Green eggs and nitrogen

Hello Folks!

I thought I would take a moment’s break from the easy life that is summer for a Florida farmer to give you a little update.  Of  course my tongue is only slightly probing my cheek when I make it sound like it’s all barcaloungers and lemon spritzers, but these days of muggy heat and thunderous downpours are mostly low-key compared to the hectic market days.  We spent a good part of our summer turning everything over and establishing a cover crop of cowpea and millet.   It was very satisfying to get it established well this year after that tropical storm Fay soaked our field so completely last year. (There is a photo below of the lush field of cowpea). For those that don’t know, a cover crop can also be referred to as “green manure”  because of the ability of some crops to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.  The cowpea is a member of the legume plant family.  Legumes have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria known as rhizobia that reside in the root nodules of the host plant.  These little fellas have the ability to “fix” or extract nitrogen the exists in the atmosphere, which is pretty handy for plants because it is one of the most critical plant nutrients.  In a nice quid pro quo the plant provides the friendly rhizobia some tasty carbohydrates, proteins and oxygen for their work.  The end result is that our field will be enriched with hundreds of pounds of plant available nitrogen without resorting to petroleum-based fertilizers.
Our great joy of the summer has been collecting the first eggs from our “peep peeps,” as our daughter Olivia calls them.  About three weeks ago I wandered into de-poop the coop (my apologies!) when I noticed a little brown spheroid on the coop floor.  I was fully aware that the ladies would eventually start laying eggs, but the routine had been so established for weeks and weeks I was sincerely taken aback for a few seconds when I saw it.  Once I quickly ruled out that this thing was one of Olivia’s toys or possibly a neatly polished asteroid, I picked it up and did the appropriate dancing and gyrating.  I sought out our oldest hen, a lovely black australorps variety who was the probable creator, but she seemed uninterested in a celebratory hug.   Within a week or so we were also getting eggs from our aracauna hens that lay a lovely light green egg. The resulting mix in our egg crate containers is quite pleasing to the eye (a photo is included below).  Unfortunately, our little flock of ten hens does not lay enough to sell at market — but we do hope to expand in the near future!
We are getting ready for the upcoming fall season and will be seeding very soon.  This year we are going to be offering ready- made-garden trays for those interested in organic transplants for their garden.  For $25 you get a 72 cell tray (or $15 for 36) chock full of fall veggie plants started in an organically certified growing medium.  The trays may include broccoli, cauliflower, red and green cabbage, kohrabi, red russian and dino kale, brussels sprouts, butterhead and romaine lettuces, cilantro, dill and basil.  We can also include squash (patty pan and yellow/green zephyr) and cucumber seedlings as well. Our first planting will be the first week of September which means the trays will be ready for market by the end of September to beginning of October — perfect timing for your fall garden.
If you are interested in a tray (or two) please let us know so that we can plant accordingly.   To order, Fill out the form below by listing the number of the varieties that you would want as well as the location you would prefer to pick it up at.  Please make sure that they add up to 72!  Please email the finished form to downtoearthjax(at)
Please enjoy the rest of your summer and we’ll see you in the fall!
In Peace,
Brian, Kristin and Olivia
Way to go chickens!
Cowpea hard at work.
Down to Earth Seedling Tray Order Form (Complete, copy and email to downtoearthjax(at)
The seeds will be planted this week and the trays will be delivered in about a month (end of September)  to the market of your choosing.  (This is the exact timing that we use here at the farm).  We will send out a notice that trays will be ready though email and also make a reminder call.

How many full trays would you like to order ?(72cells -11″x22″  for $25):
How many half trays would you like to order ?(36cells – 11″x11″ for $15):
Where would you like to pick up your tray?
(Please type GM for Green Market at Jarboe Park or RAM for Riverside Arts Market):

Variety  Quantity
Broccoli                 0
cabbage (red)         0
cabbage (green)      0
Arugula                  0
Brussels Sprouts    0
Cauliflower             0                                      * frost sensitive crop
Dino Kale               0
Tatsoi                    0
Red Russian Kale   0
kohlrabi                  0
lettuce – green romaine        0
lettuce – butterhead             0
lettuce – red romaine           0
basil*                      0
dill*                         0

Total                       0

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