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Posted 7/25/2011 2:27pm by Brett Werner.

Muddy Pumpkin Farms introduces the 2011 crop of melons, beginning with a sweet, yellow-fleshed favorite, Yellow Doll. Get them early and often!

Yellow Dolls

Though we've been having to take a few more water and lemonade breaks throughout these hots days of midsummer, the melons haven't taken a break. They're growing really quickly.

Flowers to melons

What I like about this picture is moving from blosson to baby melon to big melons, though Yellow Dolls are by no means "big melons." Speaking of blossoms, our melon patches are humming with the sounds of bees.

Melon Bee

The bees are pollinating the melons like crazy, and we love them for it. While it's possible to hand-pollinate melons, we wouldn't want to do it with as many blossoms as we have.

We picked and ate our first melon of the season, a Yellow Doll, which wasn't quite ready, but really close in terms of sweetness. First we iced it.

Baby Doll on Ice

Then we sliced it. 

First Yellow Doll Slices

Then ate it of course. It was kind of yellowish white rather than light yellow.

Some of the first melons we'll be selling are Yellow Doll, Galia, and Black Tail Mountain.

Yellow Doll is the one described above, and will average around 5 pounds for us. It doesn't have too many seeds and you'll find it sweeter than the small red melons you'll get at the grocery store.

Galia melons are a very interesting cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe, and were one of Brett's favorite melons of last summer.

Blacktail Mountain (seed link) is a small, red-fleshed watermelon developed by Glenn Drowns (formerly in Idaho, now in Iowa where he started the Sand Hill Preservation Center).

Sprite melons are tiny. And sweet. We think you'll love them.

As is the case with most early season produce at farmers markets, you'll want to visit our booth first thing to make sure you get them. Once we're in prime melon season, we'll likely have lots available, but for now, you'll want to stop by right away.

Blossom and Hoophouse

The hoophouse is still in full swing, growing some big tomatoes and peppers. It feels like a jungle in there.

Inside the hoophouse July 25

And the field tomatoes are coming along nicely. We'll have lots of tomatoes available soon, to go along with melons, so it's officially the height of the summer produce season.

Field Tomatoes July 25

And lots of peppers, so get your salsa canning materials ready.

Peppers July 25

In other news, our good friend Cory Heidelberger spent some time in Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of Dakota Rural Action, the South Dakota organization that promotes and supports local food and healthy communities.

Despite the flood below, it's terribly dry here atop the hills. The trees are wilting, the grasses are turning yellow, and the grasshoppers are gathering in the corners of the garden.  In the last month, our neighbors have gotten three rains with a quarter to half inch accumulation, but each time the farm has received but a few errant drops.  We've been keeping the plants alive and thriving, but the longer we go, the harder it's been. This growing season (since planting in May) has included ~2 inches of rain outside of the 3-4 inches we got between June 21-26. Rain has been fewer and farther between, with extreme events comprising most of our totals, which meant more runoff and less infiltration (useful rain). The two week stretch we're in right now is an extremely warm stretch, not rivaling 1934 or 1936 (or 1976), but it's getting tough out here. On the more positive side of things, we've been able to keep most things weeded, watered, and pest-free, without the use of dangerous chemicals or wasted water.



Posted 6/4/2011 11:16am by Brett Werner.

The days are getting longer, both in terms of daylight and work. Here at Muddy Pumpkin Farms, we're busy getting the last seeds and transplants in the ground. Besides planting, the last few weeks have found us pondering how the Missouri River can be flooding while the farm is so dry that we're worried about our plants making it. I guess you could call such a situation ironic, and we're hoping our drip tape irrigation can avert the tragic, but it's been touch-and-go at times: far less rain than we need and a mix of hotter and cooler days with a whole lot of wind. Even the storms that have come through have been more wind than rain.

In this post, I'll try to compress everything into "a day in the life at the farm." We don't really do all these things in one day, but it'll be a little photo essay of sorts.

Sunrise June 2011

It's a beautiful morning, and as the sun rises over a misty valley, we remind ourselves how lucky we are to spend time here at Muddy Pumpkin Farms.


The spiders made webs in the garlic overnight...

Spiderwebs in the Garlic


and the dew melts off the broccoli.

morning dew

Brett, Wyatt, and Elizabeth join the rest of the family on the farm, excited to work on a variety of projects and help with planting.


The morning's projects include bed preparation and planting.We brought loads of compost down to the farm, and spread it on the beds. Matt fills the compost spreader with the forklift.

compost spreading


Then we lay mulch for weed suppression and drip tape for irrigation on the beds. Hal drives the John Deere, laying mulch.

bed making


After cutting some holes in the mulch, we plant seeds or transplant starts. LeAnn plants around the drip tube.

LeAnn transplanting


And the result is a morning's foggy vista.

transplants in the mist


We take a break in the afternoon to go for a hike or paddle on the White River bottoms and enjoy the sights like these beaver chewed trees.

beaver tree


After the hike in the bottoms, Travis sticks around to help with putting up our high tunnel hoophouse.

Travis working on high tunnel


The high tunnel takes some effort, but thanks to Matt and Hal, we get it standing and structurally sound.

High tunnel work


We get a nice view of the rising river from the forklift while we're putting up the hoophouse.

Mark and the Big Muddy


We fit in a trip to the Chamberlain Farmers Market with our salad mixes and hanging pots.

Chamberlain Market early June 2011


We find a little time to play with the new kittens (this one is named Burt after Burt Reynolds because of his mustache).

Burt Reynolds the kitten


And we watch the sunset on another beautiful day at the farm, ready to sleep soundly and begin again.

Sunset at Muddy Pumpkin Farms

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