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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Open House - Barn Owl Nest Box Installed!

I installed the Barn owl nest box with some help yesterday.   It was places 8 foot high as recommended by the manufacturer on a wood pole that is set in cement.    The barn owls will start looking for nesting spots in March so hopefully a nice couple sees my open house sign.
I placed it near the pond so this house has a water view also!

Here are some pictures of the nest box installed.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Planting Romaine Lettuce

I planted 3 flats of romaine lettuce today.   I bought some more insect netting and continued it down the row.  I am trying to keep the rabbits from eating them when they are small.   A rabbit can mow down a whole row of lettuce seedlings in a night which I found out with my cabbage plants that I planted Thanksgiving day, only to find all 300 gone.
Here are some pictures of the plants, and with entire row covered.   The insect netting also keeps out insects.  The insect netting is supported by PVC pipe made in a u=shape and stuck in the ground.  The netting is attached to the PVC pipe with some clips that I got at Harbor Freight for 69 cents a piece and they fit the pipe perfectly.

A row of onions

I have 2/3rds of a 50 foot row planted with onions.   I have Candy, Riverside Spanish, White bermuda, Red creole, Texas Legend, and Texas early white planted.   They should be ready for harvest this summer.   Some are sets and some are seedlings that I started a a month and half ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Grapefruit Harvest - My first income for Fox Farm

I picked my first harvest for sale today which was my first income for the farm.   I sold some grapefruit to the Riverside Food Cooperative to include in their December monthly produce box.   Members of the cooperative will receive some very nice grapefruit this sunday - just in time for Christmas.  Here are some pictures of the grapefruit after picking and whats left on the trees.  There are a lot of grapefruit on the trees this year so I need to find some more markets for them.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Insect Guard - Controlling the cabbage worm

I have started planting various types of cabbage and one of the biggest problems is the cabbage worm.   I am utilizing organic methods so spraying is out of the question.  The farm that I am using hasn't had any chemicals used in 25 years so the owner does not want me using any pesticides.  The best way to keep your cabbage plants and similar plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc safe is to keep the Cabbage moth from laying eggs on the plants.   I am utilizing an insect screen that will keep a lot of the insects off the plants, but it still lets air, sunlight, and water to reach the plants.
I am using PVC pipes glued in a U shape as a frame for the cloth.   This is a cheap way to build supports as a 10 foot piece of 1/2 pvc pipe is around 2.00.      My rows are 34-36 inches wide so so I made the supports 38 inches wide.  I attached the netting to the PVC pics with some clamps that were 69 cents a piece.   There are some pictures of the netting partly installed and completely installed at the bottom of this post..   I am hoping that this will also deter the critters from munching on my plants until they get a little bigger.    I don't mind giving some back to mother nature, but not everything.

Here is a picture of the cabbage moth.

Here's a picture of the eggs

Here's a picture of the worm

Here's a picture of the damage that they can do.

Here are some pictures of the insect guard installed that will protect my plants from the cabbage moth.

The Thanksgiving Massacre!

I planted 150 cabbage plants on Thanksgiving morning and was so happy that I finally get to start planting the 1st 50 foot row of vegetables.     Here is a picture of the plants after I planted them.

Here is what I found a day later.  The critters which could be rabbits or ground squirrels or pocket gophers had a Thanksgiving Salad Bar fest and chewed every plant down to the stem.

I have a plan to fix this.  The PVC pipe is part of the plant -  see my post called bug guard for details.  Hopefully - it will also be a squirrel, rabbit, and gopher guard also

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Plant Sale - Pie Sale Update

We held the plant sale and pie sale today.   My mother baked 4 pans of cinnamon rolls and 17 apple pies.  We sold most of the cinnamon rolls and 12 of the apple pies.

The plant sale went well.  This is my first winter plant sale.   Traffic was much lighter than my spring plant sale.  I think most people aren't thinking about planting a garden at the start of winter, but ironically, its the best time to grow some vegetables in Southern California.   Winter is the best time to grow peas,  cabbages, carrots and beets.   They appreciate the cool nights (low 50's) and moderate sunny days  (60's-70's).  

Whatever is left will be planted at my farm and grow into vegetables to sell.

Here's a picture of my mother and a Nick - a representative of the Riverside Food Coop at her "pie table"

Here's a picture of Sue Struthers, a representative of the Riverside Food Coop.   They were talking to customers about the benefits of joining a cooperative.   The cooperative is a group of consumers who are interested in locally grown produce, and want to open a cooperative store in Riverside for members to buy produce.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Seed Packs At Plant Sale

I will also be selling seed packs are very reasonable prices at my plant sale.  They are packed in packs of 25+ seeds.    They are starting at 25 cents per pack.    I am basically selling what I won't need at cost.   This will keep me from having seeds left over.    
The plant sale will be held saturday - 12-13-14 from 7am to 1pm.

Here are a picture of some of the seed packs.  This is about half of the varieties available.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Preparing for the Pie Sale - to be held at the Winter Plant Sale

We are also going to be selling pies with 25% of the proceeds going towards two community gardens in Riverside.   We will have home made apples pies and home made cinnamon rolls for sale.

My mother is busy making pies using her Grandmothers Apple Pie receipe.

The sale will be held 12/13/14 - from 7am to 1pm

More Rain coming - Finally - a wet winter!

We are in the midst of a severe drought in California and really only had a couple inches the last rainy season.   We had a nice rain last week and have another storm coming tonight - with at least another inch expected.   We need the rain and I won't have to water my garden and fill the pond at the farm which will save me money.

