1. plant cilantro in 48's. I will look at the white book list. We should have at least three flats of cilantro: a pinch in each cell. 
These are for planting as well as for 4" pots which I will go get today. We can transplant 48 tray cells into 4" pots as we need them. 
2. Plow if we can, for carrot and spinach seeding just west of the existing spinach rows in the willow field. 
Stop if you run into problems at the south shaded third of the rows.
3. Plow above the rows that were plowed a month ago in the upper field. Try a row, it might be too wet. I hope to do it before the rains come back. Do 4 passes or more if it is going well. Be sure we are getting the full depth, stop if not till we reset and figure out what is wrong. 

I will take pictures today.


1. We have enough 4" pots of basil, however I will get another carton of pots from Harvest farm. I will make a sign for Amity st: pots of Basil for sale..how much? 
2. water the greenhouses and note it on the watering chart.
3. Look closely for chipmunk damage... get the chipmunk trap back from the chicken coop area and with phyllis guidance bait it for the chipmunks and set in the the area north of the greenhouse
4.fill flats for future seeding: cukes, and melons, I think we will seed them in mid april in the greenhouse. Get the flats ready prepare the media with the time delay fertilizer . 
5. We will resume plowing now and I will mark with flags (with large text) the rows for carrot seeding, and peas. Carrots will be in the willow field since the carrots like the well drained soil there and the lack of rocks  so they stay straight and long. 
The  willow field drains too well to get muddy, however the high tree row along the south line casts a shadow that keeps the ground frozen a week or two after the rest is melted. 
6. Bob Cyr was very pleased that he fixed the big red tractor fix without a tool. I wasn't there , but he said he snapped off the distributor cap and found the distributor rotor had split in half. He took the blue tractor's rotor off and fitte it into Big Red and it started right up. Bob and a young salesman at the Autozone store  caused the store manager to throw down his "manager" pin in temper because he said they didn't have the rotor in stock. Bob and the young clerk proved him wrong. After that, Bob installed the Big Red rotor in the blue tractor to prove his point that they are all the same. 
Between my age, hearing and poor comprehension, I'm glad I wasn't there and am so glad to have Big Red able to move again. The manager told the kid he (the kid) was manager now..I dont know how that worked out. 
IMG_2668.JPG Connie's bike hung here for 54 years where my son Patrick and I are converting our dead storage space at 409 Main st to modern bright storage rooms. I took it to the bike shop in the center of town and from there it will go to the Cape house in Chatham and join Connie's Mother's thunderbird for use by those who havn't been hanging around so long. The bike shop owner declared it a classic.


The Farmers' Market starts 730 am Saturday April 22 2023 :a month away. 
1. Please put lettuce, mesclun, broccoli, in the cold greenhouse so they will be adjusted to the cold. We will plant them in the ground around April 1.
2. Please make copies of the seed id stakes for each six pack  in one flat of each type of tomato and pepper. No one can tell the difference between a hot pepper seedling and a  sweet pepper and no one can tell the difference between a cherry tomato and a big beef tomato seedling. The flats you put the  stakes in will go to market. Might have to do it with eggplant too. 
3. I will check the drip tape supply..probably will order another mile of it too. drips 12" apart. Tapes at 12 psi. 
4. We will fertilize and rototill the area we plowed a month ago as soon as the snow melts and the ground is dry enough to work. I hope this will be a week from today. As soon as the plastic is laid on the first two rows we will plant the seedlings. 
5. I will be bringing tools and materials to 409 Main st this am. Patrick and I are building 4  - 50 sf rental storage closets. If you have stuff to store inside, rent a storage closet and rent out the room your stuff is in. You can't sleep in our storage closets. 
6. the chipmunk trap should be reset near the greenhouse. there are sunflower seeds in the yellow hut. So far there has no been no critters in the greenhouse. they must be sleeping. 
IMG_2661.JPG the seedlings are growing too fast. We need to plant them asap.


1. Subdivide the 4" basil pots. Make one flat into three. 
2. Plant San Marzano tomatoes in 48's that have been fertilized with the time release fertilizer. 
Yesterday's wet snow storm dropped a big maple limb across Brigham Lane. I loved my battery powered 12" chain saw. Afterwards, I slept. 
3. Connie is seeding flowers in the greenhouse too. 


1. Water the  greenhouse. look  closely for any chipmunk damage
2. I will install a hose to the cool greenhouse today (my task for today.. I also am doing a small load of laundry darks. .. you know ...like retired) 
3. Perhaps I am recovering from the fun of yesterday's big blaze .. done! I got down there at 8 this morning and pushed together a handful of glowing charcoal ..the huge pile was gone.  We even had a few guest branches from neighbors..no women did that.. interesting. 
Today we will move cold stuff to the cold greenhouse...  maybe we can slow up the cilantro which is growing a leaf a day.
4. Lets try separating some of the overseeded basil pots into new 4" pots. They are big  enough to handle now. 
5. Connie is directing the flower seeding. 6 weeks from today is May..so it is ok to plant warm stuff now.
6. No tomatoes were seeded .. do that today in 48's. Single seed them. 
I have a found myself not forgetting a thing ..get a puppy. You will not forget more than once to put everything away. What is left out will be chewed till it separates, then swallowed. Since vet bills are not covered, it is not the cost of a sock, hat, or even my resMed air mask that motivates memory discipline. Our bedroom that is under control. It took me 85 years to get there. 


The cool greenhouse is set now for moving in the scallions, leeks, lettuce, cilantro. Let's put a separate hose from the big greenhouse into it so it will be easier to keep watered. 
We have approval for a ag burn today. We have a pile of dead pine .. It is all dry and should burn up fast. Come on down and throw in a few branches. 
Connie will be seeding flowers in the greenhouse .... someone try chatgpx as ask what cut flower seeds should be started now? Send me your reports and we will compare them. 
185 is mesclun and will be planted 12 is imperial broccoli in a 72  Kale 37 all of these will be set out in april as clumps and cut three times.


Cold small drip rain/snow, not enough to stop you if you need to do something. I don't. 

IMG_2640.JPG3' one way 4' the other  .... we need this ground down so we can park there. Who is your grinder? 
IMG_2645.JPG Broccoli in 72's. No  chipmunks yet in the greenhouse. they are either sleeping or know something else I don't know.
1. ok, we can seed our tomatoes now. Use pellet/fertilized media in 48 size trays. Last year's last killing frost in Amherst per the Farmer's almanac Barbara gave me was April 1. that was a fluke because Boston was 27 days later! So if we plant this week we will be ready to set them out May 1. 
2. I will add a 2' wide low level band of plastic sheeting along a 6' length of the unheated greenhouse West wall and move the scallions and leeks in there. Yesterday Yvon fixed the loose plastic and installed a panel of 1/2" plywood at a vulnerable corner of that greenhouse. He also added 5 gal diesel fuel to the deere tank. Holding the yellow can 5' up and getting the no/ spill spout to seat on the edge of the hole is more difficult than working on a slippery roof for me. Thank you, Yvon.  
3. Today I will check our supply of black biodegradable plastic mulch and order more. I will order 2   4000' x4' rolls of biodegradable black plastic from Brookdale Farm in New Harmpshire : $260/ roll. 76 lb /roll. Can't do it myself. It costs almost twice the equivalent poly film... but you don't have to remove it. I just read that we should lay it relatively loose because it will shrink tight in a few days. 
4. Jason. You said you started my chainsaw once. Would you do it again? So embarrassing, I used to do it. 
5. I have received one $300  quote to grind down the 3' - 4' diameter sugar maple (acer sacharum) stump.  I am hoping to get another quote..can you give me name? 
6. I know we planted some flats that were not pellet fertilized. If you know which ones, put a blue (message ) stick in them.
7. Today we will be moving the now down dead trees between Jesse's house and mine, to the farm to be burned. The are all white pines (pinus strobus)  They will burn fast... and no worry about pitch in the chimney. 
Bill Gillen


IMG_2632.JPG My screw analysis, a few days ago, was dead wrong. The old 3 " drywall screws were fine. the joints pulled apart because the end grain of the joists had rotted (I didn't care if the greenhouse leaked a little) so the screws were in big holes. 
IMG_2634.JPG  I used three ladders for my mini job.
1. Jesse and I will install the grappler on the Deere and move the remains of 5 dead trees (yes they were dead before they were cut down) between our houses on Sunset Ave. The branches will make another fire pile in our upper field. Robert Maienza and his partner took them down, $1500. 
2. After weeks of to do list status, I fixed the roof of the small unheated greenhouse yesterday, it could have been a better job but will last long enough. How to screw the entire panel in place? Put a piece of plywood over the see thu (fall thru) plastic roof and crawl on it till you get there. Then manage to put the screw in the drill driver and very carefully hold it on the target till you can squeeze the trigger. 
Always a surprise that what you thought a lot about.. while putting it off... is all done in three minutes. 
I did sleep well albeit with a few muscle spazzes and dreams of uncertainty.  The electric blanket brought feeling and comfort too. It was not warm out. 
bill on roof.jpgThe metal roof was easy to slide your feet over (I didn't take steps) but I had to where there were patches of course snow. I admit a little fear was exciting.
3. Today, patch the holes here and there in the wall plastic. When the greenhouse is full, move the scallions, leeks, lettuce, kale, cabbage into this green house.
4. Connie is seeding flowers with pink sign stakes. 
5. I used the white van to pick up a 12' 2x6 for the edge of the roof yesterday....I noticed  its old inspection sticker. I will be going back to the inspection sticker garage... The last two inspections were better. Not only did we pass, but the waiting room tv was turned off..if that is a trend, l like it


Temp in the 30's all day, but the sun is out. 
I have been putting off repairing the  cold greenhouse... I  have to get going on it today. 
I cleared it out last week, brought a 6' step ladder down yesterday...today I will at least stabilize the roof rafters with wide steel angles that will connect the rafters to the wall plate. At least then I won't expect that it will collapse when we have a california style storm. Their weather comes east, their lettuce comes too... I didn't see any california ag products on the Ohio train wreaks... do they all drive East ? Do we fly planes loaded with baby spinach? Is it a secret? 
Within two weeks we will have filled the cold greenhouse with leeks,scallions,beets, lettuce flats. This is to make room for Connie's flowers which she began seeding yesterday. Plus the vegetables mentioned like it colder. 
At that point the worry will be about the animals that like to eat our seedlings... fortunately no animal steals leeks or scallions. We will also plug in  several electronic repellers in the 80 sf house. 
I have a picture of a flat with two white stakes and one blue one. When you see a colored stake in a vegetable flat (which are all identified by white stakes) it is a message. Could be "sold" or "fertilize" .
IMG_2622.JPGNote the blue stake with a message, I over seeded this one. 
-Barbara Van den Berg, Jason Stevens ,very servious today-
back at the house Cyndy Gillen fixed our dishwasher (two olive pits blocked the flow) I held a flashlight which was attached to my head. The tricky screws are simple starhead screws. Back then, no one other than a pro knew of or had such a tool. If only Home Depot were blue, I wouldn't feel guilty going there. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


New people have been added to the Farm Report List. Let me know if you would like to be taken off.
This time of year people tell me they would like to help at the farm and I add their name. 
What to do? I list what needs to be done, you can go do it whenever you want. If you need help call my cell , I might even be on the farm. Do any item on the list and have a good time. If you think of it, send me a note of what you did .  I wear a hat , long sleeves and shoes. We have a bucket of work gloves in  shed A. When visitors/ customers come ..help them out if you can. I like sitting next to them on their first time driving a golf cart as they look for the crop or flowers they want to see. 
One of the golf carts is named Phyllis. Phyllis Lehrer who has  been on the Sunset Farm Report list longer than any other, is giving a lecture about the " Amherst Record" newspaper at the Jones at noon on Friday March 31.  There will be no vacant seats. 

Free: old tools I know I wont be needing.... a page from the planting list, where a  circle filled in is a flat and the date it was seeded. 
Next to that is the worktable in the greenhouse, seeds, tools, binder of 2023 seeds that I made in January when I thought it was 2024. 
This week? plant collards, cauliflower (3 flats now) singleseed 72's, fennel, peppers, 3 flats for now of cabbage.
They are all singleseed. 

I have an idea why three cold greenhouse roof joists slipped a couple inches down: when they were installed almost 40 years ago, brother Mark and I probably used 3" screws ..very light gauge type:  long black drywall screws, #6's . They were the rage then and made construction very strong, the screws could easily be unscrewed so it was easier to change your mind as you worked..especially, if you are also the architect with no plans. Nowadays, I would know the need to use "outdoor" screws, heavier guage and coated to last. The screws we used then have probably rusted in half (hence, the slippage). The constructed cold greenhouse shed addition looks its age too. I hope to see if I am right as we repair it.  I will let you know.   
I won't be doing any drawings ..not needed.. but If I need them I can still draw them with the AutoCad program I had back then and still subscribe to. I pay about $700/ year to continue my now, sentimental,  software lease.  I use it now and then, as I fear I will forget how. I can't use it for a permit however since my architectural license has lapsed. 
I won't fill the page with more about my 8'x10' shed...maybe I should get in my car and see what's new, my trips to home depot use less than a tank a month. I see the dealer has been sold since I bought the car. that's ok since I have been back only once in two years. College street Motors that keep the vans working know me very well... I bring them watermelons.


Yesterday morning Barbara van told me she put a headless chicken in a trash  barrel. It was found inside the coop, there had been no fight, there were no feathers about, and there was no head around either. I fished it out of the trash ..it was still flexible and I put it in our dumpster at the Creamery office building. 
I told Graham Caldwell, a sculptor on Lincoln ave who moved here from Greenpoint about it, He  called it a "one off" I grew up in BayRidge where we feared being a one off by Greenpoint guys. 
My Dad, Vincent,  a famous investigator,  would id the chicken killer if he were here.
Well it was a one off -at least today the rest of them were looking at me. Last night I went down to lock up their coop for the  night.. but three were still outside so I didn't. After that, nothing caused me to remember to go back down. I am so glad nothing happened.  
I am also happy the little greenhouse didn't collapse from last  night's very wet snow. I took a picture of the failed connection between two roof rafters and the wall support. see picture. The bottom of the joists should line up with the ribbon joist attached to the wall.
IMG_2609.JPGThose roof rafters have slid two inches down from the ribbon they were supposed to be attached to. What was I thinking?
IMG_2610.JPGIMG_2615.JPG flats of basil, scallions and leeks 
a bag from Big Y. which caught my eye as I was cleaning up the kitchen, (not a good thing to do if you are not to nibble) The bag was very sturdy, on the bottom I saw that it was made in Cambodia and sold by "RITE Package Corp"
I buy bags from them, so I called Jack Hurst, the owner. These bags took 5 months to get. He immediately put together a box of sample bags he thought would be "RITEfor Amherst and put them in the mail. It is a line of reinforced Kraft paper bags- he said a few years ago I had told him we needed a bag that was ecologically acceptable.
I don't go shopping often for food but I don't think reinforced Kraft will sell any better in Amherst than the cheese. 
Imagine displays of kraft bags selling anything. I will be more careful about what I wish for. Maybe I should get blue bags. 
No luck with my rat population control program to report. I think in this battle we are a bullying minority.


Despite an anxious wait in the car inspection sticker waiting room for my 1991 van. While waiting, I read an article in this week's science times that we elders tend to refer to "stressed out" as anxiety and pay it little mind. The research the article referred to said they are the same and that elders suffer undiagnosed stress/anxiety (we've all been there, done that) the results are shrinking brains and dementia. I felt elated when the inspector called my name and simply said $35. I was convinced my I could feel my brain getting larger as I realized the 23 year old van had passed. 

I would like to paint now..as a sticker present. Simple bright green is probably $1500 ... But my  brain would need a new hat if I could paint the van to look like a watermelon. The idea is like choral music just before and after a performance. It keeps playing over and over, it gets stuck in there. 

Meanwhile, leeks, lettuce, yellow and red beets, eggplant, scallion, potted basil are growing well, The greenhouse heat thermometer is set to 60 I might reduce it to 55 to slow the growth down. The chipmunks have not touched anything so far so we have taken off the clear but yellowed flat covers. We will study the flats for little plant stems with no tops and put them back on when that happens. 

Thank you for sending me several links to the NYT article :"Rats! forgetabout them." As I have experienced ,rats have a war strategy the Russians might study : I have not caught or killed one yet.  Our award winning Phyllis Lehrer trap didn't work, possibly because rats arranged for a cold spell and froze the drowning bucket. Margorie Taylor Greene figured that out, I am hoping we can put her to good use.  

The next project will be to repair the hole in the cold greenhouse roof: in a month we will want to move the scallions,leeks and lettuce in there. I will wait for a nice sunny day. 
IMG_2606.JPGlooks like a watermelon to me.
IMG_2608.JPGJust noting where we need to put pipe .. see the seep about 100' east of the pond? 
The footprints in the foreground we were last year's seep was... we fixed that.


The big maple tree is burned up. We have about 10 4' chunks of trunk in our log pile for a future cordwood business.
I completed by SAM.Gov registration of sunset farm so that we can deposit federal funds if we get a REAP grant for our farm solar project. If you have an entity that you need to register you can call me with questions:  I felt like I was on TV trying not to cry. I am going to have to do it again several times because each office building will need a registration for its project. 
In the greenhouse: plant red beet flats, chard, red lettuce, in case the spring is early and we want to set them out in mid april. 
The white van is running well ,,, I will try getting it inspected tomorrow and then get a price from Reliance (next to the  Cumberland on rt 9) for getting it painted. I'm thinking of a bright green. It is too ugly to look at. 
IMG_2606.JPG  The paint job will be a celebration for getting the sticker... if I can get it.


Today, Bob installed the grappler on the Deere and moved all of the tree limbs and branches to a pile in the upper field. 
Unless I don't feel like it, I will call the Fire Dept for permission tomorrow morning for the ok to burn tomorrow. Come and play with fire. 

This will be a hotter fire than last week. Doing it with snow on the ground means that flying sparks will be just that. 
there will be substantial logs so that you can cook your marshmallows anytime after 4. There will be just red embers then. 

Bob interpreted the dashboard terse "Increase Engine Speed" for me: it was telling me that it was going to self clean the exhaust system which it did. I didn't know why it wanted me to increase the engine speed so I went back to bed, not taking any chances that I might hurt Bob's tractor.  
The tractor is fine. 
We can start planting eggplant seeds, I will look at my records about the tomatoes: last year they were ready two weeks too early to be put out. I will look at last year's seed binder to see when they were planted that year. 
Do plant beets. Red and yellow (golden beets as the catalogue  describes....lies lies lies, they are simply orange or yellow) 
Maybe our lying culture started with seed catalogues, although the famous current liars are not known to be seed catalogue junkies. 

I have been working on my unique ID and subsequently my SAM registration so I can submit a grant application. 
Now, if you are a federal agency I am known as:  HN66MKJFV9W4. 
As far as someone wanting to use it, I am not worried, I will not still be alive by the time they figure it out. 


Above are basil pots, they are sprouting. 

I will go to Big Y tomorrow and look for pots of Basil. I will count the plans in a pot. I am pretty sure there will be fewer than 12 plants in a pot. 
So, when the seedlings are an inch tall, we will transplant them so we have closer to 12 than 50 per pot!

Plant kohlrabi, lettuce, two more broccoli flats, finish the  scallions ( more seeds arrived they are in the drawers in shed C)
If it is cold and snowy I will set a fire in our living room fireplace ... come  visit and fall asleep watching the fire. 

IMG_2564.JPG  trees down on the northside of the shed. We can burn in the snow on Saturday


1. I put all the seeds for this year in the C shed file drawers. 
Now you can plant kale. Sorry I forgot to bring them down this am 
2. The three trees that were close to the new solar panels are down now we have to drag the branches to pile in the upper field. We will do this with the Big Red tractor and chains. This weekend will be another burn I hope. We will make a substantial fire with old firewood logs once that is well established we will push the piles of branches into the fire with the big Green Deere. Its number 2038 question to Bob: does that mean it is a 2020 model with 38 horsepower? I looked it up: yes it is 38 hp. Google lists 2038 R ...is this an R? 
3. I am zooming with Megan Denardo tomorrow at 10 am. She is paid by the State to help people like me file for grants. We are applying for a 40% REAP federal grant to help pay for a 24 panel system for Sunset Farm. 
I can spend a day trying to answer one question: the Feds have lots of (?) references in their application and each one leads you to pages of questions and answers... When you read them you forget all about what you are "hereafter" Like the utility bills you get they smother you with information ..fortunately, my son Pat pays all the bills. 
4. No rats yet in the new traps. Tomorrow, I will make some rat exit ramps. 


Today I felt good seeing a 15" high pile of almost white ashes, now cool. where we had a mess of brush and christmas trees yesterday. I will spread the ashes, unless someone has found a reason I shouldn't. this is where I should try out chatgpt 
Having said that, and being retired .. that is I have no excuse for not doing myself .. I did.
this was my free sample tryout . Easy. Next time I will add some additional elements such as: what micro elements will I add. How does it react to the benefit of horse manure which it will be spread on top of, will I get Boron? is it good?  If it is so soluble how much of the benefit will I lose by applying it now, a month before we plant lettuce, kale  etc. ? The answer is way too  general for me. I need a book! 

This week we will plant Kale, kohlrabi, beets, maybe a flat of broccoli. Last year we planted the kale 8" apart (way too close together ) and three across on the black plastic mulch beds , Then in early May we cut every other kale off at the stem.
they are the first substantial food for the market sales. And young Kales are lovely. 

We have two spare 80 lb bags of concrete mix I will give you . if you can lift them. I am happy that I had enough to do my split ac system pad for our creamery office building. It took 7 bags  for a 3' x 5' x 3.5" pad. Add 3 quarts of water to a bag. 
They and whatever they are attached to will never float. 

IMG_2558.JPG  this is the winning Phyllis Lehrer chipmunk trap that I am testing on rats today. There is about 6" water and a dash of sunflower seeds. The Tractor supply sunflower  bag said "not for human consumption" so it might  not work since rats eat what we eat. None of the other traps have been successful. 


Dan and I plowed a few rows in the upper field for mid march planting of lettuce and mesclun
I noted, too late, that the uphill plow did not go deep enough: I should have levelled the hitch. Fortunately we only did about 8 passes and the area to be planted will be deeply rototilled before the plastic mulch is applied. In some places it was only about 4" deep. 
IMG_2545.JPG the good new is that we were not working with mud! the soil was pretty well drained- not dry but not mud clods either.. perfect. 
--the brush was burned to nothing by 1 (took three hours) it was slow going in that the brush was so low in density that we would burn big holes in the pile, but could get it  together until I pushed the brush together with the Deere Loader. Once it was pushed together it was done in an hour.  We had another trick too, but you would have to have been there. 
Neighbors and curious children helped too. The noise was  fire crackling ... I guess since it is a 3 day weekend, the rap and incessant beat that usually floats over the farm on a Saturday.... that keeps any thinking at bay.... was absent. 

Tomorrow,  if it is nice (and quiet again) I will try to repair the big hole in our cold greenhouse that my brother Mark built in the early 80's. We will also plant kale in 48's since it is so popular and beautiful in the April Farmer's markets. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Flats of seeds are planted - and covered in the greenhouse. minimum temp is set at 55. Whenever the sun comes out a temperature of 80 or  more turns on the exhaust fans. We have leeks, scallions, cilantro, basil flats seeded... although I have to check first thing to be sure that pots of cilantro have been seeded. We will do Kale too this weekend. I ordered 3000 more purple scallion seeds after we ran out after seeding I - 72 plug flat. Scallions are nice in that they can be sold from June to November. The deer don't eat them either. 
2. I purchased a bag of sunflower seeds at Tractor supply along with 5 50 lb bags of chicken layerfeed, for the Phyllis chipmunk trap: I would like to try it near the chicken coop too, to see if it does rats too. 
3. I hope to plow a band in the upperfield for the very early plantings of mesclun, lettuce, beets, kale,leeks, scallions. This will be done if the ground is not frozen and is dry enough so the tractor is not spinning a wheel in mud. The land will be left for a couple of weeks and in March a couple of rows of plastic will be set. (after rototilling and setting the plastic)
4. While we are at it. I hope to try out the new potato digger to see how it handles and at the same time remove any errant rocks. Potato size rocks can get stuck in the rototiller..fixable, but always just when you need it. 
5. We have at least  ten piles of brush to burn, I hope tomorrow at 10 am, providing the fire chief oks it. Come and help feed it. The wind is predicted from the NW which means that  smoke will be over Sunset ave (at the rich end) however the north west wind also usually means the smoke will rise quickly and should not be objectionable. Connie and I have not taken a flight in years, glad to feel less guilty about burning brush. 
6. Don't forget we have a beautiful puppy cage to give away. (does not fit under your seat), great puppy shower present. 
7. Robert Maienza, arborist, will be taking down a couple of trees along Brigham Lane adjacent to our farm shed. This is in anticipation of a June solar panel installation on the shed roof. The main reason is that the limbs will damage the panels when dead branches become missiles due to the frequent strong North winds at the farm. Plus, in the summer, the sun sets in the north west. The trees come down on Monday.  That means we will be having another fire to burn the branches too small for firewood. 
!00 year old plus sugar maple, the arborist said looks like it should be removed: I try not to think like that. 
We will move the van..since it has a good sticker, otherwise it should be "removed" too. I care for it. 
You have seen me pulling bush down sunset ave, that is what we are burning.


We have a free dog "cage" a cube about 3' on a side. Clover outgrew it, the original owner, Fred Byon, agreed that we should pass it along. It is a perfect cage, fortunately too small for most of us. Let me know if you would like it. 

With the Fire Dept's approval on Saturday feb 18  morning, we will be burning a pile of prunings and brush at the farm. It will be just south of the yellow hut and a hydrant with a hose. We are limited to 10 am to 4 pm. That will be easy since we are burning branches. Forget about the marshmallows, my fires are too big and too hot. 

We are seeding in the greenhouse too. The seeds are in a package on the worktable in the greenhouse... as I write this I am panicking that a chipmunk might have found them. I hope we can reset last year's winner, the  "phyllis 5 gal trap" to lethally seduce chipmunks again. I will buy a bag of sunflower seeds for bait.  I will also bring the 2024 three ring binder to the greenhouse that has a place for you to note what you planted. Keep books, papers and seeds to be planted in plastic bags so they don't get watered. Once seeds get water on them they start sprouting. 
20230213_151445.heic my brushboat heading to the farm from the creamery office building. I like to go fast in 4th gear (the brush does not come apart) so that is why I am wearing a coat. 
I hope to plant some useful perennials at the creamery  against the south border fence: peony, raspberries, lilac, white hydrangea. Plants that we can heavily mulch so we don't have to weed so much. Your suggestions? 

Soggy, spongy wet spot next to the shed where we had water seeps last fall is hard and dry today. I am unreasonably pleased about that. (despite not having anything to be displeased about). 


Start planting in the greenhouse. I will set the temperature to keep a min of 55. I will set the fans to cool off at 85. When a fan is going, be sure the intake louvers on the north wall have opened. Will be automatic unless something is stuck or leaning against them. 
Every flat must have a minimum of two identifying sticks: the seed number on the packets is circled be sure that number at the very least is one each stick. put the sticks inboard so they don't hit the sides of the clear domes. 
Put domes over every seeds flat, the mice and will dig them up immediately. 

#70 (a scallion called long bunching) and # 204 (a deep purple scallion bunching onion) plant a pinch of seeds scattered in #72 plug trays. A pinch is 12-24 seeds for today. May change tomorrow. Do 3 flats each. 

 cilantro #23 which is in a l lb bag. We will be direct seeding cilantro many times / they love cool weather  so we even plant them in September . I associate cilantro with salsa with mexico ( with cool?)  I  suspect that the mexican cilantro crops are grown in highlands where there is cool ...but then they need a lot of rain too.. so I don't know. Send me a picture when you go to mexico this week. Be sure to add hot peppers. 

#100  Basil Genoa.. this is a warm weather herb we will plant them all in 4" pots now so they will be ready for the kitchen counter by the  first Market in April. Do 4 potted flats do the pinch too ... be glad for the pinch, because we need reading glasses to see them.  

#206 King Richard Leeks  NO PINCHES PLEASE... these tiny seeds need to be SINGLEY placed in 72 size flats We have 1000 seeds : plant 7 flats , aim for those plugs the way Mahomes would do it. (we watched till  9 pm, very impressed with his crisp execution ) Two leeks in a hole will not make even one big one.

That's it for seeding this week. 

We will have a big fire near the yellow hut this week. I did some clearing at the north end of the 150 fearing st office building property and we also have invited brush from the neighborhood. . I asked the Mormons next door if they would like to put the big dead hanging limbs from their oak across the street from the yellow hut into my pile. 
IMG_2509.JPG  We are seeding now in the greenhouse.
IMG_2493.JPG half way  done on the clearing.
 They didn't say yes or no, Pete Wilson texted "go ahead and burn." At 85, I no longer worry that I am on a different page, it will never happen, unless there is a miracle.


1. About 70 flats have been filled with media  .. about half are filled with media that has slow release Nutricote  fertilizer mixed in. 
2. See photos of the mix 
IMG_2484.JPG2023 filling flats by cong wei.jpgflats stored  under the "benches", how Cong (known at the farm as Connie2) likes to fill them and not lose any media, the mix 3.5 oz of Nutricote fertilizer for 15 lbs of media. 
Pic-2023 mixing fertilizer with media.jpg
2023 mixing media with fertilizer.jpg
Cong and Ivan calculated the following: each bale stored in the gray house (24 s prospect st)  basement is 70 lbs and will fill 15 flats. 
2. We will seed basil  and cilantro in 4" pots for early sale at the market;  leeks and scallions we will seed now and plant in the field in  april as soon as the tractor doesn't get stuck. We will greenhouse seed basil and cilantro for planting in the field in April. 
3. The packets of seeds  to be planted will be on the table in the greenhouse  in a zip bag with the item#, the number of seeds per plug (hole) and how many flats to be done . Getting the seeds accurately put in the plugs takes skill, patience and is very important. Most plugs can have only one seed, if you have two seeds in a lettuce plug neither will make a marketable lettuce. When there are two in a plug we cut one off later . (don't pull it out). 
4. We will have a radio that will send out a bluetooth signal so you are not tethered. The music should be conducive to doing fine work, like 100 years old. 


The raspberries were mowed down today with the flail mower. Jason ran the Deere. 

We dug and pulled up the volunteer chestnut tree in the patch. I brought it to Jesse ,our neighbor , for his back yard. I was surprised to see a 2' long tap root.. Despite our concern for the well being of the tree, it suffered places where we stripped the bark off. It it lives , it will illustrate how much life wants to live . 

In the spring we will have to remove the weeds that will shoot up besides the berries. If we get a good fall crop of raspberries this way , then we will never set up posts and netting again . I did throw handfuls of 101010 on the patch a half bucket worth. 
The mid winter sunny morning , about 32 degrees by 10 am,  brought out Ben and Peter Lynch, Jason Stephens, Cong and Ivan Wei . We were done by 1230. 
We also filled flats with media in the greenhouse . I remembered too late that we should be adding our delay fertilizer at the rate of 1 lb / bale of media. A media bale weighs 80 lbs, we will weigh a flat of 72 plugs and calculate  a size cup that should be in each flat... it may be a few tablespoons , I will let you know. Ivan is a numbers man so it should be a  good  calculation. the rest of our flats will have the fertilizer mixed in. 
To my readers who are vacationing ... please send me photos of farmer's markets and or farm work - like trellised tomatoes. Send pictures of the price signs , we talk a lot about the signs at the market. 
I think they  should be fresh with large graphics, they  should have an upbeat gesture. I think the ones in NYC at 14 th st
typically look like ten year old tired dogeared playing cards..just not happy or appetizing. 
Send me pictures that inform us as to the spacing of the plants in the field, the weeds or lack of them, Show me where they store their boxes, pails, tubs, lugs. Show me their tools too.


1. fill flats in greenhouse,, we will start filling 96 and 48 plug flats with media in the greenhouse  this week. Next week we will seed early items: leeks, scallion, mini cukes to be matured on a trellis against the Northwall of the greenhouse ( inside so it is the south facing wall inside the greenhouse). Do not put them under the  big louvres. 
2. I ordered 2 books on flower cultivation from the American flower Growers' association..   I too want to know when to plant and how many seeds per plug... some should be three seeds / plug and some should  not be covered as they sprout in daylight. 
3.  remove the posts and netting from the raspberry patch , they are everbearers so we will mow the patches to the ground this week for the fall crop only. We have to dig out a couple of Chestnuts that the squirrels planted in the raspberry patch. Jesse would like the biggest one for his backyard. We will fertilize the beds with 101010 one bucket for the whole patch. 
4. I will go to Belchertown Tractor supply to get  chickenfeed  and I will see what the latest rat items are. I have had no success so far ... I have had success all my life, but the rats know I am  not very disciplined regarding catching them. I love the idea of setting out owl houses. If anyone will make us some ,  do it. If you like we can also sell your owl houses at the farmers' market the way we sell John's Honey. There have been references in the NYT about organic farmers using owls to control rats and squirrels. 
5.  Our 19 chickens  turn their  water heater off , that is what happens since I bought an attractive  dog watering bowl and put it in the chicken yard... known for their intelligence too. They step on the heater "off" button... and it works. When they don't turn it off it is a very nice watering bowl, designed to look good in your kitchen. I think  the bowls someday will be "smart" bowls. 
6. Not a farm task , but a good one for a very slow walker (me), we have to reline our parking lots with a little push "truck" .
We have a box of white lines in spray cans .When  Buying them at Home Depot , a home depot employee at the self checkout verified I am not going to be breathing them for some long lost lust.  I  guess you would call it "carded". 
IMG_2449.JPG  Jason installed new lighting a year ago in the greenhouse and the sheds... all shop lights that go on and off when they see you. Something about them gives me a little jolt of pleasure everytime. You can't find them at home depot .. even if you bring a headlight to study the many shelved items in one of the dim  electric rows. 
I used "search "on amazon to find them quickly and they arrived a day later.. they see movement and dark.


Almost no farm work  today. I did send a list of farm income and expenses of 2022 to our tax preparer. Our tax work is done. 
And I thought about the takeaways from Tuesday's cut flower  convention at Stow Ma. 
We had an hour of excruciating detail of changes to the state form for your annual pesticide license. The date of submission has changed! I have already forgotten (I worked on that) the rest .... since we don't have a license and don't need one. 
Connie and I met David Cressey of Cressey Greenhouses in Rowley, Ma and heard about his hanging pots of bearing strawberries, they sell and deliver, hundreds of strawberry pots in June. We are going to go see his operation in June and see for ourselves. Our lunchtime conversation with him was a good "why,"  you go to these things. 
We also had an illustrated lecture about manufacturing bales of growing mix.  Peat moss will be designed out of these mixes ...mining the peat in Europe is almost outlawed, including Ireland,  since the peat fields replace themselves in about 1000 years. I didn't know that the bogs can be excavated only about 30 days a year... wetness and equipment, that the surge in peat moss prices is due to the demand for growing cannabis and the cost of shipping. Nobody wants to be a truck driver when they grow up so there is a shortage of drivers ... like 300,000 drivers. Even if you can bag it, you have to get it to market. 
The industry now is reducing the peatmoss content with other fibers made from exploded wood and paper pellets. Not only is it cheaper than peat but fibers are being developed that absorb even more water than peat moss. And it weighs less. 
The bales we get are 3.8 cu ft bales that cost $27, weigh about 80 lbs each: we use about 15 bales a year. New mixes with up to 30% non peat fibers will do as well for growing and permit more bales on a truck load. It was fun to hear a guy talking about his factories and how they are designed. (wish you were there) A very important ingredient is the wetting agent. You don't make money when you are trying to wet your media. Having media with a wetting agent makes getting the fluffy dry moss wet easy now. I'm sorry I just didn't take notes. I also will have forgotten what I learned before I can tell you about it in a more cohesive form. 

We heard J. Dowling of Ball Seed co talk for 2 1/2 hr, covering and illustrating  each flower we grow. He is the best in the cut flower business ..  I confirmed with him that my new potato digger can be used for gladiolas and tulips. That will be a trip..., we heard about overwintering some flowers like sweet william. Too much to tell you about. 
We got back from Stow in time for our weekly chorus rehearsal of Rossini's Petite Messe with the Hampshire Choral Society. 
IMG_2469.JPGthe master, J. Downling from Ball  one flower at a time. Yes it was a little cool in there. The event was at a large greenhouse grower's "headhouse" . 
At Rotary today, I reported the good news that we had bought an old potato digger.. and someone asked how do they work? 
I was first surprised that someone didn't know. Before, I could get my wits about me (because that would have been a fun question to answer) ... and there was no speaker at today's lunch, fellow Rotarian, Sandy Perron,  explained how and with cool motions  illustrated the front digging jaw, scooping up a continuous mouthful of dirt, vines and debris, which drops it onto a belt of jiggling rods and how the dirt falls through and the potatoes with the trash then get dumped back on the field on the surface to be picked up.  I loved it. She lives in Hatfield... a major potato growing town.


Tomorrow we will meet with Northeast Solar 's Rusty Ingold ,to sign for a $31,000 solar panel system for the farm shed roof. 
This first step will prepare us for  our next  solar project st  the 150 Fearing st Office building (Amherst  Creamery building)
That will be a much larger project. 
Today the new potato digger is waiting for spuds at our farm... see pictures I guess it was made in the 1930's  We will test drive it this spring before we plant to see how it works..It looks very sturdy , lots of 1/4" and 1/2" plate steel. 
Next , I set some sticky plate traps for the rats. I put them where I observed the rats coming and going to the chicken pen. 
see photos
IMG_2463.JPG the traps are outside the coop yard so we don't endanger the chickens.
b8ca17c2-a41e-4792-b884-9517a6a142ae.jpgI will take the same shots again tomorrow. No promises. 
This morning Connie made omelette with sausages, english muffins using our eggs: The eggs were huge. Other than that neither of us were  aware of any other differences between our eggs and storebot ones.  I did forget to eat lunch. No afternoon snooze either... maybe,  because I had another cup of coffee with the eggs. I tell you about it because a real breakfast is usually associated with a hotel and that usually means a story. 


IMG_2436.JPGIMG_2438.JPGIMG_2446.JPGThis is the old tobacco barn where the digger has been stored. This is a farm on north West st. in Feeding Hills , Ma.
This will be  our new digger which Gene ,the farmer,  backed in here about 10 years ago , it worked then. The long black tube is for the power take off that powers the endless belt of rods. the digger  is almost 13' long and 4' wide and 4' high. 
The owner Gene Kosinski will pull it out of the barn. We will have to pull it onto Bob's long  trailer. Stay on the left (south) side of the barn to keep out of mud. Give him a call as to when we want to get it. 
He doesn't grow potatoes anymore (doesn't have a market). I asked him what you have to  service: bearings. Otherwise it is robust. 
He and his wife ( who taught chemistry for 30 years) would like to sell out and retire. His children do not want to farm. 
Made we wonder for a minute , till I remembered  digging up our  potatoes by hand. 
I asked about tomato growing. He grows about 1100 plants all determinate and all tied twice to the stakes just to keep them off the ground. He does not weave them. He grows them only for his farm stand business, none wholesale. 


Eggs are coming now and those 8 eggs I took this am were very large. They are still 50 cents since I am getting even more resistant to change .How much can I lose by selling below market rate? Am I to measure that in $ or in smiles? Remember too I would have to make new signs just to keep up . 
Bad news: I did not trap a rat yet. I will get those sticky plates , but that means I have to lock the birds in their coop for the night or they too will be flapping in the morning. 
Tomorrow at 830, Jason Stevens and I will go to Feeding Hills to see the old potato digger in an old tobacco barn. I will take pictures and measurements. We will ask Gene Kosloski the owner/farmer, who is wearing  a UM hoodie on his home page, about growing potatoes. Later,when we have a nice weekend day, we will bring it home. That will mean his big truck and the big trailer. Getting it onto the trailer will require a winch and ramps. Unless the farmer is willing to pull it up with one of his tractors.  Bob has a winch on his truck which has been  powerful enough to pull him out of the mud. 

It really would be fun if he turns out to have lived next door to us when  a student. In any event he will know our farm . All I know is that he owns three farms , one of which is 130 acres. Two of them are in Westfield. 

IMG_2240.JPGMy den. 


Having ordered seed potatoes , I am wishing I could grow them in a way more appropriate for my napping life style.  

Yesterday ,I posted on the Mass Dept of Ag exchange site a  "want": a single row potato digger. I got an immediate email from Gene at Kosloski Farms in Westfield Ma. I left a message for him this morning. It would be great if he would give me some invaluable info about potato culture as well as sell me a digger. Even if he doesn't we will take a close look at his equipment for clues. 
Potatoes are very hard to grow: you read yesterday that we have ordered 250 lbs of seed potatoes from Fedco, next we hope for an educational adventure to pick them up at a famous farm In West Granby in the first week of April. Bob Cyr knows the farm and about its last 200 years ...(Bob knows a lot of history) , then .we will try to remember how to  cut them up and plant them in 8" deep furrows, then how to hill them , then control the potato beetles, then control the weeds, then  flail the vines to death with our mower (without damaging spuds close to the  surface) , then wait 15 days for the spuds continue to swell and develop their protective skins ( isn't that a comment :they need  armor !) , then ,the big weeds must be  removed (pigweed and lambs quarters of the amaranth  family) otherwise the weeds will clog the digger, then the spuds are dug up. Although we grow more than 1000 lbs potatoes, in the past we've  dug up only about 60 lbs a week ; two big lugs , because it is so strenuous and often so hot. 
Having invested so much up to that point that we keep on digging. (Connie also calls me from the market for more potatoes around 1030 when I have just fallen asleep for my morning nap) 
Also, potatoes do not go out of style at our farmstand or at the market, and they have a great shelf life (in the dark). 
Perhaps our $25 bucket , filled with anything, also attracts potatoes . 

If we could grow them better, I would be looking for a fryer. 
IMG_1898.JPGI was the digger, Barbara VanDenBerg helped Lisa Ades   find potatoes for dinner. (which she cooked and brought to our house) , now I worry about the social impact of a labor saving piece of equipment that might eliminate  touching scenes like this.  Note that the soil does not have a lot of potato lookalike stones, which is a very common experience. 


No rats were caught day 1. Three traps were set out, only one was discharged and the bait gone, the other two were not touched. I will rebait them and bring them back...maybe it will take a while for the rats to get curious. Although with such an abundance of easy chicken feed and daily gifts of kale and brussel sprout stalks they may never venture into the trap tunnel to be killed. 
Once the traps are replaced, I will go to Amherst Copy (Sean Cleary) about scanning page c-23 of Friday the Jan 13 NYT all about Ann Gillen, (my sister). I looked in the NYT store and read that for about $200 the Times store will do it for you on archival paper and  frame it besides.  I hope  to do it for much less. fyi a page is 11x22 so I will get a frame first and bring it to Amherst Copy. I will see what paper options they offer and if they think the color will last at least 10 years. 

Zach Fried installed "Plant Snap" on my phone to enable me to give you better identification of flowers, leaves bushes trees which utilizes 475,000,000 images in their data base. So far it identified holly (ilex) and was way way off on 6 others. I will read the directions, it has to be I (me). 

That could be it. At least there are two things to do. 

When we get a nice day, my to do list says get out the white duct tape (duck is for dummies) and repair the tears in our white market tents. I love retirement. 


I received three rat traps from Amazon ($11 apiece) see photo, they will be put in the coop yard baited with peanut butter and cheese, it looks like all that will be very easy. And since the target has to go into the trap hole, it will not hurt the curious chicken. They just won't fit. 
Shuguang took a video of the rats yesterday which I can't post because I don't want to see it again. 
I will let you know of any kills. 
Meanwhile, the two groups of animals seem to get along: chickens and rats. I don't see any harm. Although it is repulsive. 
I read that they steal eggs..if so, they have done it without spilling a drop of yolk or leaving a shell shard, I don't think eggs have been stolen. 
Better item: today's gazette on page B-3 of Jan 18 is an article about plant, leaf and footprint apps so I can be more authoritative. I am also hoping to consistently include the latin names: red root pigweed: amaranthus retroflexus, lamb's quarters (chenopodium berlandieri) Barbara Feret Schuman (not a weed) told me that when she discussed my manure report letter with friends in England the latin names were needed. So I better get with it. I have asked Zach Fried to install them (the apps on my phone) . 
rat trap.JPG


Chickens are still 19 in number. They drank a lot of water and their relatively small heated doggy sized water bowl was dry. I filled it twice ,the second time the new birds had access. 
My sister Ann has a whole page story and photos about her in last Friday's New York Times, page C:16  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/11/arts/design/ann-gillen-sculpting-in-plain-sight.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare I hope this link works. We are all thrilled for her. 
Yesterday we were at the Cape: our 5 month puppy, Clover, got up on her hind legs to see what was over the horizon (something to eat hopefully)
agricultural news: our boxwood hedge at Chatham is very brown, We hope it recovers. 



1. We will burn again today in the upperfield starting at 945 am, burning branches and old wood along brigham lane. 
If you have some memories to burn, bring them. 
2. We are now studying a small 9.7 kW system which will supply almost 100% of our farm electric needs.(about $300/month)  We are studying a much larger system for the roof of 150 Fearing st. , the amherst creamery office building, which is entirely electric baseboard heated and is fully air conditioned.
3. there is nothing else needed other than cleaning and organizing the sheds. 
4. There is a need to decide where the first crops will go so when there is a warm spell we can plow a few rows so they will be ready to be seeded and planted in April. We need a week without rain and above freezing I would love to do that about March 1. I think the area will be where the peas were last spring.   rows 10-20. 
5. The chickens are doing very well. I don't think egg production has increased  but it should any day now... unless they are being stolen in a way that leaves no trace. 
6  Bob Cyr tells me there are many farming utubes .. I will try that on our beach vacation the rest of this week. 
When I upgraded our Chatham house I had a steam shower installed..I'll wear my bathing suit. 
IMG_2397.JPGIMG_2393.JPGgoing on yesterday: another load of farm firewood to the house and Paul Miller, electrician, confirming that the motor is ok on the fume hood roof fan at 150 fearing st, but it is too noisy so we are getting a whole new fan...I  hope we won't need a crane, but how else will a new one get up there? Maybe I can order it to be delivered to the roof? Maybe we can wait till the solar panels are being installed 


Today we met with pv2 about installing solar panels at the farm. 
We confirmed that any excess electricity generated at the farm can be credited to other electric accounts like our house or one of our commercial buildings. This has to be reviewed with our tax man. We can't make too large a system or the electric company will take a big cut of the electric credits. We want to stay in a size catagory where 98% of the excess power is credited to us. 
We may enlarge the existing farm shed to the south by as much as 12' to place more panels.  We also will have to increase our service from a 100 amp to a 200 amp capacity. A $10,000 inverter is needed to convert the direct current from the panels to alternating current. 
A mid winter crisis:
At our house, our big LG fridge with french doors and a drawer below, is now working again. We don't know why it started again. When we called to cancel our order for a new one we were warned by Manny's (the dealer) that this happens all the time: our refrigerator which was manufactured in 2014 is dying. They said that is very common now: refrigerators that cost $4000 stop working in 8 years or less. 
Since Saturday night our LG fridge has been better than ever..... and is so clean, we are going to keep it till it is ready to go.
We also have studied and mentally rehearsed the diagnostic test procedures for the LGs that are so well done on UTube. 

Our new dog: puppy, Clover, is 5 months old. Much less biting now due to teething, She is on a 50lb final weight trajectory, is due to be sexually mature in a month, has some very familiar human attitudes.. called adolescence, and is loved and cuddled by everybody. She likes to bark now and she is a soprano. (you can't ignore it). Connie says it has to do with attention....yes. 


Bright clear day so far: I will get down to the farm before 11 and pull up the stakes and fence for the puppy run. 
Our dog is now over 20 lbs and yesterday Bob Cyr let her loose on the farm. She ran to the other side of the pond and then became very seriously studying the ground. Bob noted especially a way of walking that lowered her whole body closer to the ground. 
She is also able to ignore you now, completely. After ten minutes or so she did look up to Bob who ordered her to come and for a few seconds Bob was standing taller himself, Bob the dog trainer. the dog came to Bob full speed.... then just continued to run and passed by him , she was teasing, and was very successful. 

The fire burned well enough to eliminate a 30' pile of forsythia cuttings and fallen branches. 
Now, I don't have a must do item ... I will start going thru our shed drawers and cubbies to put stuff where it belongs / or discard it. 
Tomorrow at noon we meet with another solar company, pv2, to review the possibility of putting solar panels and the shed roof. The big question : are we sure that  if we do not farm (like I am dead) can the energy generated by the farm panels be used to discount the electricity that we use at other locations? Other accounts? and will it be one for one or will the electric company get a cut for their infrastructure that would be used. The current estimate is that the system will be working in May . 
IMG_2385.JPGlooking north after
IMG_2367.JPGlooking south before. 


I have an Ag burn permit for today: we will burn in the upperfield near the yellow hut. Fallen branches and forsythia trims. 
As of last before a leader was selected, there were 19 live chickens  in our chicken party. Only one had been killed in the process. Every day I worry that another will be found dead. 
Our main LG 8 yr old fridge died yesterday, we bought a new one for about $4000 . This am the good news is that the old fridge is alive again. I assumed it had died by computer . Wrong. We hope to pull of the fridge all the way and do our annual cleaning of the coils in back ( which we have never done or had done) . That has to be the problem and we are so happy. 
Now we have to get in touch with Manny's in Hadley to cancel our Tuesday delivery. 
As we walked up and down three rows of fridges at Manny's , you have to be amazed that the salespeople seem to know them all plus the hundreds of other items on the floor. I  have  had an easy life. 
The final seed delivery from Seedway came in this week. We have all the vegetable seeds now , they are safe in my  bedroom. 


The chickens seem to be getting along ... so far no problem. The new chickens have not laid any eggs yet... I have read that they need to get comfortable. They are drinking a lot more water, so I will reinstall the 5 gallon water bucket which will work as long as it is not freezing. (the brass tits at the bottom of the bucket freeze) 

This week we will look around for dropped limbs for a new fire in the upperfield near the yellow hut. The dropped branches are easier to see in the bushes now. 

The 100 numbered row stakes have been repaired and stored at the creamery barn... see photo. Maybe that is why I slept so long last night . 
Also pictured is a pile of forsythia branches from the corner of fearing and sunset. That bush I planted in 1985 had grown (despite summer clipping every year) to 8' high and about 12' in diameter. Patrick hit it with my "toy" battery driven chainsaw while I stuffed the van. I got  poked by each disorganized bundle. I thought about my appointment with my degenerating  eye doctor next week. Lucky: I won't have to wait so long. 
We reduced the height of the bush so the restaurant would be more visible to traffic coming  up Fearing st, a request from our restaurant tenant. If we had waited a couple of months, we could have a tent full of spring blooms at the farmer's market. 
IMG_2360.JPGrow markers being organized. I think I will send photos to the manufacturer of these "banquet table numbers" I will offer them a seat at the table.
IMG_2367.JPGIMG_2362.JPGthe beautiful sculpture is by my sister Ann Gillen whose studio is on Grand st, Manhattan. (about 50 years) This and two others will  be transported to Utica for restoration this spring. Ann was recently interviewed at her studio by the New York Times, See her website for more.


