Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seasons Changing…

By Farmer Richard & Captain Jack—the dog

RICHARD: There is something in the air, I feel it and see the signs. Fall is coming, or is it already here? Our yard has a new silence. After seeing our resident barn swallows and bank swallows congregating on the overhead wires throughout the summer, suddenly they are gone! Did they see the same forecast we saw? Temperatures are dropping this week by 15 degrees! We’re preparing to say goodbye to summer and usher in fall…although we long for just a few more days of summer fun.

The crops are changing too! We are harvesting a mature crop of winter squash this week, at the same time the summer squash, cucumbers and melons draw to a close. We are also picking the last crop of green beans, edamame and sweet corn. We missed a couple of plantings this spring due to wet soil, but gambled on a late sweet corn planting. Gambled? Yes, the dreaded corn earworm, which does not overwinter here normally, migrates north from the south in mid-summer. Late planted sweet corn is very susceptible to corn earworms. We use a pheromone trap to tell us when the earworm moths are laying their eggs. Last year it failed us, no moths in the trap, but lots of earworms in the corn! So far this year we haven’t seen any signs of earworms, so lets keep our fingers crossed that they stay away for just a little while longer!

Sweet corn in the field is protected from birds by flashy streamers and bird scare eye balloons.
Thousands of dragonflies also keep insects at bay.
JACK: I check the corn every day with my dad, Farmer Richard. He checks the moth trap, I check for signs of deer or raccoons! We have a tall fence to keep the deer out and it has a low electric wire to keep the raccoons out. Sometimes I get excited sniffing around for signs of critters and forget about the wire. In fact the other day I got zapped by the electricity! I yelped and went back to the truck to recover from the surprise. I can guarantee that no raccoons will get in the corn this year! The corn field looks like a circus with flashy streamers and bird scare eye balloons all sparkling and flashing in the breeze. I know that is to keep the red-winged blackbirds from shredding the tip of the corn ears. I don’t understand why the birds can’t eat the entire ear of corn, but for some reason they must prefer just the tip of the ear.

Farmer Richard and Captain Jack counted
over 500 pumpkins in the field!
This week I saw something else exciting flashing in the air. The last time we checked the corn field, I saw dragon flies everywhere, thousands of them! Their iridescent wings flashing in the sun! I asked Dad about them and he says it’s just another sign of fall. Just like the barn swallows, the dragonflies congregate and migrate to the south for the winter.

Today we counted pumpkins! There are more than 500 pumpkins in the field (I got tired of counting) including some nice silky “Winter Luxury” pumpkins that make great pie. I hope you are planning to come to our Harvest Party on September 21st to help us pick all of these pumpkins. I might need my friends to help me find the pumpkin in the field with my name carved on it. Dad said it’s out there, but I don’t read very well and haven’t found it yet. If it’s a big one, I might need help hauling it home!

RICHARD: As for the other crops, the peppers have been slow to turn ripe, but here they come now!  Enjoy the sweet taste of red/orange/yellow ripe, sweet peppers before the first frost ends the season!

The sweet potatoes and jicama are looking good, but they need to see a few more days in the 80’s to accelerate their growth. The fall cole crops, including broccoli romanesco, cauliflower, broccoli, rutabagas and cabbage, are enjoying the cool summer and are maturing extra early this year! A few of you might even get a purple cauliflower in your box this week!

As we move into root crop season, I’m happy to report that the parsnips look great! Celeriac, leeks, beets, carrots and the late russet potatoes are all looking good and it won’t be long before we harvest them for your boxes. Plus we may still see some nice greens like salad mix or spinach before the winter freeze moves in.

JACK: Summer is fun, but I prefer cool weather. If you have as much hair as I do you would understand why I like fall and winter. My dad helps make the summer heat more bearable for me by turning on the A/C in the truck for me on hot days, but I prefer to get out and run around instead of sitting in the cool truck listening to NPR. I’m happy to see the temperatures dropping…it means we’re one day closer to the first snow fall. I can feel it in the air!

RICHARD & JACK: We hope you’ll consider joining us for our harvest party in just a few weeks. We have a lot of exciting things to show everyone and we’re hoping you’ll help us dig some sweet potatoes, pick the last of the mini-sweet peppers, and find just the right pumpkin for you to take home! See you soon!

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