Moon Dog Farms

Certified Naturally Grown family farm growing fruits, vegetables & flowers in the Texas Gulf Coast

MoonDog Farms is dedicated to stewardship of the land, reinforcing a healthy community and producing great food.  

Filtering by Tag: compost

Everything but the kitchen sink (which is full of dirty radishes).

To recount the bustle of the last few weeks would be an exhausting and confusing tale, requiring far too many words.

“Did we find a home for Skeletor and Ruby before or after we made that pile of rotting cauliflower stems? And when did I show those kids that grubs won't bite you, but they will poop in your hand?”


The “to-do's” undone and “done-that's” crossed off the list have been, in one way or another: frenetic, disappointing, mirthful,  grateful and  forehead-slapping, hand-clapping, hand-wringing and brain-squeezing.

So, in order to avoid using any more adjectives than a normal person should employ in polite company, I choose to stick to the good ol' adage of a picture being worth a thousand words.


With that in mind, here's about 3 million of 'em.

My adventures in the school garden at Early Childhood University on Galveston Island got grungier and even more fun when I took them transplants of veggies and flowers. Every kid got a chance to steward their "own" plant, and we talked about food, using "gentle" hands and how much fun it is to get dirty.

Oh, and a grub did poop in my hand. 

The grandmaster behind all this garden magic is Jessica Antonelli, resident art teacher and fun guru. These kids are sooo lucky.

The grandmaster behind all this garden magic is Jessica Antonelli, resident art teacher and fun guru. These kids are sooo lucky.

We were amping ourselves up for BOTANY!!!!

We were amping ourselves up for BOTANY!!!!


And then there were the rains.

So, so much rain. It postponed and cancelled nearly all of our planting plans for a week. But nature does what nature wants, and we're just her fanclub.

The snapdragons at last began to bud and finally--FINALLY--the nigella began to bloom. 

This might not sound like a whoop-de-doo, but DAMN! we've been waiting for these beauties to flower for what felt like an eternity. 

The green beans continue to pop and stretch their limbs. Hooray!

This sweet fella was affectionately dubbed Skeletor, and his lovely girlfriend was Ruby. McFarmer begs me not to name them, but I continue to happily ignore him. We were so glad they found a happy home. 

We had our very own brush with matchmaking.

Tragic as it was to drive up to the farm one morning and find two lost and dreadfully malnourished pups, it was tremendous to find them homes by sunset of the same day.  All thanks to the curious, wonderful world of facebook

Large machine work ensued.

McFarmer dug another trench for irrigation (this time to the herb garden) and took pains to properly care for his equipment (he was ever-so-thankful to forgo the manual digging this go-round).

We began our final harvests of the Fall field, saying "ciao" to broccolis, brussels sprouts, cabbages and more. 

A rainy farmer's market last Sunday was the official farewell to our colder-weather crops until next Fall.

More and more restaurant deliveries kept us busy and thankful. Hooray for Brennan's and Gaidos!

We marveled at the crazy beauty that is life. And lettuce.





Flower arrangements were made for our good friends (and farmer's market manager), Cate and Brian.


We contemplated going very earthy for the bride's bouquet...



....but ended up a bit more traditional.

Of course, how can you go wrong with a few Texas wildflowers thrown in?

Family came for a visit, and they were put right to work. ( Turns out, fathers have a penchant for expertly washing market produce. Who knew?) 


Oh, and we marveled some more at some more beauty of life.

And yes, more family came, and we put them to even MORE work. 

My sister Julia and brother-in-law Jerry never cease to impress us with their willingness and effectiveness when it comes to tackling any job we throw at them. 

This time, it was removing the stumps of the older brassicas from the field before tilling.
Here's the thrilling action shot of spent vegetables finding their place in a large compost pile. Can you read the determination on their faces?

Here's the thrilling action shot of spent vegetables finding their place in a large compost pile. Can you read the determination on their faces?

Of course, some family members took a more laid-back approach to the farmwork. Luckily, they make up for a lack of thumbs with an excess of sweetness.