We now have 20 chickens. We should be getting at least a dozen eggs a day. Come get them. 
All of the manure has been spread! Bob came yesterday and properly smoothed the rough ground we left where the piles had been. 
It was a pleasure to hose off the Deere tractor, and disconnect the spreader from the Big Red tractor. No more spreading till next fall. 
Although the pond is still frozen, the ice is no longer "black " ice. It grew cloudy (I don't know why)  thereby removing the magnified view of the pond's dead bottom. When it was black it was an attraction since it was hard to believe the ice was more than 1/4" thick. I thought of driving over it, probably for the same reason others' do every year and get  in the paper for having gone thru. I think Jason Stevens will be able to explain why our black ice turned milky. Stay with me, I will get back to you after "our 30 second break".
Don't come looking for the nice empty folded boxes the chickens came in. I discovered they were not so clean, after all. 

Our christmas tree is now at Michelle Chandler's goat farm on Pomeroy lane, next door to the Hadley line. I helped Bob toss our tree onto a pile in her front yard. Our puppy, Clover, has  goatlike instincts too; knowing that the goats will eat it faster, we got rid of the delicious tree. Christmas is now done. 

Next, when the sun is out, It is time to go thru all the  drawers and shelves in the farm shed and find what we couldn't. 
I will reread the label maker instructions, reuse the drawers and put them in alphabetical order. If I had to fill out a time card there would be a line for "looking for what I needed " That activity is trending. 

Our 100  row marker wire rods have to be put in order, their numbered flags will be repaired and/or replaced. They are essential for our "to do" lists for our volunteers as well as guiding the  "pick your own "  They are stored, in order, in our creamery office building barn.  
When all is done, it will be about two weeks before seeds for mini cukes, basil pots, scallions are planted in the greenhouse.


Ben Lynch and I picked up 15 poults at the Diamond Farm in Millers falls this mornng. $18 apiece. They are ready to bear eggs today. The birds were already packed in cardboard boxes 2 to a box and they loaded my Forrester. 30 minutes later they were in our chicken run.  Connie wondered which were the new chickens....that is how big they are. 

If anyone wants 7 very nice cardboard boxes...take them. 
Last I looked the new ones were all together at the northwest corner of their run and the 5 old ones were together at the south east corner. 

Later, I spread manure on the chestnut field (pictured above) and have almost finished. Tomorrow I will clean the tractors. 
Next door to the chicken farm were hay fields that had just been manured. It was very good to see that I am not the only one doing it and doing it now. It looked like our work too. 
Temp was 56 F this afternoon... and our christmas tree is on its way to a goat farm tomorrow-Chandler's Place on Pomeroy Lane. 

link to more photos : https://photos.app.goo.gl/5UqW8sjSHecwhLYJ8  just trying this out.


We will pick up the new poults on Friday morning.
Between now and then I am filling the holes along the edge of the chicken yard with stones. I bring the stones to the chicken yard door with the Deere and then put them in buckets and dump them in the holes. 
It took me several days to think about the frozen manure spreader and what to do. It took a minute for the spreader to thaw out after I dropped a load of hot steaming manure into it. So We are in business spreading again. This weekend, however, when the temps are in the 50's we will be hoping we don't get stuck in the mud. 
We have some fat rats who have made tunnels into the chicken yard with its regular feed and water warmer. I would like to drop rat poison down their holes, but I bet the rats would take and throw up out of their hole for the chickens to eat. 
Any other ideas?


At 1030 am I went and found the hydrant near the yellow cooler inoperable because the little hose turnoffs at the spigot were turned off and frozen in place. 
I went to the hose bibb under the blackboard that was flowing. I went into the pressure tank room and  noted that the temperature in that room has not gone below 43 ever and the pump switch (which is above the pressure tank) was set on . (the pump is at the bottom of the well) 
I forgot to go into the greenhouse and try that hydrant  . If there is a shut off at the hydrant spigot then that could be frozen shut.  Since there is no heat now in the greenhouse. 

I  am hoping the cold will  exterminate the  greenhouse bugs and molds. 

Maybe someone else got the system going, it was working fine a minute ago. 

IMG_2337.JPGIMG_2335.JPGIMG_2333.JPGBob replaced the broken alternator and our carburetor. the carburetor for the summer ran full speed all the time, like our pup. 
Bob somehow was able to replace the parts without gloves on in the 10degree weather. 
the tracks are pick up which is fitted out with tools necessary for most repairs.

I checked the chickens which were all inside the coop despite the sunny day (that is unusual). One was busy laying me a present. 


I don't think anyone other than me planned to spread today. It can't be done since the moving parts of the spreader are all frozen dead. The parts  are glued together by the low temperature has frozen everything. Nothing will move. the manure cannot be spread. 
The two tractors started right up but that was it . 

Instead, I am walking around the field just east of the pond where a stream of water still is flowing into the pond. 
Is it normal storm runoff or is it town drinking water that is leaking from a water main? ? 

Weird getting my face frozen by the steady southwest wind in that area. I don't remember ever facing a frigid south west wind.


Ivan worked in the bright sun and 30's temperatures for a few hours today spreading manure on the upper field. The cold nights  make it possible.
I got two (yellow) 5 gal cans of diesel fuel for the Deere Loader. We have two red cans of gas for the Big red ford tractor that pulls the spreader. 

IMG_2316.JPG  I warn you that these photos could be considered sick, erotic or holy. 
Now that we have the right mending tape, we will be looking for more holes. Only in bright sun though. These pictures also show that the old greenhouse covers can be fixed. they don't just rip apart in the wind. Plastic is so tough now that even mother nature needs scissors . Some of the holes will be reached from the Deere bucket, although I have leaned a ladder right on the plastic in the past. Being carried up in a bucket is so much easier than using a ladder. I don't get dizzy then either.

I gave Ivan and Connie2 new sunset farm caps. Christmas presents for those that have volunteered on the farm this year. 
I will put the caps in the gray cooler for: Phyllis (given), Jason, Jesse, Muton, Bob(given), Michelle(given), Ben, Iman, Nicky, Barbara P, Barbara V, Barbara F. S. , Elayne, Louise,  David,  Shuguang, Naomi , Lisa A , Shruti, Chandra 
I will put your name on the tags already on the caps (next to Myanmar and Bangladesh) I will order more hats for next year. 
Back at Harvest farm in Whately this am:
I picked up vermiculite, greenhouse roof mending tape ( sticks even if wet), a case of 4" pots for the  early basil, and divisible 24,48 and 72 plug trays in 100 tray cartons .
I gave him our plug order with our pick up times: Thursdays at 3 pm. That gives them the time to assemble the order on rolling racks in the headhouse before we get there. 


Barry Roberts (Muddybrook farm) sent 4 loads of steaming horse manure to the upperfield yesterday.. just above the plowed area.
Spread it over the entire upper field. 
Add to the pile that existed along Brigham Lane too.
Don't try to turn uphill at the south end of the rows. It is too wet there, unless it is frozen and it might be. 

I have ten gallons of gas for big red and I will get the yellow 5 gal tubs filled with diesel for the Deere. 

Our five 2 year old chickens are doing well. I need research on how to add 15 poults to the flock without the big ones killing the little ones, A fence in the yard is easy, I am thinking I would make a roof over a corner area that is fenced off and put all 15 little ones there. And we will need an another heated drinking bowl. 
We will have to make solid sides since it will be winter when they come, Probably cob that together with tarps and bunji cords. I know it will be ugly and subjected to high winds. But it will be only for two months. Those of you, that can, talk to someone that has done it and write to me. I hope to get some good data on this emotional item. Send photos too. 

We are getting some very cold weather they say, if so please try skating on our mini pond. take pictures too. 

Another research item: We use the Florida tomato weaving system to keep them off the ground and easier to pick. 
We have been growing san marzano plums which are non- determinate..they will grow 8'. In Florida, plum tomato farms grow determinate tomatoes and weave them. These are more bushy less viney and will not outgrow the height of the stakes. 
Maybe, I should at least try some of these. Will someone visit a tomato farm, take pictures, and tell me what variety and type they grow? I doubt that we would see them if we took a cruise. better to talk to strangers or look at tomatoes growing? ..I wouldn't mind taking the cruise and talking about tomato research my readers have done. I could try to  cleverly work it in between the backpain and kneepain talk. I might be shunned for changing the subject. 
IMG_2324.JPG  He was stuck for awhile and I ran to get a tractor to pull him out... I didn't get there in time. It would have been a great picture ..You would worry that Chip the driver might not see you pulling him over his hood.

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


Our neighbor Jesse Johnson found the missing chain. 
see his note:

I found it!  i did some more digging around with the john deer today and l i unearthed it! looks like i had mushed it deeper into the manure pile while looking for it initially. I rinsed it off and hung it back up.
Now we won't worry about the chain breaking the spreader, rototiller or mower. A big relief. 
This week it will be cold and we will be able to spread the  chestnut field manure pile. With that we will just have to wait for Barry Roberts to deliver a few more loads for the upper field. 
I received the lowly yellow pear tomato seeds today, from Burpee, Davey Wojciehowski, the owner of Harvest  Farm that grows most of our tomato starts said he doesn't grow them.  They are shunned these days by the pros..Davey wouldn't say anything more, but would grow them, if I got the seeds. These are the extremely vigorous and untidy yellow shmoos ..and they are the  size of grapes. I don't like harvesting them. 
I meant to tell you that Davey sold me 6 lbs of Nutricote slow release pellets which will be added to the growing medium at 1 lb / 60lb bale. He said I should be able to grow my seedlings as fast as he does now. (I felt that the advice was a benefit because I am getting old..I  did feel special for a little while) 
Yesterday Bob Cyr took out his old voltmeter and found that the reading between the alternator and the battery was going the wrong direction! He is going to "throw on" a new alternator. The alternator makes alternating current when the starter  motor makes its coil spin over brushes. It has a belt connected to the engine  which then takes over for the starter motor. Some of the current it generates is also used to recharge the battery. Our blue 8N had the classic symptoms of a bad alternator: the battery was dead and even after the engine was jump started, the 8N stopped dead in the middle of the field... connected to a load of manure too and the sun about to set. If you have an alternator you don't have a generator. Bob's little pickup truck --the one that has steps for you like a bus-- has so many electric accessories that it has two batteries and two alternators. I don't know if he can plug his house into one of his truck outlets.
IMG_2323.JPGThe cold greenhouse is now about 40 years old. The wood was from a hemlock log I found on the curb and had it bandsawed at the farm by a portable sawmill operator... I think it was 10cents/ board boot. The rafters have slipped about 3" down from where they should be.
IMG_2322.JPGthe broken roof and the replacement panel below. Lying on top are 12 plastic  strips for connecting the roof panel to the wood purlins. Notice the original ones are broken and missing here and there. The plastic connectors look like a great improvement. .
IMG_2314.JPGthis is our "bad" alternator. Looks good to me.. 
IMG_2320.JPGwater streaming our of the ground and headed for the pond. I don't know where it is coming from but if it keeps up I hope to make the pond bigger and stock it.


Yesterday Connie2 and Ivan Wei came down. Ivan loaded the spreader and I did the spreading till 1 pm. 
The manure was actively composting which meant I could stick my (gloved) hands into it to heat them. The manure was dry and loose. We spread the entire pile. It's forecast by the National Weather Service to be sunny and dry on the weekend but the chestnut field will be  too wet to pull a load thru. So that two- truckload pile at the chestnut field will have to wait till the ground freezes again. 
I think we can walk the field today and look for our missing pull and drive chains. But it is still dark, so I don't know if the snow is gone. I think so. 
Come on down and look too. We still have kale, collards, parsely, arugula, cilantro maybe some leeks. You will need boots. 
This morning I am not going to cvs, however, I do have a cardiology appointment. I am hoping for a life sentence at Sunset Farm. 
The cold on the weekend will freeze the water on the surface of our 30' diameter pond, which at the deepest is 3 ft.,  there might be good ice for the first time in 50 years. Send me pictures if you see a skater. 
Pictures are of Ivan on the Deere..I don't have the skill he acquired in a couple of days. Usually the 80 year old manure spreader is banged a few times. Not with Ivan... I notice he has his glasses on and he is focused. I have glasses too, but the focus not. Good to have some snow to mark up with manure, no question as to where you have been. 



Ben Lynch and I went to Harvest farm and picked up 6 60lb bales of media  sungro mix #1. two lbs of rubber bands .. this year they are rubber colored in the old days vegetables were wrapped with red rubber bands. Since I bought two bags they might last the lifetime, I'm sorry about that, I liked the spirit of the red rubber bands. Not a big investment : $5/ lb. So I might still get red if I see them. 
The Blue *N tractor -1948 I think, just stopped running yesterday. So we switched to Big Red... it is about 10 years newer. 
It is stronger than the blue and makes pulling the big load of steaming manure seem much smoother, less of an adventure. 
The blue tractor sat in the field disconnected  (as they say on CNN "in its own bubble") I put a battery charger on and let it work for 5 hours. Then without any further ado, I pushed down hard on the start button and it did. So for now the 8N is perfect: we are not planning any long trips either. 
Tomorrow will be more manure spreading..Lets do the chestnut field. Keep an eye out for two chains on the ground: one is a new shiny tow chain, the other is a drive chain for the flailer of the spreader. We don't want any chains dumped in the spreader. So as you dump into the spreader look at what  falls out of the bucket. I bought ten gallons of gas for the Big red too. To put it into the tank I have to get a ladder so I can hold the large gas can steady long enough. New challenge: doing what I used to do.


1. turn on big red, gas it up too. Connect it to the manure spreader. To do that we have to disconnect the blue tractor which has been acting up. I have a can of start in the tool box, we will have to jump start it with big red. Once the bue tractor is started we will put it in the shed where Big Red is now. 
2. continue spreading the manure we have on the will and deer field. 
3. The flailer chain is missing again on the spreader, We will find it again somewhere in the willow field or the deerfield.
Meanwhile the narrow band of manure drop is fine. The flailer is appropriate for gloppy cow manure, it is unneccessary for our dry horse manure. 
I don't know when more manure will be delivered.. I have sent a message to Barry Roberts. 
4. Tomorrow I will be going to Harvest farm to pick up 6 bales of media, I will ask him if he recommends a composted media for certain trays like tomatoes, leeks and eggplant. If so I will get some of that too. 
5. For those of you in Florida: it is clear and 9 degrees. This makes manure spreading a cold issue since you are just sitting in the breeze all day on the high Deere. However, we have the pleasure of knowing that we have a better governor.
6. Connie's wreath making will begin again on Friday when John Piepul brings more greens to the farm. 
7. We had about 5 eggs yesterday which I meant to bring to our Lincoln ave neighbor, Graham Caldwell, who caught our missing chicken but I forgot again. And to make things worse I was unaware that the temp would be so low today and I did not turn on the electric heater in the egg house (yellow hut cooler) so they probably are cracked and frozen this am. Once of the great things about getting old is that forgetting is normal now, not only normal but it gives you something else to do and talk about. 
IMG_2293.JPG A piece of our "cold" greenhouse plastic roof broke and blew off. I will bring it to Lowes and Home depot in hopes they still stock this pattern. It will then go on the todo list to be repaired prior April 1 when we move the cold loving seedlings in there and make room for heat loving  seedlings. The blue thing - again I mention this for those people who have gone south in search of a place the exercise and waste energy- is a great tool for removing snow from the car/van roof. Actually that is required by Law in this state. IMG_2291.JPG a hole in my roof, that Mark built.


IMG_2280.JPG Bob Cyr smoothed over the big leak pit yesterday with his Deere. Next spring after we seed, we will have to park the tractors outside for a month. 
IMG_2285.JPG  The big pit and associated digging around for "The Shut off Valve" cost $2076 just from Karl's Site Work. 
In fact, I was very pleased with the bill and the work. The track driven excavator, a smaller backhoe, two very skilled operators (called laborers on the bill!) a load of 3/4 washed stone, copper piping, fittings, Town Permits and a day's work led to my reluctance to open the bill. For all that, I think it was a deal. 

Jesse, with Ivan, a Ukrainian visitor staying with Jesse and Muton, spread about 2 truck loads so far of our new manure using the Deere and our ancient Deere manure spreader. I will do some spreading  today before the snow. 
At least now the ground is frozen so getting stuck should be unlikely. 

The chickens are happily clucking. (sounds like gossiping? might be) 

We haven't got manure for the upperfield yet, When it comes, and after we spread it, the kale, collards, and parsley arugula cilantro will be done. I will email Barry as to when more manure will be coming.
I remembered to ask google about horse manure and chickens: 

Keeping Hens and Horses

A recent post on our Nutrena Chicken and Poultry Feed Facebook page asked an outstanding question – is it okay to let my chickens out in the pasture to range with my horse? Not only is it okay, it is actually a good idea! Keeping chickens along with horses is a time honored tradition that certainly can be manageable, and even beneficial – here’s why:

  • Chickens are opportunists. When a pellet or kernel falls, they’ll be there to pick it up. This saves your horse from mouthing around on the ground to find bits of feed (a practice that can lead to ingestion of dirt and sand)
I will put a few buckets in their coop today.


We have received about 6 loads steaming horse manure. Jason Stevens has begun spreading with the front loader and the manure spreader. If you would like to try filling a load let Jason know and he will teach you.... don't hesitate to ask him why and what the concept is, he is an enthusiastic teacher. 
Without any teaching, know that you don't  back up the manure spreader. And the manure spreader hooked up to the blue 8N makes WIDE turns. 
IMG_2272.JPGJason tried to smooth out our backfill where the leak was. I pray the  puddle is from the rain and not a slow leak in the pipes below. The back fill is still too soft to be smoothed, you get  stuck instead. 
image.pngI asked pvsquared to develop a solar proposal for the farm. They sent me this picture and wanted confirmation that this is the farm. The property lines do not show adjoining parcels which are part of the farm to the northwest and the east. However, I like the look of the farm. the arrow is the farm shed where I suggested they put 1500 sf of solar panels. 
The chicken yard door was found ajar on Monday and one of of our chickens gone. Thanks to the neighborhood, Tina's cooked barley, Graham's cheese bits, and the poultry suitability of the Cauldwell property, I believe the chicken had a wonderful vacation ... didn't even lay an egg. Graham decided to jump her at about 4pm and was successful. 
I drove them both down to the hen yard and Graham said goodbye. I meant to give him some eggs but I forgot to look.  
I admit I had zero expectations that the hen was alive, would stay alive and could be caught. I expect now that she will have more visitors, what with all her new friends. 
I need to find out if it is possible to get 25 new chicks that will bear in the spring. Our last ones were purchased in Millers Falls  from the Diemand egg farm. I will call them tomorrow and let you know. 
If we get another day of warm weather I will do a little cleaning of the coop too. 
I hope that Graham will find some eggs, which I owe him. next time he comes down to say hello to her.


Yesterday Barry Roberts delivered truckloads of steaming horse manure, from his 60 horse  Muddy Brook Farm in south amherst. Looks like a new truck. I wished I had a ladder so I could talk to his driver, Chip. I thought a big truck like that would cost a fortune: if so, your next Tessler is two fortunes! Per google it looked like this runs about $70,000. Looks like it would fit in my hat, but not my stocking. And as a farm vehicle, the insurance is a fraction of your car insurance. 

Barry offered and I texted, yes, immediately. When the rain stops, the northwest wind will blow and we will be able to drive our old spreader pulled by by 1948  Blue 8N over the  frozen bare ground. (Not completely bare since we have winter rye on it, and leaves that we are still spreading.) Once we have snow, then thaw, the spreading becomes impossible.
I think .. without authority, that we are disseminating biological stimulants that make the plants grow. Certainly the 1" or less stuff we put on the ground is not going to change the organic content of the soil to an extent that you can measure it. 
However, We won't need a ruler to measure the weeds that we are spreading too. Left uncultivated, there would be a 5' high completely covered field in the summer of redroot pigweed and lambsquarters.. as edible to us as it is for the horses. I think. Because they represent my management nightmare, I don't eat them. It would be like eating poison ivy and multiflora rose..both of which we have but were not delivered by horses. 
I called Northeast Solar for my farm.... they have not called back. I expect PV2 to call me today: Lisa Gibbs recommended them. 
No response from the Chestnut Hill nursery regarding my soil test and what to apply to my chestnut grove.
 I was surprised that chestnut tree needs are similar to Blueberries and they like acid soil. 

Connie is making wreaths.. almost to order.. I scrounge/scout for winter berries and arborvitae clippings, more often they appear next to the greenhouse, gifts. Arborvitaes keep their green foliage whereas Christmas tree like boughs lose their their color then their needles. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


Yesterday, I did get apples at the UM orchard in Belchertown: Cold Spring Farm. 
A dozen baskets of apples were left..no more Baldwins. But I did get a bunch of yellow pippins. Other apples you wouldn't see at Big Y, but I can't remember their names. No one was there like at our farm stand. Find what you like and leave the $ in a box. 
I also bought (not there) a pail of 3/8 chain about 15' long and hooks for the ends ..I would have gotten 1/4 chain but they didn't have the 1/4" hooks in stock. 
The signs for Amity st were not painted today but I did make a list. I ordered another box of blanks. We will use two sides so we need 19 blanks. I hope to change them almost daily, we will look like a busy operation. 

I have ordered a replacement heater for the chickens' drinking water. They last a year. 

Sorry there is not a lot of news today. 


Today, I hope to reconnect the well pipes that we severed a couple of weeks ago during our mysterious "seep". 
The couplings are meant to be inserted in warm pipes so I have an electric coffee cup heater that I will use to make a pot of warm/hot water. Stick them in, then tighten stainless steel hose clamps on both sides of the coupling. Sounds easy.
I am first going to the UMass Cold Spring Farm in Belchertown to get a bag of  Baldwin apples. According to their site, you have to buy a $10 bag. No credit cards. Then, onto Tractors Unlimited in Belchertown where I will get a short chain with hooks for pulling the golf carts out. Also, to get another sway bar which limits duh the sway of attached implements on our tractors. Nice to know that even tractors need help resisting their attachments' desire to head downhill. 

The temperature is 40: perfect for using clippers and loppers to cut vines and woody weeds that try to kill the lilacs up by row 0 and the blueberries bushes in row 50. While you are at it cut out any dead branches. 

I have called Northeast solar about installing some on the farm ... must be on vacation or do they know who I am and will never call back? 
I have these questions all the time. No need for a test. 
Maybe, as we get close to the shortest sunlight of the year, they go south? I prefer that one. 
IMG_2233.JPGthat is not water at the upper edge of the gravel, it was a mud stain left before the water in the pit drained itself. Below is some replacement 1 1/4" ID plastic well pipe. I only need about 6' so if you would like some, I will share. By the way, did you notice the sway bar is missing from the 9N  3point hitch? I will fix that today. 
Soon, I will also prepare a list of signs that will be needed in the spring to attract the curious..Let me know if you would like to work in our sign shop for a day. I know it sounds a little off to be thinking about this now... but come spring, we will be soooo busy. 

Did you see in the news yesterday that "lying" is proposed to be added in the Manual as a mental illness. Lying was punishable when I was 4, my Dad, a lawyer, didn't distinguish between my being under oath or not.  


IMG_2225.JPGIMG_2216.JPGIMG_2234.JPGIMG_2230.JPG more pictures than usual: Yesterday was a big day. At 7am an rubber track excavator with a 3' wide  shovel, began scraping away looking for the cast iron "shut off box". this is a picture at the completion of the job when the cast iron cover was reset closer to the surface. It was about 6" down next to a transformer. The transformer proximity was the reason the iron detector equipment was not useful. 
At that point the valve which is 4" below the surface was shut. At that time we were surprised to learn that the house on the adjoining property water had been shut off. 
A twelve 8' deep hole was dug, an 8' section of  3/4" copper pipe which crosses our land but which serves only that house, was replaced. The hole was backfilled to the 4" level including a very neat thin layer of 3/4 " stone. Sticking up our of the stone are two black plastic well pipes and a 6" thin wall plastic drain pipe that Bob and I will repair this weekend. Then we will be done, about a month after the mysterious seep was discovered. 
Karl's excavating did the work yesterday ...I joined other interested parties who looked and commented the whole while... now I know why there always is a group who watch when work is being done in a hole. We all had our ideas as to what to do next and what was going on and tried to be heard when we thought it was an important clue. When the operator of the excavator by doing something you suggested, it made your day. 
To find the leaking copper pipe we damaged and repaired, or have to repair,  to two plastic 6" drain pipes, 2  - 1 1/2" and 1 1/4" high pressure well pipes, and  a  2" electric conduit for the well pump wires.  
At the end of the day - it took a full day- and a month of testing (for fluoride which determined that the water seeping out of the ground was Town drinking water) meetings with the Town engineer, the Earthwork Contractor, neighbors, volunteers... I was very satisfied: "Christmas came early".


I just sent a draft of my plant order to Harvest farm for their help. they have not updated their online list of available for 2023 yet, so I expect I will be editing it. We buy from Harvest farm because our greenhouse is too small and because I like to. 
They do a better job than we do. What's more they grow 140 acres themselves... so sometimes Davey at Harvest farm gives me advice... and I listen.
We.. Connie and I, notice that our 50 years of doing business gets us more patience when I don't know what I am talking about...I did get a new AAA card yesterday and was shocked to see "member since 1973" on the front of the card. I will point that our first thing (after the commercials) next time I have to call them. I will ask them if they could give me a phone number for old folks to get people that have the patience to speak slowly. 
Today I will mow down the rest of the flower rows and breath deeply...the air in my bedroom is not so good. "How do you feel is old.".. "how did you sleep"? is easier to talk about. Trouble is, I can't remember.  
What can you do for the farm these days. 
1. yesterday we had be box of about 30 minicukes they were 2 to 3" long perfectly straight: send me a link to a seed source and tell me what you found out. I'm thinking of planting them on a trellis in the greenhouse against the north wall
when do we plant them? Needless to say they are gone so I couldnt take a picture. I love them... or maybe mostly the dip.
2. Where can we buy organic seed potatoes locally? We pay about 50 cents a lb but another dollar to ship them from Maine to Amherst. Can we plant whole foods potatoes or are they sprayed with no sprout? Research that from your lap. 
3. We have a bunch of logs that Bob wants to split for firewood. Some are walnut all have been in our pile for at least 2 years. Having paid all my allowance once to buy a board foot of walnut, I have never knowingly burned walnut in our fireplace ... will it burn easily? Research that when you feel chilly.  
4. Any new techniques for controlling the flea beetle? Bean beetle, cabbage catapillar.. Please look in the non fiction section.


Yesterday I pulled up the hoops and row covers off the chard, broccoli cauliflower and b sprouts. We need the fields flattened, then we begin spreading manure. Probably in the spring. The hoops and covers have to be removed or they will get frozen to the ground: making the job more onerous. rolling up a 225' x 6' roll of row cover was done on my knees and then redone in my nap ..as a loop... till I got tired of it and woke up. 

Today I hope to move a 20' long trailer that has been parked between trees along brigham lane all summer. I hope I can be smart enough to hitch it to the "yesdeere" tractor and do it touchfree. I will take a picture. 

IMG_2206.JPGIMG_2198.JPGIMG_2199.JPGIMG_2205.JPG  Pictured above are what was under the covers: very ugly cauliflower (they get ugly in a couple of days, no row life once they are ready... and full of cabbage caterpillars besides). They are a great supermarket crop because the ones we plant are pretty about 4 days, the other 360 days you buy them. 
Swiss chard both "ruby" and "bright lights" last all summer and half the winter. Covers work well to keep the deer and the caterpillars fooled, but they also grow weeds better since you don't see them without taking the cover off, not seeing anything means it will be neglected... like covers over leftovers in the fridge..oh it's moldy! 
The covers are off now.. help yourself or bring night vision glasses and watch the deer. they don't seem to browse at our place during the day. Maybe that is why they have such big eyes.
Last picture is looking northwest across the upper field, the greenhouse holes have been repaired and the inside is cleaned. 
I would like a few Baldwin apples..if you see them get me a bag or call and tell me where. 


If you are want to walk around the now very slippery fields here is all that is left. It is all free. 

Arugula, cilantro, parsley both kinds, collards, kale, thin leeks, sorrel, dill (if you just want a handful) 

Karl's excavating has put new spray paint arrows and abbreviations on the brigham lane pavement. Steve K of Karls says they will dig on Monday. They have to find an old copper water line that crossed our property to supply my parent's new house. 20 years later we sold the house and replaced the water line with one that did not cross our property. 
I think the old line is still there and is leaking but we were unable to find the line. We dug a hole where the water bubbled out of the ground but that was very difficult since the hole immediately filled with water. Now we will have the town shut off the water to Brigham lane up at Sunset Ave and dig more holes. This time they will not fill with water. 

IMG_2179.JPGMy auger and the hole made with it. The auger was driven with a cordless electric drill down about 12" I collected a cup of soil from the hole and took it to the UM soil lab. I want to know if there is anything I can add to the soil to make bigger nuts. Also pictured is the nut grove these days. The chestnuts fall about 10 days before the leaves do..that is your window for harvest! Even without squirrels, the nuts would be impossible to find under the leaves. It's worked out perfectly. 
What is not so perfect is the protocol for getting your soil tested at U Mass. Signs and instructions require that you 1. do not enter the building with dirt samples, 2. deposit them in the outside dirt box along with a check $20/ sample and 3. include the "code" for what you are growing; You must use their form for that. 4. do not call us about your samples they are " extremely rarely lost". 5. Do not call us.
I felt unwelcome (duh) in this highly academic and apparently anti-farmer campus building. I did go inside to tell someone that they did not have a "code" for nut trees in the instructions and a very pleasant insider took me to the right office on the second floor, but the experts were out. Anticipating that from previous attempts, I had secreted a note in my dirt bag that my "code" wasn't right, please call me. 
Afterwards, I sent a note to the UM professor who had brought her chestnut growing class to our farm in October, hoping that she will know what the lab should test for and she will call Tiffany who is the boss at the soils lab and tell her.

I must say that the two people I talked to in the building  were pleasant and polite. But not helpful.  

I will let you know what happens in case you are planting a chestnut grove. 

It is unusual to be steered away like that ... it should be an opportunity. 



There is little to do at the farm: 
I am ordering seeds that process will take about two weeks: Seedway, Harris, Johnny, Fedco, harvest farm, burpee, amazon.
I am focussed on finding the best/right  seed, not the price, except that Seedway prices in the past have been a fraction of the others. 
We have great broccoli and cauliflower now. They are under the white row cover. Pick your own since they don't sit well on a shelf in the yellow cooler. When you see them growing you just have to have one. Take two inches of stalk too since that is the best part to eat. 
I have asked Karl's Excavating of Hadley to find the leaking water pipe and stop it. They are waiting for Dig safe to mark the location of gas, electric underground lines. Unmetered town water is keeping the pond overflowing ... looks nice. 
Leaves from our house and soon from the creamery office building are being spread on our fields. Our neighbors are welcome to do the same. Best if you can spread them out, don't make a pile. 
I will bring the shop vac to the greenhouse today. We are readying it for February seeding. Set flats neatly under the benches in piles sorting out 4x4's, 72's and 48's plug trays. I have 4 bales of media at the gray house basement. 
I need to check our seed stake supply. 
We still have 5  8 lb bags of nuts in the gray cooler. Will subdivide. 
And we have parsley, kale, chard, arugula cilantro all pick your own since we are done with the farmers' market. 
IMG_2141.JPG I went to a "wholesale only" building in the Greenfield Industrial Park yesterday. I needed 2 connectors and clamps to repair the damage we did to our well water pipe when we were looking for the LEAK. 
I brought a piece of what I hope is the right pipe (in the picture too) 
It was a 20' steel high factory like building.. looked like it belonged only in an industrial park. It was immaculate, absolutely  quiet , very bright white space with an electric lift to reach the high shelves of cardboard part boxes. Cash was not an option. A very serious , very neat expert said " brass ?" when I asked for two connectors. Whatever works I said. 
Probably not the right thing to say in such a professional setting. I got what works for a $75 visa charge. On my way back, with  no one to talk to I kept thinking I should have asked if there were other options besides the gold colored brass. 
I didn't dwell long as I then thought about the prices I saw at Big Y when I was looking for an apple. 


We do not know where the pipe is that must be capped or repaired that is flowing now into the pond. Because there is fluoride in the water it is determined that it is town water. 
I have hired Karl's excavating to  find the pipe at our property line along brigham lane. We have met with the Town engineer who has measurements for the locations of shut offs....these are a start. 

Dig safe has been called by the Karls and that will take 3 days. 

When we know where the pipe is then the water on Brigham lane will be shut off. The Town water dept will contact the church and Paulina about when the water will be shut off. At this point it is unknown. 

In our investigation last weekend we also severed our main well distribution pipe which was 6' down and directly under the leak. But when we turned off the well pump, the leak seep that started the whole thing was still flowing. Wrong pipe. 
Luckily the farm is very quiet.

I rarely shop at a supermarket; today I wanted a crisp apple and went to Big Y. It was to make my trip to the cooley dickinson Lab worth it -- since the sign on the door that usually says "masks required" this time said "sorry for the inconvenience, the Lab shut down at 1 today". I was expecting  a great blood test. Shooting for a A1C of 5.
Buying apples involves pricing each variety, I should have put each apple in its own plastic bag -- but I had a hard time trying to open the first one, I was looking for a uniformed person to help open the bag when I succeeded.  After checkout, I tried to open the apple sack and find my car at the same time. I was unable to do either. A young man carrying a young child asked me if I needed help. At that point I couldn't remember what kind of car other that that it was gray. He took my fob and pushed a button that made the horn go...I have never touched it before. ... and we found my car. I was in the right lot and he said " have a good day. "

It  may sound like I think it was funny.... be assured that I will write on my pocket memory card my parking spots in the future ... that joke is old already.


Yesterday was a sunny muggy, in the  70's day. Amherst College Parents' weekend, farmer's market. 
Our Market sales crew included Paul Cobb and Bruno visiting from Philadelphia. $1419 was a great sales #. Next year I will note this and try to time more crops to the late market next year. Carrots, onions, squash, beets, kale, leeks, chard, lettuce, B sprouts, cilantro, arugula, bok choy, chinese cabbage, daikon. I plant these where the peas were, so we have to take them down and prepare the ground sooner. they are the second crop on that ground. 

This year we had only one rainy Saturday morning, a first in 50 years. Good news doesn't sell much, it is not news when it is expected. Sort of like silent academic research achievements at our 5 colleges. Who knows what is being worked on. We know about sports, there is a whole section in our four page local paper. 
No plans for parties and public safety measures had to be made when it was announced that an International Climate Research Group was funded at UMass last month, that is what is done at the University, no big deal. It's fortunate because I suspect that if all the interesting research results and new books were as exciting news as the scores, it would be impossible to live here. 
Meanwhile, the water spring, water leak, in our barn yard is still unsolved. Yesterday, we dug 4' deep trenches to find a water pipe.... no luck...we even rented a metal detector ($28) which loved Bob's steel toed boots..Today, we will use multiple sump pumps to help us find the source. Yesterday the water was so muddy the pumps only took a couple of gulps before clogging up. 

In the next ten days we will have about 50 large cauliflowers and broccolis, come pick your own. Look under the white deer cover. I think $3 apiece for good size ones would be right. 
IMG_2127.JPGIMG_2125.JPG on the left is our 4' deep trench with no pipes. We did snag the power conduit for the well but did not break the wires. So today I will flatten the snag angle and pull it to reconnect the plastic conduit. We have already backfilled the empty trench. (after having passed a metal detector over the bottom and found no water pipe) on the right is our harvest board for the Nov 5 market. That was our last market..I think. 


Harvest, and pack for tomorrow's market.... or last market of the year
1. cut cilantro low to the ground from making into wrist size rubber banded bunches. 
2. Same for Arugula, same for the two parsleys. 
3. pull all fat leeks, trim them to the length of a lug, no shorter. Trim off the roots
4. cut below the surface, celery. They are the best ever, very tall. Keep them in a pail of water after you trim the bottom of all non white and remove all yellow stalks/leaves band them individually. They will be displayed in a pail or perhaps in the black vase display that we have used for bouquets in the past. 
5. Cong Wei will harvest and bunch the chives they were very popular also scallions if you can find any left. 
6. Chestnuts in 1 lb red  bags and two 8 lb bags. 
7. Connie says the collards do  sell....although you could fool me. We will do about 8 bunches laying flat in a shallow black lug
8. Bring wreaths 
9. Pull off the deer covers to see if we have broccoli, cauliflower. Pull off row 2 cover and harvest chard at least two full lugs. the new chard is beautiful and irresistible. Band it. 
10. We will also have carrots, squash, onions, b sprouts. 
Our backyard spring: next Tuesday the town water dept will shut off the Brigham lane water so we can cap the pipe that is leaking on our land. I hope Bob can dig down and expose the pipe about 10' north of the spring so that Tuesday's work will be to cut the pipe and make a good cap. Then, we will back fill and be done with water leaks for ever. 

We  picked up and burned  all the  year's tree branch drops, cleaned up the greenhouse work area inside and out, repaired the greenhouse, made a wall rack to replace the rotten scrap pile next to the shed. the 6x6 grid has been pulled out and brought to the dumpster and picked up. Empty plug tray flats are stacked in the greenhouse for next spring. 
Next week I will prepare the new seed list and when it is not too cold review what is stored in the sheds. 

I'm thinking of bringing our left over vegetable seeds to the market tomorrow to give them away to those who save seeds and will  risk planting them. To  reduce risks, I like to plant new seeds each year. 
IMG_2116.JPGthe leaning aluminum poles extend to 24 feet, they are done hitting chestnuts  for the year. The plywood has been descrewed and stored, we have 4 big wire panels which are now stored against the side of the chicken yard. 
If we ever need a quick divider or closure of the yard they are ready. These big panels were window protectors for 50 years at the William st school in Northampton which my firm acquired from the City around 1979 to convert to artist live/work spaces. The next 40 years, I used them used for pea trellises at Sunset Farm, they were replaced by the 6x6 plastic netting that I think was developed to keep greenhouse floral  and marijuana stems vertical. The scrap rack consists of about 6 12" pieces of #4 (half inch) rebar that is drilled into the shed studs. My brother Mark's idea.


We will burn again this am in the same place in the chestnut field where we burned a week ago. 
I hope we can repair the broken water pipe near the equipment shed: it is up to the Water Dept to turn off the water for Brigham lane, before we can do it. The Town has to shut off the water and I hope our plumber will come. The plumber Dave and his son in law Chris will dig the hole down to the pipe and cap it. On the weekend Bob can take off the back hoe attachment and replace it with the mower. then all the flower rows will be mowed to the ground. Rye will be seeded over the annual flower rows ( not over the perennial rows) but it probably is too late for the rye to germinate. 
We will bring all the empty plug trays from the yard  into the greenhouse in preparation for filling them in early february. 

I continue ordering seeds now for next spring. Any coated seed must be stored in the gray cooler, the rest will be numbered and kept at our house out of miceway. Old seeds that are  in the seed files at the middle shed (C) will be thrown out. We want to minimize the risk of nonviability: having a row of seeds not germinate because they didn't like where we stored them is not an option. 
We need two lugs of red net chestnut bags for the market this Saturday: please cut off the paper end and after filling with one lb of nuts, knot the bag at both ends. Tie our printed tags on the bags till we run out. Put them all in the gray cooler. 

Jason and Barbara have hand removed all the 6x6 from the fields and I have taken all of it to our dumpster at Fearing st. 
A big and difficult job. 
nicky hagen and Barbara Van Vandenberg oct 2022.jpgBarbara van den Berg and Nicky Hagen set up a row cover to discourage deer from eating the broccoli and cauliflower leaves.. Nicky, who is a grand daughter of Connie's friend Doris Hagen, is an undergraduate at UMass and a farm volunteer. Now that she knows about the deer problem, I hope she will "uncover" research on how we can better communicate with deer. I would be happy to plant something just for them if we could tell them that. 

a pile of sand bags that will be moved to a pallet off the chestnut  field .. this can be done today since the bucket is on the tractor. 
The second picture of some surviving yellow flowers, I don't know what they are. 


We have sold all our 1 lb bags of nuts. Please take two 8 lb bags and repackage as 16 red net one pounders. Cut off the big white labels and use our preprinted tags instead. Put them in the yellow cooler. 
Remove 6x6 mesh from flower rows
The Deere tractor has been set up as a back hoe. This might be needed to help fix the leak in the area just south of the tractor shed . The leak is from Paulina Stark's water line that we used to irrigate the farm before we had the well dug, about 30 years ago.  I hope her plumber can find where the pipe exits her house and turn it off. Meanwhile, it is running 24/7. Even the pond is overflowing. As soon as we can use the tractor, we will use the grappler to pull off the 6x6 netting then we can mow and  seed those rows to rye. 
I will buy 12  rebars 1/2" x 12"  tomorrow, we will drill them into the 2x4 studs of the  north wall of the shed where the scrap wood pile is. They  will be arranged so the scraps will be held off the ground, I hope to make the area much neater. 
Cong (connie.2) Wei has been telling me this needs to be done. I agree, just haven't done it...been on my bucket list for years.  
Not a very nice job: time to sweep up the greenhouse to get it ready for seeding in February. 
IMG_2110.JPGIMG_1801.JPG    I think this is millet which we grow for floral arrangements, if you look at them now they have almost BB sized seeds in the baton.. which must be what the flour is made from. Am I right? 
More arbor vitae cuttings are needed for Connie's wreath making , let me know if you have a bunch and I will come get them and give them to connie as an early Christmas present.


Bob Cyr set up the back hoe accessory on the Deere tractor yesterday during the market. 
Where is the water coming from at the mysterious seep near the greenhouse ?
We turned off our well pump: still flowing, we turned off our neighbor's town water: the flow stopped. 
We were unable to find the pipe or the valve that controlled the flow in Paulina's basement. Hopefully it will be found with the assistance of a plumber or a sensor tool .. the copper pipe is 4' below the surface. It may be necessary to dig a trench that deep to find the pipe and cap it. If her main water were  shut off for a few hours we might be able to pump out the hole and cap the pipe on our property and then forget about it again for another 40 years. I do feel younger having a problem to solve. 

Yesterday's market was wonderful $1204 . 
Our best crops yesterday: cilantro, celery, personal red cabbage (not a big head, not a brussel sprout). Just the right size for a diabetic's low carb dinner with no leftovers. There must be seeds just for this: I thought we would have big heads by now..it was an accident. Maybe a good thing? Parsley, arugula, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks and Kale are our current growing vegetables. 
We sold flower arrangements/ including dried flower miniatures by Barbara Feret Schuman  and a few winter berry bouquets. The winterberries were planted at least 10 years ago, this is the first berry year for them and us. It was our visting volunteer, Adele Gillen, my niece, who cut and bundled them for market sale. They sold.  
Next week we will have more cauliflower and  broccoli, the entire row has been covered to deerproof it. 

We have to remove all the 6x6 mesh in the flower rows, when we can't we have to just pull up the entire row with the Deere and make a pile  on the grass at the south end of the row, In the spring after the piles have rotted and composted a bit we will pull out the 6x6 easily, and dumpsterize it. We have to do it in the fall while the ground is dry enough to support the tractors. 

IMG_2110.JPGIMG_2097.JPG The harvest board for Oct 29 Market and Adele Gillen my brother Mark's daughter who is interning at a hospital in New Rochelle. 


Hope to do today
1. Install the west wall of plastic (finally) in the greenhouse addition
2. Burn (if fire department oks) the pile in the potato field, I will bring some kerosene from the red barn. It will be a small fire we don't have any really big stuff in the pile yet. 
3. Look at the broccoli row to see if we need it covered from the deer for the next month. I saw one plant had been sampled in the middle of the row ... if they came back last night then we have to do it. 
4. If there are any more nuts to shuck do it. 
5. Put the manure spreader on the blue tractor, add chain support so the drawbar is stabilized. Leave the tractor hitched up.
6. Connie might make a wreath or two, Zach Fried, Peoples Tech, who helps us with computer issues at the house, brought a bunch of trimming  to the farm from his yard. 
7. Dry clean the eggplants in the lugs (which are in the yellow cooler) so they look shiny and invite eating. While doing so please reject spotty ones because they will be going to the market on Saturday. 

IMG_0117.HEIC  In three months we will be doing this

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. A lot of nuts were shucked and bagged into 8 lb bags yesterday, Thank you! the lugs of nuts in the gray cooler are covered with a towel: this is to reduce the drying (shrinking) of the nuts. The cooler will keep them from molding. 
2. When it stops raining I hope we can install the plastic on the west wall of the greenhouse. 
3. Our fall  broccoli is doing well but it will be two weeks before fruit. I notice a couple of  bites from deer..it is possible that we will have to cover the broccoli for a couple weeks. I will take a  close look today. 
4. No suggestions for arbor vitae cuttings yet. Wreath making is waiting. 
5. While looking at this am's rain, I clicked on Johnny... see the 11 quick items on sale that I  bought for next year. 
Note the parsnip seed is pelleted which will make direct seeding much easier..last spring I direct seeded the parsnip: not one germinated. Total failure. Parsnip not only takes till fall to be pullable, it is very attractive to rabbits and deer, and it takes weeks to germinate, by then if you have failed, it is too late to try again. Next year, we will try torching the new parsnip bed  to kill weed seeds close to the surface. Also, I will ask ms google what is the best date to seed the parsnips. 
6 It is time to hook up the manure spreader to either the blue or gray tractor for the fall leaf picking. 
7. We  have received  the ag burning permit, I will call the fire department for a permit to burn tomorrow in the chestnut field where the potatoes were. We have to connect a hose to the hydrant before the fire is set. The fire dept said the permit was free for farmers and burning can be  done anytime of the year... with daily approval of the fire dept. In anticipation please pull out any branches that have fallen  put them in places for them to be picked up with the golf cart or put them in the  pile that I have begun.


Connie has used up her arborvitae cuttings for her wreath making. If you have or know of an arborvitae that I can clip for her please respond asap! 
Yesterday and today I will be dehusking nuts in the greenhouse. I have been using a wired set of head speakers and a pocket FM receiver to make it more interesting. If you know of a wireless..bluetooth .. system I could buy send me the link asap before I get them all done. 
We are bagging all the nuts remaining in 8 lb net bags. If you are coming today, please do this. That will prevent "cherry picking " If we need more one lb bags later we can always break an 8 pounder down.
Jasen Stevens covered the row 2 chard with the white cover a week ago to hide it from the deer. It worked beautifully and we had good chard at the market. Thank you. 
Nov 11 is St Martin's day. The Portuguese celebrate it with chestnuts, honey and new wine.  Yesterday I called Bob Cyr who now lives in Ludlow, a Portuguese settled town, hoping he would make arrangements for a sunset chestnut farm dinner in a restaurant that would be celebrating the event that Friday night. another asap: please let me know if you have a recommendation and if you will come too. We could give them a bag of nuts too. 
Our nuts are all done, even if some come down now, leaves have also come down completely obscuring them. 

When down the farm these days, collect fallen branches and put in the fire pile in the chestnut field. I am waiting for our annual fire permit to be issued, then we can burn .. It will be a one day fire, I think. I like to do it in this damp weather. 

I started cleaning up the greenhouse...like playing house and so satisfying. 

It takes two to replace about 100 sf of greenhouse plastic in the addition, but I have an eye shot this am ...so I hope Jason will help me tomorrow. 
IMG_2086.JPGIMG_2088.JPGBarbara filling 8 lb bags.


Yesterday I sold 15 lbs of nuts to a Portuguese couple from Ludlow. I heard about the Nov 11 St Martin's day festival in Portugal: chestnuts, honey and the opening of  the first new wine of the year. I checked it on google, I didn't read about St Martin.  
They will tell their friends about us. So: 
Make white netbags of nuts, I will set out the box of net bags in the greenhouse where the scale is. . Make 8 lb bags which will be sold for $40. We have about 200 lbs of nuts. We will continue to sell the smaller bags: 1/2 lb and 1 lb. at the stand and at the market. 
IMG_2084.JPGThe stand is now set up for Connie's wreaths. $30 each
IMG_2083.JPG I forgot Honey, although it is displayed inside.

shuck the nuts that are still in the husk in the cooler. 
Bag all the nuts so no one can "cherry pick" (this happened to me yesterday)

We are set to replace the plastic at the south greenhouse. I have adjusted the door now so it will latch and shut. 

Run the flail mower over the eggplants 
Pick the hot peppers first then mow the pepper row too. As soon as the rows are mowed run the rye spreader over the rows and harrow them. 
Remove the fertilizer injector in the greenhouse. I will store it in the gray house basement to protect it from freezing. 
The big 50 gal sprayer must also be brought to the gray house basement this week for the same reason. 
Run duct tape over the greenhouse plastic where it meets the fan housing at the south end. It is much easier to do now  before it snows. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Install new plastic at the greenhouse addition
2. I will make a price sign for the yellow farm stand: now that the wreath lattice has been erected the signs on the glass have been covered. My latest idea for pricing: All items unmarked inside are $4. $4 for an "each", bunch, quart, pound. 
Venmo "works" as is said these days, Marked items are one lb jars of Sunset Farm Honey $10 and chestnuts that are sold in $3 and $5 bags. 
3. I left you all wondering what happened to the chickens: Connie heard very loud squawks and shrieks 4 am one morning last week: all 5 of our chickens are well. Before the ground freezes I will scrape out the fertilizer in the henhouse and chicken yard and put it in the field.
IMG_2081.JPG Please put a link to this on our graves. Who knows how excited future generations will be.
IMG_2076.JPG the harvest board a week old was just edited with circles for yesterday's market oct 22. 2022 Potatoes we didn't load, they have been sold.
IMG_2072.JPGLast Sunday, Barbara Van covered about 50' of chard from the deer. It worked in one week we had two lugs of chard at the market. Thank you. 
4.  4 pm the puppies put on a show at the farm. Bob Cyr  is concerned that the puppies, being babies and not professional wrestlers, should be treated more  gently, at least by their managers. 
This week we will make a little fire in our raised mini pit to make watching even better. The two big issues are not being taught at these gatherings: house training and teething. 
Google says teach your dog the command "drop it" when they bite. Adult dogs quickly let the puppies know that biting is not ok. 
5. Yesterday's market was $1067 almost double last year's day. Maybe it was raining. We still have flowers too. 
Setting up the tents/ booth at 6am was possible with Bob's led's on his head. It is pitch black then. Bob said that because I lost so much weight, I was cold. Bob and I set our price signs  out which involved editing the liquid chalk text from last week with wet towels  and numb fingers. Losing weight was easy, I didn't expect such an impact on my personal climate controls.


