward soup ingredients and fall fruit.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 09/07, 2011 at 01:58 PM

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When Natural Disasters Strike

The week wouldn’t be complete without a natural disaster. Last week we hit the jackpot with two – an earthquake and a hurricane – although it was our eastern neighbors who were most affected.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/29, 2011 at 11:07 AM

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Heirloom Tomatoes

There is a general consensus among marketers that an adjective can mean the difference between making a sale and bringing home ingredients for a gourmet compost pile. Flat parsley does not have the same resonance as Italian parsley. Without the appellation “French,” shallots would just be small, pale red onions. Then there is Red Russian kale which is neither truly red nor Russian (at least according to the Russian customers I’ve talked to who think it’s just another Ukrainian conspiracy). But who wants to say purple-stemmed blue-green, flat kale? It just doesn’t slide off the tongue with the same romantic flare. You can practically hear the balalaikas playing in the background when the words Red Russian are invoked.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/09, 2011 at 01:27 PM

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Preparing for Market Day

It’s vegetable high season, and farm stands are cropping up like weeds in a carrot patch. Corn squatters and cantaloupe hucksters have taken over every vacant space along the highways, and official farmers markets are swarming with customers hungry for the fruits of the farmers’ labor. This sudden appearance of bounty after months of impatient waiting for the first ripe tomato seems almost magical. From the outsider’s perspective it’s just another one of those immutable expressions of the natural world that most people accept, like the rising of the sun. Is it even conceivable to have summer without a farm stand overflowing with tomatoes, corn, squash, and peaches?

But farmers generally have a different perspective on the weekly event that keeps them swarming like wasps over a ripe melon patch – even though we are more than willing to encourage the illusion of our supernatural ability to make vegetables appear out of thin air. What really happens is more mundane and unexciting. It’s mostly the culmination of a steady, weekly routine that starts sometime in March and winds down at the end of November. This time of year we’re basically on autopilot.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 07/28, 2011 at 11:19 AM

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The Great Divide

Every once in a while I’ll get a question from someone who feels the need to engage me in agricultural discourse in order to spotlight my complete ignorance of farming. And quite honestly, I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything about farming. That’s why I love this business – there’s something to learn every day. 

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 07/19, 2011 at 11:02 AM

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Garlic Harvest

There are several milestones during the year that mark dramatic shifts in the growing season. For me, it’s always the garlic harvest, which coincides with the first full week of summer. The harvest brings to a close the long wait for the king of alliums that started back in November when the final clove was tucked in the ground for the winter.

Garlic is a precise, no-nonsense crop that sticks to its preordained schedule whether you like it or not. It’s not going to wait around for a distracted farmer to fit it in to his daily planner. Wait a week too long and tough luck, it’s on to its next phase of development without so much as a by-your-leave.

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{name} Posted by Tony Ricci on 06/29, 2011 at 12:07 PM

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