The Nitty Gritty Dirt

What a crazy spring with all of its highs and lows.  Wednesday, while mulching with hay and soybean straw between the onion and pea rows, it was a gorgeous sunny - not too hot - and calm day.    Perfect weather for tucking hay between our tight spaced rows to inhibit weed growth among the young onions. Today – what a contrast – cloudy and looking like rain that never came - warm but so windy. We keep checking all the rows of mulch we put down yesterday praying it doesn’t blow away.  We could really use some rain but the 30% chance forecast has not managed to produce any drops much less the downpour we were hoping for.  All the new seeds, seedlings and the new grape vines could really use a drink of natural rainwater to give them  the boost they need to take off.

Black Plastic Mulch weed control

Cutting very large holes to plant through.

Frontenac Vines ready to plant

As in past years, we will be growing quite a few veggies and our grape vines in black plastic mulch.  When we first started the CSA we did the whole process by hand!  Now we have a Ford 3000 tractor and mulch layer attachment which Robin uses to lay rows of mulch ready for planting with drip irrigation tape laid beneath it.  We plant our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and quite a few other transplants through the mulch for weed control.   We also purchased a Hatfield transplanter – a nifty hand tool operated by one person that cuts a square hole in the plastic mulch, another person drops the plant plug down the shoot and another adds a dollop of water.  We all cover each plan with a couple good handfuls of soil.   This simple tool really speeds up our planting.

This year, we have converted our southeast most field (Abundance) to our new vineyard.  The grape vines we are planting are: Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, Sabrevois, Prairie Star and
La Crescent
– all Minnesota hardy varieties.  We plan to trial these vines and if all goes well, we will add another planting of vines next year.  

Filling flats with potting mix to start seeds.

Holes with room for a large root system.
Marjoram, Sage and more growing in the greenhouse.

We hope to over the next few years to decrease our vegetable production and increase the size of our vineyard and other fruiting shrubs such as black currants and elderberries.  We are hopeful that in a few years, we’ll be producing good quality organic grapes that will be salable to our local Wineries.  Our friends from Stark Wines (check them out – they are great!) are enthusiastically encouraging our new endeavor.  

Back to the veggies – it is that time of year that we have veggies in all stages of growth.  In early April we only had seeds in flats in our seed house – an insulated building with multiple racks and grow-lights to help the seeds germinate and grow.  By late April, many of those seedlings were already in the greenhouses where they grow until ready to transplant to the field.  Just this week, we transplanted a whole greenhouse of Brassicas to the field.  And the very next day we refilled those cleaned seed flats and seeded a variety of basils and other herbs and flowers which we put in the seedhouse.

Every year, Gigi finds this time of year with plants growing in multiple locations kind of crazy – even with the smaller number of veggies we are growing this year.

As of today, the Norland red potatoes are up, the Yukon Golds are just pushing through the soil, the onions (red, white and yellow) are mulched and growing.  The sweet corn, radishes, carrots, beets, chard, cilantro, lettuce and greens have been seeded in the fields.  Seed-flats of basils, herbs, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are growing in the greenhouses and seed house.  We are planning for our first share the second week of June – however if the really warm weather continues – there could be a smaller share on
June 7th.   Watch our blog for updates about exactly when and where and what time your veggies will be harvested, packed and delivered as we move forward. 

Thank you for joining us for Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm’s eighth season.  We still have approximately twelve spots left for any who are still thinking about joining but haven’t yet sent in your membership form.

Until next week…………….

Hand planting each vine.



Use the addresses to google or mapquest or look up the drop site from your particular location. Keep in mind that the folks at the drop sites are volunteers, allowing us to use their space (and in some cases, their homes) as drop sites. Be nice to them. We couldn't do this without them. If you have any questions about your share etc., you should ask us, not them. They have enough to do....as do we all. All deliveries occur on Thursday afternoons. Approximate drop site times are listed below each location. The end times vary but you should pick up your share as early as possible. Look for the NITTY GRITTY DIRT FARM DROP SITE signs at your delivery locations along with lists to check your name off when you pick up, and a description of exactly what you should take.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm
10386 Sunrise Road (Cty Rd 9)
Harris MN 55032

35 north past North Branch to the Harris Exit. Turn Right.
Go into Harris, cross RR tracks to stop sign. Turn Left
Go 2 blocks to County Rd 9, also called Sunrise Road. (at Heartbreakers Bar) Turn Right. Farm is 4 1/2 miles out on left side of road. Look for Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm sign.
Shares available from 3:00 to 6:00

United Theological Seminary 3000 5th Street NW, New Brighton MN 55112
694 to Silver Lake Road exit. Go south to 5th and turn west (right). Go three blocks to UTS. Follow driveway (left) to the maintenance garage at the far north end of the parking lot. Shares available after 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM.

Pilgrims United Church of Christ
8801 Rice Lake Road, Maple Grove MN 55369
Just off of Weaver Lake Road across from Rice Lake Elementary School. Use main church door. Shares available from 3:30 to 6:00.

Acadia Cafe
329 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis
NW corner of Cedar and Riverside. Park on Riverside or
in lot behind the cafe.
Shares available after 3:15 PM until 6:00 PM

Vincent Avenue
3646 Vincent Avenue North, Mpls MN 55412
1/2 block north of 36th Ave N, and 2 blocks south of Dowling. Park on the street. Shares available after 3:30 until 6:00 PM

Additional drop sites may be added as shares are sold. Drop Sites are subject to change but plenty of notice will be given and alternate sites will be within close proximity to the original drop site.


Robin Raudabaugh & Gigi Nauer

Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm

10386 Sunrise Road

PO Box 235

Harris MN 55032

(651) 226-1186


Also Nitty Gritty Goods Wool CSA
Robin Raudabaugh

We are a 15 acre Community Supported Agriculture farm providing a wide variety of fresh, organically and sustainably grown vegetables, fruit, lamb, pork, turkey and chicken. Located one hour north of the Twin Cities, we deliver to several metro locations. We are intentional about our organic and sustainable farming practices which include (but are not limited to): maintaining soil health through green and animal manures, compost, mulch, cover crops and crop rotations; Organic Pest Management to naturally monitor, prevent and control insects and other pests; maintaining animal health and well-being through the use of portable and loose housing and pasture rotations. Owner/operators Robin Raudabaugh and Gigi Nauer provide over 30 years experience in fruit, vegetable and livestock production, education and customer service. Our primary goal is to build community, relationships and personal health and well-being around good food and the intentional living that creates it. We’d love to have you join us.

Not every day is like this but we try.

Not every day is like this but we try.

Not every day is like this either.

Not every day is like this either.