Harvest a full lug each of cilantro, arugula, parsley. Wash the arugula in the big spinner. Bag it all and put them in the yellow van, not in the cooler. 
Put three lugs of bagged nuts in the yellow van.
Put all the eggplant and peppers that are in the yellow hut into the yellow van. 
Cut 6 large celeries they are at the south end of row 13 trim and brush wash the dirty bottoms, put a rubberband around each to make them compact and put them in a pail of water. Then put them in the yellow van. 
Harvest with a knife, the fennel, wash the dirty base and put in a large lug and place directly in the yellow van. 
Help put the replacement plastic on the greenhouse south addition west wall. Jason has removed the slats and cut the plastic. Should be an easy job. I will bring another step ladder down. Staple the plastic up first using the manual stapler. 
Remove the pile of weeds and dead stalks to the compost pile. 
We will fit the "spreader" 2x4 to the base of the south door of the greenhouse, then see if we can readjust the glass frame in the door so it is connected.. Right now the glass frame has pulled away from the door. Remove all the screws at the perimeter of the glass panel and see if the whole assembly can be reset properly. 

We have a lot of nuts, I will reduce the price to $5 per one lb bag. Tell customers that they will keep in their fridge in a perforated bag (like grapes) for months. (Used for turkey stuffing). Over the years we have had two customers forget about them and report that they sprouted in their fridge and they planted them when discovered in the spring. Every once in a while you read that a melon seed had sprouted in someone's belly. Melons like warm, chestnuts like cool, so not to worry. 
We have sold brown "lunch" bags of roasted nuts that I cook on a cookie sheet at 400 for 20 Min at home, then I put them in a bowl, put that in a cooler and bring them to the market at 10 or so: "have sold" : this year I will see if we still have some old fashioned brown lunch bags and sell the little bags, uncooked, for $2.  
Around 430 on nice days the three puppies come to play in the puppy yard. Naturally the owner's look to see if their puppy is smart and sociable, there are no tricks yet since they are all less than 12 weeks old. Our puppy, Clover, has been judged as very gentle with the smallest puppy and very aggressive with the largest puppy. Nice not to have to think about their school. 
IMG_2066.JPG you saw this beore, the first gate in the life of our Clover.


Perfect day. 
things of the todo list at the farm
1. clean out the greenhouse addition on the south end. 
2. replace the now missing plastic. (I will bring my tools back) 
3. shuck the easy to open chestnuts that are in the gray cooler. Put the "hard ones" back till  they self open more.
4. pick up fallen branches especially in the chestnut field and put them on the burn pile where the potatoes grew. 
5. We have a spare fish tank. It is in the red barn at 409 Main st. Do you want it? See picture below.
6. Turn off the water under the chalkboard, leave open the faucets at the wash station so they don't freeze and break. 
7. remove the 6x6 mesh at those rows where the flowers are done. check that the drip tapes have been pulled out.
IMG_2050.JPGIMG_2049.JPGfish tank that easily fits in my car, for you.


Frost on our house thermometer at 7am: 30 degrees. The dumpster lids were frosted at our 150 Fearing st building today.  Barbara and Jason anticipated this and harvested lugs of eggplants and peppers yesterday. They are stored in the yellow cooler to keep warm! 
We should make some net bags of peppers and eggplants for the Saturday market. I will see if I can find our net bags.
I have an online application to the Town for a renewed Ag-burning permit. I will look at it after I have done something physical. (at the farm). 
Jason has removed the torn plastic on the greenhouse addition, next step is to replace the old plastic and battens. 
Before we enclose the space it would be a good time now to pull out the weeds under the benches and throw them outside.
I was stung by a honeybee just below my right eye on Sunday and have since recovered. It was nice to hear that the swelling below the cheekbone made me look younger. I was less than productive for a few days; I will see if it is a good idea to have an epipen in the kit at the farm. 
Our puppy and her friends now can romp in a 20' x 20' fenced in enclosure that opened yesterday where the swan gounds had been growing. the puppies look exactly like professional tv wrestlers (the men, I haven't seen the women, and don't expect to) they have copied all of their tricks. You watch because the puppies might be noticed by a hawk , fox, or coyote and you can't take your eyes off them they are amusing. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


No frost yet, but is  predicted this week. 
eggplants and peppers should be picked and put in the cooler to not freeze. We will have a lot of apple sized eggplants. 
The hot peppers are especially good right now too. Thick walls and not bugs. If you can make pickled hot peppers give me some in lieu of $. 
The chard in row 2 was covered yesterday by Barbara and looks perfect. I will go down and see if it was disturbed by the deer last night. I will also go see why the chickens were making noise at 4 am...I have a sinking feeling. 
The dog run will be set up today with steel posts and old chicken wire. We will put it where the swan gourds were grown. I cut loose about 6 and put them on the stand outside.. So far,  the squirrels have not tried to eat them. It could be that the swan body is so big and smooth that they can't open their jaws wide enough to make a bite. If they do they would just eat the seeds. The swan seeds were planted in the greenhouse in July and set out about august 1. It was perfect timing for the fall market, nobody buys a gourd in the summer. 
The chestnut grove looks like the squirrels had a frat party for weeks. There are more chestnut husks than grass (those are their empties) but we did it  and in about a month they will be  politely covered by leaves. In the meantime, we will continue to shuck our lugs of nuts in the gray cooler. 
Before it snows, we need to replace the plastic on the west side of the greenhouse addition. We have plenty of heavy duty "4 year" plastic in the phyllis shed. (our greenhouse is covered with 4 yr plastic and is about 15 years old) Now referred to as "duration" plastic. 
IMG_2041.JPGIMG_1947.JPGthis is the harvest board for last Saturday's market. We will be back at the market this Saturday with a lot of nuts, wreaths,  honey,  arugula, cilantro, leeks, fennel, collards parsley, bok choy, swans kale, baby swiss chard. We have more than  two hundred lbs of chestnuts in the gray cooler. 
About 100 lbs of honey was harvested last weekend, John Piepul says he will have another case of 1 pounders (pictured) for us too.


Yesterday was a cold misty am till about 1030. It was also um parents' weekend. Then, there was the max amplification of "entertainment" by ABC to  raise money on our common.  A phone call to Connie from the farm was no match. What? who? Connie thought that dance toons were upbeat and good for business, while other were dark and loud ...I didn't stay to hear any of that. 
We still did $887 more than $100 better than last year same date. 
Just as we were leaving the farm to break down our famers' Market stand, I was bitten under my glasses below my right eye by a bee. Bob Cyr was there and had some very good pain relieving salve, I missed the breakdown and was pleased how well they did .. Bob and  Jesse. 
Today, I hope we can build a chicken wire enclosure for our new puppies (three of them all doodles) Shuguang, Muton and Connie are the new mothers. the new  enclosure will allow the mothers to work on the farm. 
We got mudstuck with the  yesdear ..turns out the yesdeere  was set on 2 wheel drive, Bob was surprised that so much was done in that mode. We now know to look on the dashboard to see a lit up green tractor icon which signals that you are in 4 wheel drive. We use two wheel drive if you drive over the road for a mile or so. 
Let's cover one of the chard patches,,, probably in old row 2 with white row cover. The deer are eating the new shoots every night. If we get the cover on today I hope we will have some chard for next week's market. 
We still have many large nuts on the ground... I hope that customers will be down today to enjoy the weather while looking down. We have about 10 lugs in the gray cooler, some of which need to be shucked. Do that while you are gabbing. 
IMG_0130(1).JPG My right eye swollen shut this am, I never knew I could see well enough out of my weak left eye. That 's the good news. Now, I will shut the other eye and hope to wake up with them both open.


bill with sleeping clover oct 13 22.jpg I'm not napping, I am focused on yesterday's Jan 6 committee report. Clover for a minute is not teething on my hands, fingers, wrists, nose, ears because she is napping. I had just heard that the fbi and secret service had known about the violence 10 days before. I should have been napping. 

The rain has just about stopped, lots of nuts will have fallen. We have more than 200 lbs of nuts in our cooler. I put  sign up on amity st but since it was painted yesterday, it could be just a white panel today. I will redo it. 
Some of the nuts are golf balls! I've been picking them up twice a day with a nap between (to straighten out). 
Today, we pack for market. Please load the van as soon as you have packed a lug... don't put anything in a cooler, put them right in the yellow van. that includes floral arrangements in red lugs. Put heavy items in the smaller elder weight lugs .
Pick and pack: eggplants, peppers all kinds, cilantro, arugula, bok choy, fennel, leeks, personal cabbage, chard, kale 
Wash two lugs of potatoes, they are in the gray cooler. 
Fill 1 lb bags of chestnuts.. they are in the gray cooler.
I picked a lug of rhubarb yesterday and I left it out (forgot) so the rain may have left if clean for packing.


It is to rain today, windy rain. Perfect. This will cause the chestnuts to drop. When the leaves begin to drop we have trouble: how to find the nuts? 
So for about 5 more days I hope you and your friends/family will come down, keep your eyes on the ground and pick up every one. Just when you think you have, a wind drops more: they look so fresh and polished.
IMG_2023.JPGShuguang picked these up yesterday.
IMG_2026.JPG I wasn't wearing the coat because I was cold, this coat has pockets that hold a couple lbs of nuts. Swinging the 24' extension rod is very productive, albeit very fatiguing for me.  
I like to use a strong bucket that I can push up against to get back up. A crutch. Even so I can only do it for a couple of hours in the morning and again at 4 or 5 pm. After that it is too dark. 
they are unusually big.. a couple of years ago Paul Cobb and his family drilled in tree fertilizer pills, maybe that  is what did it. Maybe the many cloudless days of last summer did it. No one knows. 
We have many one lb net bags of nuts in the yellow farm stand hut. 
Jason has been looking after the three rows of fall planted spinach. Yesterday he cultivated them with the farmall and today will set the deer shocker wires over each row. We energize the wire all winter although when there is snow cover it can be turned off. In early April we will fertilize those rows. 
IMG_2007.JPGConnie's wreaths. She is showing them  to Shruti and Robey from India and Iman from Egypt. I don't think they are bringing one home. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


The nuts are falling fast now... Shruti's brother Robey, visiting from Los Angeles. Cong Wei  (connie) a new volunteer and friend of Shuguang picked up. By dark, several full shucked buckets were harvested. About 50 lbs. 
In less than a week we will be all done picking up. Sales of the refrigerated nuts will go on till Christmas, since they can be a main ingredient for stuffing. 
Now is the time to hit the tree with one of our 24' extension poles. I can't do many swings, it is so arduous, but a good hit brings down a hundred nuts at once. 

Remove stakes and mow down the tomatillos in the deerfield. Pick a bunch first for the yellow hut. 
We have beautiful arugula, cilantro and bok choy. None of which look good two hours after they have been picked, you have to come to the farm and cut them yourself in the rows near  #8 in the upper field. If I am there, I will do it for you. 

IMG_0757.JPGwe have good kale and it will be growing till it goes down to about 10
IMG_0750.JPGConnie is making wreaths again..these are from last year
IMG_0748.JPG next big operation: bringing this manure spreader to your curb, and then spreading the leaves  on the fields. Many then blow away. Because we have planted rye and it will be about 6" high I hope it will trap the leaves.


IMG_1994.JPGIMG_1993.JPGIMG_1991.JPGIMG_2010.JPGSaturdays harvest board...next week no more   squash,pumpkins, the snake next to the swans will be featured. Leeks are big : when planting the seedlings next year we will try to keep 8" between them if too close neither will get fat.Note the flat leaves on leeks, onions and scallions have hollow leaves, every year they get mixed up though. 
Today: knock down chestnuts : I hope to do that from the bucket of the Deere. The nuts seem much larger than last year
must have been the drought that gave them more sun. This is the peak of the  nut season, in a week they will be down and the leaves will cover them. We have about 100 lbs shucked and another 100 to be shucked in the gray cooler. 
If you come down to help: pick up nuts, weigh them into 1 lb bags in the greenhouse, and shuck the easy ones stored in the cooler. Last year the nuts were picked up during a warm spell: the mosquitos were bad, this year I keep noticing how early it is too dark to see them. 
Spread rye seed and harrow ,  double the drop rate. Include the former okra rows. 
Hand weed the broccoli/cauliflower row. 
Hoe the new spinach rows just 4" either side of the seedlings, then cultivate the entire spinach patch with the farmall. 
Set the electric wires to 4" above the ground over each row, turn them on. 
The deer are eating everything: like bears getting ready for the cold fast. 
The gray tractor has a fuel leak , Jason turned off the fuel line but could not stop the "aggressive " drip. He put a bucket under it and about 2 tablespoons later it stopped... or evaporated. As long as we turn off the fuel line , I think the tractor is good to go (as the phrase goes) . 
I forgot to check my ag burning permit yesterday..it is on my list for today. A burn pile is being made in the potato patch. 
Bring branches there to be burned. My to do list app doesn't note that I didn't do something, which makes me more responsible..not all bad. 
No frost yet , might be more rhubarb, peppers and eggplant for Saturday. 
Remove the tomatillo stakes from the deerfield.


Arugula, chestnut ready to be knocked down, nuts on the ground there are several in this picture. 

chestnuts are falling: when you are picking up nuts in the grove you hear nuts drop . I am surprised at how good we are at finding a nut that just dropped even though you were busy picking up another. There is some kind of elementary sense that is triggered, unconsciously. You  cannot finish the job. always another.  
Last night ,Jesse Johnson, stood in the front loader bucket  while I carefully lifted him about 10' , He then swung a  24' rod 
at branches loaded with husks that were open and ready to fall. It made waiting for them to drop . old. 
Today we will continue picking them up , maybe going after them again on another tree. Then we fill one lb net bags and put them in the cooler where customers  get them , not squirrels . 

I mowed down our two rows of okra and looked at our now fast growing broccoli, cauliflower and b sprouts. The cauliflower is not as vigorous as the broccoli which looks like we will be cutting it in two weeks. The sprouts won't make it I didn't plant them early enough... next year they will be planted in the spring. The cauliflower is nowhere near as flamboyant 
as the broc , They might need some trace element ..if I have some epsom salts, (magnesium sulfate) which has trace elements that energize some plants I will put a teaspoon under each plant. I will take some from our house today as a test in any case. 
The market was $1007 , $300 better than last year.. could have been the weather. and some inflation. 
I bought a couple of apples from Apex orchard's  farmer's market stand ;  "hudson's golden gem" a yellow pippen type that was "discovered in the Ohio valley about 100 years ago.  I loved it. Big, conical, crunchy , nutty. 


Pick up chestnuts! I picked up about 40 lbs of nuts yesterday am, then on to rotary lunch and a nap. 
Fill 1 lb net bags in the greenhouse: I hope to have100 bags for tomorrow's market, this is project #1 today. 
harvest cilantro, arugula, bok choy, fennel, rhubarb, hot peppers
load the yellow van: tonight the temperature will be in the 30's, so everything can be loaded now. 
I picked two lugs of peppers and eggplants, yesterday, they love the cool weather and there are no worms or bugs.
Wash and load two lugs of potatoes.
Yesterday, Jason plowed with our large single  bottom plow the potato rows and unearthed a lug of potatoes we missed. 
Now we will reseed that area with rye.


Nuts did drop yesterday, I thought I would cruise the grove and instead spent an hour picking up good looking nuts at tree #1.
You usually find a little group of nuts since a husk commonly has three nuts in it, so in a radius of 1' you look for three at a time to make that bend to the ground more satisfying. 
I also slept very well last night.
You are welcome to try it too. Call me when you do so I can tell you where to leave the nuts so the squirrels are not fed. 
I think the nuts are bigger this year. 
I hope to have at least 100 one lb net bags of nuts for Saturday's market. focus on the nuts today. 

When the ground is dry, use the farmall to cultivate our new spinach rows in the willow field. 
Plow the carrots and the potatoes. Look for potatoes we missed , forgedabout harvesting the carrots. 
Shuck any chestnuts you can that are in the gray cooler, just open those that have opened. Put the white ones in the cooler reserved for white ones....they will brown up. 
Make one pound red net bags of nuts. A scale is set up in the green house. Put all nuts in the gray cooler. 

Our puppy, Clover, is now 8-9weeks old. She sleeps most of the time. When she is awake she is hyper: smelling, nipping biting and learning. The learning is so intense and fast, we realize how much we know. (how old we are) . We suspect smiling is good for you. 
No photos taken in yesterday's nor'easter.


Yesterday a class of 20 or from UMass Stockbridge School, taught by Lisa DePiano, met and volunteered at our chestnut operation. (University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA, Lecturer, Forest Gardens Perennial Ag. for Ecological Regeneration Sep 2017 – Present)
The October 4 date was set a couple of months ago .. turns out that a week later would have been better. Nuts were knocked down from trees that had husks that were cracked open. They were hit down with 24' telescoping rods that are made for window washing. The husks were brought to the warm greenhouse and opened. About 30% of the nuts are still white.. but they will turn brown in a few days. 
At first it looks like they are all on their phones. The lug in front is for nuts that can't be opened yet. They were put back in the cooler to dry and open in a week or so.
 Weighing, sorting and making $7 one pound net bags at the stand several students purchased the bags they filled. They used Venmo. The once beautiful pail of celery doesn't look that good... but Connie made squash/chestnut and hot pepper soup using our celery as a base. It is the best base and it was the best soup. 
The class is focusing on chestnut growing as a viable option for New England. I gave them a list of my questions which they will research. They are meeting other chestnut growers  and will be presenting their answers at a big meeting. We will attend. The students are also studying options of the new groves: will they disappear when farmers like Connie and Bill move on? The trees should outlive us. 
Had they come a week later there would be no white ones. ..they would be glistening brown.
IMG_1990.JPGOur neighborhood garage - College st Motors- removed and reinstalled a tire on a new rim within an hour, for the John Deere right front wheel. This wheel has unexpectedly gone flat while being worked so Bob bought a new rim. The rim must have a fault that prevented a good seal. College motors have been very generous and helpful ..I will bring them some nuts.

Today, it is raining and when it stops it will be mud. Meantime the rye seed that was sown last week has sprouted. Looks like 1000% germination too. I wonder if the people that rent out their sheep for mowing would like to send them over for a glut in the spring. If the spring is wet and delays plowing, otherise we will have to mow it first since the plow gets overwhelmed with high rye grass. You can't bury a 2' high grass when your plow goes 15" deep. The rye blades not buried will start growing again ... then what can you do? If you plowed again, they rye you just buried will be on top!

As soon as we can today we will cruise the nut grove and pick up what the squirrels are looking for. 
The wheel can be reinstalled on the (yes)Deere. 

I was hopeful that we would have lots of peppers this fall... last week they were the best.. yesterday I found that the entire 250' row had been clipped about 8" by deer. And they had not touched the peppers all summer. In just a few days.

Another old lesson: you have to look at what you are doing, probably 1x/ day would be often enough. Probably true for everything. 


See the picture of the drip tape taken to our dumpster today. 
I talked to Ron  Hess who sold us our new golden doodle .. see the picture...and who grew up farming injects fertilizer in his drip tape... I will try that next year. I  need to find out the exact fertilizer and the injection equipment he has. 
I will . 
Bob Cyr has purchased a new right front wheel for the Deere. We have had a slight leak at the tubeless rim; we think the wheel might not be perfectly round and not able to make a perfect seal. I hope college st motors will "switch it out"
(a figure of speech used by regular guys) for us. Speaking of regular guys, I stopped in a Barnes and Noble today for Haberman's new book on Trump, they said it will be in tomorrow. We may be up at night with our new pup, Clover... I will let you know if Haberman's book puts us to sleep, too.  
What to do at the farm? 
Round up the fallen branches. lost hunks of lumber, and make a pile in the chestnut field where the tomatoes were. 
We will burn after I renew our agricultural burn permit (with this permit there is no limited "burn season". Pull the branches out of the tree line along brigham lane. Make a big pile and pull it down all at once. Pull fallen branches out of the chestnut field . 
Put the single bottom plow on the gray tractor and plow the potatoes, look for potatoes we missed with each row. 
then harrow and reseed. (that would be plowing only about 20' of width. About 10 passes.)
Plow the carrot area now... the carrots that remain are too hairy to sell. the harrow, spread rye seed and harrow lightly again. It is easier to put those big weed roots under than get them tangled in the rototiller attachment. 
Dig all the sweet potatoes. put them in lugs on the greenhouse benches to cure. 
Pull out any 6x6 flower grid where the flowers are done.
The whole town's email was down today till about 4 pm, that is why you didn't hear from me earlier. 
IMG_1982.JPGIMG_1981.JPGIMG_1978.JPGsome drip tape, and our just arrived Golden Doodle, "clover" the blue ball next to her nose is a wind up ticker that she likes. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday morning we had soft but cold showers. So our sales dropped to $742 (last year it was $925, no rain) 
We did sell our 7 bags of nuts. We will have 100 bags next week@ $7. 
Unloading pumpkins, onions, potatoes, squash reminds me that I am not getting stronger. And my new khaki coveralls get so dirty when the heavy lugs lean on me. 
We set up at a few minutes before 6. Bob wears a head lamp. By the time we are easyuping our two tents we all can see. Like 20 minutes later. 
Every lug is set on the tablecloths and price signs set out. Names too, since leeks, tomatillos, cilantro arugula, white eggplants, sweet potatoes, celery have to be identified ..even in Amherst. 
After that exhilarating work, Connie arrives at the market around 730 and I return to the Times and the Gazette and click on my blanket. 
Around 10, items I forgot or need more of are called in and I get em. 
1. cruise the chestnuts look for and identify by # which trees are ready for knocking. Call me with those #s or put them on the black board. 
2. pick up every nut that fell last night. 
3. weed wack the high grass under the trees where the nuts will fall
4. pull up wood stakes in the flower rows, pull out all drip tapes. 
5. pull off the 6x6 mesh where there is not more need for it. 
6. Pull out row markers and the 30" long 4x4's they will be stuck in and hung in the red barn. 
IMG_1973.JPGThe x to the left of the item means it was loaded. Next week it will be a plus sign instead.


The chestnut burs are opening, the nuts are falling, the squirrels are hyper. The squirrels don't eat them all on the spot..although you can see the spots where they do, they bury them. We find them in the adjacent tilled field where they are about 6" down. Usually they are big fat ones. I wonder if they just find it a lot easier to dig where we have just harrowed rather than having to dig a hole thru weed turf. 
We tour (I used to walk) the grove in the morning and evening, looking for drops. And looking up (and that is hard now too) to see if the burs (husks) are cracking open. If so, we hit the branch with a long rod and a bunch drop. That is so much better than staring at the grass. For higher nuts someone has to climb the tree to hit their branches. Those that fall and are not cracked open are put in the gray cooler till they do. They have to be cooled to keep from moulding. 
The gray cooler is now locked at night. I will open it soon for today. 

We pick and pack today for tomorrow's market: cilanto, arugula, rhubarb, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, butternuts, acorns, corn, lettuce, kale, chard, collard, sorrel, carrots, potatoes, wreaths, swan gourds, leeks, parsley, celery.
Make 1 lb net bags of shucked nuts, use the red net bags we have a big box of, $7 bags
Connie will have several wreaths: we will bring a lattice panel to the market for displaying them. 

For the first time in 20 years, we have winterberries that are perfect for wreaths. I gave connie 25 plants that I thought would bear in a year or two for her birthday. They are wetland plants so they are growing at the lowest part of the chestnut field. There, the deer ate them and kept them less than 30" high.. I don't have a clue as to why they let them grow a couple of feet more and bear this year. See photos: 
IMG_1970.JPGIMG_1969.JPG We keep an eye out for them along route 9 on the way back from  belchertown. There are some just east of the ugly amherst self storage business and across the street from a new, very large church. As traffic zooms past at 40 mph only ten feet away, we hope someone doesn't stop the steal. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


We have to check the status of chestnut ripeness every day now. Look to the Northeast trees and the south east tree, they have been first in the past. 
Pick fallen nuts up and put them in the gray cooler till they open. 

Find me a lug of mature carrots: 8" long
After Jason has mowed row 59 sweet potato section, (south end) find me another lug, Sweet potatoes this time. 
Dig all the potatoes. Jason will mow those rows again to make it easier. 
Remove drip tapes, from every row. 
Collect the row markers and their 2' long 4x4 's that have hooks on the end that we use to store the markers. Bring them all to the shed area or leave in a cart and I will bring them to the red barn at Fearing st. 
Remove the sand bags from under the chestnut trees put them on the pallet at the north west edge of the chestnut field. 
An experiment that proved that our pumpkins would never become cubes.. we will try larger pumpkins next year.
quite late (in early July) we planted swan gourds: good timing for we had early broccoli in that spot in June. The swans are naturally and always attentive. I admire them but don't envy them. 
Last pic is a Deere dashboard puzzle: What does this gauge (the little bottle says AAA) of this (running) machine measure? and how would we have guessed that the exclamation point on the gauge means we are running low on fuel? Turns out that it went off after I got some fuel into the shoulder high fuel tank cap .. did you ever have to hold a  5 gal fuel can with its non- spill spout up to shoulder height forever?  And the no spill spout ! "What's that smell ?"  I heard, when I walked into our kitchen. 
Sorry to be so brief about it. I will let you know what the gauge is for when Bob texts his word.


We will have fresh corn at the stand today as well as yellow onions, butternuts, acorns, peppers, eggplant , pumpkin, we have great arugula, go pick it at row 8 or so...if I cut it and put it in the yellow hut it wilts and looks sad. 
same with sorrel, red lettuce, leeks,tomatillos
harvest carrots if you can find some that are all more than 8" long. 
harvest remaining potatoes
pull out the flower stakes, all of them, I need to make a single pile of them and then cover it 
add air to the right front tire of the yesdeere, I will drive it to the gas station around noon to fill with diesel
install electric line posts in the three spinach rows.  
pick up dropped nuts put them in the gray cooler . 
IMG_1949.JPGIMG_1947.JPG John Piepul's honey from our farm. The smaller bottle is 12 oz $8 the larger one with the yellow hut farmstand label is 16 oz , $10. The apple and pear are from Outlook Farm, Westampton, the cutting board table is turning 53 years old, never babied.


great job yesterday: the last tomato row was cleared of stakes, twine and drip tape. 
Before the late afternoon rain, I dug some potatoes. I left the fork where I stopped. Keep going. 
We will try putting duct tape on every other drop slot on the underside of our spreader. This is to see if we can reduce the density of our winter rye sowing. We still have the upper field and 1/2 of the willow field to do. 
IMG_1846.JPG Reposted because I 'm a little hungry: We still have lots of eggplant growing and bearing. Breaded fried eggplant, 3/8" think slice of yellow tomato and a square of cheese (talk to Connie for details) I still lost weight. 
1. remove wood stakes holding up the flower row grids. Remove all of them. 
2. remove the electric wires at the sweet potato. Try digging again to see if there are any tubers. 
3. cut the grass with the little red mower in the area just north of the greenhouse. This will be an active area for wreath supplies and making. 
4. continue potato digging: the rows were set exactly 48" apart so when you know where one row is you will know where they all are: 4 rows of potatoes. 


Ripe now: cilantro, arugula, flat leaf parsley, collards, lettuce, okra, potatoes, squash, sorrel, potatoes, 
Still growing : broccoli,sprouts, cauliflower,dig your own carrots, eggplant, peppers

1. continue spreading rye seed. If the seeds are sown too close ... not a problem.. if we have enough. the sown  rye grass seeds could be 2" apart and that would probably classify as dense. 4" apart is too much. 
2. Do not seed or harrow over the new spinach rows. keep 8' away from the spinach. 
3. Time to take a thorough look for sweet potatoes. Now or never. 
4. Pick up chestnuts that fell in the weekend winds.. put them in a lug not a pail, and put them in the gray cooler... uncovered. If someone wants them they are $3/ lb in the bur. (unshucked) I bought 16 pair of new leather work gloves
I will go thru our old gloves and throw out a bunch. 
5. harvest all the potatoes that are still out there. 
6. pull out the short flower posts, they have to be kept dry over the winter, maybe I have to get some trash barrels with lids for them. 
7. Pull out the last tomato row stakes, these are 4 footers. The perfect ones will go to the red barn at Fearing st. get the twine and the drip tape too
8. I have to order another roll of drip tape and biodegradable row cover for next year. 
9. We will put an electric wire 6" above the three new spinach rows.. I will get alligator clips so the rows can be accessed by the farmall. They must be cultivated before winter. 
IMG_1935.JPGmissing is Luna. 
We have found a black, white throated, Golden Doodle 7 weeks old that we will pick up next week. Maybe there will be a naming ceremony at the farm. Treatraising ?


Wreath making by Connie in the greenhouse. See photos two wreaths
IMG_1941.JPG  The harvest board for Sept 14, 2022 is not so neat. The market sales on a very cold but sunny Saturday was $1241, we had less to sell and it was in the 40's. I think people slept late and then waited for the sun. 
IMG_1939.JPG perfect radishes today. These were seeded directly in early August. All of our radishes earlier in the summer were eaten by the flea beetles and the radishes had worms in them. They were all thrown out.
Do today
1. Mow the old tomato rows in the chestnut field and the willow field
2. remove posts, twine and drip tape from the willow field tomato rows.
3. pick up fallen chestnuts and put them in the gray cooler in a lug.. not a bucket, they need lots of ventilation. 
4. drop spread rye seed in the deerfield then disc harrow it. Start with the spreader set at the lowest setting. 2 bags/field would be about right. 
5. Chestnuts are $7/ lb shucked. $3 / lb unshucked. They will open by themselves in about 3 weeks. 
6 Bob fixed the flat tire on the yesdeere .. this has happened too often so Bob has ordered a new wheel. I will pick it up at the Deere dealer in Greenfield when it comes in.


1. Remove all tomato stakes, twine and drip tapes
2. then mow to chop it all up
3. then drop spread our rye seed and disc harrow, the same day
4. Pick for the market and load up the yellow van. Tonight's temps will be in the low 40's. 
leeks, okra, washed and PERFECT carrots with tops, onions, pumpkins, eggplant all kinds (wash them), peppers, 
sorel, CILANTRO, arugula, radishes..leave the tops on, from row 8...I will do the lettuce, 
5. chestnuts bring what you find. We might shuck them if it is easy. They are $7/ lb., shucked. 
6. wash all of our potatoes and pack them in the yellow van. that should be at least two lugs. Use shallow lugs so they are not so heavy. 
We bought a puppy, we think it is a gold doodle and doesn't shed. She is black with a white throat. 7 weeks old. (once an hour pisser) Dog trainer suggestions are wanted. We travelled about 45 min via rt 66 to Hess's breeder farm (appears to be a converted 1940's motel) on rt 20 in Russell, across the street from the Westfield river.  Now we are very worried since we have never done this before. 
We stopped in at Outlook farm ..they are hiring temporary apple pickers..I would jump at the opportunity, at least I would have something to talk about, if I survived. The owner told Connie (as all do) that he would like to concentrate on the growing and sell the retail store he has grown over the years.. like our sheds, only ten times the size. I don't shop, but I did 
think their prices were too low. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday we took up all the stakes in the chestnut field and at least 1/2 a row in the willow field. There are 2.5 rows to go. 
We remove the stakes without breaking them, then remove the nylon tomato twine and the drip tape. The stakes are stored for the winter in the barn at 150 Fearing st that has been leaning for at least 50 years. 
When it is not raining, we will flail mow the rows, spread the 550 lbs of winter rye seed using our drop spreader, then disk harrow over the seeds to get the seeds into the ground. 
A few lugs of green tomatoes were picked for those who know what  (and want) to do with them. I don't do green bananas either. 
Connie was very pleased with her first fall wreath which she hung on the yellow hut facing Brigham Lane. Within a couple of hours the wreath was gone... that is a good sign, I hope. Connie needs 12" or longer cuttings of evergreens especially arbor vitae. Bring your cuttings and leave them behind the greenhouse on the  northside (brigham Lane side). the wreaths are made in the greenhouse. Connie's Wreaths are priced at $25, they do not have LED lights (We noticed LED wreaths at Home Depot) Those are about $65. Conspicuous consumption?  
We will not use the trailer this weekend so when the rain stops I will load 2 lugs each of the acorn and butternut squash. 

Today we are going to Russell to see Labradoodle pups, we hope we can take care of a pup and hope she/he will remind us of Luna. 
IMG_1935.JPG one of our tomato rows. I am embarrassed, We failed to "weave " them above 18" . You have to do it weekly or they will look like this with many tomatoes close to the ground, and the aisles narrowed. At this moment I don't know how to manage this, next year. Sunset Farm needs a tomato department ...I used to think we could do it if I just had enough big toy equipment... and that may still be the answer. I need to study all the equipment resources (should I be thinking Jones library or maybe Amazon?) Is there a resource for a problem bigger than your backyard and smaller than a factory? No. 
I will try the internet. Wasting time should be worse than wasting energy, yet we worship wasting time, we get in line to do it. 
IMG_1933.JPG what you need to take in the stakes: the Phyllis golf cart, gloves, stakes all pointing the same way, pieces of indestructible white tomato twine and pieces of drip tape. Having done a bit, I slept better last night. 


1. The chestnut field tomatoes are done: remove their stakes, do not break the stakes use the post extractor. Put the stakes all facing the same direction, in a golf cart and bring them directly to the red barn at 150 Fearing st. Keep them sorted and aligned 3', 4', 5', and 6' posts. Remove the plastic tomato twine as you go. If not removed it will bind up the mower and tiller, it is made to not rot. Pull out the drip tapes, throw them away. (as in dumpster)
2. Pick up the sandbag piles in the chestnut field and put them in one good place, against the east side hill of that field. 
3. If there are no good plum tomatoes left in the willow field, pull their stakes up too. 
4. Remove the low stakes in the flower rows. Pull out the drip tapes and throw them away. Use a tractor or golf cart to pull them out, don't try to pull them out manually. If they don't pull out one way then pull from the other end. 

I will pick up three acres of rye seed today at at Nutrien we will spread it using the drop spreader. the seed comes in bushel bags which weigh something like 52 lbs each. We will be getting 10-20  bags. As soon as they are spread we will disk harrow them. That will also chop up any vines and stems. 
Next Tuesday UM will send about 20 ag students to help harvest. I will first answer their questions about our 40 year old trees that brother Mark and I planted. One month of the year, I think about them and I am glad to hear what is new about chestnut culture from them.


Flowers are the focus this week 

Check the flower rows in the willow field and cut off the tall weeds with loppers, clippers and the saw bladed weedwacker. 
There aren't a lot of flowers but those we have are important: zinnias, lisianthus, blue ageratum,dusty miller, cosmos, millet (look like cigars)  cut off the weeds at the top of the 6x6 ply grid so the flowers are more accessible. 
This week we will not be bringing the trailer to the market: everything can fit in the yellow van. 
The red mower was not fixed, Bob expects to replace the belt today, if his amazon order comes. Then work on cutting grass at the chestnut field. Bob hopes to remove the back hoe from the yes deere tonight too. 
Pick the okra today. Trim the onions still in the greenhouse. 
See if there are any chestnut trees that have ripe nuts: look at the northeast corner tree and also the south east tree. Each tree has its own ripe date. The spiney exterior shell will be open enough to see the shiney brown nuts. Also some might have been shaken down to the ground. Look every day now. Put any you collect in the gray cooler. You can leave them in their outer shells and in a bucket for now. Those we sell on Saturday will have to be shucked on Friday and put in net bags. We sell only net bags full. $5/ lb for shucked nuts sounds right to me. 
Connie will also start making fall wreaths. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cel


We buried Luna last Friday evening under the willows. About 20 neighbors came. Barbara and Hank picked small sunflowers which we all left on her grave. Bob set up the backhoe, we all watched the 6' deep hole Bob made with his grace, skill and love for Luna. There were no stones with beautiful loam all the way down. Luna was about 12 years old and died at home, we think it was a tickborne disease. It was unexpected. 

Farm news: 
We have to get ready for the chestnuts. I think Bob has repaired the red mower so that we can mow under the trees. 
When mowing, throw the grass out, away from the trunks so the grass is left as clean as possible. At the end of the week we will be checking to see if there are some nuts for the market. Between now and then I have to set the prices. 
We have collards, a group in row 14, which the Turks stuff with chestnuts. Last year I made a sign in Turkish advising that the broccoli and califlower were NOT collards. This year I will cover the beginnings of those rows, too. 

When digging carrots, leave the new tops on, they are beautiful. 
Dig more potatoes, put them in shallow lugs so I can carry them around and talk at the same time. 

Mow the overgrown flower rows: Keep an eye on the three point lift hydraulics, sometimes it lets go and the mower attachment acts as a cultivator/plow combination. Almost immediately you will be dug into the ground which you can get out of by disconnecting the pto. If you can keep the mower up, the mowing of the high weeds is easy  and you get that great feeling that you have done something. The field is transformed. 
Remove wood stakes from sections of the flower rows that are done. 
I will pick up some rye cover crop seeds from Nutrien for those rows that are done. Nutrien is the largest fertilizer company in the world with sales of $20 billion and is headquartered in Saskatoon. They have a location in South Deerfield.  Everything eats.  Growing a cover crop , like all crops, has to be managed. If the spring is wet, or our machines are still being fixed, or I am napping again, the rye will grow too high and tangle the plow or the tiller in the spring. So we have to mow it first. If I am are still sleeping, the rye heads up and sows its own seeds,,, then they will be the weeds in your row. 
I know because I still don't know exactly how to manage it. 
I don't know how the permaculture (who never plow) folks manage the chucks; If we don't plow and cultivate the woodchucks figure that out and make their homes right in the field you planted, we discover their holes this time of year when we mow the weeds down. Where ever you grow melons or squash you get a real weedy fall mess. There is no way to weed a field of vines. 

The pros in Hadley are so good at managing their land, they permit no weeds to grow or seed in their fields..they are brilliant. 
Maybe a picture tomorrow


IMG_1920.JPGIMG_1915.JPGIMG_1916.JPGIMG_1918.JPGarugula seeded in greenhouse end of June and the seedling planted in early august. Note the new leaves do not have flea beetle holes. The beetles have left the field now. The hope was that the plants would survive the beetles. Arugula is a cold weather plant so now it will grow very fast and bushy, till is is snow buried. 
the handful of radishes, above were seeded in mid August and do not have worms in them: This is the only time of the year I can grow pretty radishes. We will pull them for next week's saturday market. 

Photos of head lettuce: these were  also seeded in the greenhouse around july 4. We planted them purposely too close together so that they cold be thinned. See the gaps in the row now) Head lettuce needs at least 12" between seedlings to have room for a head. Yesterday we sold a lug of young head lettuce which were set in individual bowls of water on the flower table. It worked! the floppy young lettuce did not go limp. They all sold. Limp food is not appealing. 

The market celebrated its 50th birthday. Connie was asked to say a few words about the past 50 years. She says she was given only enough time for 3 sentences on stage. John Spinetti the " Amherst Common Market" founder and current president, was not there (covid). 
Our market was $1241 , the sales reflect the fewer flowers, tomatoes, watermelon. Current products include squashes, pumpkins, onions, eggplant, leeks, celery, peppers, plum San Marzano tomatoes, collards, sorrel, tomatillos, lettuce, okra, personal cabbages, kale, chard, rhubarb. Next week we will have more lettuce, san marzanos, radishes, cilantro, arugula, squash, leeks, collards,
In three weeks we will add  broccoli, cauliflower, chestnuts, swan gourds, if all goes well. 

What to do now? Put the mower back on the Deere tractor and mow down the corn, and the willow field aisles. 
The University is having an ag class  volunteer On Tuesday, Oct 4, for a three hour lab. If the nuts are ready this will be very helpful for us. They did it last year and apparently approved (or forgot ) my opening nutcast, I'm working on it.  
Whatever, they pick up will be immediately stacked in lugs in the gray cooler..or they mold. (worse than going limp).

Still beautiful plum tomatoes, come get them and start the sauce. 


Prepare for the market tomorrow

Pick: collards (row 14), only perfect radishes from rows 8 and 16. These are gigantic german radishes, that means big and  strong;  6 celery, a lug of rhubarb cut the long  ones in half this time, eggplants all kinds, peppers, okra, flat beans. 
Wash two full lugs of potatoes, clean the acorn and butternut squash. globular tomatoes are done. cherries are split.

Run the mower up and down the grown in aisles in the willow field. We will follow that with the tiller to remove the 2' of weeds that have spread from the edges of the plastic rows. 
I will study the lettuce in row 9: we might thin it and sell as loose lettuce. The red is a romaine, the green is a head lettuce. 

We will load the trailer today with onions,squash, pumpkins, boxes of plum tomatoes, potatoes.
Harvest acorn squash at the west edge of the corn. 

Tomorrow am, I will cut the sunflowers and bungi them to the tent posts...encourage people to pick them from our display and wear/hold them for the Amherst Common (aka farmer's) Market  50th birthday. (been there done that) 
Time to mow down the corn. Be sure the acorn squash has been picked up first. Risky at the edges. 
IMG_4341.JPGcoming soon

IMG_3654.JPGvintage apron, yellow van, good memories


We planted another row (7) yesterday: more lettuce and seeded a half row of chinese cabbage. This should be ready about Nov 1 ! We may be too late. 
We began tilling the wide aisles between rows. Weeds have even matured along the edges of the flower rows.
They have grown into the aisles about 2' and into the beds. I cut them back at row 6  to promote the lisianthus in their fall growth. They have lots of buds and are cold weather lovers. Today we will do more using the (now) bladed weedwacker to cut them back before tilling with the Deere. I did some aisle widening yesterday with the Deere. Because of that I had to cut the tines clear of tough weed stalks and roots. It is ready to go again today. We will be doing the willow field too. 
Barbara and David dug a few lugs of yellow gold potatoes, only a couple dozen were speared. They are on the floor of the gray cooler which has been in the 40's lately. Great for storing potatoes. We still have two rows of potatoes in the ground. 

1. trim weeds with bladed weedwacker in the flower aisles. If this works well, use the farmall to collect the cuttings and take them off the field, this will make tilling a lot easier. 
2. Let's try to mount the flail mower on another tractor Possibly the blue tractor. It is time to mow too. Time to mow down the corn. 
3. Harvest carrots. Keep them under cover in the colder gray cooler. Wash them and grade them save all imperfect ones for the horses. Put all imperfects in the blue bucket, with Save for Horses written on it. 
4. clean the remaining onions in the greenhouse.
5. Are there acorn squash at the west row of the cornfield? Pick them up. 
6. Cut the largest cabbage, trim off all excess leaves so they are attractive, personal sized non intimidating and store in the gray cooler for market. 
7. Pick up the remains of the pea vines and trellis at the south edge of the upper field / use the front loader. Pull out the plastic if possible, put the remains in the compost pile. Put the trellis plastic in a barrel for the dumpster (for me to visit)
8. Remove posts supporting the trellis in flower rows where the flowers are done. Then using the bladed- wacker see if you can cut the remaining down and remove from the field. (the trellis will be emeshed so we have to pile it for the winter while waiting till we can pull out the plastic mesh grid.) 
IMG_1909.JPGrow 6 lisianthus cleared of edge weeds. Good leeks on the row to the right.

5. hoe the sorrel and the chives in row 17 .


I did rototill the okra aisle, David Sharken was there then and helped me put the deer netting back. I used the newly returned BCS blue tiller. It now has a template label for locating the gear locations. Use gear #1 for doing tilling work. 
We now have 5 - 20lb+ boxes of san marzano plum tomatoes. They are priced today at $40. The lettuce is close together and for head lettuce they need room or they grow together (bad) We will start thinning them as loose lettuce this weekend for the market and let the remaining  spaced lettuces have room for their heads. Now I wish I had planted more. 

Do today
1. make a new row 7--39" east of row 8 the one with the lettuce. Do this with the big tiller, then set a row string to guide planting. Plant the lettuce seedlings, the flats are on the ground against the north end of the greenhouse. Plant the seedlings 12" apart. 
2. Look for lisianthus that are still flowering that are being overwhelmed by pig weed (amaranth)  and lambsquarters (also an amaranth)  Now we have to cut their 4'-5' stalks with loppers at the ground. Do that for the  lisianthus. We wonder why they are so many big weeds this year: maybe the weather, the fertilizer we drop spread under the plastic rows, maybe the drip irrigation under the plastic, maybe our age. Because our lizzy bouquets sell so well, we need to take care of them now. Reply later today as to which lizzy row you worked on today and your suggestions. 
3. a pair is needed to harvest potatoes. Keep the fork 9" away from where you think the potatoes are and keep the tines vertical: stabbing a potato will happen and you will feel bad. Having a companion with you will help with that. Pick up even the cherry sized. 
4. Pick out weeds in the new rows 8 and 9. The cilantro, arugula and radishes are doing very well. I don't remember seeing bok choy is it ok? 
I will take our echo weedwacker to Boyden and Perron today to put the blade attachement on it. The blade will be able to cut down the very woody weeds. 
Barbara weeded the perennial chives in row 17. Next year we will be selling bunches .. I don't know what they are good for.
I think chinese dumplings which makes me wish I could have them now. 
IMG_1903.JPG a photo detail in our storage shed: the long and short tubes with the blue ribbon tying them together are for weaving the  tomatoes. That is why the tomato twine is in the picture. I was sure I had thrown out the short tube, not realizing it was our valuable tool, during one of my more hormonal cleanup episodes last winter. 
I just found it .. next year we will use it! It is a new trick my mind is playing: if I can't easily find something I will completely fabricate the experience of having thrown it away. Hence the blue ribbons now. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Rain predicted today, you may amuse yourselves.
Yesterday the red tiller returned from Boyden and Perron. It worked perfectly except I have to hold the shift lever down. 
I hope Jason and Bob will figure what screws to adjust. see photo:
IMG_1904.JPGI used it to till next to the okra and the new rows 8 and 9. It clogs fast when it hits a pile of weeds so get them off the path of the troy bilt tiller. It is also a trick to not walk where you have been, to operate it with one hand and walk in the adjoining row. It is helping me (like a cart at homedepot) to walk in a straight line and go somewhere. I am sure we could adjust the farmall to do a better job.. but it has a broken cast-connector which make fine adjustments impossible. 
Our second tiller, a BCS, is now ready and I will get it today. You need two of everything with age. (yours and theirs)
If you will do something, grade the carrots into perfects vs everything else. Then wash the perfects. Save everything else.. they are committed, save the unwashed imperfects for me. I will not define perfect again, my brain fog has decided that. 
When the weather clears, we must remove the deer netting for a minute, run a tiller down the aisle between the okras and then put it back. Do it before the weeds get any larger. In fact, if the red lawnmower has a total width less than 36" run the mower down the okra aisle first. If that doesn't fit then run the weed wacker down to take the big weeds out before they tangle the tiller tines.
You can always get your exercise by digging up potatoes. I found two more rows and I flagged them. I put a flag at the start and stop points where I found them. Don't bring damaged potatoes up to the shed. Baby potatoes are prized, pick them up. Put them in the gray cooler: potatoes are stored at 32 and 100% humidity in the dark. 
I did plant three rows in the willow field (20's rows) Bloomsdale variety for spring. After they have sprouted and grown a few real leaves Jason will top the rows with electric wires. that combined with covid might give the deer what I have: a brain fog. They will eat a little then forget they are eating and fall asleep. In my experience however, they won't forget where the spinach is. 
We have perennial chives planted in row 17 just before the sorel. They must be weeded. Only about a dozen clumps to do and soaked soil is the time to do it. 
We have several 20+ lb boxes of san marzanos (plum tomatoes)  in the yellow cooler: encourage people to take them rather than pick their own today.. they are so ripe they can't sit around. The price will be $40 a box even if we have picked them. 
IMG_1888.JPGThese are the last watermelons, they might still be in the yellow cooler. 
the black spots are caused by the biodegraded plastic mulch they sat on. Next year please volunteer to find them and put a paper plate under each. 
With some dread I see the chestnuts maturing: think about Oct 1 or so . think about how you will get them down and in your tub before the squirrels do. I find it difficult to look up these days too. (the fog)  If you come with a telescoping rod that extends to 20 feet or so , you will be equipped. Back to homedepot.


Bob Cyr repaired the tiller: he replaced the chain bearings and patched the chain housing cover. The chain housing is packed with grease, the hole which was about the size of a cherry pit, made it possible for soil to get in and ultimately reuin the chain. Bob had a spare bearing in the truck. (who knew ! I keep a cardboard cutter in my truck (van) to flatten cardboard).  A new cover with a gasket has been ordered. No spare, in that case.  

Our san marzano tomatoes in the chestnut field are still good. And the vines are still blooming for more. The vines are low since we didn't keep up with the tomato twine weaving to hold the vines up... as a result the tomatoes were shaded (weeds) ..perhaps delayed.. therefore still  prime for picking. 

Today, I hope to plant the spring spinach in the rows that had cukes and zukes this summer. 3 rows spaced 39" apart. 

We should cultivate our new rows in the upper field. rows 8,9 they will be cultivated with the farmall back and forth each row so as to eliminate the difference in the settings. 
those rows will be weekly cultivated with the farmall untill they are so tall ( about 2' high) until they are pushed over by the row stradling farmall. After that the aisles must be weekly tilled with a walk behind tiller. ( that is the reason for the 30" between rows) 
Elayne gave me a whopping baking pepper about 8" high and 6" diameter, blockey not pointed. She purchased it in a Boston farmer's market with request that we grow them next year. I goggled  gigantic peppers and there are several seed sellers that claim their variety is the one. If anyone knows what variety grows gigantic peppers please advise asap. (needless to say all the seed seller sell gigantic pepper seeds, if I were gigantically gullible I would plant them and then ask the question again next year. 
Please harvest carrots, bring them all in to the wash stand. I will grade them and make a pail for Barry Robert's horses. 
they are very easy to see and pull up right now. they will be garbage after the first killing frost, they will store in the cooler for months. 
IMG_1902.JPGsee the undisturbed weed row to the right  of the dill? I hope that the farmall will eliminate this if it is headed north. the row next to it must also  be tilled today. (red romaine  lettuce in the foreground.)
IMG_1897.JPGdigging potatoes last week. Lisa Ades, Barbara Van den Berg and the digger. It is possible that the short time between digging and eating maximizes goodness. I mowed the big weeds down in that field before trying to dig. 
IMG_1901.JPG this was the harvest board for last Saturday's market: $1318 
flowers are waning ( big rain storm) no more yellow watermelons, beets, lettuce, beefsteaks done. Back on the list: rhubarb
how can I sweeten it without cane sugar?