The strawberry study has begun to yield small green fruits! Here's hoping we get to their little gems before others do when the time comes...

And then, the big daddy of all tasks this week: transplanting.

Family helped transform the Fall field into our Summer One field, requiring the installation of tomato/cucumber trellises, black fabric as an experiment in combating weeds, and loads and loads of T-posts. Sore shoulders were felt all around.  


Three varieties of tomatoes were moved from our greenhouse to the ground this week: Sakura, Goldies and Black Cherries. All are cherry tomatoes, for they're our favorite and no one can tell us not to.


Mass transplantings always give us ample time to bemoan the state of our gumbo clay soil here in the Gulf.  I mean, look at that stuff.  All we need is a kiln and a different business model.

We scheduled another dirt delivery this week as part of our "Fix the Bowl In The Middle Of the Field" mission. Where once the lettuce of Fall was growing, we will now spread the topsoil and set it in cover crop until this year's Fall.

Can you smell that basil?

Setting those little babes in the ground is a truly reaffirming act.  They're so delicate and tender at this age, but you know that in only a matter of days they grow strong, grateful for the chance to root deep. They give and give, stretching our harvest for months and becoming a staple in both our diet and our incomes until late summer.

And of course, we do a little more marveling.

After all, we're lucky to stare natural beauty in the face everyday--it's the least we can do to go on and on about it. :)

Eric's twin will save your life.

Imagine, if you will, the blowout of a tire.

The telltale swerve of the vehicle's rear, swaggering all over a 6-lane highway like some belligerent alligator. 

Now imagine a 20ft trailer loaded with roughly 10,000lbs of compost attached to the back of your drunk reptile.  Cow manure flying, eyes widening, and a gulf of fear deepening by the microsecond.  

McFarmer is so sad.  His compost day did not go as planned.

Somehow, your brave McFarmer in the driver's seat manages to wrassle the injured beast to the shoulder of I-45, where you promptly lock in relieved embrace and contemplate barfing.

(He later confesses to blacking out during the panic.) 

Luckily, no one barfs, but unluckily, you find yourself in even more predicament. 

The lug wrench set for the truck doesn't fit the trailer wheels. The trailer's too heavy for the jack.  Over the deafening tidal wave of constant traffic noise, you hear Triple A say "No dice--we don't cover the trailer."

 Nearly 10 phone calls later, not one tow truck, highway auto service or dude with a wrench will come to bail you out; the trailer doesn't have a spare, and no one wants to bring you a tire before they put it on.  You're starting to feel not only woefully unprepared, but just really woeful.

What do you do? Leave it as a testament to the dangers of old tires and too much cubic yardage? Where do you turn now?  This was freaky-expensive dirt.

Then parts the gloom, and an automotive messiah emerges midst the Houston haze.  

The man himself.

I sit, with pounds of compost in my pants, in resignation to our fate.

"I'M DERIC---LIKE 'ERIC,' WITH A 'D!'" he yells over the din. "I'M A TWIN. HIS NAME IS ERIC. LET'S GIVE THIS A TRY! 

He's  actually RUNNING to help us.

He proceeds to boost the whole trailer, remove the shredded tire, drive Alex to a tire store, put on the new tire, follow us to a parking lot off the next exit and change another tire for us (just in case), and give us use of his drill and fancy self-tapping screws to secure our flapping tarp.  All of this with a reassuring smile.  

Deric is the owner of State Farm Towing, and he's not affiliated with the insurance company.  But he is forever affiliated with my gratitude.

Just look at him go.

Thank you so much, Deric.  And thank you from our parents, to whom we did not tell this story until much later.  

Deric Lopez, the man of my highway dreams.  I didn't know I had such dreams.  But now I've been acquainted with the taste of a highway nightmare, and I understand what it means to have them answered with a dream.  

A dream named Deric Lopez of State Farm Towing, who's got one lucky twin named Eric.

No more resignation here, only microbial jubilation!  We're spreading this hard-won compost.

Compost spread through nearly the whole field. The lines mark where our veggie beds will be.