This is the time of year that it seems winter will never come to an end but we know it is getting close and spring will soon be here. We are still shelling beans that were dried in the greenhouse last fall. I often get asked how we dry our seed. We use the greenhouse for drying most things. This is a dry, warm environment and we are not using it for plants in the late summer or fall. Ears of corn are shucked and laid directly on the benches in the greenhouse to dry. Beans are spread on large framed screens laid on the benches. We got our framed screens donated to us last year by Dr. Schiller from Ohio O.M.S. We greatly appreciate this donation. Framed screens can be used to dry a wide variety of seeds ranging from sorghum and wheat sized seed to beans, peanuts and okra. Tomato seed, once fermented and washed, are spread out on parchment paper, wax paper or paper plates to dry. We do use a box fan to increase air flow in the greenhouse, improving and speeding up moisture exchange and drying of the seed. Squash seed and cucumber seed are quickly packed off over night by mice and chipmunks if left to dry in the greenhouse so these items are dried in the house. Once the seed it dried (and beans are shelled) they are tested for germination and then bagged and labeled with name and year and put in storage.
Last week we ordered the grafted grapevines for our new small vineyard from Double A Vineyards in New York and have them scheduled for delivery the third week in April. This is the time of year that we are working out what to grow out this season and where to plant them. We rotate crops the best we can and this helps reduce pests and disease (especially blight on tomatoes). I pulled a soil sample this week and sent it to Spectrum Analytic in Washington Courthouse. It only takes a couple days to get the test report back. We expect the soil ph to be improving along with an increase of organic matter.
I am often asked who we are and about our background. I (Tony) grew up on the west side of Cincinnati. I spent weeks in the summer on a family farm. This was a typical small farm in central Indiana growing grain and raising livestock. The time spent on the farm molded me into who I am today. By the time I was 20 years old, I was living in the country and have not looked back. I started to garden in the 1980's and by the mid to late 1990's, I found myself growing only open pollinated crops and vegetables, most of which were heirlooms. I found the flavor unsurpassed and many open pollinated crops did very well for me. I passed the Master gardener exam in 2002 but due to our very busy schedule, I was not able to continue with this program. Mary grew up on a small farm in Clermont County, Ohio and has been involved in various farm operations all her life. Mary has extensive greenhouse experience. I remember shortly after we met in 2003, I mentioned to her that I grew a tomato from Black Mountain, Kentucky. She looked at me and said "that's where our family is from". Once she tasted a Black Mountain Pink tomato, she was hooked on heirlooms. "That's what I remember a tomato tasting like growing up!"
We moved to our little farm in the fall of 2007. The property was overgrown and the over 100 year old barn was neglected but had good bones. By the spring of 2008, our small greenhouse was up and various garden plots were tilled. We both work full time off the farm and work the farm in the evenings and weekends. For two years we sold heirloom produce at the Anderson Farmers market and we enjoyed this time but it took too many valuable hours from the farm. We specialize in Appalachian family heirlooms and various Eastern Native American crops. We grow out what we can with our limited time and offer the resulting genetic treasures for others to enjoy. We are not a big seed company - we are a rare genetic preservation farm that produces a very limited amount of surplus. Available items will change from year to year as we cycle items in and out thru our gardens. Some items are available every year while others may be on a 3 year grow out cycle as we have space.
It's a passion, it's a lifestyle. Grow what you eat, eat what you grow. You will never regret it.