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


I filed our 61 A application yesterday at the assessor's office. Every year it must be filed by October 1. About 25 years ago I missed the deadline and it cost me more than $10,000. It made an impression. 
Finally, Jason and I  installed the tiller on the Deere .. more than once we said out loud "how would Bob do it?" 
Today, I will till the 20's rows again and fertilize it. Maybe on Sunday we will plant the spinach seed. Three rows. 
We will harvest more carrots today, they are becoming seconds as they remain in the ground. Bring all carrots back to the wash station where all imperfect ones will be shown the Barry robert's horse bucket. 
Dig potatoes today keep the fork tines vertical and at least 10" away from the potato stems. Do not save stabbed potatoes except for yourself. Take them away, get rid of them. Digging the hilled potatoes is much easier than in the past. Two people do the job with more jokes than an individual so find a companion for this job. Use shallow lugs, they won't be so heavy. 
We will load the trailer during the day with items that don't need refrigeration:  6 boxes of tomatoes, butternut squash (2 lugs) kabocha and acorn squash, potatoes, our 6 remaining watermelon (unbelievable that is all we have left!) pumpkins
onions (2), eggplant (2) peppers (2) regular tomatoes red and yellow as many as you can find. 
Carefully hoe the new cilantro, bok choy row. (about row 8)
The new lettuce row is growing very fast now we should have new lettuce in two weeks. 
There are no more beans. 

-drip irrigation and arugula seedlings a month ago- 30 watermelons hidden from the squirrel tribe at the farm who know what they are... We have sold all but 5 of our crop of about 100 melons! I am very surprised. I also wish they hadn't since I was thinking of how heavy they are and maybe I shouldn't grow them next year. Now I have to.


1. Harvesting for Saturday: 
Tomatillos, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, long eggplant, white eggplant, beets, okra, two trimmed lugs of rhubarb. 
2. hoe, weed the cauliflower and b sprouts in row 16. 
3. attach for storage, the hoses to the new plastic caddies. We will put a caddy next to each hydrant next year. 
4. Jason: take off the mower and put the tiller on the deere, do it with me. Remind us to be sure to tighten the sway bolts. 
I think we will till the land where the zukes and cukes were, plus a row in the upperfield uphill 39" from the new row with dill. We will fertilize the new rows too. 
5. I found deer netting in the creamery barn: let's put it over the unprotected sections of the okra. Jason says it works! The deer have avoided messing with it. (nasty stuff,I agree) 
6. pick perfect tomatoes for the yellow hut including a lug of san marzanos. 
2 bags of deer netting we had stored in our barn at our creamery office building. The middle shot shows the relatively accessible barn interior, the last photo on the right is a note about broken gas lines on one of the weedwackers, I hate it when that happens. If you love it, you fix it. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cel


I have been at the cape where I could not access my farm list. I also couldn't remember what needed to be done. You were not missed: I didn't write. 
I hope to purchase 5 new plastic hose caddies today to store the hoses. 
1. Go to each hydrant and get the hoses. Bring them to a pile at the shed. Next year the hoses will stay on caddies at each hydrant. (they get hidden in the weeds around the hydrant)
2. Weed the southern half of the peony row. 
3. I haven't checked the effectiveness of the 1/2" black deer netting we draped over the okra rows last week. If it worked, I will look for more netting for the rest of the row.
4. Pick boxes of san marzanos, if we still have them, put them in the yellow cooler. 
5. hoe the sprouts, cauliflower and broc in row 16. 
6. pick perfect pumpkins and put them in the yellow cooler on the top shelf, cut them loose with clippers: keep handles. perfect means evenly colored orange. 
7. Please pick perfect globular tomatoes both red and yellow for the stand. Keep them inside the stand. 
8. dig another row of potatoes I think the next row is "yukon gold". Bring them to the wash stand. Wash them and remove any imperfect potatoes store them, under cover, in the gray cooler.
9. weedwack weeds in row 50 liberate the rhubarb in that row, remove vines from the blueberry bushes. 
10. Tomorrow, we will harvest two lugs of fall rhubarb for the market. 
11. Our Chestnut trees are loaded: our harvest usually starts around October 1. Before that we have to cut the grass under the trees with the little red mower. The big mower pulled by a tractor cannot go under some trees because of the nut laden low branches. 
12. We will wait a couple more weeks before we try to dig up the sweet potatoes in row 59. 
This is last year: coming soon.


1. Harvest and pack, not done so far:  chard, kale, parsley. LARGER red cabbage heads. beets, SMALL okra, lleeks
2. Pick at least two more boxes of san marzanos , we will  bring 4 boxes to the market and take the covers off to catch the eye.  I will deliver to any Amherst address those purchased at the market within the hour. 
4. Mow the deerfield, Run the mower as close as you can to the sides of the rhubarb (60) and row 59 particularly the east side of 59. 
3. Wack down the large weeds on the east side of the tomatillos. Yes, do this before item #4. 
5. run the mower close to  aisle edges in the upper and in the willow field. the aisles are intentionally wider than the mower. 
So you have to do at least two passes each aisle to get the full 9' widths. Same with harrowing do the edges first. 
6. I will move the white van closer to the yellow hut: we will load (and stack) items that are not stolen by squirrels and will not wilt overnight: one full, but level, lug of butternut, acorn, kambucha, spaghetti, pumpkin squash; the three onions, red watermelons (at least 20 ) They must all be stackable (use the lugs that are deeper where required) or leave the watermelons loose and stacked in the center as we have been doing. 
IMG_1878.JPG Iman and Barbara enjoying the breezes and shade, after stints in the full sun.
IMG_1879.JPGWe have new tires on the Deere, I have a new 1/2" drive socket wrench. The old tires had too many flats to patch. Bob Cyr had a "spare set" College motors popped the tires on (they are tubeless). No need for a jack, just push the front bucket town and it lifts the front wheels off the ground. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cel


Yesterday Barbara and Iman dry cleaned two lugs of onions, beautiful, very seductive as onions go. Let's do more for the market. 
Thinking of that, we will clean squash and tomatoes for those displayed at the stand and at the market: authentic field dirt  does not sell.. like the sink of dirty dishes, it is authentic. Our oversized tomatoes yellow and red (Big beef variety) should be polished individually. 
I harvested two lugs of classic eggplant yesterday I put one lug on the yellow hut counter to replace one there that had a unselected  dirty dozen remaining. 
When at the eggplants with clippers in one hand, reach over to the adjoining row of Bluberries that are being taken over by bittersweet and wild grape vines. Kill those vines!  also reach down and clip out the walnut saplings, and large stemmed weeds. 
Our parsley in row 5 needs to be weeded too. 
Our venmo sales are growing at least 6 per day. the users are not all kids. (under 50) 

IMG_1874.JPGIMG_1872.JPG Barbara Van den Berg is pulling up carrots now very visible where we mowed the weedy carrrot rows two weeks ago. By now they have sprouted new 6" leaves that show you where to loosen the soil and easily pull out bunches of carrots. In row 29 you see. (39" away from 28). Those are Bolero carrots. (real dirt on them too)
Jason Stevens is weedwacking the weeds along the side of our greenhouse. I am very grateful. He experimented with cutting the weeds down with that little red riding mower, maybe because he doesn't look the part (he's thin) the mower couldn't do it. I helped push him out.


Hopefully tomato canners will come today to pick the great crop of san marzano tomatoes. Fold  a bunch of boxes and lids for them. 
We are out of onions at the stand: Please pull of cut off the tops, dry shuck two full lugs of onions that have neen drying in the greenhouse. Throw in the compost pile any soft ones or imperfect ones. Separate the little ones, I love them: bite size. 
I will drive the blue tractor with the 50 gal sprayer on it to the 24 s prospect st basement today. The sprayer was the main reason we have potatoes to dig now. (yes all the sprays were "green etc" what we also did was spray weekly and use a different type spray each time)  Getting the sprayer into the storage basement will be a trick. inchxinch goes a song. 

Weed wack the greenhouse surround, it looks horrible. 

Use loppers to remove the 6' high pigweed and lambsquarters from the perennial rows 17, 18,19. More horror. 

Put a swaybar on the disk harrows and harrow the upperfield aisles. the sway bar is on the blue tractor now.  

I filled some cans with gas and two yellow ones with diesel. I emptied 5 gal of diesel into the Deere, That was difficult to do since the fill port is 5+ feet high and the cans have safety spouts that are designed to make pouring difficult.
We keep the yellow diesel cans near the gray cooler where the deere is usually parked. And also put new tags on them. 

Harvest carrots between times, they will have grown new leaves since we mowed them two weeks ago. So finding them will be a little easier. They will  keep forever in the gray cooler under a damp towel. They like the temp in the 30's and 100% humidity, as do potatoes. I want to plow that section of the field asap so it will be ready for the september spinach seeding. 

Venmo yesterday had more than 6 sales... my venmo account lists the names, I love knowing the names of  at least some of our visitors. 
IMG_1868.JPG a pie pumpkin was put in a box (sealed with plastic cables) to see if it will become square. It will sooner become a pie, it is an experiment, as we are.
IMG_1865.JPG The hydraulic connections at the back of the Deere. They look formidable but when the tractor is turned off and there is no pressure in the line, they are very easily disconnected with no tools needed. These allow the mower to be tilted, and moved a couple of feet side to side to miss something. Underneath, it is the power take off, that mechanically powers the 540 revolutions/minute spin of the mower cutting shaft. That doesn't require tools to attach, either but hand strength and knuckles to bruise. (I am not good there) 


1. Jason will mow the deerfield: leave the eggplant, and the sweet potato rows. Mow around the tomatillo patch. 
Weedwack down the big weeds adjacent to the tomatillos 
2. I dug two full lugs of potatoes last night: Continue to dig in the next row where I left the fork. Dig two more lugs. Put them on the floor in the gray cooler. Don't wash them. 
3. Weed the parsley in row 5. 
4. replenish the eggplants at the yellow hut stand. Sort thru those there and send softies to the compost heap. Pick fresh eggplants to make the lugs satisfied. 
5. Check the rows 24,25, area for any more squash then mow those rows too. 
6. Dig some more carrots: bring all back to the shed for sorting. Put irregulars in the Barry Pail ( which is in the yellow hut) 
7. Connie would like to move the astilbe, possibly to the vacant south end of the peony row, I will google that to see if you should do this now. 
8. is the electric wire over the new row of flat beans (row 11 or so) working as a deer repellant? Please pick beans.
IMG_1862.JPGthe potato rows being hilled up a foot , have not been tilled or mowed. I am going to try setting the mower at 12" high (using the three point hitch) and at least getting the weeds  out of my face. Even so this year's crop is the best we have ever done. 
IMG_1861.JPGnew potatoes , kennebecs , Kennebec is a medium- to late-maturing white potato. It was bred by the USDA and selected by Presque Isle Station, Maine, in 1941. Kennebec is not under plant variety protection. This fast-growing variety has high yields. 

IMG_1858.JPGGarage at our house. produce is kept there temporarily, to fool squirrels at the farm. 
I ate about 1/8 of a watermelon (one of those pictured above) last night (my kind of desert now). My unbiased report is too good to make an interesting read. Despite eating large amounts of very sweet fruit, my A1C dropped from 8.7 to 5.9 , maybe the high number was a lab error. Would be great if that is all it takes. Incidentally, I lost 25 lbs  which I think about when I pick up a big melon. 
We have about 50 more melons for those who are willing to confirm my experience.


The melons and squash have been picked up. A few piles remain along row 52's aisle to be brought back and hidden from the squirrels. 
1. remove the posts and 6x6 mesh in row 52 that were used by the snow peas. We will move the electric wires and solar system to the new spinach rows. (which have not been prepared  or seeded yet)
2. Use the weed wacker and clear the big weeds from either side of the tomatillos 
3. there might be some onions still in row 58 south end. all the others have been harvested. Pull any that remain in 58. 
4. weed wack around the greenhouse. Especially bad at the south end. 
5. dig potatoes. Do a whole row. 

a pile of acorns which were loaded into the front bucket of the deere from row 55. In the middle is our tomatillo crop actually it is very good the photo is some kind of alternative that has concealed them, they are very unruly, we installed posts but never got to weaving the twine. At least we can find them. The middle photo  shows a lot lot of orange gourds. I am going to disk harrow them and plow them under. They were planted by mistake... they are absolutely useless. Of course with no care, no attention, they did very well and produced a truck load. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


Yesterday's market : $1889 ( our best market this year ) as we shared the common with the fair. The rides began at 1 pm. Before the rides began, a band played. I've read there are concerts of the genre I would love to hear when delivering more kale to our stand.. but played only in Strong house neighborhood. I'm so glad to not have to hear rap or bongo drums, so I'm not complaining. Looks like a farm music venue to me; that reminds me of the zoning bylaw .. I am so blessed to not be studying that anymore. 
Today: tomatoes!! I will deliver a box or more to any amherst address: be sure to tell me what door ... I left a bag of peas once at a front door on Amity st, the owner never looked there. Not news in New England, I know.
We have red, yellow beefsteaks, grape clusters (that might be like raisins when dried) and San Marzano plum tomatoes by the 20 lb box. You pick or we pick. Call me when you have your boxes full ( we provide empty boxes) and I will pick you and them up with a golf cart. 
Pick our squash: the butternut, acorn, kabocha put them in a cooler to disappoint the squirrels. As soon as the squash are picked up we will mow them down with our flail mower. At least some weed seeds may be killed. 
Pick up onions check the north end of row 56. It also has a section of leeks that need to be weeded. ( only about 20')
Cultivate the new flower row next to the okra
Pick the okra,  young pinky sized are the most popular . 
IMG_1847.JPGphoto with why's
I checked a grapefruit sized yellow melon, to prove that they are all ripe. Wrong. 
Blue pail now kept in the yellow cooler, it is half full. All the carrots that we discard can now be fed to Barry Robert's horses. I will call him when it has a few more..does he really have time to pick them up?


Might rain this afternoon! 
1. hook up the trailer to the white van and load with lugs of  market items: squashes, melons, pumpkins, onions, egg plants both classic others, I am thinking of leaving the white van in our sunset driveway tonight to foil the sunset farm squirrels. 
I will have cleared parking at  the curb for dinner guests with the police. 
2. Pick items not already done .. check the blackboard first!  ,,, classic and white and long eggplant, see if there are any sweet potatoes in row 59, one deep lug of red cabbage trimmed, chard, kale and corn. Harvest Kale and chard as whole plants not leaf by leaf. find 11,577 ears of corn for me ok? , ( there will be only one lug to be harvested) Harvest all the dill leave them dry, these will be sold for pickle making. The seeds are the deal. 
3. I think most of the butternut and spaghetti have been harvested from row 25 or so ,area. Check that and when they are, then mow those rows. We will plow those rows, tomorrow, for seeding our overwinter spinach next  week. 
4. free up the broccoli hiding in row 13 south near the end, a 15' section of row that blends into scallions. It is a staggered double row. 
5. look at the north end of row 56, there should be onions in there followed by leeks. Pull the onions please. 
6. roll up drip tapes remaining on the surface in the upper field. I am hoping that we won't need them, if we do it will be easy to replace them (always takes two people and a cart) 
August 25 harvest board. Mostly picked because it might rain today
Next week, the shy guys. Our white onion (my kind of salad), flounder: supermarket, white  bianca eggplant with yellow tomatoes and cheese. Even so, I have lost 25 lbs in 4 months. Not in the photo is the ear of corn. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cel


Bob Cyr came back yesterday evening to replace the front wheel tires on the Deere tractor. After more than an hour, the old tires were taken off the rims and new ones installed. However, these are tubeless tires and depend on a blast of air to push the sides of the tires against the rims to seal them airtight. Our air compressor does not have a large enough tank or hose. We gave up and ordered pizza. This morning I will bring the front wheels to College St Motors and hope they will "pop" the tires for me.
Yesterday I delivered a box of tomatoes, as I will do for any Amherst address. 
What to do? 
1. reel up the drip tapes in the new rows.. with the tapes gone, we can run the cultivating farmall cub tractor over those rows and greatly reduce the work of hoeing them. Take in the hoops too. The flea beetles have left the field so the only varmints now to defend against are the deer. Jason installed an electric shock wire just above the for 15 or so, flat bean row. I am gambling that we will get timely rain now due to the hurricane season.
2. Pick a box each or more of san marzanos. Leave at least 1" headroom and put them in the yellow cooler, we will bring them to the market on Saturday. 
3. dry shuck a couple of full lugs of mixed onions that have been drying in the greenhouse.
4. pick as much as you can of tomatillos in row 56 (mid row) check that the fruit inside is at least plum size. 
5. harvest a lug of leeks they are in three places 56, 4,16
6. Harvest butternut squash in row 54 south end. Clean them. 
7. pick a few lugs of the yellow tomatoes.


It is raining/misting now. By the time you are up and at the farm, it should be dry. 
Yesterday, dodging the rain, David Sharken and I picked the beefsteak tomatoes..just red ones and we had 6 lugs full. 
They are in the coolers simply to keep them from the squirrels. David also dug a lug of carrots and I did so earlier. They are in the gray cooler: I will bag them in plastic to keep them from getting soft and shrivelling. A few holes will be punched in the bags so the carrots don't mold. The ideal temperature to store carrots is  the 30's at 100% humidity. David saw deer eating carrots yesterday... I wonder if that is because I tossed imperfect ones in the aisle, otherwise I don't know how they would pull them out of the ground. 

We have a row (about row 11 ) of roma beans in full bloom. They are also being eaten daily by deer.  The fix for this is a single shocking wire directly above the beans. I hope Jason can set this up today. 

Hoe the new cole row 9, hoe the new rows 7 and 8 while the weeds are less than an inch high. Hoe the new flower transplants in the north end of row 2. ( only 20 feet or so)
Yesterday,  Barbara and Jason dug up three lugs of potatoes, perfect, thank you. Let me know if you finished a row so we can mow it. 
fall broccoli transplants are looking good. They were under a row cover for the past two weeks because of the flea beetles. the beetles have taken off for the edges of the field (standard language, obviously no one knows) the small weeds are perfect for hoeing now. The drip tape is in the way of course. 
IMG_1827.JPGIMG_1828.JPG The yellow hut which is our refrigerated show room and now, is a squirrel less storage room. The fake grids on the inside to the show window make  a handy organization of the pricing. I love the liquid chalk markers. The few lugs of tomatoes that are under upside down lugs still got eaten by the squirrels so they have all been moved inside. The watermelon is cold too. In past years the watermelon could be left outside now the squirrels make a hole in them within an hour, if left outside. Yet there are 50 more melons lying in the field only 500' away. they are untouched.


We got some rain, no torrential downpours : gentle. David Sharken worked through it in the afternoon and pulled three lugs of onions from row 58. Works for me. 
I selected a larger text size . Is it better? 
I ordered some replacement tines and parts for the Landspride tiller  the tines wear down to look like knives .. see photo.
Barbara and Phyllis helped load both of our walk behind tillers into the yellow van for repairs at Boyden and Perron. While there I asked about a walk behind mower that can cut tall grass: they will rent out a 28" wide mower for the occasional over weeded row we can't till. My fix for that is to mow the tall lambsquarters and red root pig weed then till the aisle. That walk- behind mower  costs $3200! 
Needed today: dig and harvest potatoes in rows 80's. 
Dig up carrots: we need to plow that land for the September sowing of Bloomsdale spinach to overwinter for next year. 
It is much easier to seed if the land was plowed at least 2 weeks before and the weeds have rotted. Otherwise clumps of roots catch on the seeder and sweep the seeds away and unplant  the very seeds it planted 6" before. 
I get another eye shot this am (every 8 weeks), I may not do much after. 
Put lugs of onions that are in the bucket of the Deere in the greenhouse. 
IMG_1772.JPGSee the pointy tine at the far left, they were  all identical. the tiller is loaded with roots, bailing twine and big weed stalks... after a few times bruising my knuckles cutting the stuff loose, I bruise fewer now. 
We use the large serrated kitchen knives we get by the  dozen at walmart. Bob Cyr taught me to always buy new bolts needed to replace parts ..just ask for all accessory bolts . Interesting that the bolts usually are hardness rated so that the bolt breaks first before the hole it fits into gets  deformed.. so you need to know when you replace a missing bolt ,its hardness. 
It is convenient to be able to lift the attachment so working on it does not mean bending down so far... and that if you know the right lever to pull, the tines are free to turn by hand. I forget though. 


About 30 watermelons have been stored at our house outside in front of the garage door. The squirrels here don't eat them. Now is the time to take them back to thefarm and store them on the floor in the gray cooler. Use the front loader to do that. At the yellow farm stand the squirrels will dig a hole within 30 minutes.. maybe they are looking for water more than the seeds. 
Harvest yellow watermelons, be very very gentle, they seem to be under pressure and crack very easily. As a result the flesh is very crisp and refreshing. 
Put them all the in the gray cooler. In deep lugs. 
Pick up onions in row 58. Put them in the greenhouse to dry. This is slow work, I do it after 4  when those rows are shaded. 
pick about 4 boxes of san marzano tomatoes. leave head room and stack them in the yellow cooler. This is not slow work . You can fill 4 boxes an hour, the tomatoes are at a peak. 
pick a lug each of large red and yellow tomatoes put them in the yellow cooler

Hoe, the short row 2, before the weeds grow another inch (tomorrow). Hoe the cauliflower seedlings and B sprout seedlings in the southern half of row 16. 
I hope to see Jason and together we will  load the two rototillers in the yellow van (using the planks) to bring them to Boyden and Perron to be repaired. Both machines will fire up, neither wants to do hard work: the red tiller needs a rest and the BCS turns into a bronco as soon as the " engage tines" lever is pushed forward. Neither, will I live with. 

Dig two lugs of potatoes. Put one in the gray cooler, one in the yellow cooler. 
for some reason, the tomatoes have little or no sun scald this year. The leaves are more plentiful which gives shade and protection to the fruit. I don't know why the deer and the squirrels are ignoring them. Often,IMG_1825.JPG
 I take the animals' behavior as a clue ..they know that bug spray is a poison that we love to spray and breath ... is there something poisonous about our  beautiful beefstakes? or are they vegetarians?


Yesterday's market was $1852. It included many $20 bucket sales. tomatoes, flowers, corn, eggplant, watermelon. carrots, kale. We have a third tent now that shades the trailer . 
Work now: 
Harvest onions in rows 57,58, and north end of 56. Put them in the greenhouse to dry. I like to do it after 4 when those rows are shaded. 
Pick all ripe tomatoes. We will keep them in the coolers. We have sold 2 boxes of san marzanos, which were ordered for me to deliver on Wed. (I deliver boxes of tomatoes in Amherst) 
We have  venmo  now ( @Bill-Gillen-2)  I have to note that on the Amity st signs. 
Pick okra in rows 10,11 or so , pick it every day. Pinky length or less are prized. Batter them and cook in peanut oil. If you give up sugar you can eat all you have cooked. 
Pick up butternuts, acorns, cantaloupes, yellow watermelons. 


1. pick all yellow watermelon, they are extremely sensitive and will  break if they even knock together. 
2. pull red onions, put them in the greenhouse
3. Harvest a lug of leeks from south end of row 4
4. harvest fennel with long handled clippers 
5. harvest spaghetti squash south end of row 26. 
6. pick flat beans
7. pick beets, celery

Load one lug each of butternut, acorn, kabocha, squash into the trailer or yellow van. Pick one lug of silverqueen corn put it overnight in the gray cooler, I will pick more tomorrow am. load two lugs of eggplant into the yellow van. 
I will make a $50/ box of tomatoes (any kind) SIGN to be stuck in the ground in front of the tent tomorrow. Free delivery anywhere in Amherst. If they pyo it is $40 per box. 
Flowers are all in bloom, now is the time. 
IMG_1821.JPG row 44 tomatoes , easy picking
IMG_1818.JPGsilver queen corn..perfect .. and rare. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday we sold several boxes of san marzanos. I assembled three more tomato boxes and put them under the counter
I picked a full lug of potatoes that are in the yellow hut. Barbara and Naiomi dug a full lug of carrots, washed them and put them in the gray cooler. 
We need another full lug of classic eggplants (use clippers to harvest them ) and a full lug of white and long skinny ones (row 59). Please wash the dust off them. We won't bring stemless ones to the market.
Barbara picked a bag of tomatillos.. they are in the yellow house. 
Pick okra, the picky sized ones are prized. 
Pick 4 boxes of san marzanos in the cardboard boxes. Leave 2" of head room . 
Continue to harvest the onions in 56, dry shuck a lug of mixed onions that have dried enough from the greenhouse.
Saturday early am I will harvest corn for the market. Our Silver Queen wite corn is ripe. (those with dark silk showing) I cooked a shucked corn in our microwave yesterday for lunch: it was perfect and the cooking cooked a little less than 2 minutes. When I take it out I run it under cold water because it gets too hot to eat. 
I listed san marzano tomatoes on Craig's list and I notice that yesterday  pickers pick a heaping boxes that weigh 30 lbs. So I will list the price of $50 for a heaped box. Weed a couple of bays of parsley in row 5, it will be marketed till the end of the year... if we do.


Plum tomatoes and lisianthus flowers are in, I put an ad on craig's list. Connie is delivering bouquets to Whole Foods. 
Planted new dill seedlings, seeded arugula, giant german radishes, cilantro, bok choy in new row 7.  Our shallow well is still good... that is a surprise!

1. let's stretch a string to mark  the now mowed carrot rows, so digging them up will be easier. The west three rows are Bergen and are larger than the east rows: Bolero. We need another lug. 
2. We need a full lug of potatoes. Bring another fork to the potato rows. This is a job that will make you sweat. 
3. Keep an eye on the tomatoes on display. toss out any that are no longer perfect. 
4. fold at least 6 tomato boxes and lids  put them under the yellow hut counter out of all the rain.
5. hoe the zinnias in the middle of row 14. Just about 40 ft. Before they are too big for hoeing. 
6. pick up ripe butternuts, acorns, kabochas, 
7. pick two boxes of san marzanos in the 80's rows put them in the yellow cooler in lidded boxes. 
8. pick a shallow lug of plum tomatoes for the stand. place them stem down in the lugs.
9. shuck a lug of onions from the greenhouse.. get the ones that are in the south greenhouse addition, these can be put at the yellow hut stand 
they don't need refrigeration and they are not eaten by the squirrels. Maybe, if we didn't eat them, ourselves, we might survive on (and with) nuts too.  

IMG_1804.JPGthe snaps in front have gone by
IMG_1801.JPGIMG_1813.JPGmillet ? and lisianthus. Note the 6x6 grid that keeps them from falling into the aisles. The lizzies are vertical, my phone wasn't.
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday Barbara and Jason set up the 225' hooped row cover over the new cole crop row 8. This is mostly to stop the deer. Might reduce the immediate impact of the flea beetles.. which supposedly leave the field in mid August. 
The san marzano tomatoes are suddenly ripe: $40/ 20 lb box if you pick $50, if we pick. I made a new sign for Amity St. 

Connie and Ravi set up a Venmo system at the farm stand. Within a couple of hours there were three sales! Thank you Ravi for setting it up and thank you Lincoln ave for furnishing Andrew and Susan, who used it. What a combo: India, California, NYC  got the job done.  

Ravi and I planted 1/2 the adjoining uphill row of lettuce, fennel, arugula seedlings. Today the remainder of the row will be direct seeded to bok joi, cilantro and arugula. 
We drip irrigated so the plants are happy, I too was happy till I woke at midnight and remembered that the irrigation was still on.  The field was so quiet and the stars so visible ...the students have gone home, that's for sure. My handy phone flashlight got me  to the hydrant lever, but what is such a powerful light in my home had no illumination more than 6' away in the field. I did not see a deer, bobcat, or bear... despite daily evidence that they all were there last night. 
Luke Jaeger from Mt Holyoke College put 4 sugar pumpkins in plastic boxes to see if they will grow into cubes. See photo. I offered the pumpkins free just so I would have some news for you. 
1. I will seed  the new row 8
2. Please dig carrots, tell me how it goes since Jason mowed the carrot rows yesterday. We might have compacted the soil and the carrots, is it too hard? 
3. please dig potatoes, wash them and put them in the yellow hut. 
4. harvest a lug of eggplant start 50' north of the south end and head north in row 51. Put the new lug at the farm stand outside. 
5. pull some onions in row 58, move flags south to where you stop. 
6. put about 5 new red watermelons in the watermelon display pit at the yellow shed. Put two new ones in the yellow cooler too. 
 unnamed.jpgI think that Luke also boxed a flower and a very young pumpkin. This pumpkin is ready for a square pie, but who knows, to know for sure, we are going to see for ourselves. Any advice welcome. Connie thought all along that Pie are square.


The melons: sweet, crunchy, delicate, eat a slice at the farm and spit out the seeds some checking their distance, some still very discreet. The squirrels will find them. 
In the yellow cooler (refrigerator) are opened melons and I will put some cantaloupe cubes in a bowl with tooth picks. The cantaloupes are short lived: maybe a week. 
The melons, along with the squash and now pumpkins make for heavy harvests. There was a time I loved the labor lf bringing in the crop..now not so sure.. 

Do today: 
1. Mow the carrot rows, set the flail mower so the mower does not dig into the ground and damage the crop. Once it is mowed, we can set some flags on the remaining carrot rows.. at least 25%  are waiting. We need to loosen and pull a full lug in the yellow cooler. Carrots are seeded in early May and are hand weeded twice before July. 
They are cultivated using the farmall cub and kept beautifully weed free. Then the animals start nibbling the greens and sections of the rows start "growing down". Jason Stevens set up electric shock wires to keep them out. It also kept the farmall out which means the beautiful rows of fernlike leaves are hidden in a very vigorous weed field about 3' high. The wires are now set around the corn and the carrot patch can be mowed. 

 2. Pull some onions every day till they are all up..rows 56.57.58 put them in the greenhouse to dry. 

 3. Set hoops and cover over row 9 the new row of  broccoli, b sprouts, cauliflower .. 280 seedlings each planted at a drip: a foot apart. Cover them against the deer 

 4. Today ,I will plant an adjoining row 8 of lettuce and arugula seedling plugs 6" apart with their own drip tape. They will be followed by direct seeded cilantro, radishes, more arugula, and bok choy. As we hear predictions of mega storms coming to California, the biggest risk we have when we direct seed is a microburst that will send urgent flows down the furrows and wash out the seeds. The localized storms might also blow over the tomatoes, now heavy with our best ever ..they are great to eat in the field, bring a damp towel to wipe the juice, both hands will be busy. Not to worry there are well water hydrants for each field.

We have free tomato boxes .." tomatoes" is printed on each and they have covers for stacking. $40/ box that are supposed to carry 20 lbs but if filled they are over 25 lbs. You have to pick them yourself ... or ask me. The great news is that there are very few mosquitoes so far. 
IMG_1798.JPGthe harvest board for the market
IMG_1797.JPGIMG_1792.JPG drip irrigation and a flat of 72 b sprouts plugs about to be set out
we have stored 30 melons at our shady garage entrance on sunset ave... the local squirrels so far, have not made holes in them. (they do make holes in them at the farm stand if they are left outside the cooler... someone taught them how to do it) We have at least another 30 too. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday's market was about $1690  trailer load of melons. Sold all the yellow water melons we brought.. at least 25..  (less two that were in a red watermelon lug). With the peak of globular tomatoes, squash and melons, the market loading caused various muscle aches and cramps. I wasn't "in shape" ...never will be . 
Connie's flower tables had no gaps... one big bloom bed. $10 for a bouquet or arrangement, took it away. Lisianthus were cut with six blooms per stem. Unusual. 
You think I would taken a picture. At 110pm  I heard Phyllis: "$5, all flowers, end of market special."
I talked to a western Ky farmer (customer )  .. serious.. who said he plants his rows 30" apart with mulched 19" wide aisles. We plant our black biodegradable plastic rows 12' apart and love driving down the aisles in our golf cart. ( it doesn't have a flag)  I was thinking more about making it easy, he was very serious and when I told him about the golf carts, he said he was in a big hurry and moved on. 
Today, I will I will plant the rows in the former pea patch. The land is fertilized, the string and the drip tape all set. By the time you have gotten dressed I probably will be done. sure. Then, we have to  cover the new seedlings from the deer and the flea beetle. Barbara  V does this beautifully. 
I think we will try mowing down the carrot rows to make harvesting easier and avoid seeding a large patch with new weed seeds. We will try one row. 
Bob single handedly changed the starter motor on the yellow van Saturday morning, he gave the Autozone shop the VIN # of our 20 year old van and they gave him the correct motor and associated relay, just like that. Then, on his back, under the van on Brigham Lane he "swapped it out"  as they  say.  A  skill, I am missing. Thank you, Bob. 
IMG_1789.JPG It can't get easier than this.  Note the huge weeds that grow with melons... we have met farmers who keep their fields permanently weed free . I don't know how they do it... for sure they don't spread horse manure!  Notice the lovely and well drained  stone free soil of our lower field,
 the deer field. 


Last night we discovered a burrowing worm in our eggplant. We googled it and it is the pepper maggot ( the row just east of the eggplant.) A fly deposits eggs in July just inside the skin and in 12 days  maggots emerge. The good news is that they are probably done laying so new peppers and eggplants will be ok. We will see if we can determine which eggplant have the worm today. There is no other fix. 

We have lots of watermelon and cantaloupe. I will make quart containers of cubed melon  as samples and bring them to the market in a cooler. Toothpicks too. 
No need to do anything other than open the lid and set out a  bowl of toothpicks. Cantaloupe will be $4 each or 2 for $6. Last night we ate a yellow watermelon: a very small one just to see if small means not ripe: wrong. It was perfect. So we will have small melons marked $3 and all the rest are $5. Two $5 melons for $8. They won't keep a week. We will keep a lugful inside the yellow hut though. 

We will have leeks tomorrow from row 4, we also have leeks in row 14 south end that Barbara finished weeding yesterday. Beautiful job! 
We should try to pick a box of san marzano tomatoes today : $40 a box for the market. 
Pick several lugs of regular tomatoes too. No more than two tomatoes high so they don't get squished. 
I  am all set to plant new row 8, Before, I do I will bring a bunch of hoops to the row for holding up a row cover. There is a lot of deer and woodchuck damage in that area of the farm these days... to wit look at the bean row that is growing down. 
Jason has surrounded the corn with a  double wire shock wire. Trying to cut down on bear and deer pilfering. 
A customer reported seeing  "a very large bobcat" who seemed to be staring at two young deer in the chestnut field. I have never seen it but the dog walkers tell me it is a local resident. (pronouns?) 
Please pick about 8 kabochas they are mid row in 55. I will come down to that field with the Deere to pick up the watermelons that Barbara harvested yesterday. 
The good news it that they have a great shelf life ... but I don't know where I will keep them safe from the squirrels. Probably in one of our basements. 
Pick up more onions in rows 56,57,58! I do it after 4 when those rows are shaded. 

we have to cut the weeds down in the 80"s aisles. .. so far away.. but that field is naturally wetter, so everything there is lush. The  san marzanos got grown up before they were woven down there. That will make picking them more fun for our tomato box customers. They are there, look underneath... everything. 
IMG_1788.JPG okra you pick every day...(not that we do)
IMG_1784.JPGIMG_1778.JPGnew row 8 where the peas were, now fertilized, lined and drip taped ready for lettuce broccoli cauliflower and must be covered. the tire marks are from the Phyllis golf cart.. an essential for 85 yr olds. that .too ,is a reason the new row is 10 east of the okra. I never have to walk a row aisle. This row is longer than the distance from the parking lot to the water at Harding's beach, but there is no reward, you just trudge back. 

I took the pumpkin shot for a guy that wanted to know if he could buy them now. He would put clear plastic boxes around them and make them grow into cubes. 
I doubt it. 


Tomatoes are now ripe: you have to look still. The San Marzanos will be $40/ tomato box. Since the boxes are made to carry 20 lbs they actually weigh 25 when filled without the 2" of head room they are designed for. Less than $2/ lb. You can fill a box with any tomatoes. Otherwise a tomato or two cost $4/ lb. 
Watermelon and cantaloupe are perfect: go to the rows 53,54,55. Don't let them roll around in your car they will break inside and outside. 

1. We will plant new rows 7 8, 9  The broccoli, cauliflower row (9) must be hooped and covered as soon as they are planted. A drip tape must be laid down next to the row too. We will plant lettuce seedlings too. I will wait a day to see if they need cover too. 
2. Set traps near these rows 
3. Pull onions from rows 57,58,56 put them in the greenhouse to dry
4. Loosen with the fork and pull another lug of carrots. I left the fork at the latest spot. If you don't cut the tops off @ 2" in the field, do it at the trough. It takes two lugs to make one lug of  trimmed / washed carrots. Put them in the gray cooler. 
5. See if you can find a lug of perfect GREEN peppers. Not reddish ones.. which have a bug in them. 
 I will update the harvest board for the Saturday market. 
6. Everyone, please weed the leeks in row 14 and row 4. Use clippers for the big weeds growing adjacent to the leek. The leeks will be selectively loosened and pulled this week and will continue till they are all gone in october. Just do a bit each day even if it is only 4 plants/ day each person. Start with the weeds at the edges of the plastic. 
7. Mow down the old sweet pea row so the adjoining okra can be liberated. Since this is only about 30' of row let's try doing it with a weedwacker, follow that up with a couple of passes with the big rototiller. 

We need a couple of lugs of onions for the market: can we dry clean those that have been in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks? I will take a look.


Yesterday, Jason Stevens and I switched the Deere attachments to the rototiller and the front loader. It took us an hour to do what Bob Cyr has done in a few minutes, by himself. With experience, you learn settings, sequence and what the machine itself can do to help you. Having done it ourselves we are now really ready to learn. I love learning and teaching that way.

 Jason rototilled the former pea rows so we can plant the fall crops there. The tiller tines became clogged with vines, tall weed stalks and Haybale twine. The twine, which is as thick  as an old fashioned extension cord, comes with the horse manure we spread in the spring. It does not plan to rot. 
Besides my trips to the compost pile and dumpsters, I clean the roots and twine from the tiller tines. The tines fight back: painful till you learn to calm down, then saw precisely with a large serrated knife. (walmart, 89cents each) 
Today Jason will return to those rows and till again hopefully getting down 8" and burying all the remaining debris. With cool air back, we can transplant as well as direct seed. 
Harvest 4 more watermelons, put them in the yellow cooler write a 10 on each with a liquid chalk pen. 
Barbara and Shuguang harvested more than a lug of beans yesterday. Thank you. Beans know that  when it is over 90, it is a safe time to ripen, we know that letting the sun heat your back is as good as a massage. 
Harvest  tomatoes in shallow lugs about one tomato deep.
There are  no walnuts on the trees, I think the squirrels are panicked so keep an eye on the lugs out in the sales area and put them inside the yellow hut if the squirrels nibble. I will put more rodent repellers out in the sales area. If you can hear them, let me know. (don't tell anyone else)
I bought another tent yesterday so we can shade the melons on our trailer at the market. I bought a shady side panel too. I have the feeling that I forgot (not unusual)
to click on the color...so that is why, if it isn't white. Buying a tent on Amazon is not that easy: there must be twenty to chose from, which meant a lot of clicking and fine print to enlarge. 
Harvest okra larger than your pinky. 
I painted a new sign for Amity st, yes, we have melons and loupes. think I should have written lopes? and Yes we have no bananas ?
IMG_1772.JPGthe big tiller on the Deere with tine tangles. Notice the left most tine is  pointy: That is worn out and must be replaced 
I think Bob said that is a big job . I will order new tines from the factory in Kansas where there are companies that make agricultural machinery. This company was very reluctant to sell me this $2000 item since there are stones in the east. I  told them that we have picked  them up.


1. we have to plow, fertilize, rototill the pea patch. We have to prepare for planting the fall crops. 
2. Pick up onions in 65,57,58  put them to dry out in the greenhouse
3. pick beans in row 27. that row is haricot verts after the yellow wax beans . Start with the south end first.  With the wax beans start from the North end as Ben Lynch and I picked a half bushel of yellow beans at the south end last  Friday night. 
4. pick beans in row 33 
5. pick up ripe butternut squash
6. pick zucchini, pick and leave the big ones just bring in the ones no longer than your foot. 

When it is too hot, trim and prepare a lug each of white and yellow onions. The white onions are huge .. many the size of those big navel oranges. Your hands will be in cool water. In another week, we will be selling dried onions with the outer layers shucked off.  Rake up discarded stuff at the wash stand and put it on the compost pile..just south of the willow trees. Hose out the golf cart now and them, nice thing to do and will help make you feel good. 

Plenty to do, do it in the morning or evening. No one is there in the afternoon..except squirrels or  those fed up with me. 

I was told that a very large Bobcat was seen watching two young deer yesterday afternoon in the chestnut field. A show for the afternoon visitor. No ,I have never seen a bobcat anywhere. Maybe at the Central Park Zoo in '43. Not sure. I do remember seeing a guy put his head in a lion's mouth at Madison Square Garden..and I never returned.  

I have a rodent repeller plugged in at the yellow hut counter. that may be the reason they have had no nibbles , on the other hand 4' away there was a lug of yellow squash and watermelon which were mined for their seeds by squirrels. I put them inside the cooler. 
IMG_1771.JPG Our eggplants have dimples but not holes. Above is a lug of yellow watermelon.. the melons are at their peak now. 
Nice to have the hottest weather at the same time. 

I received an enthusiastic fan mail yesterday :
Bill, your tyrannical Mother Nature—and your omnivorous fanatic reaching for whatever might grow in your fields have gone too far. Take more of your naps before your last nap imposed on such overreaches as you have become. Settle back. Enjoy sharpening pens and your inimitable “Letters”.
Google offered me a quick reply that I didn't click: "HaHa."  I do like the attention. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Bob Cyr, Connie and I took down the pea trellises and cleared the land of a 6' hi tangle of vines,weeds and 6x6 grid. The grid will rot down during the winter and the remaining mesh can be brought to our dumpster. Now to disk the land and rototill for planting our fall crops. Following that ,a nap in my airconditioned bedroom.
Do today:
1. harvest ripe cantaloupe, put them in lugs and stack them in the gray cooler. put 6 in the yellow cooler to sell now. 
2. Harvest 3 red watermelon, put them in the yellow cooler. Pick 10 or more yellow watermelons. Put one lug out at the yellow cooler put other lugs in a cooler. 
3. pick up onions in rows 58 and 57 go from north to south. Pick them all.  please put flags  where the harvest has been done . Put the onions in the green house to dry 
4. pick beans.. Romas, french and yellow. My brother Mark, who lives in the Philippines, visited a few years ago, brought a folding beach chair out into the field, made  a pile of bean  bushes within easy reach to avoid a back ache. I don't think he brought an umbrella though. 
5. pick okra in rows 7 or so, pick all longer than the length of your pinky. They should be picked every day. Pull weeds in the rows while you are doing it/ throw them into the adjoining wide aisles. The okra leaves wilt midday and perk back up in the evening. They know: they are native to Africa . 
6 pick peppers, only green ones, the red ones are not right, they immediately start rotting. Pull the red ones off the bush and  toss them in the aisle. The next blush of peppers will be healthy, if last year is repeated. 
7. Help yourself to the snow peas in row 52. Zack Fried asked for them last year... he must be looking out for sharks now.  
8. Jason please repair the slow drip at the wash stand so the bees won't come for a bath.. I looked up beebath: Amazon sells a bunch. So we will get one for them if John Piepul agrees. Although I like the thought of the bees converting  drips to honey, some volunteer washers feel scared since swatting bees that are too close is not what you want to do. They get the idea and they might bite you in return. Washing the field dirt off melons and squash in the cold well water and shade pure pleasure after coming in from the field. 
IMG_1765.JPG where the peas were a couple of hours ago/ At the right are two weedy  rows of okra. We ran the mower over the remaining vegetation, and because of the dryness created clouds of dust. 
IMG_1764.JPG I thought I was headed to the dumpster only to find that Republic skipped us again. It is one thing to be really hot : add to that being  mad. Bob suggested I call them.... that's what I thought about as I drifted off. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday's market in the 90's with a dew point above 70. Total sales were  $1691. Perhaps because of the extended hot sunny weather everything is ripe inc watermelons, cantaloupe, okra --- all the lizzies, boom. Our neighbor vendor (Keith and Marie) at the market took a week off so our over supply of flowers were all sold. We brought the blue 8N to the market towing Bob's short trailer.. Great for loading the heavy melons, squash, potatoes. 
Our yellow van without warning wouldn't start when it was time to leave. We took it directly to College St Motors, Bob Cyrs analysis done on his back under the van, was the starter motor, the solenoid and the cable to the battery were the problem. I watched to make sure that no cars along boltwood ave would run over the parts ofhim that weren't beneath the van. 

Gotta do today!!!! 

harvest about 100 cantaloupes, pick up, throw to the catcher who will put them in the Deere bucket. This avoids stepping on a hard round object, falling and breaking the melon and damaging the one you stepped on. Driving the load back, very slowly, to the  gray cooler is a breeze at last. 

Remove the pea trellises, don't break the posts. They will be stored in the creamery office barn 150 Fearing st. The former pea rows will be planted to fall broccoli, lettuce, fennel, cauliflower, arugula, cilantro. First the vines and netting must be moved off and the rows rototilled with the big tiller. I will try to take off the mower and put the tiller on the Deere. We have seedlings grown in plug flats for all but cilantro. 

Harvest about 6 watermelons and a dozen yellow watermelons for the stand. We won't refrigerate the big melons unless the squirrels figure out how to make a hole in one. 
I don't know why, perhaps the electronic repeller on the counter, but the tomatoes left out on the display counter have not been nibbled yet. We do not cover and hide the items on the display counter since what is hidden from the squirrels  is also hidden from the customers. 
IMG_1751.JPG Our harvest board for yesterday's market. Each filled circle is a lug
IMG_1742.JPGOur snow peas, planted for Zach. They are the only peas able to survive the heat.
IMG_1759.JPG Our wash stand attracts our honey bees where a water pipe has a slow drip. You try not to swat them since they will then bite you . I will research the web for a bee fountain accessory. They love playing in a very slowly flowing wet spot .. like one of Mark Gillen's flat fountains. 


Jason and I attached Bob's short trailer to the 8N blue ford  tractor. I loaded about 15 very heavy 30lb watermelons ($10), yellow watermelons, cantaloupe, squash, peppers and I covered it with a tarp for the night. We will drive it to the market tonight after 7pm and cover it with a tarp. 
Tomatoes are coming fast now: $4/ lb we will have a scale at the market tomorrow.

today: Put an auger on the drill and drill out the old roots for the wheat in row 2 Connie will plant zinnias there now. 
dig a lug or two of potatoes.. 
pick two more lugs of tomatoes so we will start with three lugs. 
pick up onions in row 58
pick long eggplants and the bianco ones in row 59
pick snow peas in row 53  
clean up for market, white onions and yellow onions-- we have a lug of reds already loaded on the trailer.
pick another lug of carrots (that is a lug after trimming.) yesterday I trimmed them in the field, I left a block of 4x4 to cut off the tops on. Set the block on a couple of lugs so you don't have to bend over so much. 
Pick a lug of acorn squash. Pick a lug of kabocha squash they are mid row I think row 55 or so. 
Kale and chard will again be harvested as a full plant rather than leaf by leaf. Put them right away in the gray cooler under a towel (they are all clean) 

Someone,  please help me move the old ac unit out of the gray cooler.. I will bring a hand truck from 24 south prospect st. to help. Put it in the yellow van and take it to our creamery building dumpster. See if they tell me about it. 

We expect that people will want to pick up their watermelons at the stand ...We will use the empty back of the white van for all SOLD items during the market. this way they can stop at the van and not have to lug (and drop) the melon. 
IMG_1741.JPGIMG_1737.JPGthe trailer being loaded, then covered for the night for protection from squirrel thieves. The near watermelons are yellow. Note the dark spot where the cantaloupes rested on the biodegradable black plastic. Next to them are the bianca eggplants.


Pick flat beans start from south end. 
pick cantaloupe and yellow watermelon: this will take a team. two or three : one to pick and toss to a receiver near the Green Deere tractor which now has the front loader attached. The tractor will carry them to the wash stand area where they  will be washed and piled. We wash what we bring to market. My experience shows that vegetables with  smudges or deposits of our beautiful soil are shunned. ( I will remember to wash my overalls Friday night. ) 

The short trailer will be connected to the blue tractor and loaded with a pile of melons and squash. Lugs of tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, zukes, cukes will form guard rails and dividers. The melons must be transported in a way that they cannot move. If they roll and hit, the watermelon crack up inside, if not outside too. 
The trailer and blue tractor will be parked on Brigham lane next to the yellow hut stand facing East, (uphill) and I will drive it as is to the market Saturday morning at 530 .. However late this afternoon I will move the tractor and trailer to a shady spot west of the greenhouse. 
IMG_1736.JPG A golf cart load of yellow onions at row 58. it is heavy but much  lighter than a couple of well known golfers. 
IMG_1734.JPG that is last week's start flat Roma 2 beans and globular tomatoes. This week each will have their own lugs.

 We will dig several lugs of carrots today , the tops on them must be trimmed to 4" , line them up all one direction in the lugs. 

Pick lugs of tomatoes. pick at least three lugs of peppers. Start at the south end of row 49. Pick only big ones. 
Pick up the onions in rows 58 , 57. Pick all of them . Set two blue flags where you stopped when going from North to south. We will remow those " done "sections of  rows tonight. 
Jason will turn the water on flower rows  36 , 37 today.
Tomorrow we will harvest those crops that don't keep well " chard, kale, celery. Connie  hope to cut many flowers today for the gray  cooler in anticipation of a thunderstorm tomorrow. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday’s market, $1453. 

Many flower bouquets and settings, yellow watermelon, three kinds of beans, okra, eggplant kabocha, butternut, acorn squash, carrots, peppers, onions, fennel, dill, basil, snap peas. 
Perfect dry low 80’s day..
The stuff is heavy now, new week we will tow a small trailer with the heavy lugs.

Today, tomorrow…pick up the onions in row 59 which jason mowed over yesterday.
Put the onions on a bench in the greenhouse to dry, this will be more than 100lbs.

Pick six watermelons for the farm stand
Pick the south end of the Roma flat beans row 37 or so.

Disconnect the pea trellis from the posts, remove the posts from the field
Using the grappler remove the trellis netting and tangle of pea vines off the field.i

Weed the leeks in the upperfield, weed the big weeds at the tomatillo in row 56 where the stakes are.image0.jpegimage1.jpegimage2.jpeg
These tomatoes will be ripe next week, many big ones and about 50 yellow tomato vines too.
Connie and I are at chatham till Tuesday pm. Here we welcome the sunny days and hope it is pouring in amherst.


Yesterday we picked a full lug of french beans , spaghetti squash, beets, carrots, onions (red white and yellow)  acorn squash, butternuts, kabocha squash, cukes, zukes and yellow squash.
today: search for more ripe tomatoes, pick yellow watermelons, eggplants, another lug of carrots, chard, dill, kale, hot peppers, regular peppers, pick  snap peas, check the snow peas in row 52.  For a workout, try to dig up a lug or two of potatoes. Don't even try however,  unless you get  personal instructions from me. 

