Water!

… And the rain finally came!

For many of us, this past summer was all about checking the weather radar, raising our hopes, and then watching a storm slide to the north or slide to the south with only clouds of dust to show for it.

Water.  The make-or-break commodity for farmers around the world.  For millennia, we have been digging ditches and installing systems either to drain the land or irrigate it.  Here at Indian Head Farm we both drain and irrigate, using practices supported by soil and water resource specialists to grow a full array of fresh produce, even during seasons of drought.

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We depend on a pond, dug in a hollow created by the natural contours of the land, to store the water that we use for irrigation.  The pond is recharged after rainfalls and snow melts with the help of a dug ditch that you may have seen dividing the blueberry fields and draining the lowlands during wet spells.  Additionally, a system of specially designed underground drainage pipes collects and directs ground water into the pond.

Notice that the water level has dropped later in the season. The pipe and float in the foreground draws the water into the pump.
Notice that the water level often has dropped later in the season. The pipe and float in the foreground draw the water into the pump.

Water is further conserved by the use of drip irrigation on many of our crops.  You may have noticed narrow, flexible, perforated hoses running along the rows of plants throughout many of our fields.  Water from wells drips directly and efficiently to the roots of each plant.

Drip irrigation is helping young plants get started. Late in the summer, "dripping" mature strawberry plants will help ensue a healthy crop in the spring.
Drip irrigation is helping young plants get started in the spring. Late in the summer, “dripping” mature strawberry plants will help ensue a healthy crop  next spring.

When water gets scarce, as it was this year, these conservation measures are especially rewarding.  While our lawns may have been brown and brittle, our farm stand was still filled with healthy and robust fruit and vegetables.

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Garlic Scapes

Stepping into the crisp freshness of the walk-in cooler on a warm June day at Indian Head Farm, one is momentarily startled by the long, curly, green tendrils reaching out from their buckets in the back corner, as if to take over everything within sight. These tasty vegetables are garlic scapes. Getting to know them better, one begins to see their graceful beauty and appreciate their culinary contribution to many dishes, with  a milder garlic flavor and crisper texture than the bulb forming at the other end of the plant. Continue reading “Garlic Scapes”

Memories of the Asparagus House

 

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Bill Wheeler sits on the washing trough in front of the Asparagus House built by his grandfather in 1887.

For Willard Wheeler, who has lived ninety-two years at Indian Head Farm, asparagus season brings memories of times spent as a child with his grandfather, Arthur Hastings. Not long ago, he shared some of those memories as we sat at the kitchen table, looking out at the Asparagus House built by Arthur back in 1887.

The late 1800’s was the asparagus era for the farm. Acres of asparagus were harvested and bunched by family and neighbors and taken by train to Boston. It was thirty-some years later that Bill arrived on the scene, and by then the acreage in asparagus had been reduced to a just a couple, and the arrival of the automobile had made the Worcester market easily accessible. Bill remembers riding into Worcester with his father to deliver asparagus to the Protective Union store, where the big stalks wholesaled for 25 cents a bunch. The skinny stalks went to Truro’s Italian Market for 15 cents a bunch

Bill shared his grandfather’s pleasure at being outdoors growing things and doing the work of a farmer. As a young boy in grammar school, it was disappointing for him that school let out in June just after the spring asparagus season was over, and then, in September, he would be walking back down Crosby Road to the little, one-room South School just as the grape season was beginning on the farm. Thank goodness for the weekends when he could be out in the fields with the others. Continue reading “Memories of the Asparagus House”

The Mysterious Asparagus – Chapter 1

Asparagus, the harbinger of spring, is a favorite of many and yet remains a mystery to most.  How do you grow it?  What part of the plant is it?  What happens to the shoots when you stop picking them?  What is its nutritional value?  These photos will begin to answer some of those questions.  Watch for more information coming soon in the next chapter.  Also, check out the Kitchen page of our website for recipes.

 

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New roots are planted in trenches in the spring.

Continue reading “The Mysterious Asparagus – Chapter 1”

Life in a Greenhouse

A tiny plant that was started from a seed or a cutting is now riding in a truck to Indian Head Farm. The plant was grown in a tight, little cell in a tray with a hundred or so other cells which were then stacked and packed in a cardboard box for shipping.  Richard, our farm’s nursery man, waits late into the afternoon for the delivery so that he can open the box right away and release the plant from its tiny cell.

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Continue reading “Life in a Greenhouse”