The cost of watering in Southern California has  forced a lot of farmers out of business.    There are grower south of Riverside that are letting their Avocado orchards die rather than pay for water, so we are very appreciative of the rain.

We had a 1.5 inches so far this month and it looks like we got another 1.5 to 2 inches of rain.  That is all the rain that we received the entire rainy season least year - (6 months).

Here is the orchard today after the storm moved on - showing how wet it is.   The trees will all get a good soaking which is appreciated.

The last picture is the storm clouds north of me.   You can see the rain falling from the clouds.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Golden Beauty - Dutch Iris

I planted 200 golden beauty dutch iris today.  This is my second attempt at dutch iris.  I planted some in a raised bed last fall and they didn't do well at all.   I am guessing that the raised bed soil was too warm for the bulbs.    I planted these directly in the ground so we will have to see how they turn out.

Onion Planting - Texas Legend and Red Creole

We started planting onions today.     We planted 150 red creole and 150 Texas Legend plants that I received from Dixondale Farms.  They are really nice plants and hopefully, they will do well.
Here are a couple stock picture of the onions

here are some picture of the planting.   My father was preparing the soil and my mother and I were planting them.  The row is 4 foot wide - and we planted 5 rows within the width of the row.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December Gladiolus!

Some may say - Gladiolus in December, but yes I have them blooming now.     They are blooming so late - for a couple reasons. 1.  Because they can in the warm climate of Southern California.   2.  Because I bought them as clearance -close out prices from my supplier in July - so they were planted very late.   I have some others that were planted later than these, but they don't seem to be doing too well, so the cooler weather may be impacting them.  

Here is the picture of the blooming in all their glory.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Plant Sale 12-13-14

I am having my plant sale this upcoming Saturday - on 12-13-14.   This is the first year I have grown seedlings for a winter plant sale.   Here in Southern California, you can grow vegetables all year long, but your limited to cool weather vegetables.  These are vegetables that you would grow in the fall or early spring in the colder parts of the country and include cabbage, beets, carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, celery - etc.  
My mother is also busy making Apple Pies and Cinnamon Rolls to sell during the sale.

25% of the proceeds will be donated to a couple community gardens in Riverside CA.
Community gardens are very important to communities  because they allow people in urban environments to learn the joy of growing their own food.

One is the Tequesquite Community Garden  which I am a member.   This community garden is 2-3 years old

Their facebook page is

The other one is the community garden at Riverside Community College.   They have a smaller community 
garden on the campus in the heart of Riverside.

The Riverside Food Cooperative will also have a representative at the plant sale to speak to people about
the benefits of a food cooperative membership.   Their facebook page is:

Their website is

Here is the flyer!

Seedling Update!

The transplants that I planted in peat pots are doing very well.  We had 2 inches of rain last week which will up the trays.   I actually had to dump water out of each tray as I was afraid the roots would start rotting sitting in water for 2-3 days.    The warm sunny days have helped them grow nicely.   Its been in the 70's every day.  
Here are some pictures of the plants.  I try to keep them off the ground to keep the bugs and ants out of them.

Transplanting Seedlings - 900 Seedlings

My parents helped me transplant 900 plants from plugs into peat pots.  They will spend a 2-3 weeks in the peat pots before I plant them at the farm or sell them at my plant sale.   We transplanted onions, bok choi, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, beets, and broccoli today.    Here are some pictures of my parents filling trays and the seedlings in the trays afterward.  I keep them in a shady part for a couple days for them to get a start before placing in the full sun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Squirrel Meeting

My neighbor hosted a meeting of some Riverside residents who are having trouble with squirrels stripping their fruit trees.  Some of the residents lamented the fact that they haven't been able to harvest their fruit for the past couple years because the squirrels eat all of it before it ripens.
We live in an older part of Riverside that has large old trees and those parts seem to have the highest population.   The meeting was held with a ecologist from the Riverside County vector control department.   The council member for our ward, Mike Gardner also attended to explain city code regarding squirrels.

The city use to have the gray squirrel as the main species of squirrel and the population was low and they weren't considered pests.
Here is a picture of the gray squirrel.

Over the past couple years, the gray squirrel has been replaced by the fox squirrel,  which is considered a invasive species.   The Riverside municipal code regarding birds, mammals, and squirrels, and it stated this was unlawful to harm or kill gray or fox squirrels.  
The ecologist basically stated that they are hard, if not impossible to completely eradicate the gray squirrel.   Some possible solutions were discussed as covering the trees with some kind of netting, but it was felt that they could chew through.   Many of the participants who have lives in the city for many years stated that they are a new presence and seem to be increasing in numbers.
The ecologist also stated that the fox or gray squirrel do not vector any diseases.

Here is a picture of a fox squirrel.  You can see the main difference is the coloring and they are also a bit larger than the gray squirrel

The crowd at this meeting was definitely anti squirrel.  Many of them stated that they didn't want to eradicate all of them,   They just wanted a reasonable way to control the population.  
Some probably had this in mind -

My issue isn't really the gray or fox squirrel , its the california ground squirrel.  Luckily, they are not protected and can be removed by various means.  They also are known to carry fleas that vector the plague.   They also are very destructive for farmers.
They cleaned out a entire row of cabbage plants (250-300 plants)   I am declaring war on them and will detail my battles on this blog.  There are already a couple ground squirrel traps on the property so give you details of my battles with them.
Here is a picture of the scoundrel.