The yellow and white onions are lying down now..  time to pick them all . The red onions are still growing midst a jungle of weeds. (I don't know how they got away from me.. do they know something?)  Might be the combination of  fertilizer and irrigation benefitted both onions and weeds... however the interior onions are not bulbing up, due to the weed shade and competition... that's my  take. I would love to weedwack or mow those parts of the onion rows that have been harvested. 
I will flag  mark  the sections of the onion rows that have been harvested. Let's see if we can flail mow just those sections. Lets pull as many onions as we can, the whites and the yellows. 

We have blossom end rot on the first tomatoes in the chestnut field. I think this will go away with the next wave. I did forget to give each plant a tablespoon of epsom salts as we have done for many years. Having too  much fun. 

The lisianthus flowers are blooming ...I'll take a picture... they are the end of the rainbow . Because of their beauty and our success with this prestigious flower, a bucket of you pick flowers is now $40. A bouquet is still $10. 

We will package some large $10 net bags of peppers  and onions . As many as will fit in a white net bag. In the case on the first onion bag Phyllis tried, it was 5 lbs. 
We can't do it with potatoes since they will turn green and sprout if they are not kept dark. 
IMG_1720.JPG Barbara harvesting cukes... you have to move the leaves aside to find them. If you let them go a day or two more they are too big and we treat the chickens.
IMG_1725.JPG Beans are also backbreaking. We did them first before the sun, even so my shorts were wet. Today is a bean peak for this row. Unlike other years, the bean beetle is not there. We did see a few leaves with yellow egg clusters on their undersides so they will be eating in a week. 
Just to get one good harvest where you can grab 6 beans at a time is unusually rewarding. I slept better last night. 

We have customers/ visitors / dogs / chicken viewers these days. It is very nice to have an excuse to stop and chat. When I hear "How are you ?" I try to restrain myself (not  successfully) from sitting down in the shade and spelling it out.


Yesterday, we finished work on our gray cooler: we are back in business! thanks to our advisors, helpers, and experts. The cool-bot help line helped with more than 20 back and forths. Jason read the old manuals (on line) and diagnosed a disconnected wire, my son Pat lifted the new ac unit into its 6' high wall hole and reframed the hole in the wall to fit the new - much smaller unit. Cool Bot advised that there is a hidden temperature sensor we had to find in the new LG ac, Bob had knowledge of its "bobbypin" connection and told me to squeeze the crimped copper tube sleeve with needle nose pliers, I did and the sensor came free, then the new unit took the temp down to 43 before I left. 
Now to growing and harvesting: 
1. pick beans in row 27 (round beans) Put them under a towel in the gray cooler
2. Install an electric wire rectangle around the sweet potatoes in row 59 south half. Although we had covered the row with hooped fabric, animals got under it and delicately ate about 100 leaves , leaving only the stems of each, a very skillful and determined varmint. I think it might be chipmunks.since the netting was not  disturbed and the eating was done in the space no more than 4" high ( at the base of the netting only ) Lets put an electric wire around it set at 6" above the ground. I don't know what else can be done. Remove the covers and the hoops.
3. We have Kabocha squash : Shuguang and Muton :would you confirm ,this am , that they are ready to harvest and are prime? Barbara harvested two big ones yesterday and they are at the yellow stand. I priced them at $5 each based on their popularity in China, is this price too low?  Tell me how you cook them .My answer  "Don't know" is  not good.  Since they are so good and so prized, I would rather be more knowledgeable and helpful. 
4. Jason will let us know if the yellow watermelon he took yesterday was ripe. If so, we will cut about  ten more for the market. Harvesting watermelon is dangerous:
you worry that you will trip with your arms full and break them.. not yourself, the soil is too soft to break a bone,,, I hope. Do not test the red watermelon - Crimson King- I know they are only pink. If you see a muskmelon in row 56 with a tan background to the fruit's netting, let me know. Last week they were as crisp as our carrots and a little sweeter.(not ripe)
5. Using a knife or scissors detach the 6x6 plastic grid from the pea trellis posts in rows 8 and 9 , the shelling peas. The vines are yellow , the peas not sweet. 
Harvest the sugar snaps that are bright green in row 7. Just let the rows 8 and 9 netting fall. We will carefully recover the 200 posts , then push the pile and netting and vines to the south for the winter. We will use the grappler . 
6. pick zukes, cukes and yellow squash today. 
7. I will use the backpack sprayer to apply Neem oil to the b sprouts , radishes and arugula that the flea beetles are eating 
8. Do cherry pick at least two more lugs of yellow onions and red ones.. round ones, not carrot shaped immature ones. They will soon be very hard to find in the weeds. 
Although rows 57,58, are great onion rows, they are usually out of sight since the social area where washing and bouquet making is done is at row 14
They were not looked at for a week.. now the weeds are 2' high! So humiliating. On the other hand, many onions are the size of oranges.  
It is not so hot, grateful. 


I am late since I tried to do a "ten minute survey " which  took me more than an hour, for the town regarding rental housing. I lost it twice and then gave up . 
It is a bad feeling to have so early in the day. 

1. pick ripe butternut, yellow watermelon (yellow watermelon are in the north end of 53 and are the size of coconuts)  The melons that formed first on the vine are the best candidates. Do not pick any  red watermelons; they are not ripe. Pick  two lugs of large green peppers : pull onions, especially red ones, trim and clean them as I did for the onions that I pulled yesterday. 
We need several full lugs of white, yellow and red onions. All cleaned and trimmed. Some will be put into larger mixed onion net bags . 
2. hoe the pumpkins in row 1. Hoe the squash in row 80 at the west edge of the corn.
3. Move the deer repeller niteguards to guard row 59 at the sweet potatoes. Take the covers off the sweet potatoes. 
4. set the traps at the north end of the carrot row in the bushes.
5. hand weed the leeks in the south end of row 14. Use clippers for big weeds in the row. 
6. carefully remove the posts from rows 8 and 9 the shelling peas. Just let the vines and trellis fall we will pick them  up with the grappler . We will be planting the fall crops where the peas were. 

We still don't have the  gray cooler working. I am getting instructions from Cool Bot and Jason. Jason can read and understand  manuals. 
Today Jason will take apart the cool bot in hopes of finding a unplugged wire or broken part. I worry that the new AC unit has a control design that thwarts our coolbot controller from taking  it down to 34. We are stuck at 60. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. turn water on row 37 and turn it off at noon. Was this done yesterday? If so, don't do it again. 
2. weave tomato plants in the chestnut field
3. go see how the cilantro is doing where Barbara seeded it through the plastic
4. Today.. add electric wires to the top of the  snow peas in row 52 they are being nibbled down from the top by deer. 
5. pick a lug of large green peppers for the stand
6. pick some white spaghetti  squash and some tan butternut and some black acorn squash
7. If possible I would like to mow down the 5' high weeds in row 52. Any adventurous squash and melon vines will have to pulled out first if they are in there. 
8. harvest onions and spread them out in the greenhouse to  dry , when the tops are dry they are pulled off and the onions put in onion sacks. The sacks will be put in a dark area  of the phyllis shed till it gets too cold. 
IMG_1711.JPGI replaced the broken ac unit for the gray cooler and am trying to connect it to the cool bot controller shown below. The coolbot will trick the ac unit to go to  34 degrees. BUT I have to remove a sensor that is stuck in the copper tubing by a holding pin I cannot pull out. Experts have been consulted , Bob Cyr might have to come try. He suggests that the copper tubing was crimped out of round to lock in the pin. I will try squeezing it with pliers to make it round again. I find that small things like this  have such a big impact  on my mood.  I am obsessed!


Patrick and I replaced the ac unit in our gray cooler on Saturday afternoon. But my "cool-bot " temperature controller that allows the ac unit to go down to 34 degrees did not work. Today, I hope to find out if I need a new cool bot. Meanwhile, everything requiring cool has to be put in the yellow cooler ( 48 degrees).

I was surprised to see many stacks of ac units at Home Depot.  We have three spare ones ourselves but opted to buy a new one just in case one of our old ones breaks down prematurely. I don't think you can repair them . If you would like to have one let me know. Ours worked when we took them two years ago  out because we installed a first floor ac system in our house. 

I will try to figure out how much we are ahead of last year's sales: a balance in our  non-profit farm account would allow me to  think about a new set of disks or a potato harvester.  It is time to start probing for new potatoes. When I do , I hit them ,dent them, slice them with the fork , and I feel terrible. Because we  hilled the potatoes well this year, I will be probing  horizontally ,not vertically,  for them.  I dream about a single row potato digger  as I nap waiting for the sun to go down. The internet has really good looking ones from China. It looks like they are made to order and you have to figure out how to get them from the ship to your farm. The price is a fraction of the Italian models from US distributors. But there is no guarantee you will get them in time for this year..... or next? 

What to do today? 
1. Turn the water on row 37 a flower row. 
2. Harvest cukes, zukes, squash , cherry pick onions any that are size of a lemon.
3. I will pick a yellow watermelon and eat it ripe or not. 
4. Use the farmall to dig up weeds along the plastic edges. Start with  the upper field. 
5. Put the flats of new seedlings in the greenhouse outside the greenhouse against the greenhouse North wall : yesterday it was 110 in the greenhouse despite the big fans , I am thinking the partial shade and relative cool outside will be good for the coles . lettuces and fennel. Gotta be where we can easily water them too. 
6. Pick sugar snaps. I think the shelling peas may be goners since there is so much yellow to the rows. 
7. I will spray neem oil on the new flea bitten rows 13,14 including the b sprouts. 
We have a piece of gray chalk, ( will discard it) ,I am happy we don't have any charcoal.


Yesterday we did $1071 at the market.. More flowers it seemed than usual. We brought back and filled the yellow hut with vegetables. They are for sale 24/7.
The gray cooler which should be in the 30's is now 60. I purchased a new ac unit, Patrick, mostly, installed it and resized the wall opening. But the old Cool-Bot  temperature controller doesn't work. Tomorrow I will talk to the manufacturer for help. Meanwhile everything is going into the yellow cooler that should be kept cool. 

Next week we will try marketing some large net bags of peppers, onions, eggplant .. and a few "season greetings" bags of pretty mixes. They  will have to be hung to be appreciated. If hung with bunji cords they can bounce/dance  too. 
I didn't check the yellow watermelons, I will today, I bet they are  ripe. The other melons are not and their test fruit was fed to the chickens. 

Today I will replant arugula in the green house.. one of the flats I transplanted  last week  into row 14  died. Heat and flea beetles killed them. It was an experiment since they are a cool weather plant. 

Time now to pull onions in rows 58,57,56. Cherry pick them, I am not sure if the red onions are ready. If a top is bent down, pull the onion. The goal is to pick as many as are grown before the tops die and disappear.Then, harvesting them involves finding them among the weeds. The weeds grew in holes in the plastic where the onion seedlings died. Of course the fertilizer that was applied before the onions were planted also made for oversized weeds .
Bring the golfcarts loaded with onions to the greenhouse and spread them out on the benches that are vacant. They will dry there for a month and the tops pulled off, then bagged in "onion" bags in a dark cool dry place. We will have to make room in the shed.  Before a frost the remaining unsold ones will move to a heated basement. 
The shelling pea trellises will be taken down this week, the land will planted to ( that is the way the locals say it ) fall broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, arugula, radish , maybe kohlrabi. The snap peas sometimes last longer before they too turn yellow . 
The potted basil looked ugly so I didn't bring it to the market, soon we will have tomatoes , then , the demand for bunches of basil will peak. I hope the south end of row 39 has good basil for cutting. 
IMG_1697.JPG the new ac unit and the cool bot temperature controller that is not working. That little black box costs more than $300. But it gets you a walk in cooler that would cost several thousand with  conventional cooling equipment. Mine might need replacement : it is 12 years old


1. Get out the net bags for onions, There is a large bin of them in the  shed next to the cold greenhouse. Clean up[ the onions a bit and make some 3 or 4 lb bags (whatever fits well in the red bags we have) $10 bags you think? The yellow onions are very large. . 
2. I will update the chalkboard list of what still needs harvesting : chard, kale, fennel (use the big loppers) parsley, french beans in row 33, look for the yellow beans at the south end of one of the bean rows, eggplant (soup can size and larger) use clippers and wear gloves, more bell peppers only real big ones, put them in a purple or white net bag , see if you can make $10 bag ( at least 3 lbs) 

The eggplant, peppers, squash, do not need refrigeration: just a shady spot :Take the golf cart out of the phyllis shed and stack non refrigerated lugs of produce in there for the day. 
Our gray cooler is broken, I will buy a new ac unit this am from Home  depot  and try to install it. Holding the ac unit 6' up in the air will be the challenge. For now we will have to put everything else in the yellow cooler . I will remove the boxes of signs this am and put them in the white van for tomorrow's market. 

I harvested a fully trimmed lug of fat carrots yesterday (Bergen variety) Today I hope to find a couple of lugs of thin "Bolero" carrots ( they too may be fat by now)  , they will all be trimmed to leave about 4" of top. Nibbling on a 15"x 2" carrot looks gross . The thin lady / thin man  Bolero carrots will be more appealing on the horderves platter, but It would be amusing to see the dinner party all working on  carrot clubs. 

I watched the Jan 6 hearing till 1015 last night so I am a little late. Four minutes ago ,730,  the neighborhood yards and sidewalks were roused by BLOWERS. 
I wish I were  still unconscious. I do feel guilty that I am so bothered . 

Some watermelons and muskmelons were picked , then left by our visitors. They will need at least another week to color up inside. Meanwhile the color-blind chickens especially like the white seeds and flesh. Do they have a natural glucose level concern? We will have a great crop of melons. 
IMG_1678.JPG I took this yesterday > Shruti's Indian family  might like assurance that their daughter is happy and useful. Living in our home ( Sam's old room) she also has been very quick to fix our computers and help document Connie's applications for SNAP for the government. The yellow onions were irrigated last week by Jason (connected the drip tapes) which might be a reason they are so big. I have wanted to grow big onions since Judy of Judy's Restaurant in town told me she only bought big ones because it saves labor. Me? I just like the look of big ones. Nice to not have to know why all the time.


1. Harvest and weed at the same time: french beans, yellow beans, slim eggplants in row 59 (hold off on 51 to get a little bigger ) Spaghetti, tan all over butternuts, and fully black acorn squash in row 55 or so. Middle of the row. 
2. I will check a yellow watermelon for ripe. 
3. Jason: Now that I am sure the beans are being eaten by deer: String a single wire over the top of the row. No need for doubles. Do the same on okra... (really bad) 
Before you do that run the  farmall over the okra rows again. 
4. Loosen and pull carrots, bring ONLY  perfect carrots to the wash stand. Cut their tops off crisply, wash them and put them in the cooler. We need three lugs of trimmed perfect carrots for the market. That means we need to dig 6 lugs untrimmed.
5. Pick shelling peas in the middle pea row #8 we did row 9 yesterday. Do it first thing before the heat. 
Yesterday I left my Forester running (I didn't want the car to heat up) when I delivered two 1/2" drills for Patrick to use in mounting new window blinds at our 150 Fearing St office building. I also left my keys in the lock at the Sunset ave door. Nonetheless, I drove to my Cooley ct scan  ( just my head, took about 3 minutes, scanning for a reason for my dizzyness..like a big hole) when I realized I would not be able to restart my engine. I had thought this could happen.. and it did. Forgetting my keys in the lock was nothing new, Connie came to my rescue. Thank you .. in case I forgot. 

We need a couple more deer niteguards along row 59 at the sweet potatoes before we dare take the row cover off. 
Check the deere and refill the front tire if needed. Let me know. Run the mower over the aisles at the chestnut field: Let me know when and I will be there to be sure there is a safe path to the field. The tractor is very tall and will hit any branches under 10' : this is important. 

 Mike Stosz , contractor , answered " Sure, why not? " when I texted him about taking our free safe. Great line. 

I also forgot to take pictures yesterday.   

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. The peas will not survive the heat wave : pick the peas, both kinds, today. before the vines and pods turn yellow. 
2. pull large onions ... any color I picked a lug of yellow onions last night some of which were the size of a softball. Bring a pair of pruning clippers with you and ALWAYS clip out weeds while you are picking anything. 
3. I picked a bushel of peppers last night ... again look for the softball sized , thick walled heavy peppers . I clipped out the 3' high flowering red root pigweed 
that were mixed in the row. I don't want them to go to seed in the field and I want the crop to continue bearing , not to get bullied out of business by a big weed. 
4. Pick TODAY the rows 25 and 26  move aside the leaves and get all the squash and cukes. We don't have enough chickens left to eat all the oversizes. When it is hot pick them every day. 
5. Eggplant , tomatoes and peppers all reduce their fruit " set"  in high temps ... but based on the rest of the world ,our temps have been relatively cool . We will irrigate our eggplant rows today to see if that will stimulate blossoms and sets. We do have a lug of long eggplants in the middle section of row 59. Bring clippers and weed while looking at them. 

Yesterday I sprayed the arugula in row 14 that were planted on Sunday: the flea beetles were there already! 

Bob came up from Ludlow to fix the loose front tire on the yes deere , he has a new theory that the tires installed (at his insistence) by the dealer were not really meant for the rims, so they leak a little . To avoid that we will check the front tire pressure often. We are doing 40psi. 
The 4wheel drive theory may not be so.   Every season, week, day , we have a puzzle : pity those who buy them to pass the time. On the other hand we can  talk over our puzzles to stay in touch. 
 Carrots are mature and need to be harvested: take only perfect ones off  the field no babies or cute doubles- in- love, crisply and cleanly cut the tops off at 3 inches or so, discard any with holes in them It will take three lugs with tops to make one lug of trimmed carrots , The longer they sit in the ground the fewer are keepers. 
Jason flail mowed row 32 so the beans in 33  can  be better armed (shocking) and picked. Today we will set two traps at the north end of the 30's rows. 

I tried a muskmelon ... they have good color only at the center  they will be ready to harvest in a week. I left the test melon at the wash stand so it can used flor trap bait. 
IMG_1671.JPGIMG_1669.JPGpictures of the snow pea trellis in row 52, fresh deer track  and a closeup of nibbled off pea vines. It is much harder to see the puzzle clues in the photo ,they are there but I took the picture because the damage was so severe and obvious. 
Why the camera doesn't see what I see is a question. Those who hope to pick snow peas will come and protect their row... come soon!  I don't know what to do 
fortunately someone in the world probably has done a youtube. Before I look at another ,I will pay to not see  ads. Can you still do that?


1. harvest beans in rows 27,33,39  , harvest cukes, zukes, squash . Look for acorn squash in 50's rows. Put them all the the gray cooler with covers
2. I will  Direct seed a half row of cilantro in the teens, how is the cilantro in row 90, that Barbara seeded by hand thru the plastic? 
3. The golf cart loaded with broccoli stalks will be  headed for the compost pile
4.. loosen and pull carrots from the southern half of row 32.(Leave babies, doubles, blemished  carrots in the field).  Wash them and cut the tops to 6" long. Put them in the gray cooler under cover. This might be several lugs ...  That is ok!
Put a few carrot bunches in the yellow hut in a clear glass container ( I have to look for a suitable such)  with water in it. Put for sale items on the shelves. Put lugs of extra stock on the floor if needed  and cover them from drying out.  
5. Mow down the remaining standing in row 32. 
6. seed a 72 plug flat with pelleted lettuce seed that we received yesterday. They are in the lettuce seed drawer. Easy seeding since they are the size of bb's instead of coffee grounds. 
7. Weave, weed tomato rows.
8 Jason will revise the electric wires to protect the bean rows : yesterday's report segment on that : 
      a. set traps at the north end of the bean rows .. I will bring  down some  fruit today
      b. mow down the adjoining aisle of weeds  and put the wire around just the bean rows. I suspect the wire we have is too shorted out from touching vegetation or the ground.  set the wires about 16" above the ground and 6" away from the bean bushes. 
       c. We have successfully covered the beans using hoops but that is a pain and discourages harvesting .. which has to be done several times a week. Beans that are big are not popular. (with people)

My car has 8 50lb bags of pelleted layer feed in it. I will leave one near the coop to be put in the covered barrel and the others I will bring to the s prospect st basement ... (to fool the squirrels). I will unload them, then rest.
We still have a safe we will give you if you need a home safe deposit box. I will deliver it (to Amherst address), you "walk " it in and out of my van. I have the combo but you might need to ask John fuller, locksmith, to open it. That's what I would have to do. We have the phone number of Sabin Locks that sold it to our tenant 30 years ago... But Sabins in  Northampton  is gone.
if you put it in my van.


1. We can now remove all electric  shock lines from the carrot rows: the carrots are grown and the tops don't matter. I will never forget seeing carrots  being harvested in a vast field in Alberta. There was a 200'x200 foot high roofed   cooler building with forklifts stacking large wooden crates with washed, packed carrots. 
The whole building was about 32.5  degrees and 100% humidity. The carrot pallets were stacked  at least 4 levels high. Those carrots can last a year. You entered the building through a lobby room about 20'x20' which was lined with coats on hooks, a shelf for hats and gloves. Looked like there were more than a dozen workers who cleaned and packed . 
2. I have not seen a similar harvesting and processing station for bush beans  or even a large field of beans. We have beautiful beans now flat and also french beans (rows in the 30's either side of the carrots. They are being eaten from the top down by an animal that does not leave footprints... gotta be a chuck. The eating starts at the northend and gets about 1/3 down the  row so far. What  to do???

      a. set traps at the north end of the bean rows .. I will bring  down some  fruit today
      b. mow down the adjoining aisle of weeds  and put the wire around just the bean rows. I suspect the wire we have is too shorted out from touching vegetation or the ground. Set the wires about 16" above the ground and 6" away from the bean bushes. 
       c. We have successfully covered the beans using hoops but that is a pain and discourages harvesting .. which has to be done several times a week. Beans that are big and not popular. (with people)

3. weave tomatoes
4. harvest cukes, spaghetti squash, zukes and cougars. Go down to rows 52,53,54 and on the 'upright' squash plants which are randomly here and there in those rows you might find ripe acorn squash if so pick a dozen USING CLIPPERS to cut them off with a small vine handle...that is just the way they are sold. If you try to snap them off the vine they will do so and be shunned by those who like tails. 

this weekend, I planted 60 arugula in row 13  and will make that a double row today. I hope it is late enough in the season for them, They like the cool and become 18" high  bushes in the fall. We have to keep an eye out for flea beetle holes , they really go for arugula but are easily controlled with Neem . Around Aug 15 they leave the field for whatever surrounds the field. If it is too hot.. and we are expecting 100 degree days in the next two weeks , the arugula bolts and blooms. Worthless : good news is that I have another 2 flats of arugula seedlings in the greenhouse in case we have to replant in August. 
We also planted 60 brussels sprouts  also a risk and we have a backup flat of them too. The sprouts are ripe in October. All the new plantings are being irrigated. 
Connie is rushing to keep up with Whole Foods bouquet orders. They seem to be selling 12/day. In our many years a bouquet has never been man made .  

IMG_1652.JPGFriday morning harvesting ..Jason , Connie and Barbara about to put it into the gray (E)  cooler
IMG_1661.JPGConnie at the market on the Amherst Town Common, the vegetables are under the adjoining tent to the left of the picture.
IMG_1664.JPGConnie bouquet and Ann's art


Yesterday's market : Phyllis's description: 

"We sold out: peas, carrots, onions, kohlrabi, beets, eggplant, fennel,Roma beans.
Sold several buckets, not a lot.
People asked for tomatoes, corn, lettuce, spinach.
Made four total of cherry bomb and jalepeno peppers, sold one box of jalepeno.
Sold some purslane and some went into buckets.
Sold 4 basil pots.
What is the name of the cucumbers we grow?
Some people asked if they were pickling cukes.
Sent from my computer "

The market was about  $50  more than last year: $1393. Our carrots were flying and unlike other years, with their tops on. Only a few carrot tops returned with the empty lugs to the farm.  Why??

We also sold $20 buckets and $5 quarts of mix and match. Some people were specifically buying for a planned meal   : 2 onions, a little parsley, a squash, a bunch of beans, a handful of kale. a few carrots.. Shopping for a specific dinner,not a week's worth of stuff for the fridge, that's my guess. 
each circle is a lug, the cornfield looks bigger than it is. ( like your sideview mirror), a hasty market shot ( up front is the $20 black bucket deal and the $5 quart deal sign) Bob wasn't there for the market breakdown which prompted Keith our neighboring vendor to ask " where's all your help ?"  I took another nap. 

Do today, Sunday: plant arugula,  cauliflower , dill seedlings. Pull more white onions for the yellow sales hut. Weed the onions, turn irrigation on for the 


harvest for the farmers' market tomorrow, turn irrigation on the watermelon row 53, pull weeds and throw them in the aisle as you harvest. 
1. I will redo the harvest schedule on the blackboard this am:pick peas in row 8 do both side of that row first thing, pick snap peas in row 7,  pull the kohlrabi , clip the leaves off .. pull them all, pull two lugs of chard, two lugs of kale
2. cherry pick beets into two lugs: one lug for the beets too small to be beets but perfect for beet leaves. We will need two full lugs of beets . Leave the tops on. 
3. pick zukes, cukes and yellow squash . 
4. pick 6 spaghetti squash : white ones, not pale green. they are in the same row as cukes, just south of them (26)
5. pick all eggplant larger than a campbell soup can. Use clippers and wear gloves as they have very aggressive thorns in the area of the connection of the fruit to its stem. 
6. I will dig/pull some of the bolero carrots which might be a little thinner than the  Bergen lugs I got last night. The Bergens are fat now. We have 5 200' of carrots since previous years have been a bust... now what do I do with them , we have too many. Does anyone make juice? Would you like 50 lbs? 

Yesterday I dug under one potato plant : we had boiled potatoes at 830 pm or so when we came up.. I ate a small one ( my low carb diet  shuns them ) Connie said they were very tasty, without  prompting . Harvesting potatoes is very arduous, in addition to making ridiculous "hills" in a perfectly flat field , they are a mainstay of the potato beetles diet . On the good side is that due to hilling and their dense foliage they need little weeding. There are few crops that you can harvest from mid july to November so it is nice to always have something to sell. The deer and the chucks ignore them too. If I could borrow a single row potato harvester a few times a year that would make my retirement better. Our 20 % shortfall of rain this year has been perfect at that ,often too wet ,field. Our chestnut field. 

Yesterday scientists from UM came to the farm and asked if they can count bumble bees. If I see someone counting I will ask them to send me a copy of their census
for you. 
IMG_1638.JPG In case you need one, here they are in the shed. Fat, black and permanent.

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cel


Yesterday we irrigated the lisianthus rows in the willow field and the onion rows in the deerfield. The soil in these fields is very well drained which makes it perfect , as long as it rains enough. Our other fields have clay layers close to the surface and are not as dry. However, our little pond is dry and Bob has mowed it with the new flail mower.. there is no pond today. Dog Luna  is not told to stay out of the pond... which left her legs black for a while when she would inevitably sneak a run through the pond. 
We planted swan gourds and cucumber seedlings in  new row 14 this week... all have survived so far. I credit the many dogs that visit for that. (and you thought I was just a dog lover).  Maybe people, too, scare them off. People don't mark their presence as well, it has been tested . 

1. pick flat beans in row 39 all that are longer than your fist is wide
2. if you want to stand and pick , pick peas . the shelling peas have the shortest vine life so start with them. Put a tub or bushel basket on the ground and kick it ahead of you , pick with two hands as fast as you can. Put them in brown shopping bags and put them in the gray cooler . They will all be sold on Saturday $5/ quart $10/ 3qt in white handled bags. 
3. Dig 5 ( five) full lugs of carrots, wash the carrots by hitting them with the full force of the (well water) hose after dumping and spreading them out on a patch of grass, turn them over and wash them completely then put them back in a washed lug all lined up in one direction.. and put them in the  gray 35 degree cooler with a towel over them to keep them at 100% humidity and close to freezing. They can be kept for months that way and they sweeten from the cooling. Discard ,in the field, all carrots that are not perfect. Do not bring them to the packing area, leave them in the field. Forget the baby carrots too, we have 5  200' rows of carrots , no time for stragglers ! 
4. pot twenty basil clumps , water them deeply put them in the shady area on the street side of the yellow cooler. Never put them in a cooler. These must be dug and potted this am if they are to look perky by Saturday.. perky sells ... ONLY perky sells. Dig the plants from either row 3 south end or row 40 south end. Take the tallest plants. 
5 please spot and pick any mature cukes/ yellow squash and zukes  so they will fit in our black lugs and sell. White spaghetti squash is ripe, pick them too. 

There should be some new potatoes I will go "clamming" to find out. We have 4 varieties, I have to find the early row.
We will have  $15 black buckets ( fill with this and that) only one quart of peas can be included in a bucket. I will make signs today. Buckets can be used at the farm and/or  the market. There may be a tomato or two , I doubt they will hang around for the market, though. 
IMG_1632.JPG last of the early broccoli, the plants ,if left growing, will continue making broccolettes , but I will pull them out tomorrow. We have new broccoli seedlings to plant for the much better fall crop. I will plant them where the peas are now.  the collards are now getting 1/2" dia holes in their leaves. The result of the dancing white butterflies a week or so ago. We will spray them with Neem oil
(imported from India by the  way)


Need rain now. Yesterday we planted the second crop of python cuke seedlings in row 14. Also about 50' of "giant german radishes" were seeded in that row. 
Roma Beans , sugar snap peas , shelling peas, Bolero carrots, ladybell peppers , eggplant , cukes, spaghetti squash, beets,chard, kale , white onions, scallions,basil,flowers, are available in the yellow hut as well as "pick your own" 24/7. 

do today: 
1. pot ten -20 pots of basil, water them heavily and leave out in front of the yellow hut. 
2. weed flower rows in the upper field: 2, 5,6 . Weed, hoe,  the beans in row 27 and 33. 
3. Hoe the new flowers that were planted a couple of weeks ago in row 13. 
4. hoe the pumpkins in row 1
5. add another lift to the tomatoes in the 80's. 
6. water the onion rows and flower rows 35,36
IMG_1634.JPGBlack ductape wth liquid chalk on a hunk of 2x6 .. I can read it and it won't blow away. Useful concept for the yellow hut
 and the  farmers' market. The chalk pens are in the white van. Fresh vegetables deserve fresh signs. I will order another box of chalk signs for the yellow hut with a roll of black tape. 
A safe , does anyone need it? If you have one maybe you need two? I cannot lift it.

IMG_1631.JPGRoma 2 , flat beans, coming up in  row 12 ... no bean beetles as of today ( very unusual ) 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Yesterday Barbara picked two lugs of shelling peas!  That is so good because mature peas can hang on the vine only a day before they turn yellowish and lose sweetness. Good for soup. 

Score now is 6 chipmunks by Phyllis , 4 woodchucks by  Jason. I will bring some more fruit down and put it in the gray cooler. 
1. set a trap near the raspberry patch , Connie has seen a big one that lives in the area of the manure spreader. 

2.pick zukes, Phyllis says we have none picked!  pick Zukes every day. Pick the  yellow squash and cukes too. Put ugly shaped ones or fat ones in the chicken year.
Don't leave them hanging around, I did that last week ( just  for a minute) and then had to pick them out of the lugs on display at the market on Saturday. Get rid of them, get rid of ugly carrots too. thrown them on the compost pile, have a raspberry as you pass the patch.  

3. pull and hoe weeds from edges of row 37 and  the row in the chestnut field that has the hydrant. 84 . How is the cilantro doing? 

4. weed the beans in rows 33 and 27. these are french ,  yellow and standard beans. Then  reset the wires to keep them clear. Move the  wires temporarily to one  side and run the flail mower along side , Not over the carrots, the other  side... if there is at least 8' to the next row. 

5. Plant the cuke seedlings in the row 15 or so that I started yesterday with  swan gourds.  Plant them 12" apart in a single row, under the string that I set out yesterday. 
I checked the gourd seedlings this am : they were all fine. After planting the cuke seedlings laydown a plastic drip tape over the entire row 3" east of the plantings. Use the tape on the ground near the hydrant. Add a piece to it to fill the row. ( I should be around this am , yesterday I slept  after the  little work I did.)

6. Turn water on the flower rows with lizzies in the willow field that is so dry. 

7. pick   snap peas put peas in a brown kraft paper bag , put the bag in a lug, put the lug in the gray cooler. The paper bag has the perfect vapor  porosity so the peas don't shrivel from over drying nor do they mould from not enough circulation. This is  from my experience. So far we have not mixed the snaps with the shell peas yet 
but it probably will happen.... it has happened every year .  Today there will be snaps that have filled out and look like shelling peas. Don't mix them . 

7. Pot basil from row 39 and put on the counter at the yellow shed. 10 pots more would be good.
Pictures tomorrow


Before you read this,
1. pick peas pick peas :shelling peas in row 8 and 9  snaps in row 7 keep them separate!!!  Pick every day this week, first thing

2.pick zukes, Phyllis says we have none picked!  pick Zukes every day. 

3. pull and hoe weeds from edges of row 37 and  the row in the chestnut field that has the hydrant. 84 . How is the cilantro doing? 

4. weed the beans in rows 33 and 27. these are french ,  yellow and standard beans. 

After five tonight, we will plant the swan gourds ... we have 12 seedlings in the greenhouse. I am thinking of making a vine row where row 14 was. It will start with swan  swan gourds  in a single row 2' apart  from the northend and will end with cukes.  It might have to be hooped and covered, let's do it if they are nibbled .The cukes have sprouted in the greenhouse ,wait till they have two  more leaves. 
We need to plant lettuce, arugula, radishes  for the fall too. 

The yellow house needs a full pail of washed carrots and another of celery both set in pails of water with their tops on . 

I won't be there am : today is one of my 8 week apart eyeshots in Springfield, where they still take the  $10 copay in cash .
IMG_1621.JPGcukes that were seeded july 4th in a "24" flat. Phyllis's chipmunk drowning trap made them possible. Next flat over has brussels sprouts that need another couple of leaves too. the dead leaves are muskmelon that have since been put in the pile. We had very good success getting them started this year ...so  we had about 4 spare flats we didn't need. 

IMG_1622.JPG fall fennel seedlings planted june 21. You can imagine how difficult it would be to weed these if they had been sown directly in the field , that is why they are grown in the greenhouse. We have a gas flamer used to toast weed seeds and create a "stale bed" for summer seeding outside. I will try that this year on a row.. since the greenhouse and the coolers are running $400/ month for electricity now.
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


esterday's market was unusually successful: $1350, at lot of people, beautiful weather, flowers , carrots, peas, beets, new white onions. Our next door vendor took the day off ( Keith and Marie, so we had to pick more flowers at 1030. 

1.  Weed the edges of row 37 lizzies
2. Weed all the bean rows. I am 3/4 done with roma 2 's in row 38. I also discovered that the beans are ready for picking. The West adjoining spring spinach rows were flailed down then disked by Bob. 
3. Since we have large areas now free, I would like to plant the flat of yellow tomatoes we have left, but we have no more stakes, maybe just let them sprawl ? 
4. We have about 6 tomato plants that are wilted .. they look dead in row 45 or so ... I will pull them out today. I will put a coupleof the yellow globe tomatoes in their place to see if they get infected too. .. I assume it is the dreaded " tomato blight" 
5. We need a simpler price for the pick your own : $4/ lb for small stuff 

We have few red raspberrries but we do did have big yellow raspberries yesterday. $3/ pint. I will put lug of pint boxes next to the berry patch today with a sigh too.    
Last night a couple was picking so they might be gone.
IMG_1624.JPG            roma2 flat beans in row 38
IMG_1625.JPGrow 38 as I  weeded. the string is the elec shocker fence that worked so far. What to do about bean beetles I don't know . they haven't showed up yet , probably today they will .

IMG_1627.JPG  the disked aisles rival the crops for beauty ( they mean no weeding necessary too) 
You are looking at 7pm, since I nap earlier in the pm, and this year : no mosquitoes


Today is harvest day and while harvesting note what needs to be done and weed at the same time. The beans are in bloom, they are beautifully protected from the chucks and deer by the electric wires, we should have some beans next week. 
Score to date: 4 chipmunks vs 4 woodchucks

We now know what the vines are since they all have babies. The spaghetti squash are full size but still greenish,  we are waiting for the right color. At least now we know where the kabocha are as well as the acorns, butternuts, yellow watermelon, muskmelon, red watermelon. 
1. Pick ALL cukes as long as your fist is wide today. 
2. Pick all yellow squash and zukes longer than your handspread, handle them gently they bruise. 
3. Pick green peppers and also the cherry bomb and jalepenos (which are all at the south end of row 49) 
4. Pull another lug of white onions (they are in row 57) do not pick yellow or red onions. Cut the tops to 6" length (because new onions HAVE  tops) sell them by the $4 quart. 
5. Pick all the peas as fast as you can. Put the snaps in a separate (labelled) brown bag from the shelling peas. The row 9 shelling peas are a mixture of varieties: some with long pods some with short pods. Do not expect the short pods that are fat to grow longer they will grow yellow worthless instead. The peas have a three day or less ripe time on the vine, after that they are garbage. Pick peas first, rather than trimming and packing the other stuff. 

We have already done beets, carrots, cukes, zukes, yellow squash, basil pots, kohlrabi, eggplant, broccoli, onion
yet to be done for tomorrow: chard, kale, dill, parsley, celery, a few golden beets, fennel, scallions, another lug of white onions. 
The are no more lettuces, radishes or spinach.
These carrots ( Bolero) were planted a month after the adjoining row to the west. I rototilled the row before seeding
they are extraordinary for us, hardly a reject and they pulled out very easily by the two handed bunchful. 
These are the shelling peas, yesterday afternoon, the pods grow full size before the peas will fatten. These are higher than 6' . The seed catalogues all lie as to how tall some varieties will grow. I don't like bending over so much, so this is good. I pick them with two hands then throw them into a bushel basket or tub that I kick along. Shelling peas look like chewable pills ... not from cvs ..and not gummies. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Pick snap peas in row 7 for Saturday market. Put them in a brown paper bag and put the bag in the gray cooler. We price them at $4/ pint  or $3 a half pint.
Some people want the half pint to nibble while shopping (just guessing here). There are some shelling peas too but you have to select each one or you will pick a lot of duds. We sell shelling peas at $5/ quart and $10 for the three quart white paper bag.
1. Pick peas, I can't stop pulling the big weeds in the row as I move along. When you are done you will have peas and you will have made the peas that remain much easier to find (the weeds would have continued to grow higher and thicker). 

2. Check the white onions in row 58 or so.. they bulb up first and they are stunning, as pretty as cut flowers. If they are plum size or larger, cherry- pick a lugfull . 

3. Pick the cukes, zukes and yellow squash (cougars). Pick all cukes as long as as your fist is wide. Wash them and put them under a towel (to keep them from becoming limp) in the gray cooler. 

4. Hoe a corn row or two. Always pull weeds when you see them, throw them into the aisles. 

5. Pot 20 pots of basil from the largest basils in the south end of row 39. Water them well leave them out at the yellow hut. 

6. Pick a lug of peppers for the yellow hut, put  some quarts out  on the  counter. $4 any quart. Do not put peas out: put them all in brown paper bags in the gray cooler. Pea customers will have to pick their own. 
7. Weed beans in the willow field rows while you check to see if we have any. You can turn off the shocker if you don't like an occasional zing. 

Bob's Deere tractor has returned to service: Bob mowed the main mall east of the willows yesterday. He likes the new Flail mower, which has replaced the brush hog.
Today I will take a picture of his work. 
There is a very sparse apple crop both here and at 409 Main st .. I don't remember a late frost, I don't know why. We have about 10 trees and 10 apples. 
If you find out why, let me know. 
There are baby watermelons on the vines, however. 
And for the first time in my experience, we have controlled the potato beetles. We sprayed 4 times the potato and eggplant rows with capt jack (spinosad), Neem oil, and a biological mix. We used the 50 gallon sprayer which made it possible. 


1. Please finish weeding row 38 tomatoes. I did more than  1/3 after that is done the aisles
IMG_1610.JPGBasil ready to be potted in the south half of  row 39.
Sprawling tomato plans in row 49/ Restring as needed to get them pulled up and in line. There is no point in stringing and posts if the branches are not trapped inside. 

Weeding row 48 west side. Please complete the row must be harrowed. 
2. On row 49  the  second weave was done without some of the  tomato branches pickup and included. They all must be picked  up and put inside the   existing strings or run another string where and when you need it. All of the tomato branches must be inside the bank of strings. 
3. Please pick cukes then zukes then yellow  summer squash before noon. Put them in the yellow cooler . 
4. See photo of basil in row 39 please make 20 pots for the yellow stand area. Water them well. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Weed the eggplant half of row 59 . In- row and the  edges. Afterwards we will spray them again. 
2. Weed the pepper row (46) 
3. Weed the tomato row 44


Before you quit, hoe some of the rows 70's. Because the the generous spacing within the row, it is very easy.  fyi there is only one Luna. 
I will put some buckets down there since there are many stones to be  picked up. Leave the buckets at the edge of the field where we can pick them up with a golf cart.

We have two lugs of carrots in the yellow cooler. I will move them to the gray cooler with a towel cover to keep them from drying out and getting limp. 
Wash a half lug, bundle them for sale and put 4 bunches in the  yellow cooler. I will make a  "Look inside" sign for the yellow hut.


I will look to see if any shelling peas are ripe: it is a New England tradition that they are, on the fourth.
Phyllis has restocked her chipmunk swimming pail with sunflower seeds. Score:  4 chipmunks vs 4 woodchucks. With so much to see and do the greenhouse gets less attention, none the less we have at least 12 speckled swan gourd seedlings (out of 24 due to chipmunks) and a similar success rate on the cucumber flat. 
I will reseed another cucumber flat today. Two flats of lettuce have germinated one seed in three weeks, I will do them again too. 

Ask Bob about getting his Deere serviced in Greenfield if you happen to see him sitting under the trees at the yellow hut: Verbal fireworks, the best.
Connie is making 10 bouquets now for delivery to Whole Foods before 9 am today. 

1. Weave tomato rows all should have two lifts by now. Do not open a twine box ever. Hook it on and just pull. I think it is easier with two people , help out. 
2. Fertilize the corn again with the white N or urea. Sprinkle some on row 0 pumpkins , okra
3. I ran the Farmall cub cultivator over the okra rows in the row 10 neighborhood, hoe, weed the okra rows starting from the far (south ) end. The rest of the rows are doing very well , I am hoping we can give them a boost. (after they have been weeded, I don't want to feed the weeds)
4. We did a lot of weeding in row 4 yesterday and also the lizzies in row 5. 
5. Using the cub try to weed and clean up more row edges, then go down the aisles with the  disk harrows. 
6. Weeding the flower beds requires using a scissors when well established weeds are in the same hole in the plastic . I want to pull the roots out, but you can't sometimes without pulling out the good guy . 
7. Loosen with a fork, then pull up all the onions remaining in row 15. It looks like it is all weeds but look again and see the tubular onion leaves. Save all the round (globular) onions, discard all the non bulbed

Yesterday's swim after weeding: treading water was the ice cream over strawberries. 
 Was I less bouyant  yesterday, because I lost 15 lbs ? I don't  think I could have swam across the pool! 


The market was a little more than $1000. Lots of flower arrangements and bouquets. The flowers are dominating the view at the farm now. New vegetables: peppers including hot, 5 lugs of carrots dug by David Sharken. These were sold with their tops. After , the tops were given to the 9 chickens we still have.
Fennel, kohlrabi, broccoli, last of lettuce, sugar snap peas, red onions 2" - 3" in dia that were planted last  Sept 10, yellow cougar squash and zukes, chard, spinach Kale were washed, bunched and bagged. The "packing" for the market is a busy social event on Friday afternoons until 630. 

I checked the potatoes that we sprayed with what we thought was the usual ineffective ,but organically approved NEEM oil and Capt Jack ( spinosad ingredient)
actually  worked. We still have some beetles, but 90% were gone. I am so happy about that. Jason  baited the havachuck traps with an old apple he cut up . It caught chuck # 4 . Our dumpsters at our Creamery office building were skipped last week and overful, so I tossed it into the woods for the vultures. 

TODAY  .. and that means that you work in the shade between 1 and 4 pm. Maybe you have a hat with a 2' wide brim? Me? I go to bed then with great AC. 
1. weed the edges of the rows planted the earliest in the upper field. Rows 2,3,4,5,6 . Go over the edges  with the cub , then disk the aisles to cut up and bury all the weeds you have thrown into the aisle from the planted rows and their edges. Use the Farmall cub to do the edges, then use the 9N to pull the  harrow disk gang through. When weeding the edges don't even think that you should/will ignore the weeds in the bed . 
2. Fix our problem at the sunflowers in the south end of row 6 : sunflowers are pushing and  holding the 6x6 mesh 3' high , next to them are lizzies that need mesh 18" high. Cut the fence at the start of the sunflowers . put posts there if there are not posts there now, and pull the netting down to the lizzi height on one side and 3' high on the other side.
3. Everyday  pick cukes, zukes and yellow cougar squash. Pick even misshapen ones (like cukes that are not evenly cylindrical shaped) Feed them to the chickens before you go home. They will pick them apart .. what else do they do?Put them in the yellow cooler since it is 10 degrees warmer than the gray cooler. They get spotted when they are too cold. 
IMG_1588.JPG The phyllis chipmunk trap.  5 gal pail half filled with water. Sunflower seeds float on the surface. Got four last weeks. 
they have learned to eat all their meals otherwise in our greenhouse.


My computer wireless adaptor quit on Tuesday. Amazon got me a new one in 24 hrs. But a disc came with it and I was supposed to run autorun.exe. I don't know how to "run"  a driver disk so I spasstically turned off the power strip. I calmed down as I thought about my zero options and while doing so the computer turned on and the new wireless adapter was working.  Because I have no idea of why it is working I feel  85 already. 

Do of Friday first thing before it gots hot: 
1. Cut all the head lettuce, trim all the leaves you wouldn't use for a sandwich and set the heads one row deep , looking up in lugs do all of them. maybe three lugs. 
2. Make a fully packed beautiful deep lug of red lettuce 
3. Dig five lugs of carrots with tops on them . Wash them in the field under a  hydrant.  Bring to imperfect carrots even off the field. Leave them there for scavangers
hoe the weeds where you harvested. Do  not cherry pick. 
4. Do three lugs of individual Kale leaves, put them immediately in the gray cooler
5. Use a garden fork to loosen then pull out the onions in row15  cut back the tops to 8" or so with a whack of a big knife, wash them all put them in a big lug and into the gray cooler
6. Harvest all the broccoli in row 14 include an inch or so of stem.
7. Do two lugs of chard
8. Do a full lug of fennel in row 4 south end
9. Dig ten more pots of basil from row 3 water them put them out front. Use the big pots in the greenhouse. 
10. Pick a lug of peppers row 49
11. Pick a 1/2 lug of scallions... clean them cut off their long roots. 
12. Pick all cukes you see including little ones 3" long WASH THEM
13. Check the kohlrabi at the end of row 13 or so. If they are bigger than lemons harvest them. 
14. Pick snap peas in row 7. do not pick the other rows of peas. 
15. Pick a small lug of dill about row 11.
16. Pick red and yellow beets see rows 4 and row 14.   Check for sizable beets in row 11 after the dill  (I doubt it)


Yesterday, what I remember: 
Barbara weeded and covered the sweet potato section of row 59. Afterwards, a fawn came and nibbled something in the adjoining rhubarb row, it then appeared to to be looking for the sweet potato plants, it kept looking, Barbara didn't lose her temper but tried to shoo it, she couldn't.  I don't remember how she made it scram. 
Now, we (Jason) will set some nite guards in that row facing west  for Deer control.  
Phyllis drowned three chipmunks from the greenhouse door area. The  surgical gloves I had on for squishing potato bugs were "handy" for  disposal of the dead munks. No problem. We have about 10 flats of  seeded flats in the greenhouse now, all covered with plastic domes because of the new chipmunk settlers. I will take a picture of her trap for tomorrow's report. 
We planted some small Basil pots from row 39 in new row 12, when we need them I hope we can just pull out the pots complete with fully grown basil . Digging up small basil is easy and it serves to thin the crowded basil row 39. 
The rest of row 12 was seeded to Roma II flat beans (over 100') . "In sight , in mind " , is why they are planted there. you have to keep an eye on beans. 
The potatoes were sprayed again, it looked like the beetles' eggs had all hatched, it was then or never. Bob "wanded" while I squished. the potatoes are in flower
But for the beetles, they are by far the most vigorous I have ever grown. Because of the 12" high hilling there are few weeds, while the neighborhood has flowering red root pigweed 30" tall. 
1. Install the 6x6 grid over the three chestnut field flower rows, they are only 125' long. So that should be quick. ( this is a common usage of quick round here, is it proper? ) 
2. Weed the  lisianthus rows ( so old ) use  scissors so you don't pull the lizzy out. Tomorrow, I hope to say they were done: Flying dishes will attract attention, but is not an approved management technique, anymore. 
3. Stop anyone that looks like they might pick our shelling peas. Only pick row 7 now, the snap peas. Do not pick rows 8 and 9 which are shelling peas. I will put a yellow caution tape across the aisle between 8 and 9. the snap peas last longer than the shelling peas however some hi 90's weather is about to land  which  will cause the plants to be less vigorous. Our shelling peas will be ready for shelling in a week or so. July 4 would be right but we may be a few days later.
4. Carrots: we need a few bunches for the yellow cooler sales. Using the fork that I left in row 30 or so, loose the carrots and pull out all that you loosened. Bring a hoe and remove all the weeds left where the carrots were harvested, including the area ( about 40' of  row) that I pulled last Saturday for the market. Do not let the weeds take over where the carrots were dug. After you have put the carrots under a hydrant's full flow, leave the leaves on and put them in bunches into clear bags . Place them in the yellow cooler. The bags will prevent them from quickly becoming limp (although when that happens put them in a pail of water and they will come back) 
5. Bait the traps for chucks, put the traps at the south end of the twenties rows. I have a couple of  macintosh apples (I prefer crunchy types) for you to use in baiting. The Havachuck trap. 

Bob is Spraying our potatoes the strip of weeds in the left shot is what happens when you space the potato row too wide. I measured carefully and flagged each row when we planted 48" center to center.. I made a mistake there. There is no way we can control that little row of weeds other than weed wacking then hand hoeing. As you can see it is not urgent yet.  You can see the immature potato bugs at right. 


Yesterday: the sweet potatoes were weeded and covered (59), the eggplant rows 51 and 59 were Neem sprayed using the big red tractor, the potatoes west row and east rows were sprayed, a lug of yellow squash, zukes and cukes were picked. The row covers in the phyllis shed were bagged and brought to the basement of 24 s prospect st. Included in that is a bag of 1/2"x1/2" deer netting. The vacated corner is now a jumble of tubs, bushel baskets, barrels which  were jumbled about outside the shed. Put loose bins, tubs, barrels, 5 gal pails there when you see them. 

