Bluebird Grain Farms

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Einka sprouting

The long June light brings the world alive and each morning as I sit and sip on the porch, I try and decide which birds are the noisiest that particular morning because it does vary. One day I’m sure it must be the swallows; the next day house wrens. The quail start early along the creek, but then without question the tanagers can bust in and trump all. There are worse things to decide each day – which birds are the most vocal. To be sure, much of June was cool and sweet and we even had some rain. A welcome reprieve to the heat of April and May.

We finished planting a little later this year, with the last of the einka going in June 10th (just before the rain came that very night). It seemed like a lot of field preparation work this year, but we still did all the planting just in time (from May 24th – June 10th). Now the fun of seeing which crops flourish is upon us. This farmer has been plenty busy with each day bringing new tasks even after all the seed is in.

Following the last of the seeding we mowed off our cover crops and continue to grow them out. We’ll soon be turning them under as the vetch has been flowering now for a week or more. We’ve put our first round of biology onto our grains, which includes a beneficial microbial mixture combined with liquid fish and about 2 pounds of organic sugar to the acre. We will repeat the fish/sugar mixture again about the second week in July. When our earlier crops reach flag-leaf stage (remember from past years the “flag” leaf is the top leaf  that the grain head forms from) we will do a plant-based nitrogen foliar feeding, and then again at “boot” stage – when the grain head begins to hatch from the flag. This all can happen very quickly – possibly less than a week apart depending on the heat.

The heat has returned the last couple days of June, with temperatures soaring over 90 degrees again. This is a likely predecessor of what July will be like. July is all about growing here in the foothills of the North Cascades. We will be quite busy irrigating the crops through boot stage, and then we’ll let them finish out in August. At this point, our crops look healthy. I like the color the early plants are showing, and there really is a difference in the color between our two oldest grains. The emmer grows more slender – lanky, almost blue like our fall rye in color, whereas the einka is much greener, shorter to begin with, and “bushy”. The Einka is so closely related to a wild grass that, as I’ve mentioned before, it puts a lot of its early energy down into its roots. Then, about the second week in July – boom! Up it reaches and in the end will sometimes tower over the emmer at 5 feet tall.

Also in July, we’ll cut our fall rye and we’ll likely use up what inventory we have left from 2015; just in time for August 2016 harvest. Time to service the old Gleaner and other fun things as well.

Orders have remained decent even during the hotter summer months here at the granary.  We thank you all for your continued support of our fresh grains and flours!  I wish I could write more this round, but the fields beckon. I hope this finds you all well, and I hope the long days of July bring good things this year, instead of smoke and fire.

Thinking of cool mountain streams… Yours, Farmer Sam