ON THE FARM
February 2006: The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers Research Foundation is funding a grant for Bindweed Farm to investigate the viability of growing roses as cut flowers in a Northern climate. The grant will focus on fragrance, which the cutflower rose trade, interested more in specific form, color, and stem production, has inadvertently bred out of its cultivar pool. It's hoped that clients will pay a premium to actually smell the roses they buy. Ralph will plant twenty five specimens of ten different rose varieties and document client receptivity, vase life, and stem production. Frequent updates will be posted on the rose page.
January 2006: The ranunculus house, held just above freezing by propane-driven forced air, its beds warmed by a simple underground radiant heat that holds the soil at 52 degrees, looks like a success. To keep the soil at 52 with forced air would be cost prohibitive in Idaho's climate (a two week spell of 15 below nights in December attests to that), but the radiant heat system costs a fraction of forced air to operate.
Above, Ralph aside the ground beds. The old hose you see connects to rebar that holds support netting. The hose protects people from getting gouged by rebar, and can be used to support covering material on cold nights, if desired.
Below: A cold winter morning as experienced by Viburnum Opulus.
AT THE DESK
No Sage: Essays From the Margin just appeared in its second edition, and includes two essays omitted from the first printing--Mangoes and The Abstract Land. The book is available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com, and signed copies can be purchased directly from the author.
Leaving the Bucket: Searching for the Sacred in Addiction, essays on addiction and rural life, was released October 2005.
(Click on the image for a better view of the cover)
buy a copy
BACK TO THE FARM (ARCHIVES):
October/November 2005: This year's research and development project is underway. Since heating a hoophouse in zone 4 winters seems cost-prohibitive, we've decided to try heating the earth instead, hoping that a fifty degree ground temperature will overcome those twenty below nights of a southeast Idaho winter. Using a small propane water heater, we will pump hot water through tubing placed beneath the soil surface.
Above, the ground before laying the tubing. The sides of the raised beds were made with rough 1 X 4 lumber and 24 inch grade stakes (plus a few screws).
Below: The tubing. Hanging from the sidewalls is the driptape which is used for irrigation.
Below: After laying the tubing in raised beds, we covered it with potting soil. On the far right the soil is smoothed out, and on the adjoining bed you can see the piles, brought in one bucket at a time, yet to be levelled.
We then planted ranunculus and freesia in the beds, one to two inches below the surface, an inch or two above the tubing. The ranunculus was soaked for four hours in a water/fungicide solution to hydrate the claw-shaped bulbs. Below see the ranunculus and freesia just two weeks after planting.
As of November 10, no heat had yet been applied. Ground temperatures hover at 50 degrees.
Earlier in the season:
September 15, 2005: A load of Physocarpos coming in from the field means frost is just around the corner, with the woodies about to be harvested for the last trips to the resort areas.
August first signals the end of most of the perennial blooms and the onset of the annual crops. Here are some field shots:
Jerica, our daughter, picking the sweet peas that send her to Albertson College.
One of her chores: composting unsold flowers. On this day she "lost her head."
Rocket snaps in the field.
Rockets in the shadehouse. Planted much later than the field snaps, they begin blooming just as the earlier ones play out. The shade makes them grow taller, but as a consequence they have to be supported by netting.
Mid July means the first sunflowers appear, and the final phase of Bindweed's season is underway. The bi-color suns bloom first, and then almost immediately the minis. The last planting has just been done, a final sowing of sunflowers that should bloom in mid September just before the traditional frost that ends the year's time-sensitive work.
It's mid-March, 2005, and the tulips in the heated hoophouse are coming just in time for an early Easter.
These should be finished blooming by April 1
In the unheated hoophouse, where the sides roll up on hot days and down on cold ones, another eight thousand tulips get ready to follow the nine thousand in the heated house.
by late April, most of these will have bloomed
Preparing for a lily crop in mid to late May, the old man lays down the bulbs in a hand-dug trench. The bulbs will be covered with dirt, and after 80-110 days (depending on the variety) should bloom.
nearly fifteen hundred Oriental and Asiatic bulbs
tulips just cut, ready for a trip to Sun Valley, Idaho
AT THE PALETTE
Jeriann's most recent artistic foray is into the realm of book arts. "Dharma", a twelve frame folding book based on the Buddhist Eightfold Path, is shown here. The piece was recently shown in the juried exhibition "West of 105", which included book art from the best of artists to the left of the 105th parallel.
Click on the images for larger views.
Continuing in a similar, Buddhistic vein, Jeriann's triptych Mind, Body, Spirit is showing at The Walrus and the Carpenter Bookstore in Pocatello, Idaho throughout March, along with work from fellow artists Paula Jull, Margot Proksa, Jessie Proksa, Sarah Joyce, Cathy Sher and Kaye Turner. (click on images for a better view)
A companion piece of Jeriann's, On Reflection, also hangs at the show.
Through the winter, Ralph has been working on a piece tentatively titled Charting the Areas of Being (Equal Temperament), which looks at the connections between music, grief, and Being as it forays through the musical works of Neil Young in the 1970's and the eighteenth century philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer (a not so unlikely pair). A second related essay weaves Bergson's notion of duration, Whitehead's concept of occasions, collections, souvenirs, and bullfighting (not necessarily in that order) with musical epiphanies.