Do today: 
0. Irrigate the onion rows 58,57 they need water to swell with, now. 
1. Weed the edges of row 51 classic eggplant pull out any weeds in the  row too
2. I will go get chicken feed at Tractor Supply. I think we are down to 9 chickens. They are dying from living now, not from the usual predators. 
3.  I will get a piece of fabric for the triangular gap between the tents  (10' legs 8' base)  at the market. It will be held in place by big hand spring clamps. 
4. Weed, using scissors, the lizzies in the upperfield, I think it is row 5 or 6. 
5. Water seeded flats in the  greenhouse and plant a flat of arugula, the new seed packet is in a steel drawer. 
6. The phyllis shed has a torn bag of white N, please use it to fertilize, again, the corn. Sprinkle it along the new flower row 11 too.
7. I will paint a sign for Amity st : summer squash, zucchinis, cukes  ( all $4/ quart box),  lettuce, kale, chard, celery, scallions, basil,  carrots with an arrow to Sunset Farm. Keep a few on the outside counter at the yellow shed so customers will see them, those that get  nibbled will go to the chickens as they are discovered. They must be visible from your car without bars and nets ..the nibble losses represent the ad price. I will plug electronic rodent repellers
8. I put 100 new plastic pots in the greenhouse for making  20 basil pots from the young basil in the south end of row 39. Use the larger pots in the greenhouse to pot more large basil from row 3. Do as many as you can . Be sure to water them. 
9. Install the 6x6 netting over the flower rows 83,84 The posts are up. there are more posts if needed at the wash stand. 
10. Electric shock fence wiring and an electric extension cord were found in the phyllis shed and are on " the table" for putting on reels/caddies , when you need some shade. DO NOT put things away unless it is clear  where they should go. Keeping our equipment stored and findable by all is a dream I had and still is. 
Sunset farm byproducts. Like flower petals. 
Now this is fertilizer and barrels. Covers are in the 24 s prospect st basement 
in big black 50 gallon bags with labels and plastic ties
This works, except sometimes the tractor goes in too far. We used to have to use the big  broom to clear a plastic row that got too much dirt on it when it was installed .. we can't do that anymore since the  new biodegradable plastic would be ripped by that broom ( would you like to have it?). Leaning things against the shed wall is to be human. You can tell so much with  a glance at the tools we use; the orange / white pole is a tree branch pruner..getting to the fields and rows without losing your hat or glasses is necessary.


Do asap
1. Cover the sweet potatoes at the south end of row 59. Use hoops . 
2. also hoe/weed the edges  so the  weeds won't be 2' high when the cover is removed. 
3. Bait and set a chuck trap at the  south end too, of row 59. 
4. Pick cougar yellow squash and zucchinis and cukes that are more than 6" long.  Cukes can go in the gray cooler under towel. (keeps them hydrated)
They all sold well at the market in quart boxes. 
5. After all that bending over stretch you while picking snap peas in  row 7. put them in a covered low lug in the gray cooler too. Pick them every day.
6. Plant #72 plug flats  of fennel, arugula, dill, kohlrabi, and cover them with clear lids. The chipmunks know what we are doing. Time to keep the door shut again. 
Phyllis got emotional and actually designed, made and installed a chipmunk trap at the chippers greenhouse entry.. I love the community spirit. Thank you. I will tell you more about it,  if it works ... it involves swimming.  there seems to be a lot of them this year. 
7. Thin the basil at the south end of row 39 but putting small bunches of them in the new 5.5 dia x 3.5hi round pots which I just bought. We will set the pots on the ground in a new row #10 in front of the social seating area/ We will take them out as they grow and as we have the demand. Do 20 of them. 
8. It is a no brainer to notice that the corn needs hoeing between the stalks. Rows 70-83  David Sharken wrote to me that he had a hoe in his hand so he just started hoeing the corn.... it's  like a dowsing rod or  follow your nose. 
This row of overseeded basil will be thinned by making small pots of basil thereby leaving spaces for the neighbors to expand.
Carrots as they come out of the ground: rows 31 and 32 I would like to continue loosening, then pulling them out in a continuous row so we can hand hoe where they were .let's keep that row from growing into a hi weed row. That means don't cherry pick the carrots, carry on where I  stopped last Saturday morning. I dug three lugs and they all sold. I left the Tops on so their freshness was undeniable. They are crunchy. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


I guess I forgot to press the "send" button yesterday.. and I can't find it either. "Could be worse"  works for me. Today, we harvest lugs for tomorrow's market. 
I go to the farm at 545 am to meet Bob and load up our two vans... Bob is already there and hasn't even missed me. I muffle  my cough or he would want me to sit down till he is done. It is nice to drive the few blocks to the town common at about 15 miles an hour ( the speed bumps on Sunset Ave and loaded van) and not hold up anybody; In all our years there has never been a car behind me, much less one that wants to get somewhere. 

The farm is in better shape than ever before . Thank you for your help. 

The green house has about 10 seeded flats, most are covered with plastic domes since the chipmunk asked for more, yesterday. Fortunately, we had extra seeds to replant. 
Do today: 
1. Four lugs of lettuce, those who pick please trim them in the field so there is not a leaf you wouldn't sprinkle with oil and vinegar. Place them perfectly (looking up ) in the lug for sale , then put that lug in the cooler with a damp towel over it to prevent dehydration (wilting). Pick a lug of iceberg, Boston, red Beulah, iceburg again. 
Put them immediately in the gray cooler, do not let the sun look at them more than 5 minutes. 
2. Pick beets Red and Yellow  rows 3,4,14. Wash them in the wash trough, cut off the roots, pull off any ugly leaves. Shuguang came down at 6 last night to help and I left her harvesting beets .. so look on the blackboard as to how many were done. We need at least one lug of each. 
3. Cut the cilantro in row 11. take out any unappealing stuff and put the lug in the gray cooler ... right away! No wash. Cover with a towel. 
4. Go over the cougar yellow and the zuke squash in row 25 , go over the cukes in row 26 pick all more than 6" long. Wash them as needed. Put them in the phyllis shed , out of the sun but not refrigerated. covered so the squirrels can't  nibble.
5. We have about 15 broccoli  cut them with a two inch stem with leaves;  I will trim them like cauliflower.  Put them in the cooler , lay them flat to stack. 

Pull weeds as you harvest, throw them in the aisles, do not make piles, we will disk them in. Hoe the corn too. 
Three rows of watermelon red and yellow, and squashes rows ,53,54,55 . Row 52 on the left is snow peas. We  will not be able to disk again since the vines will fill the aisles... the next look will have 3' high pig weed and lambs quarters so dense that you find the melons as you twist your ankle.  The phone makes the field bigger than it is: the rows are 250'long not a1/2 mile. 
We will staple a 4' 6x6 trellis  to the stakes this will also make a barrier to keep the watermellon away from the eggplants in row 51. The snow peas will be done my mid july. They are growing too well; what will go wrong?  The soil in the deerfield is stone free and very well draining. There is a drip tape under the plastic in the very center of the row.


1.Plant all the tomatillos in row 56. Turn on the water in that row too. They are in the greenhouse. single row 24" apart. Install 4' stakes between them for weaving. 
2. Plant (in the greenhouse) seeds, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce, In two weeks plant arugula 2- 72 plug flats in the greenhouse. These will be be set out where the peas are now in mid to late August, after the flea beetles have left the field. (if we miss by a week or so and the bugs show up, we will NEEM them. If we get a heat wave of 3 digits in late summer, we will turn on the drip irrigation and go to the cape and socialize with our children. As Gert did so well. 
3. Set flower stakes ...do the snaps first and do them today! They are falling over. Start with row 24 next to the willow field. 
4. Weave tomatoes in the chestnut field. 
5. Trellis for snow peas in row 52 north end only about 50' long. 
6. weed south part of okra rows..rows 10.1 and 10.2  
7. Dig some basil pots.
8. Weed where ever your see them. 
9. Put row covers into black 50 gallon bags and use twistems  around the top.  I think I will  store them at 24 s prospect st basement. I would like to put the tubs and baskets in the shed where the  covers were. I wish our main entrance did not include a pile of trash barrels, bins, tubs and the handy junk pile.

Done: removed the covers from the  vines in the 54,55 rows.  , bags and hoops .. excellent job. Big job too. 
fertilized corn,spinach, we had our bait  stolen from our  chuck traps by squirrels. 
Weeded, way oveerseeded basil, we will pot some of these in the process of thinning it. 

Flowers for several events this week: zinnia, canterbury bells, snapdragon, yellow marigold, batchelor buttons, calendula, olaya, argeratum,sunflowers.
Vegetables now: broccoli, lettuce, kale, spinach, zukes, cougar summer squash, some hot peppers, chard, beets and beet greens scallions kohlrabi, 
Give the rhubarb a rest: it can be pulled again in September. 

You think people might secretly pick a zuke? Our zukes and cougar yellow squash secretly grow, they hope to get too big ( in a few days) so that we won't eat them. 
I planted them in row 25 very near our 50 year old compost pile, (it is a one way pile, where is Rodale's "gold" ? We don't know, never been seen.) You can throw them into the pile from the vines in that row. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Hoe and pull the weeds from the edges of rows  53,54,55 use the sharpened hoes too
2. Remove the covers, jhoops and bags from 54 and 55. I did 53 yesterday myself. The vines want to get out of the tents. It is easier to pull weeds first so you don't have the  good vines mixed in with the  weeds. 
3. Plant the flat of tomatillos that are in the greenhouse: set them in row 56 after the onions and leeks. leave room for about 10' of more leeks that are in the greenhouse. plant them too. Tomatillos: 2' apart. OME CENTER ROW, put in 4' posts between them . The posts are in the  bushes near row 35. 
4. Fill 72 plug flats with media at the greenhouse and plant two with  brussel sprout seeds. We will plant them in the ground in mid August. Maybe in row 13 but we will have to install new plastic for them when the Deere returns from the shop. 
5. Set out the 4' stakes for flower row 34 make them 3" inside the plastic edge and no closer than 12' apart ( about 4 paces) 
6 Jason: please set the camera ( I will bring D batteries) to see the half eaten butternut squash vines at  the south foot of row 26 so we can tell what time the chuck eats them. Wood chucks are punctual and easily addicted . Someone will have to be there to make them disappear. Waiting is not something I like to do. It might be possible to park  my spare silver honda close by with the windows open, I will do that today. I could listen to npr with head phones too. 
7. Fertilize the corn and the two remaining spinach rows. By hand with a shaking bowl of hi nitrogen 
8. Don't forget to finish weeding and thinning rows 10.1 and 10.2 : okra. they are looking great, they should be about 12" apart and will grow to 5' unless they get hit by the phylloxera, a soil-born disease /  the leaves will wilt and fall off, it happens to tomatoes too. It has happened almost every year. The good news is that okra has to be picked at least every other day and one day in august it you don't have to. 

Ripe now for the  "pick your owners"  lettuce all kinds, dill, cilantro, hot peppers, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, beets, chard, flowers, parsley, scallions, new spring onions,spinach, pots of basil, 

Baby snow peas (oregon) that were pushed into the soil thru the plastic by Barbara V note the irrigation line underneath the middle between the two rows. I wish the weeds weren't at the edges. At least they are not very big yet. Row 52 north end.
A liberated watermelon row : red and yellow  Row 53, note the other two rows that still have deer and chuck covers. 
they will come off today
Basil at the south end of 41. More hoeing and weeding needed, then we will thin by transplanting. (can do with basil but we will need an irrigation tape since this soil is so well drained. FYI after this photo was taken, the aisles were harrowed and the weeds gone.


Yesterday's market seemed to be empty:  then I noted that last year we said the same. this year sales were $730 vs 540 last year. (inflation).  We had about 30 "arrangements" @ $10. We brought back 4. Lots of lettuce, beets yellow and red, kale, chard, rhubarb, kohlrabi, great broccoli, spinach that was not as deep green as we would like, 6" pots of basil (3 lugs) baby squash and zukes, "spring onions" scallions, cilantro,first celery. 

Carrots not ready , maybe some next week plus  cukes, hot peppers, celery. 

It became windy and cold, the tents were weighted then they were attached to the tables too. 

Do today: 
Weave tomato rows in the chestnut field. Be sure they are tight..never open a tomato twine box ,ever. Weed the rows at the same time. 
Set out posts at least 12' apart along the flower rows . Set them 3" inside the edge of the plastic . Hit them down at least 8" Then set out the 3' wide 6x6 flower mesh
so they  don't fall over into the aisles. Pull big weeds when you plan to walk by. 
Remove sand bags, hoops, covers from the covered vine rows in the deerfield (fifties rows) Collect the bags and store/stack them on the pallets that Bob set out at each field. this makes mowing much easier and saves trying to get down from the large tractor while carrying Henry. Henry , the pug.  Pugs were bred .(gmo?) to provide the owner comfort , Bob obliges Henry  while he operates a  tractor. . 
Fertilize the corn, add some to the remaining spinach. 
Install 4' posts @ 7' apart for Zack's snow peas trellis  in row 52 north end. The peas are up. 
Hoe the basil at the south end of row 41 . Transplant clumps of seedlings into the vacant remainder of the row to the North where the parsnips never germinated.  (not one)this will thin them and help them grow at the same time. 
Picture was taken before all the lugs were filled. 
Taped on the blackboard at the upper left is Friday's list of things to do ( for volunteers and everyone else) .
canterbury bells below ... last year they were a bush with flowers ,this year they are a flower. Any clue? Note the weeds at the plastic edge, I hate it when they  happen. 


1. Pick for tomorrow's market, I will make a list  with the number of lugs I think we need. New big items include: basil pots, beets, broccoli, yellow squash, beet greens.
We won't bring vegetable starts. 
2. Keep the lugs underfilled so they can be stacked. Don't put anything in a lug that doesn't look good. Take off all dead stuff. 
3. Install flower row posts and 6x6 netting. 
4. Weave the chestnut field's 6 rows of  marzano tomatoes. lift up low branches , keep the string on one side going one way and the other side going the other way do not  cross over which creates diagonals. Diagonal tomato twine makes harvesting difficult.  The tomatoes will be woven every 8" in height. (4 times over the season) 
5. When harvesting,  pull big weeds when you see them, including along the plastic edge. 
6. Harvest notes: 
Basil: put media in the bottom of the pot and 1" on top, this will reduce weight and hold water like a sponge. Let's have at least 4 lugs, they will sell.
Beets : harvest by feel, lemon sized beets red and yellow. Do not damage the leaves, remove ugly leaves. 
Broccoli: cut two inches of stalk attached to the head. Leave leaves on that stalk and trim like cauliflower. The stalk is good to eat. They  should be at least 4" in diameter
Yellow squash: cut them loose with a knife, cut all over 8" long, won't be many since the cool weather has slowed them up. Same with zukes put them in the same lug for now. 
Grasp 4 " clumps of beets roots and all: from the direct seeded row ( about row 9)  after the dill. This will thin the beets as well as make a lug of beet greens: a forkful of cooked beet greens .. more flavor and much more satisfying  than other relatively lightweight greens.
7. Hoe the direct seeded basil at the south end of row 40 or so. 
8. Remind me to fertilize the corn. 

Yesterday the traps were baited again.. the beans are sought after by the chucks. We set the wildlife camera to see the critters checking out the traps. We also enclosed the beans with electric  shock wires. 
Two rows of tomatoes were "woven". 6 more rows to go. Bittersweet, grape and virginia creeper vines, walnut seedlings were removed from the near by row 50 blueberry bushes. 
Okra rows weeding and thinning was and will be continued, flower rows were weeded, most of the aisles were harrowed with our gray 9N that Bob repaired ( needed a new ignition system, from the web) and our very old double set of disks. We need a new set of harrows: ours can't be greased since the holes in the disks have become too large over the years. The disk harrows are the heaviest attachment we pull. 
The potatoes and eggplants have been beetle sprayed and I saw a definite bug reduction ..of course that is exactly what I was looking for. .. while I was harrowing. 

No nap yesterday for me, Connie and I watched the commercial free Congressional hearing. So different to hear that Trump loved it when his staff would fight each other at oval office meetings: his entertainment! 
Jason weaving the tomatoes. The box is made to hang from your belt. Note weed free shot.

Disking the aisles in the  chestnut field yesterday. Trying to avoid running over the plastic and slicing it up too. 


Must do today: 
1. Weave tomato rows 49 and 48. These are now sprawling and must pulled up and contained by tomato twine. . first one side of the row then the other side of the row. Do not make diagonals from one side to the other side in the row: in the past these have made harvesting more   difficult and also occasionally have creased a tomato. Never , never, never open a tomato twine box, just pull out the twine. Once a 6000' box of twine is opened ,it is useless and can only be thrown away. 
It is easier to do it two people at a time, one to hold up the branches. There is a lightweight pipe tool to make it easier but today we will concentrate on getting these two overachieving rows reigned in. 

2. I discovered that some of the okra thinning and weeding resulted in look- alike weeds being saved and the okra pulled out. We transplanted some last night to fill in the new blanks. So don't weed/thin the okra unless you are absolutely sure which plants are the okra! 

3. Bean rows must be protected by a double electric fence. There are two bean rows adjoining the carrots, one on each side of them. 

4. Time to remove the hoops , covers and sandbags from  rows 26 and 27. The rows with squashes and cukes. Before the market we must pick the saleable sized summer squash (boring) and zukes. Handle them extremely gently, the cougar yellow summer squash bruises too  easily. Never throw them into your box. Be sure to wash them and change lugs when you get back to  the sheds since the bottom of a black lug collects dirt like a provolone grater due to our very soft , fine but sandy soil. Don't miss any hoops, they will get entangled in the cultivators. They are very hard to see. 

5. Bait our havahearts; make a honeydew cocktail trail to the traps.. do one near the beans and the other near  row 53 watermelons. Right now our main critters are wood chucks and  potato beetles. Both can eat an entire 200' row almost overnight. Last year we vacuumed the beetles off the potatoes , we got a lot. But a couple of weeks later the eggs that were laid before we sucked them up, made slimy  nymphs that sucked up the leaves. So this year we are spaying with our 50 gal sprayer weekly . You will hear if the "safe ", organically approved , expensive ( $50/ spray/ week)  not only didn't harm our bees but did kill the beetles.  I  sound doubtful.. 
In years past we get potatoes but no where near our expectations. maybe 2x the potatoes we planted, not the 10x per boosters .
IMG_1536.JPGThis is the second and final hilling. This is our best, now we know a pug is the secret. The 1956 farmall cub and its ability to go slow matches me. The pug mascot, Robert Cyr, is driving. I watched. 
IMG_1526.JPG  flowers , they will fill the page next time. the aisle on the right was just disked, I did the willow field rows yesterday that's why the flower shot. It is not so easy to walk on, with no swimming afterwards. Use the golf cart too. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


It is weeding time, pull them out or cut them out with a sharpened hoe. I will grind them all the hoes on my shop  grinder today. A sharp hoe at the soil line will cut the weeds very easily. 

1. Please extend the electric wire around the  two bean rows : the new row east of the carrots and the row next to the spinach. The wire for these two items is to be designed to thwart woodchucks not deer. This means the wire must be no more than 10" above the ground or they will simply go under it. I have seen them do it many times in the past. We also have run  double wires about 16" apart so the chuck is immediately faced with another wire and doesn't have the space to jump again. This is needed at our bean rows. Look at the row next to the spinach and see that the southern half of the row is almost gone.  The main problem at the carrots are chucks not deer. The wires have to be as low as possible so the animal will have to touch them in order to eat. 

2. I bought 100 6" pots for the basil plants in row 3 south end. Dig up and replant in these pots enough to fill three deep lugs. Put them on the counter at the yellow hut. They need to sit in the new pots for a day or two to look good and they can be for sale 24/7. Please be sure there is a wood  $5 sign next to them. The pack of pots is in the greenhouse. The pots are very thin and delicate at least till they are filled ,, they cost about 30 cents apiece. If I like them, I will shop beyond amazon for a case. 30 cents bought a fancy loaf of bread at our neighborhood A&P in the 40's. 

3. Fill 12   72 plug flats with media and stack them in the greenhouse: they will be used for zinnias, cauliflower, broccoli, arugula, and lettuce for our fall crops. Zinnias will be seeded immediately however. 

It took an hour or so to hoe the weeds from the east edge of row 59, then we ran the cub through to keep the rest of the aisle weed free. 
The next two photos are the classic eggplants in row 51 which are also home to colorado (the three nymphs on the leaf have a reddish tinge) potato beetle. 
We sprayed yesterday this time with capt Jack's dead bug spray. Which is an approved organic spray originally made from dead bugs found in a former rum distillery .
Last week I sprayed it with Neem oil which worked well. 
Note the weed free rows of onions , thanks to Barbara Van den Berg and  David Sharken. The row on the left is the new row of sweet potatoes. A few of their leaves are gone too.. but to chucks, not Colorado bugs.
Note the deep shade of the deer field in the evening: very comfortable. 


1. Continue weeding row 58 onions. 
2. Install wood posts for flower rows in the willow field. Over 100 posts are in the north verge near the hydrant. Place in pairs 4 paces apart. Place them 4" inside the plastic so the tractor won't snag the posts or the 6x6 mesh. 
3. Plant the  broccoli flat (on the wash stand)   at the south end of row 15 (or so ) where red lettuce once grew. There are more broccoli starts in the cold greenhouse.
deer June 10 2022.JPG in case you  didn't know. Next shots will be of our Fearing st dumpster..which fills too fast. We need the license plate in the photo, too, please.
IMG_1494.JPGPachysandra is grown here  for floral arrangements. The key to a healthy crop is to ignore it most of the year. Let the leaves from the oaks above provide them a deep compost mulch. That is their nourishment. Not having the blower guy remove them is a blessing too.  Stopping  him is the trick. (only young guys do it and that is just when you are napping) 
4. Jason: calibrate the 50 gallon sprayer: Add exactly 5 gallons of water to the tank (that already has water in it) and run it up and down a row  back and forth two times , so you then can measure the amount of spray emitted , including that during a turn around (if you left it on) . I want to know how many gallons of spray I  should mix per pass per row in the future. The real spray will be mixed and sprayed in the evening . I need a rough idea so I know whether I am preparing 2 , 5 or 10 gallons per row ( up and down )  there are many variables, so just bumble along and we will get an approximation: we will spray till we run out anyway, I just don't want to run out half way down  a row. 
5. Weed all patches of lisianthus. 

I will reset up the cub for cultivating: time to do the corn,and  the bean rows. Please temporarily take down the wire next to the spinach so we can cultivate the bean row it is adjacent to. 
Cut out the large vines and weeds in the row 50 blueberries.. or we will have to forget about  pies. 
Louise Reilly will be happy to hear the sour cherry trees at our  24 south prospect st property are now being eaten by wildlife.  Maybe stilts will help? When I pick them I eat them right away since the stem and pit often stay on the tree. 
I ground one hoe at my "shop" so that you will be better likely to slip just under the surface and cut the weeds.. this is useful in weeding and thinning the okra rows ( near row 8). 


IMG_1504.JPG Watermelon  in row 53 . The cover has been moved off the edge so the aisles and edges can be cultivated to clear the  weeds. Next week the covers will have to come off for good since the vines will want to run.  At that time we must collect the covers and ALL the hoops and sand bags.
These are Yellow watermelons , doing very well not having been visible to the deer and chucks.

1. Weed the onions in rows 58,57,56  start in the areas that are bad first. 
2. Lift the cover back from the edges in 55,54, so we can cultivate the edges with the farmall cub. Note that I caught the hose with the cultivator last night and didn't know it till I passed the raspberry patch.  disconnect the hoses and put them coiled up out of the way. You will need the large blue handled pliers to do that. They are in a box of irrigation parts in the middle (C) shed. 
3. Check that the traps are still baited , I  just put the large piece of melon in loose thinking it would trigger the door if it were moved. More melon is in the gray cooler. 
4. Plant the half flat of broccoli in the now vacant south end of row 14 or 15. I left the flat on the wash trough . 
5. Elayne talked of weeding the okra rows (it is great when what is your fun, is very helpful at sunsetfarm ): The okra will grow to 5' height, so we will weed and thin the okra at the same time. Leave a full hoe's width between okra seedlings using a hoe. We have had a high mortality of the okra row seedlings in the past so they were deliberately over- seeded . It may be time to thin and weed the two rows. Get it started . 
6. Hoe the edges of plastic rows and weed the flower seedlings as you do it. 

At Next week's farmers' we will have more broccoli, kale, beets, lettuce, yellow squash, zukes, maybe cukes, kohlrabi, parsley, chard, basil ,cilantro.. And flowers. Elayne and Phyllis will be elsewhere , Connie needs some helper/company at the market . Come anytime after 730 , no experience needed, will  be another experience on your resume. may be just what you need to get out of your usual. If you come at 545 to the farm you can get a lift to the market and get to join the market setup routine. If it is not  raining, it is beautiful then. 
Last week was beautiful, but quiet. About $900... the market has only one other "vegetable farm stand" perhaps those that come are not looking for farm produce. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Spray using the backpack sprayer, the eggplant row 51. Use (approved Neem and or Capt Jack ,spinosad). I  noticed lots of  potato beetle nymphs  in the middle of the row. THIS IS URGENT 

2. Plant leeks in row 56 separate leeks from onions with three flags at each end of leeks.

3. Cultivate the corn ( rows 60's ) and all the rows in the deerfield using the red farmall , perhaps take off the disc and put sweeps on when doing the corn. 

4. Remove, to one side,  the covers and sandbags on the 50's rows so the edges of the plastic are exposed for tilling. Then replace them! 

5. Install more blinking nite guards in the 50's south end. The  vines will soon outgrow their covers at which point the covers and all hoops must be removed from the field and the  vines will have no protection except nite guards. 
6. Farmall cultivate the bean rows in the 30's.. But first you have to temporarily move the electric guard wires. 

7. We will bait the chuck traps with large slices of honey dew ,they don't have to be  well secured to the inside of the trap this time since they will be  big. I am thinking that the act of removing a large piece of bait will trigger the  trap to shut. The " have- a -heart"  directions (probably  written in California) , recommend using honeydew for chucks, so I do , I usually don't do that. We use surgical gloves when touching the traps to keep our stink off . this could be just a myth , we don't know. 

8. There is a 30' section of row 14 or so at the south end that was red lettuce, replace the lettuce with .... I will find something and set the flat on the plastic to be planted. 

9. Weed the plastic rows hand pick out all the little weeds now. Especially the  lisianthus plantings.

10. Go get the 50 gallon sprayer that is stored at the basement of 24 s prospect st. 
IMG_1497.JPG  Would anyone like to have some free  10-12' tobacco poles? They are probably 100 years old and were for twenty years in our vineyard.   We purchased them at a Hatfield farm auction in the early 80's . At my age, I don't think I will be reusing them.
IMG_1488.JPG The Junde 10 2022 harvest list with 0's representing black lugs.  I had to pull another lug of "spring onions" for the market. Most of that second lug was too late to sell off so it is in the yellow hut (cooler) along with other bagged vegetables for sale. $4 a bag or a contribution.

IMG_1485.JPGFennel is doing well up in row 3. We will reseed more flats in the greenhouse for a July replanting. Why do we use black plastic? imagine the  nightmare of weeding between ...  with the feathery plants tickling your nose, while your back is talking too. 


1. See photo of the chalkboard list of products to be harvested for tomorrow's market. Fill in the 0"s when you fill a lug. Keep anything you harvest out of direct sun as soon as you can. 
2. We must install the 6x6 mesh over the flower rows: I tilled the aisles in the upper field last night  some flowers were already falling into the aisles. It is easier with two people . 
3. Weed the plastic rows that were planted first : rows 2,5,6 for flowers . Weed the vegetables in 2 and 3. Don't weed items that will be harvested like the lettuce 
focus on the the parsley, leeks, broccoli, basil 
4. Basil is doing well in row 3 south end.  I think it might be good to pot some in 4" pots for the market in addition to cherry picking bags. We have a direct seeded row in the willow field that is in the row that is seeded at the north end to parsnip.... I still see no seedlings there. But the basil is very well germinated. 
5. The beets have to be cherry picked to get the golf size and larger. Leave the tops on. 

Barbara planted 50' of row 52 to oregon  snow peas for Zach. At the north end. It will require a trellis too. Can you plant peas so late? We will see. 
IMG_1488.JPGJune 10 vegetable list : the flowers are also coming in. Each circle is a lug. The brush is there because I washed my car, it was the first wash for our Nov2021 $32,000 steal.( plus trade in )  At least the  farm well water is a savings . 
IMG_1483.JPGHead (row 4 ) lettuce planted too close together, we will fix that today Harvest and thin them at the same time. Good news is that there are no weeds where you crowded your lettuce. It is hard to picture such brash growth when the seedlings are planted out in April, cold and still flurrying. 
IMG_1479.JPG The San marzano tomatoes are looking good . We will be weaving tomato twine soon. those are the 5' " brazilian pine"
posts. While setting them in place you will wonder about their provenance. They were cut with a  band saw, that left only shallow cut marks. They are too good to be. I imagine they won't be available very long. And neither will our gas and diesel tractors. The farm is likely to last a while since the wifi signals missed the farm. 


Tilled the aisles, caught the plastic now and then
Barbara van den Berg planted 50' row of oregon snow peas in row 52. these will be finished before the adjoining watermelon takes over. 
Jason Stevens set up solar "eyes "in the willow field. Set on short tomato stakes about 30" above grade, they are supposed to make the chucks think a wolf is eyeing them. They are solar powered.

Yellow squash will be picked tomorrow for the Saturday Farmers' market. Zukes have flowers now. 

Sharpening hoes is" very easy" but I am getting a bench grinder to restore the original bevel. (I do want to hand sharpen anything ?) .. then I will use the "very fast and very easy " hand sharpeners. A sharp hoe is much easier to cut the weeds off at the base. That is all you need to do, by the way.  When you weed get all the weeds even those that have not sprouted yet by disturbing the soil that is exposed to daylight. Bend down as if you were at jazzercise and hand pick out even tiny weeds next to the plant you will eat someday. 

image.pngWe have used these  blinking red eyes years.. I don't have any way of measuring their effect. And they are not cheap either.  Maybe? And would we get any crop if we stopped using them? If you don't screw them tightly to the post, they might stay on while you pound the post into the ground. Mostly not. So, attach them after the post is set. The battery drill makes it easy, since the tomato posts are very hard maple and oak and you can't nail into them. I don't know if they work this year..since so far we are asleep before it is dark enough to turn them on. 

The Tomatoes are very vigorous, two weeks ago they were purple- stunted- homegrown seedlings. Now, they are close to 2'  high, and need to be contained in our tomato twine containment walls. They have flowers.  We hoped to plant them around May one so they were in the growing trays about 2 weeks too long. Early May was  too cold this year, but the plants recovered in the field. I haven't counted them but I think we have more than 500 planted.. we are limited by the number of 5' tomato stakes. Our chestnuts and san marzano tomatoes bring pyo's that have picked us out. 

Pick tomorrow: clip Kohlrabi (3 lugs) lying flat in the lug, lettuce  red and green (5 lugs all "looking up" ) yellow squash in row 22 or so (pick as many you can that exceed 6" length) Cilantro ( 1 lug lying flat in neat order) Scallions (2  shallow lugs lying flat) Kale (4 flats , lying flat) Look at the basil in row 2 south end (get a lug, cut at the base, some of the bunch that is in each hole, one shallow lug) Rhubarb from Row 50 as much as you can from that row, Spinach :Cut all that is 8" high put in the gray cooler under a damp towel till it is bagged.. I hope it is at least two full lugs. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Set out flower starts both those in the green house and those behind it. 
2. Weed the south half of row 5, Use a large hoe to chop weeds along the edges and also to pull the soil back from the plastic edges. When weeding the flowers in the bed , remove all weeds even very small ones. 
3. I set a flat of scallions at the north end of row 12 where the turnips were: please plant them in the turnip holes. Aso in row 14 at the south end  there is a 20' section which had red lettuce. Plant scallion plugs where the red lettuce had been. 
4. The West edge of row 23 or so, the covered melon row must be hand pulled of large weeds. 
5. Hoe the direct seeded okra rows near row 10. I cultivated these rows on the weekend with the cub they need to be touched up by hand. 
6. I set out 50  4' stakes for row 5  and more than 100 at the willow field near row 30 These are for the flower rows. 

The cougar yellow squash have started, this is the last shot of this row that will not also include overgrown squash ..it happens overnight. The flowers made squash without bees, I guess, because it was under the white cover.  
The cast iron bracket that attaches and supports the rear left cultivator on our 1956 McCormick Farmall Cub needs to be replaced  at the lower left of the pic you can see the break in the casting where the bolt can't be tightened any more. Help. 
At the right is the foot of weeds that spring up along our black bioplastic mulch,,cultivating this area requires moving the cover over. Maybe they should be weedwacked first since now they will clog the  cultivators. It is difficult to NOT snag the plastic too when cultivating. So it is a little storm: covers are needed because of chucks, weed tilling needed along the plastic edge ( or the weeds roots will go under the plastic and pop up opportunistically where a dog or deer broke the plastic earlier.)  and the farmall cub tiller bracket support is broken. What is the worst thing that could happen? I ask and answer myself. 
We have a lot of Kohlrabi, in a salad it is water chestnut. If it had a longer shelf life you would be seeing reports that it prolongs life etc, it is the perfect local product. but 9 of 10 have never tasted it.  In a Blue state I thought it would be elite.  


Over the weekend there was significant chuck damage to the squash and carrot rows at the south end. I put back most of the covers and Jason will instll an electric shock wire system over the carrots as we did with the spinach over the winter. 
We will bait the traps and set them at the south side of the willow field. 
The blackberry row was cleared of bamboo. 
The direct seeded crops were  cultivated with the farmall
 We have two or three lugs of kohlrabi in the yellow cooler left over from the market.. they are perfect. 
The market was thought to be lower than it  would have been ( about $850) : competition from the Hadley Asparagus Celebration  was suggested.
We need a cast iron connection part for the rear cultivators on the Farmall Cub... time to scour the Net.

Do  today: 
1. Set out blinking night lights at the south end of the willow field ... set out about 8 of them on wood post Set the height of the posts about 15" when in the direct seeded rows and put them right on the center of the row so the cultivator can clear them. 
2. Continue to plant leeks in row 56
3. Take a look at the south end of row 59 : are the sweet potatoes ok? Shall we cover them ( we did last year)
4. Weed flower rows 2,5 
5. Hoe the sweet peas with the trellis as the south end of row 11 or so. 
6. Do a lot of thinning of the radishes.. see if the chickens like radishes. 
7. Hoe the two okra rows something like 8 and 0. 
8. Pull weeds out of the carrot  rows. 
  Saturday market
IMG_1448.JPG IMG_1447.JPG  Flower arrangement by Connie for the Charles Heffernan Memorial yesterday at the farm.


1. Pick up stones between the corn rows in the swimming pool field. Put them in buckets and when you have a chance bring the buckets to the stone pile near row #1. 
2. Check the vine rows( 22 or so ) see if there is deer damage , if so,  recover the west row. Mostly muskmelon. 
3. Direct seed a row of regular green and yellow beans, I will identify the row location today. 
4. Weedwack and   till with the  red farmall cub, the ends of the rows . Remove the hoses till we need them again. Coil them out of the way of the mower and the tiller. 
5. Bring the big sprayer to the farm from the gray house basement (24 s prospect st)  with the blue tractor. We must spray the potatoes. Two people would be a good team. 
Each filled in O is a lug. We have way too much kohlrabi.
A golf cart with just cut lettuce in ubiquitous black lugs. I am rushing to get it into them into a cooler and out of the noon day sun. 

6. Plant leeks in row 56. Plant replacement onion seedlings in the 57,58 rows.
7. Weed the flower rows 1 and 4.
8. Plant scallion bunches where we had red lettuce in row 13 and 14. We have a full flat of seedling plugs. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Potatoes are up and need to be hilled with a disk on the farmall.
2. Blackberry row was cleared of knot weed (american bamboo). 
3. The south end of row 59 was planted last night to Beauregard sweet potato slips from the tatorman. We used a dibble and planted the roots into the ground vertically. I bought 100 slips: 4 bunches of 35. As soon as we note any loss to deer or chucks we will cover them with cover over hoops. I hope to keep the remaining slips as replacements. We planted them about 16" apart in a single row. I think they are too sweet to eat. Now that I am diagnosed as a #2 diabetic, I have an excuse. 
The planting  instructions drip: "plant two hours before sunset" and the other side are recepies for sweet potato desserts.. I got rid of that paper immediately, although we did plant 2 hrs before sunset last night... just in case they are not just kidding the northerners. 
4. Plant any remaining flower starts in the blank row at the chestnut field. approx row 88


1. Install top string on the pea trellises, clip it to the netting.. weed then hoe the pea rows. 
2. Plant scallion plugs where the lettuce was harvested abd where the turnips were. Rows 12 and 14. a scallion flat is at the stand and maybe also on the north side of the greenhouse. pull out the lettuce roots 
3.Pplant onions as replacements in rows 58,57,56 plant leeks in the  southern portion of row 56. 
4. Eliminate weed patches at the ends of the plastic rows.
Photo below: Jason Stevens is disturbing the weeds growing in the aisles, he is also playing chicken with the plastic in order to clear the weeds that grow adjacent to the plastic . This has to be  done once a week to keep the aisles clean. If weeds continue along the edges they soon grow into the plastic and take over. 


Yesterday Bob Cyr directed the purchase and replacement of two new batteries : one 6 volt for the Farmall cultivator and one 12 volt for the Blue 8N  
the 6 volt has a reverse ground quirk. the Black battery connection goes to the Positive terminal and the Red goes to the Negative terminal . I think this is why our battery charger didn't charge it, we attached it the other way around " red to red which was wrong! I am hoping that Professor Jason will confirm and explain it to me. 
The  two batteries were picked up at the local AutoZone which also keeps treats for Luna. They had a 6 volt  battery -one- in stock despite the Autozone chat line that responded to my question about 6 volt battery: " we don't sell 6 volt batteries" So that is why I mention it : I thought that the company  chat lines were authoritative! Maybe the real chatter was having a moment away from his desk? Good news is that the two batteries together  cost me $99. Bob said since we have to replace them every year , buy the cheapest battery. 

1. Plant the back ordered green ball dianthus ( variety of  sweet william) which fedex delivered yesterday. They are in the greenhouse since there was a possibility of a hail storm last night .. like a possibility you will sleep soundly. Plant them 4 across in row row 83 North end beyond the hydrant. Do this first thing today.

2. hand weed the big weeds especially the lambs quarters from the 7, 8, 9 pea rows. Don't do an exquisite job as you did on the carrots, but at least pull out the weeds that if pulled out later will also pull out the peas.. especially since the peas  tie themselves to the lambsquarters. 

3. Run the red farmall up and down the aisles where there are weeds along the black plastic edges .. use the Yes Deere , but it it much slower and requires more skill
we have about 30  plastic rows . better to have them all done imperfectly.. 

4. Install tomato twine to the tops of all trellises and clip it to the 6x6. 

I have another medical appt this am in Noho but afterwards I will get a bunch of the 4' tomato posts  for the flower rows. We need about 400 which will be installed at 10' or so intervals in the flower rows  4"  inside the row in the black plastic both sides to hold the 6x6 grid to keep the flowers upright. 
IMG_4841.jpg do you think Luna likes the sweet smelling peonies?
First pass at tilling the potatoes, they are there, midst the weeds. In a week I will do it with disk to hill them up, now that I can see where they are. We hope that our seed id stakes  (red for flowers) will answer your question, we expect the next flower on that zinnia will have a  much longer stem too.


Ripe: lettuce red and green head and loose, kohlrabi perfect, rhubarb in the cooler, kale by the leaf, collards, chard red, yellow and green, peonies, short calendulas, millet for flower arrangements, scallions big ones as well as spring bunches, sorrel 

1. Use the red tractor to till direct seeded rows in the upper field and to remove the weeds next to the plastic on all rows. The red tractor  (1950's Farmall made in Louisville Ky ) should be running all day doing this work. Cultivation needs to be done weekly .. this is the  major change in our work from planting to cultivating what we planted. 
2. I will put empty buckets at the swimming pool field. Walk down the short rows and pick up stones! leave the buckets at the end of the row and pick them up with a golf cart. 
Put them in the stone pile which is up next to row #1 (in the verge). When you tool around the rows with the cart and you spot a stone - often carefully placed on the plastic by a planter or weeder- stop and pick them up. Bring them to our pile. (I will take a picture)
3. Run a tomato twine at the top of the pea trellises clip it to the trellis. Install the sub posts between the big posts David Sharken reports that the hand stapler is much easier than the power stapler... helps to get a grip too, the grip we lost from no handshakes. 
4. Using the weed wacker, and or  loppers, clippers cut out the american bamboo (knot weed) from the west side of the black berry row. Repair the deer netting . 
5. Use our little tiller to better weed the perennial rows 17,18 the newer one is  stuck on full throttle -- that is a good thing for now. He will replace the carburetor as soon as we get one. (maybe today)
6. Remove the hoops and covers from the upper field rows. 
7. Plant leeks in row 56 and replace dead onions in 57, 58. Don't care which color. 
8. Plant ALL the flower starts that are outside. Use the hydrant row in the chestnut field if you can't find a spot. ( row 83 I think) 
The farmall cultivator that straddles the row. This shows you too how hard it is to see in the shadows in the field. 
You need a sunshade to see the bolt nuts when you have to adjust. the row I am straddling here is carrots .. about 2" tall with perfect germination and density. The row looks good because it was handweeded by three volunteers a week ago. My left foot is riding the clutch, my right foot is between the left rear wheel brake and the right wheel brake. Note the clip on the left brake that can be flipped over to connect to the right brake so you and apply both at once. It has never been flipped, it is probably to be used when driving to the field at about 1 mile an hour! By applying a wheel brake you can turn around much faster. ..if you hit the right one.
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Set the tomato stakes in the willow field that have not been pounded down  to 50" or less above ground. Use the pole driver. 
2. plant leeks in the unfinished onion row # 56 4 across . They are in the greenhouse and I think there are some at the northwest corner of the greenhouse on the outside. replace dead onions , there is a flat of new onions at the north west exterior corner of the greenhouse. 
3. Remove hoops and bags from the upperfield rows like 3 and 4. 
4. Hoe the plastic edges, till them with the rear tines of the red tractor, if we do it now it will be much much easier than when they have to be hand pulled. 
5. Install wood slats at the bottom of the south greenhouse addition --East side . Screw them with 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 " screws. Screw the other slats too since they are only stapled on now. 
6. Replace the torn panel on the west side of the south greenhouse. Plastic is in the back of a golf cart. 
7. Hoe /weed the peonie row  (16)  weed between the plants. 
8. Bring pointed short stakes ( I think they are 3' long) from the red  barn to the stake pallet near the manure spreader. 

The corn has been planted, there is room for a deer resistant row at the west side of the corn. Plant the now flowering starts of table ace acorn squash from the greenhouse there. Plant a  single row 18" between plants. 
The kohrabi is ripe , eat it raw or cooked. the leaves are good too. (row 14) Harvest it using clippers to cut the tough stem. 
Sprinkle fertilizer on the parsley -- some of the white stuff that is nitrogen. The parsley is not thriving.


1. The swimming pool field is laid out with flags. It will be seeded to silver queen corn today.
2. Bob has been mowing with the new flail mower pulled by the Yes Deere, He managed to do the steep west slope of american bamboo ( knot weed) of the swimming pool field. Looks as scary as it is. The grass above the upperfield is a golf course fairway now, ready for someone to make a pitch and putt course. I don't know anyone that plays golf, though. 
3. Manage the weeds at the edges of the plastic rows. Hoe or use the farmall . Trick is to not snag the plastic only weeds. 
4. Run a tomato twine the length of the pea trellises and clip the 6x6 to it. We have a box of plastic clips in shed of the shelf with  cardboard containers. 
5. Trim the new plastic east wall of the south greenhouse and add screws to the wood slats that are currently stapled only. 
6. Replace the torn plastic panel on the west side.

12' high 50 year old azalea I planted at 136 sunset. Pink was in then.


1. Staple up the 6x6 netting to the pea rows and the sweet pea row using the new cordless compressor with 1/2 " staples. 
2. Harvest : rhubarb 4 lugs put in gray cooler.
3. Use clippers ( not a knife ) to  cut saleable size kohlrabi.
4. Clip also or cut with a knife, the lettuce 5 (five ) lugs put them immediately in the gray cooler ;cut them just below the earth line so the heads don't fall apart. Don't even wash them , get them immediately into the cooler. We will plant something else where they were growing after I drill out their roots. Beans? scallions? Beets? 
5. Cut ALL the mesclun , put immediately into the gray cooler
6. Cut one lug of sorrel
7. Cut one shallow lug of scallion bunches
8. Cut three lugs of chard, cut the stems too, Include chard from rows 3, 4 as well as 14
9. Kale: we have cut the middle row of kale and sold it: now we have to cherry pick the bottom leaves ..how much we harvest depends on how much we have. Kale is a very popular product. 
10. Pack in the yellow van whenever you can (now is good) : starts: put id stakes in flats with melons , squash , peppers, tomatoes. (we are done planting tomatoes) 
mints, dill, broccoli

I will put an ad on craig's list for tobacco /vineyard poles, We have about 100 12' treated wood poles 4"-6" in diameter to sell $5 each. I suspect they are close to 100 years old. We bought them for our vineyard in the 80's at a tobacco farm auction in Hatfield. they are perfect for a very rugged deer fence. I will take some pictures.


1. Plant flower seedlings
2. Hoe edges of plastic
3. Till the area above row 1 and plant a row of pumpkins from the greenhouse 
4. Plant leeks check the stand and the area on the  north side of the greenhouse for the most mature seedlings. Plant them in a part of row 83 the hydrant row in the chestnut field. plant them 4 across using a dibble
5. Continue installing the 6x6 mesh on the pea rows: I got a box of 1/2" long staples for use with the pneumatic stapler. Today ,we were using 1" staples, so this should be easier. Also install 6x6 mesh on the sweet pea row ( I think it is row 10) 

Water rows that need it. I will replace the ripped plastic panels of the south greenhouse. The new stapler with 1/2" staples will be good for that too.


1. Plant flowers in the chestnut field east row.
2. Turn water on onion rows 58 and 59 after two hours. They were well weeded yesterday by Barbara Van and David. Plant replacements when water is turned on. 
3. Hoe the weedy edges of the black plastic before the weeds get too big to hoe.
4. Drive the posts in at all the tomato plants. The 60" posts should be 50" showing above ground and the 48" should be 38" do this with the post driver not a hammer, it means driving most posts 4" further into the ground. 

We will rototill the newly plowed pumpkin patch above row #1and plant one row of sugar pumpkins (pie pumpkins). Jesse plowed that land last night. 
Bob is mowing and straightening up everything. While he was working hard at that, the gray 9n (1937)tractor wouldn't start: no spark. He is working on the points and the distributor, to make a spark. It's an ignition system problem. So we used the 8n (1948) but its hydraulics are failing, causing the plow to lose its height setting while you are in the middle of a row. 
I will seed another row of cilantro and radishes in the willow field. About new row 27 or so. 
We have to replace some plastic on the South greenhouse and also remove large weeds thriving in there. 
I will start the 6x6 mesh on the peas today. Temporarily it will be attached with a hand stapler, then with the pneumatic stapler. 
Being picked now: mesclun greens, kale, chard, lettuce red and green, purple top turnips, scallions, a few big kohlrabi's,  and Big scallions from the "set planted" onions in row 15 or so which we hoped would swell to globular onions but instead many are opting to make scallions instead. They are very sweet, however. Just pull them up as you need them. 
Setting 60" tomato stakes in the chestnut field, one between each plant. The trees are all chestnut trees. Maintaining the edge between the plastic and the aisles is a problem. (weeds that you can't get with a machine unless you are very alert and don't hit the plastic.)


1. Hand weed the onion rows 58 57,56  we have to do this before pulling out weeds means pulling out onions too. Onions must be kept weed free or they won't "bulb up".
2. Plant flower seedlings use row 84 when 83 is done.
3. I will check rows 3 and 4 to see if the basil that  Elayne transplanted need water. 
4. Place all remaining 5' stakes on tomatoes. When you do, pound them and those set out yesterday down at least 10" use the post driver that is on the wash stand.
5. Start bringing down the short stakes for the flower row 6x6 grids, they are in the red barn at Fearing st. 

 Using the post driver has got to be good for you. Like conducting. 

Yesterday you did a perfect job of hand weeding three carrot rows. I was amazed. Also the five foot tomato stakes that were set out were a lot of work. 
Jesse learned to pull the disc harrows with the gray tractor... up and down weedy aisles. He is a natural. 
I seeded a 72 count flat of tomatillos yesterday, a month later than planned but I bet that it will be soon enough to give us the main ingredient to green salsa in late august. We will have jalapenos and cherry bomb peppers at that time too.  We have to save some 5' stakes for them. I will plant them in the south end of row 59. 
We will be cutting a lot if not most of the lettuce this Friday. I'm thinking about what to put in their place: scallions? 
We have had a couple dozen seedlings  swiped by chipmunks in the greenhouse this year ,,,, never had that problem before.. and also never before (in 50 years) have we had no damage, to date, from woodchucks.  The deer are there but damage has not been noticed yet. I have no reason why. 
Bob has been doing a massive organization of the equipment lineup. We intend to relocate the scrap pile too, the Brigham Lane appearance of the shed area will be upgraded . 
We have lots of hoses that we connect to our drip taped rows. We regularly damage them and have to repair them. It is a very quick and easy repair.. my only problem is I have put male couplings on both ends ... twice. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Hand weed three rows of carrots.
2. Move 5' tomato stakes to the san marzano rows . I think that is 38 in the willow field and all the tomatoes in the chestnut field. Set the stakes on the ground midway between each plant. the next step will be to pound them in using the POST DRIVER (NOT A HAMMER, NOT A MALLET) drive them in till only 50" is above ground that means each stake is buried at least 10" into the ground. 
3. Hand weed the onion rows 58 and 57. Plant replacements where they died. 
4. Turn on irrigation on the rows that need it. (not the chestnut field yet) 
5. Yet to plant? corn, yellow beans, second sowing of cilantro. 
6. Plant, in the greenhouse, the tomatillo seeds!!! They will be ok so late because tomatillos grow faster than weeds do. They will require stakes too when they are planted out. 

Over the weekend we  seeded beans, parsnips, basil. Set the posts for the sweet peas, I did a demo of 4 posts at row 38 of san marzano tomato posts, set out the 90 6' posts for the peas, I bought a battery powered compressor to use stapling the 6 x 6 to posts. three staples per post.. We set out three rows 53, 54 and 55 to vines squash: acorn butternut and kabocha, watermelon red and yellow and muskmelon. Vines should be a single row 24" apart. 

