Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summer Farm Update

By Farmer Richard

Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun, or too busy to notice!  What happened to “Summertime, and the livin' is easy, Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high….”   Seems like we just started the season with late spring plantings and now here we are planting our late fall crops!  We’re nearly done with transplant production and the greenhouses are being prepared for drying the garlic & onions we’ll be harvesting soon.  It’s hard to believe we’re already nearing the halfway point in July, but that means tomatoes are just around the corner and we still have a lot of good summer eating coming our way!

Wall of tomato plants
Despite the late start to the season, our summer crops are coming in pretty much on schedule.  We planted tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and eggplant during one of our chilly May weeks.  Thankfully they acclimated well to the field and have responded well to the fertilizer we’ve given them through the driplines.  Couple this with two hot spells and they look fantastic!  We started harvesting eggplant last week and little peppers are starting to hang on the plants in the pepper field which we just finished weeding this week.  The first tomato planting has been tied with 5 strings to anchor the plants to the stakes and keep them growing upright.  We have formed a wall of tomato plants with a lot of fruit hanging on the vines.  Pretty soon we’ll see them start to ripen!  Our second plantings of zucchini and cucumbers are looking good and will soon be ready to replace the early crop which has already peaked and is slowing down with production.

While we’re just starting to harvest summer crops, we’re also planting our fall crops.  We now have two fields of fall carrots planted and up!  The last planting needed to be watered to soften the hot dry soil crust so the new sprouts could push through.  This week we’re harvesting the first beets of the season, but we’re also planting the last crop of beets for storage into fall and early winter.  Only turnips, daikon, storage radishes, and tat soi remain.  Of course, we’ll continue to plant our weekly plantings of cilantro, radishes, dill, mustard, baby arugula, etc until early September.

Little peppers starting to grow
We have four crops of sweet corn, beans and edamame planted and growing well.  The edamame was attractive to some hungry deer so we had to put a fence around the field earlier than we anticipated.  The first crop of corn will be a little smaller due to the fact that black birds ate some of the seed before sprouts were even up!  Nonetheless, tassels and ears are setting on and the following crops look even better.  We’re happy to be picking our first beans this week and we’re looking forward to harvesting potatoes next week.  The potato field is full of blossoms and the plants are setting a nice crop of tubers.

It looks like garlic harvest will start in earnest probably next week and we’ll have a beautiful onion crop to harvest shortly after.  Once we bring the onions and garlic in from the field, they’ll need several weeks to dry in our greenhouses before we put them into storage for the fall and winter.  Simon and Antonio have been working hard with the help of several other crew members to get the shade cloth on the greenhouses, clean up the benches, drain down the water and prepare to receive garlic and onions soon.

Silvestre "scratching" between the broccoli rows
Our weeding and cultivating crews have done a great job, and it hasn’t been an easy job.  Even though we were able to dislodge and disturb many weeds, a constant series of rain allowed them to regrow before they totally died.  Thus we’ve had to utilize a technique we call “Scratching” to disturb the weeds several times in order to totally knock them back to a final death.
In between rain and storms, we managed to cut and bale our rye mulch for next year’s crops as well as feed for our cows this winter.  We now have 47 big round bales wrapped for winter.  The cows are still belly deep in grass as they graze the lush pastures, but they will appreciate and find the hay bales attractive this winter when the snow flies.

Did I forget the two crops of melons and watermelon?  They are looking great and it will likely only be a few weeks until they’re ready for harvest.  I also wanted to mention our pollinator gardens which are beautiful and in full bloom attracting a wide variety of creatures.  We’re happy to see more monarchs this year including four that have been flitting and playing in our front yard for several weeks!

In the midst of all the work that needs to be done, we’ll be taking a break this weekend to enjoy some leisure time with our hard working crew.  This Saturday is our annual crew appreciation party!  Feel free to join us at the Legion Park on County Road O just above our farm for lots of fun including volleyball, soccer and lots of food!  Our campgrounds are available if you’d like to make it a weekend getaway! 

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