I realize that we have a break in the pvc well overflow  line to the pond. This has make a large area very difficult to maintain as grass. When we replace the line we will use "schedule 40" grade pvc pipe that is strong enough to go under roads. 
IMG_1403.JPG  Posts for the high climbing shelling and snap pea vines. I love the wide aisles, you can drive a car between our rows! 
great for not having to walk. ( and carry ) I need to work out a support for a large sail or umbrella over the golf cart to provide shade too. One of those patio umbrellas with a tilt joint: the cart already has holders for drinks, pencils, and memory cards. One of our carts has a roof, but we need shade over the area we are working.


Temps were perfect yesterday at the market. Connie was helped by Phyllis,Elayne, Barbara P.  Over $900. Few flowers, no pops anymore, starts, lettuce, kale, chard, rhubarb, mesclun, seed potatoes, young collard greens, lilacs were beautiful earlier in the week but were too old to cut for the market. 
Next week: kohlrabi, lettuce , kale, chard, rhubarb, scallions, sorrel
1. Finish planting row 54 to red watermelon plant all vines 24" apart in a  single center row.
2. Cover row 55 
3. Pound in  stakes for sweet peas they are in row 10 . 
4. At the edible peas rows 7,8,9 set   6'  stakes  alternate heavy ( 1.5" thick) and light stakes (.75" thick)  I will start row 9 today.  Heavy stakes will be pounded in at 9' apart with steel stakes beginning and ending each row. 3/4x3/4 stakes are set between the heavy  stakes. Use the post driver, stand on a golf cart. 
5. Sweet peas at the south end of row 10 are loosely set , pound them in. 
6. Plant french and yellow beans in row just west of the carrot rows (row 33) It is all set to be planted. 
7. Set and pound in  5' ( not 4' ) stakes for tomatoes: one stake between each plant. 
8. Plant  tomatoes in the last half of row 59  Plant the very large big beef # 152. Plant tomatoes 30" apart in a  single row. 
9. Seed the tomatillo in the greenhouse in #24 flats. MUST BE DONE TODAY!

 Yesterday Bob Cyr and Jesse Johnson cultivated many aisles with the Deere  and also did the seeded rows of carrots and spinach with the farmall cub. Beautiful job

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Plant flower seedlings, call me if you need another row. 
2. Finish the watermelon row call me about what is there and what to plant next.
3. I forgot to order the sweetpotatoes , I will call Tatorman at 8 am today when they open and order 100 slips of beauregard. Last year they arrived May 24. 
4. Last night I tilled under the 3 old spinach row 40, 41,42  today I hope to plant to parsnips, basil, beans direct seed at 39" spacing in that area. 
5. Time to cultivate our carrots rows 30,31,32 with the farmall. Do one side at a time. It will take a ton of adjustments in the field. 
6. Harvest rhubarb, lettuce (cut them just below the soil line, remove bad leaves and place them gently face up one layer thick in the shallow lugs). Put the lugs immediately in the gray cooler with a cover so they don't dry and wilt. Look to see if there are any tangerine sized kohlrabi, cut all the mesclun, cut out the remaining kale that are in the center row. Convert all Kale to two across rows. Harvest chard, look to see if the chard in row 3 is ready, sorrel bunches.
7. There are about 20 lbs of seed potatoes left in the gray cooler. Package them by variety ( there are 4 ) Maybe 10 to a package. They can eat what they don't plant - the seed potatoes are FEDCO (fanatically pure) .  I haven't seen seed potatoes in any seed store. The shipping costs more than the potatoes. We bought them in 50# bags which are very handy compared  to our 80 lb bags of fertilizer. 
8. Wild stock flowers are at the south west corner of the property and at the north east corner of the church property, Connie has sold bunches of stock. 
9. We need to build the pea trellis. Elayne did a great job last year on that. This year we have a handy battery powered air compressor to staple the 6x6 mesh to the stakes. The 6'  stakes are about 10' apart with heavy 1.5" stakes alternating with 3/4 " stakes. The sweet peas will be set with 5' stakes.
10. Remove the covers from the pea rows.


Plant flower seedlings, finish row 37, 

1. Plant san marzano tomatoes in the chestnut field. It works out to 50 per row. I did two rows yesterday: 95 and 94. Today do 92 and 93. Other years we used the christmas tree planter tool to make the holes, I forgotabout it this year ... I will put it in the back of a golf cart to use today. 
2. Plant watermelons in row 53 start with the yellow melons plant them 2' apart.  Then plant the crimson sweet red watermelon. Plant muskmelon in row 54. Set hoops and covers and sandbags hold downs on these two rows that are very attractive to wood chucks. 
3. Till the old spinach rows 43,44,45 under and also row 33 next to the carrots. 
4. Cultivate the carrot  rows 32, 31, 30 with the farmall cultivator.
5.  It is time to build the pea fence trellis. At the sweet pea flower short row row 10 south end: install a 5' high row of 6x6 trellis. They are looking to climb now! 
I purchased a battery powered small compressor that will power the stapler that Elayne used to attach the 5x6 netting to the shelling pea trellis. That trellis is made using 6' high posts 
7. Repair the trellis for the blackberries, cut out all knot weed from the blackberries ... that are in bloom now. 
8. Plant more onion seedlings in row 56 I think, that row is about 1/3 planted. 

We need a place to plant our pumpkins.. I am thinking about above row 1 where the manure was piled: till the area that has no grass now and plant  a patch of pumpkin seedlings .. we grow only sugar pumpkins  keep the rows straight and spaced at least 10's apart so we can till or harrow the aisle till they "run" the patch will look ugly with weeds as soon as they run // we will have to accept that. 

Connie and I will be in Springfield for an 11 am eyeshot..I will come to the farm around 3 today. Because they will dilate, I can't drive myself  back  on 91. I tried that a few months ago, once. 

I need to seed beans, parsnip still and basil. Elayne planted our basil seedlings in clumps in the south end of row three yesterday. 


1. Plant flowers, when another row is needed  use row 37. If you can turn water on in the row first thing that will give the plants a chance. 
2. Finish planting eggplant bianco and long slims in row 59. The flats of seedlings are in one of the golf carts. Turn water on this row too. 
3. Plant san marzano tomatoes from the greenhouse in the chestnut field. start with the west row (downhill ) these are planted 30" apart in a single row. 
Wiggle the stick we make holes with sideways so those seedlings with larger plugs from "42" trays will fit. Plant them as deep as you can. Up to the first leaves. The tomato will send out roots from its buried stem which amongst other things, will keep them from falling over in August. 
4. Blank space at the south end of # 3 and #4: plant to  fennel, basil (clumps of basil), scallions.
5. Cut all the wintered over spinach so we can till that land and seed it to beans. Put the spinach in the gray cooler under a towel. Put only perfect spinach in the lug, no yellow or brown anything, no weeds. Look at each handful you cut and edit it before tossing it into the lug. 

Still to be seeded: basil, parsnips, beans, corn, more radishes. Yesterday I sprayed the radishes in row 11 with neem. 
Cut the bamboo weeds from the blackberry row just north of the row 60 rhubarb. Use long handled loppers so you don't have to bend down so far and because some of the hollow bamboo stems are 3/4" dia. 
Check that the items at the stand are priced. Put the broccoli flats out for sale. We have no bell pepper seedlings to sell nor classic eggplants. They have been planted. 

I will make a new sign for amity st : Starts, mesclun greens, turnips.


1. Plant flower seedlings 
2. Plant eggplant classic in row 51 these will be planted two across 24" apart. I will have to connect to the swimming pool hydrant for the deerfield rows. 
3. I have to spray the radish row  ( row 11 south end) with organic ok spray for the flea beetle. Plus sometimes I have radishes that have worms and sometimes not, I don't know what the fix is. 
4. Plant the san marzano tomatoes in row 43 (already laid and blank black plastic row)  fill the entire row: space them one row down the middle 30" apart this will require a little more than one full flat of san marzanos (these are id tag 198) about 90 plants to be planted down to the first leaves. (about 4" down) 
We will also do one row in the deerfield and two in the chestnut field (rows there are 125' long). Plant them in a straight line do not hit the drip tape when making your holes. 
5. Let me know if you see deer and or deer hoof prints. Take pictures of the deer and or prints. 

6 I will identify rows for the watermelon and the muskmelon might have to be in the deerfield. Those will require a cover. 

7. We need to set the chestnut field plastic rows as soon as possible for tomatoes, leeks, I will layout the yellow and blue flags and fertilize for the new rows. 

8. Gotta seed the parsnips and basil today. I hope there is a direct seed row available in the willow field. We might till under the old spinach to make roomand also for a row of beans. 


The new tomato row next to the row we planted yesterday (49 or so)  will  NOT BE SAN MARZANOS, instead sun gold from  greenhouse, New girl  tomatoes, steak house, tomatillo and from outside greenhouse big beef, carolina yellow, large red cherry. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Please plant  remaining  squashes and cucumbers  in the new row 25 or 26 after the covered row. Cover the row , we brought hoops , use the covers from row 13 
plant them in diagonal double rows 24" apart. 
If we have more room in that row plant yellow watermelons, please put the identifier sticks in the plastic for each variety. 
2. Plant a full row of lady bell sweet peppers in row 51 space them in a diagonal double row 24"  apart. 
3. Plant a full row of Marzano plum tomatoes in row 48 ( I  think that is the blank row just east of the tomato row that we planted yesterday. ) Plant them 30" apart in the  single row down the middle. Use the stakes to make deep holes , plant them so the stem is buried up to the first leaves. Like potatoes they sprout roots above the existing roots and unlike potatoes they fall over in august when they are loaded with fruit, taking the tomato stakes with them 
4. Plant flower seedlings , there is a row that is unfinished: about row 42. the seedlings are on the table by the wash stand and on the ground behind the greenhouse. 
Use the dibble for planting small seedlings in the 288 trays. Put a blue flag at the north end of any row that you plant seedlings in today so I will know which need the  irrigation to be turned on. 
5. Remove the wires and battery from the  wintered over spinach. 
6. Plant onions in the unfinished onion row (about row 57), replace missing onions in the other rows don't worry about color. 
Please note deerprints in the rows and take close up pictures and not the row numbers where tracks are found. Move the camera to take pictures of rows 12,13,14
We have help offered to rid us of the deer and so we need good evidence. Send me photos of hoof prints. 

I need to set up two  direct seeded rows: parsnips, basil , beans. I will seed our silverqueen corn in the swimming pool field around june 1. I like late white corn, after the town returns from the beaches in Early September. White because it is different, has heritage and it is very tall and less easily pulled down to the ground by coons and squirrels. 
Everyone has trouble getting the lid off. 


Please plant flower seedings today ... please do nothing else. The plants have to be planted now. 
IMG_1393.JPG eucalyptus and millet


Our shipment of another roll of biodegradable plastic mulch is delayed so I will go to New Hampshire today and pick it up. We need it to plant our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants this weekend.

1. Plant flower seedlings all day . Yesterday we did almost two rows in the willow field and we also irrigated those rows . Unexpected issue is the mud that 
the irrigation tape created near the tape made it likely the hole you make for the seedling will be way too deep! Don't use a hammer on those holes! 

Yesterday we put the plugs into plastic bowls ( we have a million of them) and the bowls into lugs . We did this at the relatively comfortable conditions of the yellow hut area , then golfcarted the loaded lugs to the new rows in the willow field. Don't worry about the plugs being exposed to the air for awhile. At the speed you should be working at this will be irrelevant. At the row, one person makes holes and  one person puts the plugs into the holes and pushes them in. Any order is ok . Just get them in. 

For the new rows to be laid with plastic: we will spread fertilizer and wood ashes. (not at the same time) There is a barrel of wood ashes from neighbors :  Anna and Daniel.. who heat with  wood. This will be equal to adding lime and potash. 

2. After the "amazement" exclamations  over the number of  flats of flower plugs to be planted,  and comments that it is not possible given our labor resources, they all will be planted in the next three days. Item 2 then is the same as item 1: plant flower plugs today nothing else!  
3. I will harvest the spinach myself. I will put into tubs and put it in the gray cooler. 
4. We have great lilacs, they will be cut after 4 today and put into tubs that have only 3" of water in them. (so I can lift them in and out ) 
5. I will also do the rhubarb... so all others will plant flower plugs. I will not need a golf cart for that. 
A section of eucalyptus , not the condensation on the top of the plastic where the cold water drip tape is underneath.
I will use the yes deere. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Plant flower plugs in row 23 ..the first plastic row in the willow field that was started yesterday by Connie. Plant the trays that are on the tables next to the wash stand, set the tray in water first. It makes it easier to pop out the plugs. 
I will turn on the irrigation tape also since it will be a hot day. The flats have been hardening on the tables so they will be as hardy as needed. 
Do it fast, push the plugs down so they will not pop back up when it rains.  Try using a dibble to make holes. Do not make holes in the irrigation tape that is under the plastic. This is number one today. Bring a friend, bring a helper, we have about 10 flats to do. After Barbara, Jason and David  planted more than 10,000 onion seedlings this can be done. 

2. When that row is done go west to the next unplanted  row.. I think that will be row 25. 

3. When the irrigation tapes are flowing drive up and down the row to make sure there are no leaks and that the end is not leaking. Call me if there is a problem. 

4. We will also harvest all the spinach and put it in the gray cooler under a damp towel. Do  not bag it. Harvest it into large tubs. Put nothing but perfect spinach leaves in the tub, no weeds or dead leaves or yellow leaves. 


1. Plant flower seedlings... all the flowers on the tables by the yellow house. Plant them in plastic rows  already started as flower rows. 
2. You can also take the first row 23 in the willow field for more flowers. 
3. Rows 2, 5 and 6 were watered this week using the drip tape. 

Squirrels have been eating the pea seeds, we covered the first 50' of the rows and also reseeded those parts of the row yesterday. The potatoes are all planted.  Yukon Gem, yukon gold, kennebec and katahdin. There are a few potatoes left over to sell at the market. Yesterday I  seeded two rows of Okra 9.1 and 9.2 

Spinach is perfect, it greened up again after we fertilized it and it rained last week. 

We hope our grandchildren will come again to plant seedlings today. Myai can you send some planters? 

Today is my stress test , I tried to get the big jobs done before today.


1. Panic here as we worry that the seedlings will not get planted in time. Best time to come is 9 am or 4 pm. between 12 and 3 I am probably in bed. Tomorrow I wont be there in the am ... I am getting a stress test which I hope will  justify my napping. 
2. Also recognition is dawning that we must irrigate now, no rain is on the calendar,  we started irrigation yesterday pm with rows 2 and 5. For now we are only  irrigating flower rows. When the drip irrigation is on please drive the length of the row at least once to see if there are leaks. Drive along the south ends of the rows and feel the irrigation tape  to see if it is pressure filled with water. Look for leaks.
3. Squirrels or chipmunks are eating the peas. So Jesse covered the first 30' or so of #6,7,8 rows till they sprout. We will add additional seeds by poking them in with a finger three" apart. Snap peas in row 6  shelling peas in row 7 and 8. Don't even think about getting these mixed up. Poke them 1" into the ground . This means lifting off the cover planting seeds and replacing the cover. 
4. Plant the zucchini in row #21 2 across diagonal layout. Cover them with hoops and cover for protection  from deer and chucks.

Connie and Doris Hagen went to a movie at 5pm yesterday at the little theatre of the Amherst Cinema: it was a French film about relationships on an experimental Rose farm. Very enthusiastic. It is still playing once a day around 5 pm. Small farms are in. 

5. Rows are set for 4 more potato rows in the chestnut field. The potatoes are in the gray cooler kept in the 30's till we do. Space the seed potatoes about 12" clear between them in the bottom of the planting trench. We will cover them with 3' or 4"  with the farmall tractor set up with an 8" disk. Cut in half - lengthwise - any spuds larger than the distance between your thumb and your third finger.. about 4" . 
IMG_1389.JPG  BASIL that was left out overnight (saturday night) It is back in the greenhouse to see if it will come back. 
If so I will plant seedlings about 12" apart in a new row and pland basil seeds between them... basil has a very slow germination about 2 weeks it seemed to me
and then has tiny sprouts you can hardly see. So the big ones that I plant will act as row markers . However with lots of help, you have to expect that the seeded sections might get " weeded" and cultivated accidently... an age issue for me. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


These "Bergen" carrots were seeded April 10, 2022. The carrots are the fine seedlings that look like grass and they have shadows.   They took almost a month to germinate. They are very hard to see.  Our peas,  on the other hand, which were seeded a week ago have already sprouted. This is why carrots  are  seeded so early: In warmer weather the weed seeds already in the ground would have germinated weeks ago and you would not be able to see the fine carrot seedlings. By the time you can, the weeds will be 6" high and a job to hoe. We are hoeing the shoulders of the seed furrow yesterday and today so that the hand weeding will be only for weeds that spring up exactly in the carrot row. When the carrots are 6" high I will run the farmall cultivator through the aisles. We will mark with little flags the rows every 20' so I can see them from the tractor seat.  I will buy blue flags for this job.


Warmth is predicted, we are going ahead now with planting all flowers, squashes and melons. 

I hope we can prepare and install our biodegradable rows today about 10 of them. We will be planting asap. Note the squashes will all be planted in a diagonal two row pattern. The plants will be about 20" apart. We will cover the crops with fabric over hoops  at the same time. This will protect from cold and chucks/deer/bears. 

We have 4 more rows of potatoes to plant in the chestnut field. set potato tubers 12" apart, in the bottom of the trenches we have already prepared. 

Barbara will set sweet peas at the stacked area at the south end of row 10. 

We will plant tomatoes in the chestnut field west of the potatoes. 

Yesterday's farmers' market was good, connie and phyllis visited warm spots at the Lord Jeff by turns. Our tents didn't blow over at least one neighbor's did. 
We sold : starts, rhubarb roots, rhubarb, mesclun, spinach ( about 60 bags), basil, cilantro. I forgot to set out a couple of 5 gal pails of manure..you will have to come get it, we have pails and shovels. 

The three 225' rows of overwintered Bloomsdale spinach  ( they are about row 40)  will be plowed under in a week. Please come and cut your own now. Plus there are about 10 bags already cut for those who don't need exercise  at the yellow hut. Just to the west there are two new spring seeded rows of spinach.. don't walk on them and don't let anyone's dog either. We also have direct seeded two more rows of carrots at row 30 or so keep dogs and walkers off those rows too. 
I will paint a spinach sign for Amity st today.. our "sunset farm seedling starts" sign was stolen yesterday. 

We will have many more electric wires set up around the melon rows...the prime problem might be deer. This year the foxes may be the reason we have not had obvious chuck feeding. The electric wires are very effective with dogs too, They will touch it only once. They can hear it clicking too. 
Next week we should have loose leaf lettuce (Boston they call it here) and under on the the cover there are turnips 

We have about 10,000 onions in -- do I see 13,000?  Here and there plant more scallions and in the chestnut field do a row 4 across of leeks... the first row above the hydrant. 

This year the entire swimming pool field will be corn. 



Seed Row 10 today. Start that row with dill, then direct seeded beets, then sweet peas.
After that then finish harvesting ALL the spinach, it will not keep till next Saturday. 

Set out 5 6' pea posts for the 6x6 netted pea trellis where the sweet peas are planted 

Below is mesclun which was planted about a month ago by Muton and Jesse - since it was under cover there is no flea beetle damage. (tiny holes in the flat leaves.)
Major spinach packing project..see the lug full of $5 bags


1. Plant the flower seedlings including the "288" flats on the tables by the yellow house. They are all planted thru plastic 4 across
2. We planted two 125' rows of Kennebec potatoes in the chestnut field. Row numbers  not assigned yet but they will be in the 90's. That was planted from 1 50 lb bag of seed potatoes from FEDCO. We have three more bags to plant: our fedco order of January : 7735 — Yukon Gem Early Season Potato, 50.0# — 1 × $27.00 = $27.00
7790 — Kennebec Mid-Season Potato, 50.0# — 1 × $30.00 = $30.00
7800 — Keuka Gold Mid-Season Potato, 50.0# — 1 × $22.00 = $22.00
7900 — Katahdin Late Season Potato, 50.0# — 1 × $30.00 = $30.00
Shipping is on top of this and is close to the same as the potatoes!  If I were the average Maine grower, the yield will be 10 to 1, but I am not. 
The Kennebecs were Huge some at least 6" across. We cut them into three. 
3. Today we will be preparing to lay plastic rows: now is the time to get all the rows laid out. 
4. Harvest today for tomorrow's farmer's market: two large tubs with rhubarb. Trim all but 2" of the leaves, put them all vertically in two large tubs ( not lugs). Put the lugs in the back of a golf cart and add three inches of water to the tub after you have slid the  tubs into the yellow van. 

Lift away enough sand bags weights to see under the covers if we have lettuce, mesclun  or anything thing else to cut into black lugs. 
Load the boxes of wooden signs into white van.
Load and stack black lugs of starts into the yellow van, keep it open and out of any sun that comes out. Include a lug of crimson king watermelon, zucchini, summer squash, fennel, broccoli, red beets, pumpkin from the greenhouse . 
This is a 288 flat of lisianthus. Shipped from new jersey...I notice a few holes.
Barbara, David and Jason have planted more than 10,000 onion seedlings. We still have a few thousand seedlings left for those who want their own. I planted a share the hardest part for me was getting up again. 
We will pick lilacs today. Those who have neighbors that won't mind, bring their lilacs too. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Plant new seedlings that are on the tables by the yellow hut. We have to complete row 2, then row 5. Use a dibble with these small plugs. Talk to Barbara Van who started on these yesterday. 
2. I will direct seed the north end of new row 10 with beets, the South end of that row starting from the end and planting heading north will be sweet peas. Barbara Shuman will plant the sweet peas. A string marking the row will be installed (I think it is over row 11 now) the sweet peas must be planted in a straight line directly under the string. 
3.  I hope to make the potato trenches today in the chestnut field. Then we will plant seed potatoes 12" between each one. Big potatoes will be cut in half. After planting and covering the seed potatoes, I hope the trench will  be at least 8" lower than the aisles. that will give us room to hill the potatoes later as they grow and make the aisles, valleys. 
4. I saw a young  chipmunk in the greenhouse .. it left via an opening at the floor in the middle of the west side wall. I will heap some fill against those gaps.
5. It is time to plant fennel -- lets plant it all in plastic row 4 or if there is room in the south end of 12,13 or 14.
Just arrived flat of lizzies, these flats are 288 seedling plugs/ flat. They are cold resistant down to about 20. 

Plant them 3 across.


1. Plant chives under the new string north of the  sorrel in row 17  there was a flat of  chives by the yellow hut. 
2. Plant flowers using the pointed wood stakes to make deep holes . the flowers to be planted are on the  ground on the north side of the greenhouse. 
3. Throw  another 1000  onions in the deerfield onion rows. 
4. I planted the peas this morning, afterwards was our regular family property meeting at Pat's office. .. the grandchildren are well. 
5. I received seeds for more Kabocha squash Please plant all the seeds, I think it is 100, in the greenhouse. 
6. I planted another row of "responder" spring spinach. (rows 46 and 47) tonight just ahead of the rain... (makes me feel good)
7. Time to set out the potatoes in the chestnut field. Probably 6 100' rows 39" apart. they have been in the gray cooler since they were delivered from FEDCO last month. We will make furrows into which we plant the potatoes, then we will fill in the trench/furrow as the plant grows.  The deer don't bother tomatoes or potatoes. 
8. I want to plant our zuke seedlings : we will cover them and hope for a spate of  climate change. otherwise they may be greenhouse zukes. 
A lb of very tall peas I had left over from 2020 Siri sent me a chart of viability: it said 3 years for peas. The other 1 1/2 rows of shelling peas are Mr Big variety. These will grow on our 6' trellises. this year I want to wait  for the peas to grow a few inches before we build a trellis. Last year birds took to stealing pea seedlings. 
Our east row #7  has snap peas, as you can see in the seeder box, they are treated to help avoid rotting in an extended cold wet spell.


1. Layout, fertilize and seed peas in the upper field about rows 9-10. There will be three rows: 2 shelling peas and 1 snap pea. Next step there is to build the pea trellis. 

2. Plant flowers in rows 2 and 5 . They are on the ground covered with white cloth north of the greenhouse. Use the pointed tomato stakes to make all holes for the plugs. 

3. I will make a watering schedule and tape it to the cover of the black 3  ring binder. You fill in what and when you watered and then any comments. 

4. Plant a 30 ' row of chives in row seventeen. Do set a string so the plants are in line. The seedlings are in the yellow house display. 

5. Yesterday was a beautiful farm market day, but it was one of those times when we wondered if we counted all the money .. $450 or so .. yet we had spinach, rhubarb and cold weather seedlings.  

No flowers and no popsicles this year.  Next week we will have more spinach and rhubarb and we might have flowers, and some warmer weather seedlings. It has been a cool spring . 

6. All the  fields are plowed except for the lower chestnut field.... always wet there. What can we plant there that will not be eaten by the wild animals. ? Hussein thought it should be all mint. I will try that . The mint is also a perennial so we might have a mint patch. 

7. At 11 today is a neighborhood meeting at Jennifer Taub's place on Lincoln Ave. So I have to get going  now. 


1. Plow the swimming pool field. Remove stones that grow in that field every winter. 
2. Layout peas potatoes, leeks zucchini, melons. Drop spread 101010 fertilizer. Last year we had soil tests done.. we needed to add various fertilizers depending on what we intend to plant. Seeing that I don't know till I do it exactly what goes where and since in the same row we should put down some with less nitrogen and more phosphorus.. I am just going to go with drop spreading the standard 101010. Although when I was picking up my order yesterday the guys ahead of me bought all 15,15,15. It would be a great story if a reporter would survey the farmers about the fertilizer formula they use and their theory. Had Connie been with me she would have done that. Sorry for the run on . 
3. Jesse Johnson did his first plowing. Using the Gray 9N (84 yrs old) which has great "hydraulics" he did the chestnut field. Today we will do the last field: the swimming pool field. Then the double plow will come off till next year. It is now as shiny and bright as a mirror. We will let it sit today and dry with the NW winds and tomorrow we will disc it. Ultimately we will plant potatoes and leeks in that field where everything else is stolen by the deer in the swimming pool field. 30 or 40 years ago Steve Heller lost a wedding Band  in the willow field while planting elephant garlic, so keep looking for it. He got a new one (wife).   
Yesterday I noticed my pair of strap wrenches hanging on our shed wall....this spring,  I purchased a new one and borrowed on from Bob because I don't see any better than I hear. It's the same tool you might have in a kitchen draw to open new peanut butters. Same idea. 

Plant the rest of rows 13 and 14 with vegetables: kohlrabi, lettuce, kale, beets.


1. Plant beets , make all holes in plastic with the pointed tomato stakes . Plant beets red and yellow 4 across . If there are two in plug that is ok , they will make two beets,unlike most other things , if you leave two lettuces together you get no lettuce. The leaves at the juncture between the two competing lettuces often rot. 
2. Plant yellow onions in the deerfield. Yesterday Barbara and Jason planted another 1500 seedlings in that row. The tags on yellow  onion flats says  YG. 
3. Yesterday I went to Nutrient in south Deerfield and was loaded by a fast forklift: a pallet with 15 bags. When I got home I realized they were 15 80 lb bags not 50lb. 
With Elayne's help, slid and flopped them into a golf cart then backed in a shed  with the cart. there we flipped them off. See photo. 
I called Nutrient and paid for the unexpected extra 450 lbs ..the loader was a very nice guy who was very busy ..it being fertilizer time...I am sorry for him. 
 80 lb bags were too heavy to make into a neat stack.. for me. Next to the fertilizer is another ugly pile of row covers, dirty and usually holey, not pretty, but absolutely essential.
We have used "72" plug trays, help yourself, free. 
5.  We have tomatoes ready to be planted. I was brained by  global warming, I thought we would have tomato planting weather by May 1. Now they will be rootbound when they get out in the second week of May. If I plant them now, they will live but for a  month the leaves will be purple and won't grow. So you have to decide when you plant seeds in your greenhouse. .. another trick would be to reduce the temp in the greenhouse to 50 in lieu of 55. 

6. Note the wiregrass weeds are about 12" high at the willow field hydrants. Use a weedwacker now to cut them to the ground. Weed wackers take a fuel mixed with oil I will check to see if we have some and I will have some ether handy too. 

7. We planted more chard, red lettuce, seedlings. We are planting all of the flower flats that are on the ground north of the greenhouse. finish row 2. 
Plant leeks in the new section of row 13 that was installed last weekend. Plant them 4 across. (yesterday I said three, I have changed my mind)

8. Dig rhubarb roots from row 1 for sale at the market tomorrow, this can be done with the loader. Run the loader over the top of the row - straddle it and dump the roots in the uphill aisle. 
9. Fill 2   5 gal pails of manure for the market. $4 each?

10. Rhubarb stalks for the market, pick 6 lugs. Trim the stalks leaving 2" of leaves. Do not cut rhubarb stalks, pull to one side grabbing them at the base of the stalk. (otherwise you will get a lug of broken stalks) Since you are trimming the stalks with a knife, use it to cut out the flower buds as you go.


A year later, we have regraded the south end of the greenhouse, this will be seeded to grass today. Jason Stevens roughed it out in the morning and Bob Cyr finished it in the evening. That's the 10 yds of Loam that Lane delivered. 
Sow seed by hand, rake it in then roll it, but we don't have a roller. Just raking will be ok. 
David Sharken planted two rows of Bolero carrots in rows 28, 29. When done with the last row, we were shocked that the tiller didn't stop when we let go. To turn it off I put the choke on full, flooding the engine. Bob  looked at it and found a loose wire, all better now.  
Barbara Van and Jason planted 1000 yellow onion seedlings in the next row .. will be about row 54 when I put in the row markers. I don't put them in at first since they will be in the way of the tiller, fertilizer dropper, black plastic mulch layer. I did it too for an hour before sitting down. We will continue planting onions . 

Up in row 4 we will plant leeks 4 across. 

In row 2 and continuing in row 5 plant flowers. The flats of flowers to go out are on the ground north of the greenhouse. These all will survive down to 23 so put your coat on. If they are in 72's be sure to plant using a pointed tomato stake. It makes the perfect shape and size holes. 

It is time to put plastic down for tomato and zucchini rows. We will have to plow the swimming pool field, maybe the uphill, East rows in the chestnut field, too. 

Although we have footprints and about 6 lettuces eaten, the pole mounted camera set up by Jason has not seen it happen. He is working on it. 

Phyliss confirms that Atkins is selling rhubarb @ $8.99/ lb. Our bunches exceed that I think, we will check that today. Our price is $5 and while it  waits it is set in water. 

It is also time to plant our celery. Do it in row 4. Three across. Two flats. (144 ) plants. It doesn't need covering, neither flea beetles or deer go for it. 

I will go to CPS (now Nutrien) in s deerfield and will get 15  50lb  bags of 10-10-10. we drop about 25 lbs on a row. (200-300') ....1/2 that in the chestnut field @ 100' rows. 
We will use the  fertilizer pallet for sand bag storage. 


1. Plant yellow onions 5 across in the deerfield west (down hill) onion row/ I will set a row number on those rows today. 
2. Cover lettuce that is being nibbled in row 3. I heard that although we have active nibbling and holes in the plastic none were seen by our motion detector camera. 
Is that true? 
3. I think Jason could not start Big Red. Was the fuel valve opened? We keep them all closed. 
4. Plant kohlrabi , kale and beets in row 3.. Plant leeks one by one/ 4 across in row 4 . After the parsley. 
I bundled up to plant the parsley remaining unplanted yesterday afternoon, but by then they were all planted by others. Thank you! I planted red lettuce in row 3 instead. I loved taking off the then  damp  pants , drying off, then warming up in bed. "I just came up from the farm..." 
5 there are plenty of flowers to be planted , finish row 2 : all those flats on the ground north of the  greenhouse against the unheated greenhouse. Four across. 
6. I will put the bale of hay that is in the shed where I will be stacking fertilizer, in a plastic bag and put it under the coop. 
7. I will go get more  fertilizer today at the plant in S Deerfield: Nutrien Ag Solutions
8. Put the tiller back on the Deere so we can prepare more rows. We should also cultivate the aisle west of the rhubarb (60) before it is a problem. 
IMG_1066.JPG  those were the days. Glad I am retired.


Our red raspberries are either very slow or dead. Shugan pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago, I didn't believe her. We have yellow raspberries too and they are full of leaves!  By so noting, ads for fixes and new plants will pop up in a minute. What is wrong with my raspberries .. "Google and Twitter: if you are reading this please find the answer" 

Today: plant all the parsley that I set out at the foot of row 4. I left the hole punching stake and a hammer just carry one till the remaining 400 parsley plants are set. Don't mix the curly with the flat. .The plants make a 12" circle which we sut off and they regenerate all summer. Parsley, parsnip, celery all look the same. Do not plant celery in the same row as parsley. 

In row 3 plant the tango celery three across, plant two full flats: 144 seedlings. Check the seedling flats  at the yellow house and while doing so water them, the hose will reach. Water everything there. 

I direct seeded row 11 last night and left the string over it: cilantro and radish.  The cilantro should be replanted about May 15th. 

Today I will direct seed Bolero carrot in row 29. This row will be fertilized, then deep rototilled with the red tiller .. which will promote long straight carrots to grow. 
Direct seeded carrots require hand weeding twice and also a surface- laid drip tape. The rabbits and chucks eat the leaves down .. so sometimes we have to cover the whole row. ( we planted three rows of Bergen carrots three weeks ago,,,, they have not sprouted yet) 

It is time to direct seed dill too. I will do another direct seed row at new row 10. I will also  direct seed beets in that row. 

Yesterday we got a 10 yard delivery of loam from Lane.. this will be used to make a gentle (mowable ) slope up to the south end of the greenhouse where we put an addition last spring. I hope that Jason and Jesse will do the job with the front end loader .. and shovels and rakes.  Then we will grass seed it. 


We set  out some more plastic rows today. 

In Row 3 or new row 5 please plant our parsley, we have 8 flats . Plant first the flat leaf then the curly. Plant them in straight across rows of 3. Use the tomato stakes to make holes, I found that I could put the stakes in deep enough without having to hit them.  Plant 3 flats of each,  leave what remains to be sold at the yellow stand and at future markets. This should go fast and  easy , get it done tomorrow. 

We have one full deerfield row of white and red onions (4,500 seedlings ) planted. Please begin the next row west ( downhill )  with YG  flats  that is yellow gillen
A row requires 6 flats we have 12  flats of yellow onions.  Use the dibbles, plant 5 across. Best done with a bunch of people. And since we all live in the  neighborhood we can create and spread a lot of entertaining conversation, before the sounds  our relative discomfort take over . I worked long enough to have trouble  even sitting. 

We extended rows 13, 14, 15 to their full length today. Plant what ever you feel like in these row extensions as long as it includes Beets (4 across) Kale 3across, lettuce three across, kohlrabi 3 across, leeks 4 across, scallions 4 bunches across, chard  4 across

Not a seedling has been damaged by a chipmunk in the greenhouses.
I will order a truck of barkmulch for the disturbed sloping area at the south end of the greenhouse

When watering remember to do the yellow hut flats too. 

The new flail mower was tested yesterday by Bob. It works very well . It has to be adjusted higher and I don't know what the fix is where the soil is so  wet the mower sinks low and leaves the grass in that area looking like it was cultivated. Will the flail mower be able to go thru 18" high grass when the  soil has dried up some? 

Come to the farm stand now for cool crops as well as cilantro and basil ready to eat in pots, they are in the greenhouse. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


We will be setting out four or five rows of plastic, and we will complete the installation of rows 14 and 15  which were too wet to finish three weeks ago. 

Continue planting flower seedlings and vegetables. Plant a flat of Collards: two across in a diagonal pattern. Plant them in Row 3. Put several  stakes in the ground, Plant a red flag with the word Collards on it too.. they haven't been found by pickers in the past who have taken Broccoli leaves thining they were collards. Turns out they thought they were so good they came back the next year and did it again! Be sure you have at last 15" between plants. 
Plant leeks in row 3, 4 across. Continue planting red beets 4 across. 

Put prices on the seedlings out for sale at the yellow hut: kohlrabi, onions, scallions, leeks, cabbage, mint, beets, 

At the Farmers' market yesterday, we sold rhubarb bunches @ $5 ... we were told that Atkins had same for $8...if you see rhubarb for sale would you take a picture and send a picture of a rhubarb bunch and the price.. I don't believe it. 

Connie was very busy  catching up . 

Next week we will have spinach too. 

Jason Stevens has figured out how to operate our hunting camera, he confirmed that the greenhouse problem was a chipmunk , now it is time to look at rows 2,3,4 
Something has make bunches of small  brazil nut sized holes in the plastic .. very baby fawn? raccoons? chucks? 

Please review blackberry cultivation practises with google and prune our blackberry row ... they are in row 70 below and west of the "swiming pool field"

Last week I was supposed to plant more carrot rows , radishes, dill, cilantro..this week I will try to honor my promises to myself. Once the seeding begins I am ok. 

I drove a tractor past the bees at noon on Wednesday in full sun. The bees were very active and I crossed the beeline. We collided at my open neck and I got inadvertently stung. Still itchy and swollen .. google says it takes about a week.  I will take another path at mid day. Gotta mean the bees are making honey. 
I like that.


It is 955 Connie has not called from the Farmer's market for more, for hot beverage, singles, a coat, blanket... 

David sharken, Robert Cyr and I set up at 6 am at the town common; Two tents about 7 6' tables and the yellow van loaded with black luck of appropriate starts plus new stalks of rhubarb. 

We will be setting up plastic rows today with the tiller, plastic layer and dibbler help. In two weeks we will start planting the tomatoes--when warm weather is predicted as well as plant the squash, cukes, spaghetti, melons... the latter will require cover and the cover is stretched over wire hoops and held down with sand bags. 

Connie did just call: more rhubarb please, I forgot to bring the onion starts .


1. We have less than one flat on onion seedlings to go and we will have one full row planted : 4000 seedlings. three more rows to go. I will set some dirt filled buckets 
on the plastic at the half, to hold them down in case we get strong winds. 
2. put flats destined to the saturday market in black lugs so they can be stacked into the yellow van this afternoon. flowers and vegetables
3. wash , brush scrub vigorously and roughly the parsnips , remove their fine white roots with the scrub brush at the wash station. Put them back in the dark gray cooler so they stay white and fresh. If the tops look ok , leave them. Put them in $4 bags. 
4. twist and pull , never cut , rhubarb , just get the longest ones and fill about 3 lugs if you can. Trim the leaves if needed to fit them in the lugs , the lugs will be stacked in the van. Make $4 bunches with rubberbands. We have pounds of bands in the " rubberband drawer"
5. A part of the greenhouse log: when a  flat is filled the "0" is shaded in. Hanging chads and notes are ok too. 
IMG_1326.JPGIMG_1323.JPG  Basil for using, not planting ( it is way too early for that) and flats of watermelon and squash that have not been bothered by the chipmunks so I have taken most of the covers off. The flat in front with the pink sticks is not right: all vegetable stakes are white, flowers are pink;.
Today ,we will reinstall the tiller on the deere ( the  yesdeere) It is  kept mounted since it is used all summer to keep the aisles clean.( we waste 10'width  on the aisles between plastic rows, but then we can tend to and harvest off of a golf cart, as well as disk them and/or till them. Once a cart goes thru it is easy walking too on the tire tracks. 
With the tiller back on, I will  prepare for direct seeding our spring spinach and more carrot rows. 
Yesterday Elayne planted yellow and red beet seedlings. They are very popular when they are golf ball size. That is what you get if you plant two or three seedlings in one hole. If you want big fat beets then put one seedling in a hole.. or  direct seed and try to get to thinning them. 
We pack the yellow van today, keep it in the shade , windows open, then get to the Amherst Common Market by 6 am. The white van comes too with tables , signs, tents and packaging.The market manager wants everyone to remain in business till 130 pm , after that we move fast. Back home the nickels ,dimes, wrinkled singles 
are tallied . Then we eat and discuss what happened


Kitchen table  project: Liquid chalk on swatches of 30 year old rubber roofing (from the creamery). The swatches are on blocks of 2x6's and some prefinished white trim from Home depot (made in Chile). With a damp paper towel you can erase and replace, I never get all the prices right. The liquid chalk spent the  winter on the floor under the white van seats..I am surprised how well they survived the winter being so abused. 

The melons and squash (which are in #24 flats) were not eaten by the chipmunk last night, I just checked them. Connie  commented that going to check in my bathrobe was another sign of eccentricity.  What is that a signof? 

I did notice the door to the greenhouse was unbolted (nono)..it didn't open for a chipmunk but might have for a gust. I should have gone last night in my bathrobe too. 

Now my worry is that the vines will be vines by the time I plant them in the field in May. And they will be tangled up. I also hope the white covers we put over the rows then will give them a few degrees of comfort. 

Yesterday we planted 1/2 of one row with onions 5 across. We used the dibbles, Helpers came . I  think we stuck thru the plastic  2 flats or 1500 seedlings. Since I don't often do that, My upper legs ache today  (only when I move ,however, so it is not so bad). I also talked too much having so many people within ear shot. they kept changing too :my rants got shorter : I rested by listening some and today my jaw is  fine. 

Today a young family should come and dig up the remaining parsnips-- about 100-- we will keep them in the dark cooler and wash them tomorrow for the Saturday Market. I will leave them in the ground this morning till I can't stand it anymore, then do it myself. I love doing it. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Our onion starts are here. Each plug (I planted two ) is 12+ seedlings. they are white, yellow and red. We have 26,000 onion seedlings. 
Yes, we will sell six packs (150 seedlings) at the market for $4. This Saturday. However, come to the farm anytime and just put the $ in the cash slot. 
I found they go in fast and easy using a dibble to make the hole and a person to put one in the hole and pinch it in. I did 5 or 6 across. ( the plastic sheet is 36" exposed)
We have two dibbles, I will get a couple more. 
These are to be planted in two 325' rows in the deerfield in biodegradable black plastic. The two rows should take about 8000 seedlings. I have an idea that we won't need more than that. I don't remember how I calculated my order, either.


The squash/melon seeds are doing very well in the greenhouse. I hope they slow down and don't put out tendrils before May 1. 
Around May 1, we will be putting down our biodegradable plastic rows ( made from corn starch) into which we will plant them . 

Plant leeks in row the south end of row 14 in the vacant last 50' of that row. In the plastic, plant them 3 across, use a 1/2" dia steel rebar to make holes. 

Plant seeds in the greenhouse for #16 python cuke... have they been planted? 

Plant  lettuce (I will get the leaf lettuce from Harvest Farm today, in addition to our Caretaker head lettuce and Buleah red leaf lettuce) in row 3, three across. Use the fat sawed off tomato stake to make holes. I will make a shorty stake so you can make holes when you are down. Although, I welcome the opportunity to get up. 

I will also pick up our onions starts today: Plant them in the deerfield in the two plastic rows we installed last weekend. We need friends and family to volunteer and help. The pay, if you can wait a few weeks, will be onions and vegetables you can pick free for yourself. Planting during May is our  biggest labor need. Not only are there a lot of plants to put in, but they have to be done according to nature and the US Post service: "neither rain nor..."  Maybe that motto is only familiar to New Yorkers? We have some ponchos, hats and knee pads in the shed. When you get home you will see real dirt come off in the shower.. as well as the  dead skin cells they told me about in grade school. Seeing was the key to believing then.. and you can't see them.  Dirt in the shower will be a grounding - depression therapy. 


1. It is 28 now. But continue planting chard , broccoli  then some 4 across leeks in row 3. We will plant a lot of them in the chestnut field where they have done well in the past and are also not eaten by deer, bear or chucks. As soon as that field is dry enough we will prepare it for three rows of leeks in plastic.. at the west edge of the field.... but that may be two weeks away. 

2. Tomorrow I will pick up our onion starts at harvest farm which we will plant in the middle of the deerfield. Two 325' plastic rows have been set there. 

3. Plant  muskmelon seeds in 6 24's in the greenhouse. I left the seeds out. All of our melons and squash are doing well -- check that we have enough butternut planted I  think we are short there. I don't know how long we have to leave the dome lids over our squash seedlings. I will remove one lid today and see if the chipmunks notice. 

4. Pruning is ongoing in the fruit trees by Lee. He said one of the peach trees is dead and the others are declining... Peach trees seem to die in about 10 years. 

5. I will rehab our wood block signs for Saturday's first market .the blocks don't blow away. I like them to look fresh .. plus the  $3 items are now $4. 

The plants out now are not bothered by 28 degrees or even snow.  We wish for the fields to dry now and in mid june we will wish for rain... a couple of weeks after the tomatoes and eggplant are planted there always is a late spring drought. Usually about 3 weeks long. 

Around May 1 we will seed the peas. In previous years I planted around April 1. Two years ago it was so bad we replanted May 1 and the peas loved it. They slept in. 



We will make signs for the first farmer's market next Saturday: need your comments: 

Prices for first market April 2022

Parsnip  prebunch to $4 bunches  , they are very special because they will be very white (fresh),  like apples they turn tan fast. 

Sorrel  2 bunches for $5  and how much is one bunch? 

Starts   $4/ six pack or box 

Pots of fully grown  basil, cilantro,and herbs 4x4, ready to eat  $4

Rhubarb  $4 a bunch

Sunflower starts   make six packs $4

Spinach maybe  probably will wait another week to cut it. 

Any flowers?

Manure  $4 a brown bag with handles  or Come to the farm and shovel a couple of 5 gal buckets :2/$5 

I will put a big sign on the pile .

Now, keep planting our kale (3) , lettuce (3) , broccoli (2) , in row 3 . 

I will direct seed radishes and cilantro next to our carrots; probably  row 29 in the willow field.
I will put flags on the woodchuck holes at the south end of the 30's and and the west side of the Rhubarb 60  so we can try the tractor exhaust system on them. 
I don't know how long to idle the  tractor to do the job. I feel very uneasy leaving a tractor running unattended for an hour. 

Tape shut the gap between the East fan in the  greenhouse and the plastic wall above--horizontal about 30" long

Inspect the emerging watermelon and other vines in the greenhouse. This is when the  chipmunk has eaten them all in the past. Be sure the covers are on and  weighted. Connie says we should steal the robot from the aisles of Stop and Shop and let him/her/it loose in the greenhouse ,you know how skittish the chupmunks are. Maybe a  rumba will do ? I will leave the radio on today.. google says they eat early am and late pm daylight. 

We need  updated price signs for next Saturday's market. I will update our 2x6 wood block signs with white ductape and big bold text. Signs at farmer's markets are very interesting to me , please send me pictures of signs at markets. In general, they are large enough so we can read them at a distance. We use heavy blocks for mounting because of the wind. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


It is raining now so I am writing about tomorrow.
1. The potatoes arrived , I will wait till the daffodils bloom, they are in the gray cooler ...  which is turned on. I did that by plugging it in. power. 
2. An additional package of Bolero keeper carrots arrived   about 22 hrs after I click " buy" this time I got 25,000 seeds for about $25. I have wondered if the carrots would be better if I rototilled with my walk behind Troybilt exactly over the intended seed row. I want to know if they will do better with deeper cultivations. About 8" . 
We have never grown more than we can sell, but carrots that stay in the  ground longer will require more weeding,  so the row will  look ugly late July. 
3. Flower -planting has begun in plastic row 2  ( there is not row 1, I lost the stick) continue with Batchelor buttons and  calendula also tat three across. 
4. I want to plant the leeks now in the chestnut field.. because the critters don't like leeks.. but the  chestnut field is the last to dry up enough to plow. So I will opt to plant some leeks in row 4. No covers needed,  set them three across. Make the holes with 1/2"  rebar so they  accomodate the bare 2" long roots. How to do that quickly  is an unknown. We grew our own leek starts, seeded in the greenhouse on  February Feb 7, 2022 .
5. I have included a picture of a broken casting part of the Farmall rear cultivator attachments.
... if you know of a replacement part. Let me know. Bob can't repair a casting .. you can't weld a casting, won't stick. 

I have included Lee McLaughlin of Chicken Feathers Farm in this report: I expect he will be pruning out Sunset Farm fruit trees shortly.


1. Jason captured a photo - using a campflagged camera  of a chipmunk in the tomato seedling in the greenhouse. It was taken at 330or so in the afternoon!  I have said the doors should be open when the sun is out, to make cooling faster: duh, the chipmunks are just walking in and helping themselves!  Keep doors shut now. The exhaust fans and louvers will have to do the job. 
Meanwhile, if you have a suggestion for what to bait the traps with and what traps to use, tell me. Now that we are growing a lot of vines, we have to keep them out. 

2. Bob and I set 4 rows of plastic rows: 2,3,4,5 in the upper field. Please start row 2 with flowers: start with the weed- alike wheat that is in the separate Markbuilt cold greenhouse. Set them 3 across. put in seed id stakes... especially important for flowers.. I still don't know everyone. 

3. Row 3 can be vegetables: broccoli (2), lettuce  (3) , beets(4), chard (3)  ( ) MEANS ACROSS

4. Mice got into the drawer that had the swan gourd seeds: I will order new seed today. Check when you think of it, the steel drawers in the middle ( B) shed. Make sure they are all shut tight. 

5. Now or never is hoeing and tilling the perennial beds (19,18,17) before the chick seed and quack grass get so big you have to pull it by hand. Everyone , do about 5' of row every day. I will show you those 5's  tomorrow. 

6. The blue tractor battery will not charge, I start it with a portable battery gizmo that Bob gave me. It is in my car,  where it recharges itself. So much easier than the old days.  
New plastic row 2, ready for flowers, below left, black plastic mulch and drip tape layer, and  tractor line up at the  shed. 
Each machine has its jobs. There is a resistance to have to change the attachments as you can imagine.


1. Plant more butternut, acorn, kabocha flats (24's) I filled them for you. They are all set on the work table. The greenhouse is full so I took out the mixing/filling table. 
2. I rototilled about 1/2 of the upper field, tomorrow we will lay out plastic rows, fertilize and then till again. Then the tiller will be unhitched and the mulch spreader installed so that in the evening ... hopefully with Bob's supervision we will lay a few rows down.  At least one row will be Connie's flowers starting with flats of wheat that look like weeds. 
3. I hope to get one of the very small rototillers going in the am in the perennial rows 17 and 18 , so we can upset the chickweed and quackgrass that is getting started. If we catch it now , it will be not only easier, it will get done. 
4. At the south end of row 13 there are 30 vacant feet of row: fill it with all the remaining red lettuce (set at three across ) and scallions. (set at 4 across) 
The perennial rows at the base of the upper field' we will till within the row with the mantis type mini tiller.

The full greenhouse. A big bag of fine vermiculite we cover the seeds with. The Stones make it harder for mice etc to lift the domes and eat the seeds...on the right is the warm weather media filling table now outside. With a black bale of media and empty "24" trays. We will use about 10 bales of media this year. 
I have taken the black binder home and will return it to the greenhouse in the am before you get there. 



I planted our Bergen carrots tonight: 10,000 seeds for 3 200' rows. That is about 17 seeds/ foot of row. 
Considering the germination is always spotty .. and that the animals like to eat carrot plants and that they take at least 3 weeks to germinate 10,000 seeds probably should have been 15,000. The seeder is a toy.. the red box below shows some seeds and the white carrot plate that picks the seeds and drops them on the ground. 
The aisles between the perennial rows have been rototilled to control the chickweed.

The little push seeder makes me walk in soft earth 2400 feet for the three 200' rows, feels like miles. 
People probably thought I was on the phone when I  stopped  a few times to rest. As I finished ,I thought out a plan for the next direct seeding. It involves both of our golf carts, and a lot less exercise. (I think that would be a good thing)

the Fedco Maine potatoes (300 lbs) will be delivered by common carrier tomorrow to the farm. The shipping costs more than the potatoes. 
We will wait till the dandelions are in bloom before we plant them. Tomorrow I will check to see if the gray cooler is working   so we can store them. 
The hardest thing about potatoes is digging them up. For family  fun  the kids like finding them -- like clamming-- unfortunately the rows get cherry picked randomly which makes those that would rather not be clamming for potatoes , wish we were clamming. 

Continue to plant the plastic rows we have out: time to plant some red cabbage : plant them a diagonal 1 across, it they are too close they bolt without making a solid round head. 


Bob plowed the willow and deerfield. A section that will accommodate two plastic rows were set up in the deerfield where the potatoes were last year. . 

They will be onions this year. Onions have done well on that field and they are not eaten by the deer or chucks. However, the plastic usually blows loose because the onions are planted 4 across . So many holes in the plastic means the wind can get under it . The deerfield rows are 282' long, a plastic row @ 4 across = 2256 onions. If they all live  our two rows will grow 4, 512 onions. But they don't all live and they don't all bulb up. It is 4500 seedlings to be individually set however. The holes are made with 1/2" rebars. How to get the 2" long roots down a 1/2 " hole, fast, is the trick. I can't remember how we do it at this point. 

We grow yellow, red and white onions. The whites come first. They are not known as "keepers", they all sell long before we can test that. 

We are planting the vines in the 24 plug trays still :  yet to be done includes pumpkins ,spaghetti , kabocha, acorn and butternut. 

Be sure to water all three greenhouses and open the doors when the sun is out. 

Move the manure pile to the brigham lane manure pile bay, using the deere loader. A very pleasant job. 

Plant in row 11: lettuce ( 3 across)  and scallions (4 across) use a  5' tomato post to make holes. 
These "24"  flats all planted and covered with fine vermiculite are a mystery since the id sticks are missing"  Maybe Shuguang knows?
The deerfield where I set out flags for the two onion rows. I have to measure from row 60 (the first rhubarb row at the west end) so the onion rows will be in line with future rows. The rolling measuring tool is used once a year ; finding it each year is a renewing  memory. A very well designed tool too. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cel


1. Plant seedling plugs in row 11 ( the current first plastic row)  I started the row with turnip plugs.. I doubt they will become turnips, it is an experiment. I am hoping to grow worm free turnips by being so early. But the seedlings are already too leggy, they have long legs where there should be turnips! 
For the rest of the row plant lettuce, another flat of scallions, kohlrabi, kale, chard

2. Bob is plowing today, so far the weather is perfect. Plowing under the  horse manure is done asap so it doesn't contribute nitrogen rich water to the river.  I can't understand how plowing a thin scattering of manure 8" under ground will be of much use to our crops... unless the manure adds a bio element that benefits growth the way yogurt improves your stomach biome . If anyone has some science about that ,tell me about it. a link is ok as long as it is science and not a cult screed. Meantime we will continue to plow down the 20 or so truck loads of manure.  We do have a spare pile along Brigham lane for sale. 

3. When planting use a 60" (not a 48" ) pointed tomato stake to make holes that exactly accomodates the pyramidal plugs. Don't attempt to make the holes with a trowel or your hand. 

4. I have two perfect 2 drawer black file cabinets in the back of the yellow van... Tuesday am they go to the dump. If you want one or both take them . Until google can search what is in a file cabinet... everything in it is lost....  and at my age, probably should be.

5. Continue planting in 24's (flats) the vines:  muskmelon, butternut  pumpkin, spaghetti , acorn, kabocha, cukes  check the book for how many flats to do and in some cases, how many have already been planted. this year we are trying to outwit the chucks who love them. Cukes have been snapped up , typically. these will be planted in mid May in the field. Some years we have had butternuts yet on our basement shelves which we sell in the spring market. Not this year. 

6. Trying to avoid the usual confusion: onions will be planted in the deerfield, leeks ( which do not have the tubular leaves that onions have) will go in the chestnut field and the scallions in the upper field. The scallions are planted in plug bunches, the onions and leeks are one by one ... thousands of them.


1. Plant seeds in the greenhouse  .. all the squash, melons, pumpkin. In the past we have direct planted and have lost many seeds and seedlings to critters.. this year they will be robust seedlings and will be covered day one with row cover. You will be dry and you can set the temperature to heat or cool, and there is a radio.

2. Move the onions, leeks and scallions in the south greenhouse to the North cool greenhouse, today,  to make more room in the main greenhouse. They do not need heat. 

3. Plow the willow field so we can direct seed  three 200'  rows of carrots, use the push seeder, set the rows 39" apart so they can be tilled in an emergency using the troybilt or blue bcs tillers . When the seedlings are 3" high and higher I will use the red farmall cultivator tractor. We are planting Bergen carrots they are thin and long .They are a beautiful carrot. We have a package or 10,000 treated  seeds from Seedway. that sounds like a lot but it isn't . Carrots take about 3 weeks to sprout and then they are really wimpy compared to our weed seedy field (in part due to using free horse manure, in part because of imperfect weed control last summer) .
Bob Cyr plowed the entire upperfield last night, this is the first time we did it making a "dead furrow" but it went 2x as fast. Filling the dead furrow so it is  flush is a trick we have to learn more about. 

4.  I just remembered that the farmall cultivator needs a new fitting to hold the cultivating fork on one side. I should have tried to get a replacement during the off season. 

5. Move the surplus manure to a bay along Brigham Lane. We will sell it. So much a five gallon bucket..we will leave a shovel out. 

6. In the upperfield new rows 9 and 10  will be marked with flags and string so they can be seeded  to Cilantro, radishes, dill, We will not grow spring arugula since it bolts early and it really bothered by flea beetles. We do direct seed it in the last half of august after the flea beetles have gone to sleep and the crop then is easy and very vigorous. Please write to me with your  advice .
6x6x2 boxes of cilantro for eating right away not planting. If you do plant some and it works, let me know since the experts advise that cilantro "doesn't like" being transplanted. It likes being eaten, I assume. I'll bet the problem is that it will bolt rather than make a bush.


1. In the plant squash, watermelon, pumpkin, cuke seeds in 24 cell plug trays. Cover them with a plastic lid for critter control. Note in the black binder the number of trays you planted . 

2. Plant chard #190  3 across, red beets 4 across, more beulah red lettuce # 111 three across, also chard #14 three across. 

3. Because the seedlings are bigger now, water the greenhouse at 5 or so in the pm as well as early in the am. 

4. When rain stops and the soil is dry enough, plow all the field... except for the overwintered parsnips, perennials, rhubarb, and what we have planted already. 

5. As soon as the soil is dry, set out some rows for direct seed (I know now that will include  #'s 11,10,9). We need to direct seed cilantro, carrots, radishes . 

6. Has fennel been planted in the greenhouse? If not do so and backdate it a month ( wish), then plant three 72 plug trays with dill. 

When setting out seedlings, make holes for the plugs using a 5 FOOT pointed tomato stake and a heavy hammer, push the plugs firmly into the hole . Do not make holes with a trowel . 
Yesterday we mistakenly planted collards four across, they were dug back up and replaced with beets. A center row of collards were left (after having been spaced) they will grow next to the beets to  2' high  for fall harvest. The beets will be gone in July, leaving their space for the collards remaining. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Plant seedlings in row 14, next in that row after the scallions we planted yesterday, broccoli 2 across, kohlrabi 3 across, beets 4 across.  Yesterday I made a hole right on top of the drip tape... it has to be repaired and I put two red flags to mark the spot. That was a terrible thing to do.  I wish I could call it due to my  age, maybe not. 
2. Plant seeds in the greenhouse. Plant squash, melons in new 24 size trays. they will be put out in the field in mid May. We have about 50 trays to plant. 
Jesse Johnson spreading the hot new manure see the middle photo for our new pile..To the right are bunches of scallions planted 4 across, when they are harvested they are just pulled out a bunch... we will keep harvesting them till Sept.

Shuguang planted some Napa cabbage seeds at the south end of row 15 yesterday (the overwintered onion row that stops short.)  these are planted in bioplastic that was set last fall: it probably will disintegrate into fertilizer long before the cabbages are done.

Planting seedlings can be done by one person. It is faster with 3: one makes perfect holes using a 5' pointed tomato stake and a hammer, one pops /pulls out the seedling plugs from the trays, and one sets them in the holes and firmly pushes them down. Bad things happen if they are not firmly set. Connie recalls that with hard rains, the plugs sometimes float out their holes, at the time you notice that,  your shoes are getting sucked and stuck  in the muddy aisles. Rain is forecast so planting outdoors now is the best thing to do.


1. There is urgency to get the cool plants planted, the manure spread, the fields plowed, rows fertilized and bioplastic laid. 
2. Barry Roberts horse farm dumped ten large truck loads yesterday. Using the Deere loader and spreader spread it over the entire farm asap! Very important to get this done . We can't plow till that is done. 
3. I planted 1/2 flat ( 36 seedlings) of Kale; In row 13 after the mesculn and red buleah lettuce were set. I used a pointed 60" tomato stake with a heavy short hammer, to make perfect size holes for the Kale seedling plugs, just drop them in and push down. No other motions needed . 
I drove a golf cart right to the mid row. I did not attempt to turn it around and get  stuck, I backed it out. Several times. This is very nice when you need more or forgot to bring something, like a bunch of sand bags.  We use sand bags to anchor the fabric cover at the  hoops. I, of course, forgot that we do it this way and misled Jesse and Muton who did it with loose shovelfuls . (that is how we used to do it)  The sand bags are great since it makes opening up the fabric to look and to pick much easier. No shovel needed to put the cover back. 
4. We have to get all the cool weather stuff planted now. The cloudy weather is perfect too. There are things that remind you of church in the shed. Use them to be able to prolong your "on you knees" time. We have about 6 of them. Wear plastic gloves so your fingers don't dry up and crack. I like not having to scrub so much when I get home.  That is after you have taken off the muddy shoes too. There is a box in the greenhouse. 
5. I've changed my dinner order to 7 pm too. 
6. When we plant scallions, onions and leeks we don't need to cover them. The scallions are planted as plug bunches not individually. 
7. When you plant the squash and all vegetable seeds in the greenhouse, record it in the black 3ring binder.. see how others are recorded and do the same. This is the only way we can know what and how much of what is planted. Add notes too. 
Kale and tools to plant kale, it goes very fast (has to) Row 13
Row 16 :the peonies are coming up. Connie is hoeing in the row, we will run the red farmall cultivator down the aisles for the other dimension,  Next photo : 5 loads of rotted horse manure in the chestnut field. My brother Mark and I planted  the chestnuts in the 80's using a tractor mounted auger attachment borrowed from Homer Cowls... now Andy's (his son)  flower farm. Each chestnut tree has a number tag too. All the tags face North, that's why you can't see them.  You might be thinking of thinning or moving a clump of peonies.. don't even think about that till Sept. 


1. After the mesclun plant lettuce 3 across plant all the ruby lettuce that is sparsely filling its  flats in the south, cool greenhouse. 
2. Seed #24 flats with squash and watermelon 2 seeds per plug. Be sure to cover the flats the seeds are dug up every year by the critter performers. 
3. I will get there about 10, after springfield eye doctor @ 8. 
4. We received about 5 more truck loads of manure today... in the chestnut field. We hope tomorrow to get more at the swimming pool field and a few at the top of the upper field. Jason and Jesse should spread it using the big red tractor, the  manure spreader, and the deere loader. 
5. We fetched 2 more bales of media last night, they are outside the main entrance to the greenhouse. 
6. I noticed the seedlings in the south greenhouse needed more water. 
This is monday  April 4 2022 photo of the mesclun in row 13. Covered to protect it from flea beetles and deer. The lines in the field above are from subsoiling by Jesse. 
Jason has fixed and set a critter camera in the greenhouse, I think he said that when he installed it he noticed some very small cameras set up in the greenhouse.
The only eyes that could look at those tiny images would be critters.. watching us.


Some of the tomato seedlings that were eaten are making new leaves.
1. continue to plant the mesclun. Plant ALL of it. I would like to keep it all in one place this year since in mid july we till it all under and plant something else like beans. This means the plastic and the tape are removed. Do not hit the tape when you make holes for the plugs. 

2. Then plant chard, beets, kale, kohlrabi, and scallions. Use rows 14 and 15 as needed. Plant  leeks @4 across. So there is a lot of work to be done in the field now. The leeks and scallions do not have to be covered and the scallions are planted in bunches as they are grown as plugs. About ten in a bunch. 

3. In the greenhouse plant all the vegetable vines.. I left the packet in a zip bag on the greenhouse work table. They go in "24" flats.

4. I will, with a hand, get more bales of media from the s prospect st basement. I will also add more fertilizer to the injector. 

5. Move any cold tolerant seedlings to the  south greenhouse. Clean out the north cool greenhouse and put cold tolerant seedlings in there too. 

6. I hope the manure can be spread now. Is it melted yet? Any day now Barry will be delivering more manure too. 

7. Open the greenhouse doors if the sun is out. Close the doors at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, unless it is cloudy, close the doors if the sun is not out. 

8. Connie is your go to for flower seeding and herb pots. 413 687 3846  I think there are more zinnias to be planted. 


Jesse and Mutong are planting mesclun in row 13 yesterday: three people are better for a team: Jesse is making the holes @4 across with a short heavy hammer  and a pointed tomato stake. Mutong is planting the mesclun plugs,  someone else could be popping out the plugs from the plug tray.  Once the plug is set in the hole , gather some earth around it and press down hard so the plug's roots know they are in the ground. 
When making holes.... keep track of where the  irrigation tape is underneath and don't hit it.  After you are for the day... ( best if that is after several hours of work on your knees)   cover the row with white fabric: stretch it over hoops that are set at about 8' apart. Put a shovelfull of earth at the base of each hoop, to keep it on the ground. I will send a photo of this later. 
After the mesclun is all planted, then we will do chard, kale, scallions, kohlrabi, cabbage. At various spacings which I will specify. 

2. plant seeds for vines in the greenhouse plant them all in plug trays with 24 rectangular plugs per tray. Plant two seeds per plug. These will be set out in new bioplastic rows in a month. I left a plastic bag with seeds on the greenhouse work table. I expect that when these are all planted there will be no room left in the big greenhouse for our work tables and usual pile of storage stuff in the northeast corner... all the cool vegetable start trays shall be moved to the cool greenhouses including the little one North of the main entrance.  Baby vines from zukes to watermelons look very similar so please be careful to put an identification stake in each tray using only the permanent black markers. All other markers' writing will  disappear in a month. Cover all flats planted with vine seeds, the chipmunks will dig up every one otherwise. 

3. Bob will  bring some of the tomato stakes to the farm from the red barn. He will stack them along the "attachment row"  west of the greenhouse. The stakes that will be needed first will be the pea lattice stakes, they are 6' long. We have just the amount we need, about 100 stakes, treat them lovingly. 
John Piepul, is redoing his bear security fences  at his hives (at sunset farm). John is eager to hear about swarms that take off in the next month, looking to start a new nest. If you see a swarm or find one in your attic, call him and he will capture it for his United Swarms of sweet life. 
We have heard swarms at the farm .. it sounds like an airplane  way too close.  John is also a finish carpenter, so he can take care of any damage too.  


Johnny jump ups, we bought this flat from Harvest Farm. Next year we will grow them ourselves in the greenhouse. For about 20 years we overwintered pansies in the field . They did well but the business changed when they became available this time of year at places like walmart, and our field grown pansies had not even buds yet. Duh .. so after about ten years of no pansies,  we will try growing them in our greenhouse. The Amherst Farmer's market opens Saturday April 23 , 2022. 

Last fall,   I thought I had a good idea: let's plant onion sets in the fall and overwinter them. the middle photo above shows the problem: the strong March winds last week lifted the bio plastic cover . I cut it away and will let them continue. We will have to  hand weed/cultivate but these onions should be done in June, so the hand weeding was at least eliminated for last oct and nov. The photo on the right is of onions that are still covered, but probably will blow off too.  The lesson: when no one else is doing what you think is a good idea, there may be a good reason. 

Barbara V put flats of cold flats out on a covered table (covered so the woodchucks wouldn't see them).  Today we will plant them in the bioplastic rows we set out last weekend. And we have to cover them again, not only from the chuck but from the flea beetles. We put the plastic on right away so the wakened (woke? ) bugs that overwinter in "surrounding  field trash" don't get there first and start making lace out of the little leaves. The little holes can kill a seedling but when the leaves get to be full size the plant will survive..albeit with little holes. Little holes taste bad, so the plant that you helped survive, now won't sell.   Connie's barnyard laugh was funny. 

The manure piles still have watermelon size frozen lumps.... frozen so hard that they will damage the tines of the spreader. I have photos of that but I think this file will get too big. Tomorrow I will include one. 

Jason and shuguang are working on setting up the greenhouse camera. If needed I will buy another camera ..actually, one of them will pick it out will since they will  install it. You  know they are  much younger .  I wonder if shuguang has the benefit of reading chinese? 

It is time now to plant, in the greenhouse, vines that we will plant out  in May.. used to be late may , this year we probably will try early May. 
The big issue there is that you don't want to plant a vine several feet long, just seedlings . (You don't want to plant a seed too early in the greenhouse). But at least a foot long so they won't be entirely digested in one night. We will cover them too and under wire hoops.. when they do go out.  Of course some guys get under the cover and eat privately .. or the wind blows the covers off or a deer hoof catches them (gracefully of course) as they dance away. I hate it when that happens. 

 I will set out the row number signs today, so when you write to me, I will know where you are. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Bob wrote to me last night: 

"I left the camera on the table next to the tractors. It will probably need new batteries 4 D batteries. I don't know what size sd card it uses. It may not need one to work. You can look it up on the interweb for directions on use." This is a cut/paste from Bob Cyr for Jason. I will leave batteries on the table this am too.
This is info for setting up a camera to catch the tomato seedling snatchers. Jason will set it up today. Shuguang told me she knows how to do it in case Jason has questions: She flashed her phone which had live photos from several cameras in her house. She also said she was not a control freak. When you think about it isn't that what we do at the farm, I love control. 

How many tomato plants were chomped in this photo? 100? BTY the tray is what we call a detachable 72. 
that makes a tray of 12 separate sixpacks.
Jesse did more pruning, fertilizing and thinning of the raspberries. 
The basil is thriving: we will sell pots of basil from immediate use at the market. You can plant some too but keep them warmer than 50 with a row cover. The strong flavor does not appeal to the usual foragers... when that happens I suspect they know something we don't. 
On the other hand, I am not inclined to eat watermelon seedlings..or tomato seedlings. However, okra and sweet potato leaves are prized by animals and educated humans. 
Again, I write that we will be planting out the mesclun, cabbage, kale, scallions beets, chard this weekend. I realize, now, how easy it would be to be writing fake news and not intend to.  We will plant this weekend.


1. We have covered the flats of tomatoes that were chomped with hi plastic covers. We have a camera that we might be able to hang in the greenhouse that will show us who is the varmint.   Jason can you install it?   Bob has installed it on a bean row years ago, phyllis and deer were stars on those videos. This one works with a card that you then look at on your desktop. Bob might remember more. We need to do this asap. When we plant our squash and watermelon they are particularly vulnerable.. infact that is the only reason we will be starting them in the greenhouse. Then about May 1 we will put them out in the field under a white row cover. 

2. Jesse and Mouton (help me spell!) have been working on the raspberries: pruning and manuring. Next step will be to reset the 6x6 mesh horizontally at about 30" height over each row. 
I will bring down a bunch of 60" tomato posts to hold the mesh.  Not only will the berries be clean and escape the rabbits and chucks, we won't have to bend down so far for a berry treat . The berries come around July 1 then stop while it is so hot, then  rebloom and bear again in late September. The fall ones are much better. As the temperature drops our berries get bigger. For me, that is better. 

3. A careful reader asked me whom to call about our artist studio rentals: call Patrick Gillen  (a relation) at 413 522 1339 Gillen Properties Inc at 401 Main St. 
Yesterday, I painted studio fiberboard walls which make pinning up your work easy. We have three studios left:  $250 and $400 depending on size, all together in an "artist's wing" The artist wing will be 7 or 8 artists. 
I think artists and farm volunteers ... and maybe others... like to work together. 

4. I've been told that replanting herbs into appealing pots is a specialty of Phyllis, those of the greenhouse need her leadership on that. It's not exactly a turf war. If you do something well, it will come. 

5. I took more photos but lately they are all "movies 2 seconds long." I don't know how stop that,  so I will take my phone to verizon for help. If you have suggestions please tell me. 
IMG_1133.JPG  I hope basil is popular.

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


We did nothing at the farm yesterday outside the greenhouse. Could have, but I and no one else wanted to. 

1. Big Bad news: at the northwest part of the greenhouse, an animal has  chopped off tomato seedlings  3 " high , leaving a bare 1" trunk. 
I recovered some flats with the tall covers, I moved a varmint  sound emitter to that westerly bench. Today, I will replace a 6x6  timber at the base of the wall that is missing. 
I think it was the result of an attempt last summer to make a mint patch, by levelling the  ground and thereby making getting into to the green house just a matter of going thru two layers of plastic sheeting that  comprise the walls. 
This is the first time we have had tomato plants bothered by hungry varmints. first time in about 30 years. 

2. Andrew Bellak asked about firewood. I checked the online experts and note that there are people who love to burn Walnut ..so If you would like to cut and split some of our log pile you are welcome to. I view them like green bananas, not sure I should invest  much time and effort on firewood, I'm not planning that far ahead. .  If you are thinking of renting a splitter, talk to Bob Cyr for advice. You can use our yellow van to bring it home. 

3. My old architectural office is now a bunch of artist studios in, it  is now the Artist Wing at 409 Main st.  $250/ month for 125 square feet  or if you need a bigger one  $400. A cathedral ceiling higher than the walls eliminates loneliness. Listening to 88.5 or a pod cast will require headphones..or clip on ears. We have three available. 

4. We picked up 12 flats of herbs yesterday from Harvest Farm in Whately. Mints, oregano, chives, tyme, lavender and sage. Talk to Connie about replanting these in the greenhouse. Her cell is 413 687 3846 .  
5. In the bright sun and using a golf cart, go get some manure from our piles, and throw it on the raspberry patch. Prune the tops of all the canes as I did on the first row. Cut out dead canes (they are obvious).


Pruning our raspberries. There are two pictures here. One is done and the other one shows raspberry canes that are too close together.  Cut them off at the ground. 
With help we might try lifting and replacing the 6x6 mesh to about 2' above the ground. 
Yesterday I said we would cut out all the canes that had borne last year.. Just trim them off at 36" or so above the ground. Then cut out with the long handled pruners, the canes that are obviously dead.
Yesterday I worked for an hour in the stiff northwest 20 degree wind. I learned how to pull up the "fur" hood on a very heavy and big winter coat..I needed it. 
I was yelled at the entire time by a little dog...yes I had nightmares about that. 

Let's dig a few tubs of rotted manure from our manure pile in the swimming pool field. (last year's  60's rows) and throw them on the raspberry rows. 

Our raspberries have never flourished to where everyone has run out of jam glasses, if anyone has a suggestion ....

I stapled up the two loose edges of plastic wall sheeting at the greenhouse south addition too, I will know today if they held. 
Next week it will be warmer, we will plant the plastic rows out then. 

The west side of the greenhouse was planted to mint last summer by Iman and Hussein. When we clear that area, try to find the mint... that would be a good place for a perennial mint patch. We will plant some there that we have ordered from Harvest farm as flats of cuttings. 

Farm jokes are like weeds.. Neither Bob or I have  been slapped; no tuxes either.   

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


1. Water the greenhouse, the water will be injected with fertilizer. 
2. Staple and tape the plastic that has come loose at the connection to the Big greenhouse and the new South greenhouse. I just discovered it is open. 
3. Leave the greenhouse doors shut today even with the sun, however open the door between the south greenhouse and the big house. 
4. PRUNE THE RASPBERRIES, the canes that bore last year have to be cut off and removed. The remaining canes should be 6" away from each other, and all the canes that remain shall be clipped off at Kitchen countertop height : 36" Leave the 6x6 to hold up the canes when they are heavy with fruit. Clip and Remove all canes from the three aisles. 

Bob Mostly and I got three rows of plastic laid down. The upper hill rows are only 1/2 long for now..it got too wet as we went south. When they dry we will continue the plastic row. They were set 12' on center... hopefully we will be able to run the tiller down the aisles during the season to keep the weeds down without tearing up the plastic. You will notice (I will take a picture today) that the rows are perfect: Bob doesn't want to have to repair rows that have blown loose.. that is a terrible job. To achieve this I, who had the job of steering and pressing the diesel pedal, was required to run super slow. Even I, at 84, walk faster than we moved. It was so slow and intense Bob would not let me tell him a story as we laid the rows... it was too distracting. 

Bob spread some manure on Saturday, but there still is a lot of frozen manure at the base of the piles. The spreader (very old) worked well and was pulled by "big red" a tractor that Bob rebuilt with a new block several years ago. The Five tractors are all running. Two vans and the two rototillers too.


1. Clean up the land around the greenhouse put debris in the compost pile via golf cart.
2. Set new flags out at both ends of new rows to be planted this weekend: mesclun, kale, scallions, chard, beets the new rows will be 12' apart center to center. This area has been tilled, now after we locate the center of the rows, we will fertilize, then retill and set the plastic biomulch and irrigation tapes. The tilling in of the fertilizer will be very shallow. 
3. Fill flats with planting media (24's with circular holes) these will be planted to watermelon, cukes, melons in the first week of April. 
4. I will refill the fertilizer pot with the high nitrogen fertilizer. I have heard no complaints since I stopped the big leaks at the pot ... does it still work for you? 
When you leave check that the circuit is not  tripped..it happens when watering. If you cannot  reset it call me 413 374 5193. 
5. I will bring the row markers to the farm today from the red barn. After the new rows are planted we will set the row number signs. They probably will be 15.16.17
6. Be sure to open the greenhouse doors when the sun is out and close them when it is not. 


Continue cutting back and cleaning up the "benches" surrounding the greenhouse. Dump it the compost pile.
I filled two 5 gal pails with 12 gal of gas again. 
Subsoil the chestnut field.
Open the greenhouse when the sun is out ,close it otherwise.
Continue to water using the hose as connected to the fertilizer injector.
We had parsnips for dinner last night; it has a vitamin in it, as yet unidentified, that makes you feel good..or maybe it was the beautiful judge hearing on the car radio and our TV. 
Connie and I are going to the cape tomorrow: we had AAA tow our 1981 mustang to a repair shop in Hyannis last week. The car is now fixed and AAA says they are not in the business of transporting cars that are not broken. So we have to go to Hyannis and drive the car to Chatham, where it stays as a guest with privileges: beach and dump. 
Our yellow market van got the floor fixed and today it earned a sticker.  I stopped in at College Motors on my way home to show them they would have to keep it going for us another year. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


Our yellow van that we go to the market with is fixed: the large hole in the drivers side floor was replaced with a floor. I was quoted $1000 by a place that looked like a 1960's junk yard. I smiled to myself when he told me it cost so much because he had a very good reputation, so he couldn't just cob it together for the inspection. 
I am glad I gave myself three months to pass inspection... and we needed  it. 

I have fixed the leaky hose connections in the greenhouse of the fertilizer injector: I had forgotten that the large heavy ring washer for the lid of the fertilizer tank has to be fitted into a grooved home before  the lid is tightened. I didn't do that before so a lot of fertilizer concentrate was spilt. You have to use fertilizer since the growing medium does not have any nutrients. 

It is time now to continue subsoiling all the fields. Somebody get on and do it. I will help you get started if you ask. Lately, I have forgotten to tell people how to stop it  Don't rip thru the parsnips, blueberries or rhubarb. Do everything else and do it with rows that are on a 45 degree angle with  respect to the plowed rows. 
Use the blue tractor (8N 1948), remember to turn on then off the fuel valve, under the hood. 
Who ever does it,  beside Bob, will get stuck at least once in the mud. Part of the fun. 

Open the outside geenhouse doors when the sun is out. North and south ends of the greenhouse. I don't like being too hot, therefore, I assume the plants don't either. 
Although the big 48" exhaust fans will turn on automatically if the temp inside exceeds 90 and little motors open the louvers at the north end. 

I forgot also to get the fertilizer spreader from the Barn. I will try to remember to get it tomorrow. I will attach it to a golf cart and drive it down sunset ave. 
When that illegal jaunt is completed my nap will be better since I will be pleased with myself


IMG_1102.JPGIMG_1097.JPG On the left is the 8N tractor with a subsoiler attached. With it Shuguang and Jessie Grohman made 15" deep slits in the ground in a diagonal pattern to facilitate drainage.  We were surprised that the  ground was dry and unfrozen, so Bob then plowed the area where we will plant our early crops: mesclun, lettuce, kale, cabbage, scallions. In a couple of days we will fertilize, rototill and set black bioplastic. 
We would have spread manure but our piles of manure that were delivered last fall are frozen solid, since the manure is not frozen till you get 5" below the surface I worry that it will not thaw till July. 
I will call Barry Roberts and see if he will send a dozen truckloads that is hot from his 60 horse barn. 

please place a band of fertilizer on the uphill side of each spinach row. Use Calcium nitrate, or Nitrogen or 101010 . I will pull out the sacks :dribble the fertilzer an inch or two away from the plants. Maybe a  small black pail of fertilizer/ row.  The spinach woke yesterday..it looks great.new dark green leaves upright now. I will take a picture today. 
I will bring the fertilizer spreader to the farm from the red barn at the  old creamery office building today too. 

We have half a row in the willow field of parsnips. They are more than a foot long and about 2" in diameter at the surface. Dig some out for your dinner tonight. 
Those, who taste what they eat, eat parsnips in the spring. They are about 20' east of the spinach row. Last year's row #30. You cannot pull them out, dig a hole NEXT to your selection and then ease it sideways out. Don't touch it with your spade, it will make an unsalable (unselectable at the table ) gash. Cook it so you can really get a sense of the new spring flavor and tell me about it,  if you will eat and write. 

Move lettuce and mesclun into the cool south greenhouse. 
Since the sun is out, open the window in the south greenhouse door...or block the door wide open so the house stays cool. 
Plant flower seeds in the greenhouse in 72's. the seeds are in the "to be planted " bag. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. The rows near the shed rows 10-16 which was where the peas and later the broccoli were last year, are not frozen and are dry enough to plow. 
2. The Gray tractor and all the tractors started up this afternoon when Bob tried. I picked up 12 gal of gas in 2 five gallon gas cans. They are very heavy when you have to lift them to the fill cap next to the steering wheel. 
3. We have to do some subsoil tunneling,  then spread some manure, then plow, then disc and rototill, then fertilize,  till again very shallowly, then set two or three rows of black bioplastic.  Having done that, we will plant our mesclun, scallions, kale, beets, lettuce. I am not sure it is dry enough to set the plastic... that might take another week. 
4. Our spinach has been visited by deer and some was eaten, now is the time to cultivate the spinach and fertilize it. (should have said fertilize then cultivate it. 
IMG_1093.JPG We set this twine, which has metal strands in it, over the center of the spinach that was seeded last fall. you can see the rather small deerprints made last night . next to that is a picture of the solar/battery which sends a sting once a second to the twine ... you have to check it every day since animals catch their hoofs on the twine and pull it off the row.  The deer must be very young.  If we are lucky, the spinach will start growing very fast in the next 2 weeks so we will be selling it at the market in late April. We will  also reseed three more rows as soon as the ground is dry so our supply of spinach will last into June. 


1. Plant long thin eggplant seeds.. I left a packet with .5 grams (500mg) of seeds - 125 - 200 seeds says my phone. That should fully plant two flats of 48 I gave them a number I think 201. I wrote it on the packet. Those seeds arrived in less than 12 hours. 
2. The "leak" at the hose is the vacuum breaker doing its job as complicated by the expanding but very handy hose. The leak is contained by an apron on the coat rack so  DO NOT disassemble the watering set up because I have added fertilizer to the pot and it is working well. Water on the floor is not a problem. I will get a new vacuum breaker just to see if it will be better. Look up vacuum breaker on Goggle and you will know as much as I. 
3. The repaired chicken coop area hose will be working in the am, since no frost is predicted tonight. The hose will not be clogged by ice. 
4. If the sun is out tomorrow open the door or the window in the door in the south greenhouse while the sun is out. And close it anytime after 5. 
5. I have a feeling that Lee McClaughlin our "chickenfeather farm" guy that prunes our fruit trees should be doing it now: I will email him tonight. If not..maybe Robert Mienza will prune the fruit trees at the farm and at our Main St office buildings.  
6. Continue to plant flower seeds. If you need more room, move the kale into the south greenhouse.
 If anyone wants a hot /cold cooler, its free from me.

Connie and I are driving to Chatham in the morning . There we will meet AAA who will take Gert's '81 Thunderbird to Vintage Car repair in Hyannis. Then at 11 am on Wednesday we will go see the mechanic for a consultation. It turns out they also have a service of checking and getting vacation cars that are unused all winter ready so the owners can vacate, I will find out what the cost is for that service, at least we will know how much we are saving by doing it ourselves. For now we hope we can get it back on the road by June. It has a short somewhere.


Plant flower seeds.
I don't understand why, but when you turn the water off the vacuum breaker hisses out a big spray. I hung the hose on the coat
 rack so the spray is deflected by a plastic apron.
 It works well. 
I also noticed that I had caused the GFI outlet to pop. This put the light and the power circuits in the greenhouse off. In an hour it 
dried enough to I could reset it. 
To reset it you  pull out the varmint emitter next to the door and push the button in the white gfi outlet that says reset. 

When the sun is out be sure the door to the new south greenhouse addition is open and held open with a bunji cord. You can also
open the little window in the door of the new new greenhouse// or block the door open. At 4 or 5 pm shut the window again to hold
in the heat. 
We have trapped about 5 mice: two  last night. I got a little squeeze tube of bait , makes it very easy to set the traps. I have not
 seen a chipmunk lately, they are the ones that eat all the watermelon seedlings. 

Bob lent me his strap wrench , it is on the table in the greenhouse,  which I will use tomorrow to open the fertilizer injector pot. 
I had two of them last year, can't find them this year. I have a new idea that the fertilzer pot has some dried fertilizer that is
responsible for the big vacuum breaker spray. 
 I will take a picture today for tomorrow.. this one is of a walking stick I carved decorated when I was 11. It had rained every day for a week and I was bored. I might have been obsessed with my first pocket knife. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


We have trapped a few mice. We have lost several flats of lettuce to mice. We have 5 critter emitters. And we had a faulty ground fault electrical plug circuit. 
IMG_1063.JPGIMG_1059.JPGIMG_1062.JPGIMG_1064.JPG LEFT: Please clean the greenhouse surround, use a weedwacker with string. You might leave the dead stuff in a barrel rather that using a golf cart to get to the compost pile  and getting stuck in the mud.  Upper left, see the new GFI plug (bright white). It took me 3 hours to replace this, they must be replaced in the proper sequence or you will spend hours redoing it, as did I. I got so tired of undoing it I used a power screw driver to speed it up for me. You can see into the south greenhouse addition where I have put the scallions and leeks. They don't need heat and above you can see a lettuce tray after the seeds were eaten by mice. You don't want to think it happened so you keep waiting for the missing ones to pop up. They are gone so now we will consolidate the plantings and seed  more flats that will be protected by the emitters that (I am told) scare the mice away providing the power is not lost by the GFI fault.  The good news might be that all the lettuce won't be ripe at the same time. 


Plant flower seeds in 72's  one flat per pack..
did the lettuce seeds get replanted? 
Check that the circuits have not tripped. All the varmint repeller emitters should be working.
I will repair a couple of holes in the new south greenhouse walls. When the main greenhouse is full move the cold weather veggies into it. If we have a very cold spell open the door to the main greenhouse to let the heat in. Very cold is less than 20. 
Someone left a flimsy steel cabinet  in one of our offices: perfect for the buckets that blow around the field. Should I paint it white or yellow?  Should last the duration. I think white with a big sign: keep doors shut. 

The Town assessor's office sent me a post card that I should fill out a  "cash flow" form for the farm buildings like this.. I emailed for help .. was the form for this 6' x 8' building or all the sheds? 
The Town Manager and the Assessor decided it was a mistake. And I was worried about being fined because the deadline was March 1. I noticed that the post card cost 40 cents postage  to mail. So good to be retired , I can ( and do ) relate to making a mistake now and then.  

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


1. Yesterday we planted about 20 flats of flower seeds in 72's. some were " uncut " 1206's

2. We forgot to put stones on about 8 flats so before I officially got up this am I went down and checked for mouse damage. There was none !


We have  6 anti mice sound emitters working now.. maybe they worked. However; If I were looking for a lid I could easily lift, and I could not see the top of the lids, I would have to guess as to which I could lift. With about 20 not yet germinated flats out on the benches, trying to find the flats that did not have stones on them would mean a lot of lift off attempts. I think the mice decided to eat somewhere else last night where they wouldn't have to work so hard. or decisions to make?

3. We will continue to plant flower seeds today and I will lug a couple of stone buckets into the greenhouse, not taking unnecessary chances. 

It is a good feeling that I still help get things done.
We will be plowing some of this about 1 month from today!


1. I was unable to get a case (100) of detachable or "tear away" 72's from our supplier,   Harvest Farms in Whately, they are running out of them. Davey, the owner, gave me a dozen to "hold us over "  which will make 12 - 72 plug flats. There are  864 plugs to be seeded in these12 flats. This exact type of flat filler is called a #1206 and I pay about 60 cents for one flat. 
Davey has more on order but the supply chain is slow now. 
We like the "detachable" since we sell "starts" at the market and if they are not in  #1206 trays the 6 paks have to be cut out  of a full flat of 12 with scissors at the market.  We may not be all that busy but I like thinking we will be ..it takes soo long to do. Besides we are old, time passes faster and there is less of it. 

You know spring is coming when you can just put "1206"  in the google search box and pictures of these trays sprout right up.  There are probably a 1000 specialized trays each with a 4 digit #. 

I filled those 12 trays yesterday, I snoozed and filled at the same time. Today and for the next two weeks we have to seed  flats. Generally, one seed per plug. You can't do that in your sleep but you can  reorganize and store  (restore) memories while you very carefully put one seed in each hole. I use the battery powered vibrating hand seeder, others won't. However you do it is ok with me and based on past years will be successful..no heavy management hand is useful in this operation. I save that for when we are picking "perfect" for the market. Once the seeds are in the hole, cover them and the entire flat with a 1/16" layer of fine vermiculite.  Not my idea, this is how it is done, the vermiculite prevents damping off. 

I bought another case of "germination domes" which cause the seeds to sprout sooner and which have kept the mice and chipmunks from digging up the seeds. The domes run about $2 each. fyi. Barbara put stones on the domes .. the animals had learned to lift them up. 
A work table in the greenhouse which will be removed when it is  full.. seeding chores are usually done in the "head house" which we don't have.


Plant seeds ln the greenhouse: collards, red cabbage, broccoli, dill, red beulah lettuce (111) eggplant 18 and 176 
keep the plastic bags holding the seeds zipped closed so they can't get watered. 

Put a minimum of 2 tag sticks in each flat. In case we lose one. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Per instructions: we will plant in the green house 2 weeks before setting them out. They will bloom in less than 2 months. 
We will start them April 1. 
We have to start them in the greenhouse because chipmunks and squirrels will eat every one that is direct seeded.
Note: you harvest them BEFORE the  flowers open-- which can happen in 2 hours. 
We will grow the 4-5 ' high floral sunflowers, not the 12' ones for eating.

Today we are seeding everything else  but no cosmos yet please. 


1. Plant san marzano tomatoes in 48's.
2. Plant the other tomatoes too.
3. Plant three 72 flats of basil with a very small pinch in each hole 5 seeds max. These will be set out in a row or maybe plastic in early May. These will not be sold as seedlings. The big problem with basil is that it gets mildew early about a week after the first cutting. Our fix has been to seed again about july 1 we usually direct seed this but the weed seeds are too fast at that time this year so we will transplant seedlings. Basil takes about 2 weeks to make real leaves meanwhile the weeds grow 6" in that time. 
4. Plant flower seeds, Connie's big  seed order arrived yesterday they go in 72's. 
5. Connie talked to a friend who has too many dahlia tubers and will give us some... dahlias are immigrants from Mexico by the way. Dahlias fall over especially when they have large beautiful blooms. We will stake them like tomatoes, if we can. They bloom in September. 
6. I will order some sunflower seeds ..a lot of varieties to select from....we will give away six packs of sunflower seedlings under  Ukraine flags at the market. The seedlings are loved by animals so when you set them use row cover til they get big.  

My 1980  IBM selectric -free to anyone who will love it - I have the original manual, the original $1000 receipt and maintenance records! It worked the last time it was used..about 5 years ago. I have never used it. It is not a portable.


Plant san marzano and all other tomatoes in 48's. 
Water everything.
Plant flower seeds in 72 size flats.
I will get more chicken feed this week. Babara Van says we are feeding a lot more than chickens. This makes me wonder if the less than usual damage done by mice and chipmunks is because they are stealing a lot of chicken feed..a good thing maybe.  
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell


Time now to seed tomatoes, peppers ,eggplants do them in 48 plug trays. Now is 8 weeks before planting them out in the field. 
Take plastic covers off those flats that have been sprouted more than a week. Put them on the newly seeded flats . 
The yellow van is having a large hole in the driver's side floor repaired at off-road vehicles repair on rt 9 in Belchertown. 
The white van is now being regularly used. 
I will see if I can get the fertilizer injector installed in the greenhouse, however I will hold off using it for another week. Let the seedlings get their true leaves. 
Connie will have flower seeds to be planted in 72's. Use the pink stakes for flowers. Don't plant cosmos or nasturtium for another month. Don't plant anything that makes vines. 
Look at the uncovered flats for any varmint damage. Sometimes an animal will eat seedlings. Look carefully for chomped off tops. 


Most seeds are up in the covered flats in the greenhouse. These are the early things. Now I have to remove a few covers to see if the varmints in the greenhouse have an appetite for seedlings. You have to wait till they agree there is little seed left to eat. (they pull up the seedling and eat what is left of the seed) On the other hand the seedlings need air and light. We need it to be easier to  water. So we are hoping the covers can come off soon. 

To be planted ASAP!  Dahlia seeds. In the past we have dug up and saved the tubers but this year I forgot. Maybe on purpose.. I can't remember, but in any case, dahlias bloom in Sept and October and our seedlings will still produce flowers. We will  stick a pink id tag in each 6 pack saying dahlia and its sub name and color. 
There is a picture of our min-max thermometer: hi is 80 ( as controlled by the big  fans) and a low of 48 with heat provided by the natural gas air furnace. 

I am removing office files and equipment from my old architectural office at 409 Main st. Also a HP 42" roll color plotter  IBM selectric typewriter, flat drawing files and desks. They are all available...some are free. Call me anytime it is light out. 
Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell 


A farm van overdue for inspection. "Who is your metal man ?"  is what College Motors, Mike Fuller, asked when I asked him to get the van inspected. 
(They don't do the inspection themselves, but they  fix what needs to be done to pass and take it to the inspection station.) 
Having lived in Amherst for since 1969, that should have been an easy question. Nobody does "ugly" fixes anymore to pass inspection. My old friends at Amherst Welding said their fix would exceed he value of the van . .. so the answer  is "I . " I am  be the metal man. 
 I used aluminum pop rivets and a 26ga sheet of galvanized steel. Drilling the right size holes, breaking drills, dulling drills, was not easy, I gave up waiting for an unsuspecting neighbor to visit the farm and hold the metal in place. Duct tape worked as a temporary extra hand till I got a couple of rivets popped. 
Popping rivet takes squeezing strength... something I have not used much since I stopped shaking hands. Popping a rivet is probably very good exercise but also is hard. 
At the auto zone store I got a can of yellow spray paint that needs 55 degree temperature (I will have a wait till the sun comes out again) ... it won't match but it will put a finishing touch on my ugly patch...and hopefully help acquire the sticker.  I get materials for farm work with no sales tax since we are a farm ( a min of 5 acres)  I give stores a copy of my exemption form, that you print from the massgov site. The stores all use your phone # to validate your purchase exemption. Also the  stores have treats for Luna who puts all the store clerks in good humor. We get great service everywhere and I smile too. 

Today and next week we will be planting  seeds in plug trays in the greenhouse.  I will put out in a gallon zip bag with seed packets. The black 3 ring binder on the seeding table has seed lists and instructions on how many flats are needed and how many seeds per plug.
The Basil planted last Sunday has started to sprout. 



Seeding flats is well underway work so far done by Jason and Barbara V.  The flats on the benches are covered with domes. Domes are weighted down with stones to fend off the mice and chipmunks. A page in the three ring seed binder shows that at that time 3 flats of Basil were done. 
On the table are various  tools to foster easier singular seeding of the plug trays, it is very hard to plant tiny seeds one at a time. The white tool has a big battery used to power a vibrator (seed) and with controls enable one to to vary the intensity of the dropping rate. Usually they are done by hand except when you can't . 

When a package of seed still has seeds left, tape it shut carefully , before returning it to its drawer. 

The seeds have to be returned to their steel drawers in the C shed since they must be protected from an overreaching watering spray or animal. The cardboard boxes on the table contain seed stake labels. Barbara has tinted glasses on...greenhouse brightness, however, everytime you come in on a cold day, your glasses fog up, you take them off for a second and later search for them when you get back home. That is mostly a problem of aging . 

Add to the list of seeds to be planted now: mesclun, a pinch of seed in each plug, lettuce, singularly seeded. kohlrabi, broccoli, collard.


Within hours three full flats of basil seeds were dug up in the green house by mice or chipmunks. A day later I sprinkled on more seeds, flattened watered and covered the flats. On the same table were three flats of cilantro that were not dug up. Nonetheless, I watered and covered them too with "humidity domes" for protection. I will send pictures tomorrow. 

Today: seed chard, beets, kohlrabi, kale, scallions in 72 plug flats. Water.... then cover them with domes. 

I replaced the overhead light in the greenhouse with a single LED shop light which is plugged into a motion/light switch the lights will turn on and off automatically . 

The seeds are in the steel drawers in shed C ( the middle shed). Return them there so they are not stolen or wetted. We are getting a lot of condensation on the underside of the greenhouse cover which might wet the seed packets .
Note in the black 3ring binder, fill in the flats 0000 's on the seed sheets so we know how many have been done. 
Put two white seed tags in each flat use the black permanent markers only. Push them all the way down so the domes can be set down. 

The greenhouse heat is on ,  set for 55. 


We will seed vegetables with WHITE TRAY TAGS, the new blue tags are too dark so we will use them for "special notes, like don't sell this, this is grown for Bob, reseeded on what date"
two tags per tray
mark vegetable # tags with black permanent marker only all other colors disappear in three weeks. Number and name . 
Use seeds in packages that have the # in RED (that means 2022 seeds)
1. large 4" x 6" tubs which are filled with media are set in standard flats on a bench.  Put a couple of pinches of cilantro or  basil in each tub ...see the official list for number of flats to do. The three ring binder with the official list will be on a table. 
2. water the full (with media ) but dry containers then/ When you water set the spray so it is fine and linear. Unless you want to be watering all day, figure out how to water them without almost turning off the volume. water once a day now , in a month with higher temps and leaves on the seedlings we have to water 2x/day.
3. After scattering  the seeds on top ,press them in and cover with vermiculite. press it flat and evenly white , Press it hard so when you water it again you will 
be less likely to blast them loose and outathere.
4. find our shallow humidity domes and put them over the flats to keep mice and chipmunks from digging them up. 
5. if you see the media with uneven piles the next day, it means they were eaten. reseed those tubs that were disturbed  immediately. 
6. I will set temp to 55 just leave it there. I will set the fans to come on at 90 so they don't cook (like things would in your back seat) 
7. I will try to make a plastic sheet enclosure for a 90 degree sprouting table. 
8. after that, seed the other cool items: kale, scallion, leeks, kohlrabi, chard, beets, mesclun all of those in " 72 plug" trays I have filled about 30 of them with media. 
The scallions and leeks and mesclun are a small pinch (maybe 12 seeds) per plub,  the rest are one seed per tray... That is where  patience and skill come in. Fortunately there is no hurry. In 1775, William Bartram would  call it  "serenity".  He was a natural and underachieved on purpose.


In a week we will plant : leeks, scallions, broccoli, kale, chard, basil,beets yellow and red, kohlrabi
three flats of small pots of basil and cilantro be  sold in late april for immediate use in kitchen. A small pinch ,maybe 12 seeds ,per pot. Each tray will have two seed stakes with plant# plus common name.
Lettuce wait 2 weeks, it grows fast, once germinated. Connie suggests planting some leaf (boston) 
IMG_0986.JPGI will send you a photo after this is fixed and passed inspection, I hope.
IMG_0355.JPG(last year flats and next to them are flats covered for chipmunk protection. )
lettuce sooner with the idea of selling  4"x6 pansy pots"  of leaf lettuce ready to eat. Lets do  two flats of that. 
Stack the media filled flats under the benches 

I will order seed stakes : blue for vegetables, pink for flowers, white for special notices and solds and remember use ONLY very bold permanent black ink markers. 
ALL other types will  disappear in a few weeks from the watering and the sun. NO COLORS OTHER THAN BLACK. 

When we have a sunny day above freezing Jason and I will try to  put 26 ga steel panels over rusted areas that will not pass inspection on our yellow market van. 
Our guide, Bob Cyr , said to heat the 26 ga steel sheet  with our Bernzomatic torch after the top row of the patch is pop riveted on, he said bending it back on itself at the bottom will be easy then. I haven't tried that before. I always have something to worry about. The Inspection sticker expires today. 

Bill Gillen
Sunset Farm : 20 Brigham Lane , Amherst ,Ma    01002
413-374 5193  bill's cell