Tuesday, August 12, 2008

summer feels like fall now

Well, we've had at least a week now of days with temperatures in the comfortable 70s... at night dropping to the 50s. This is not the sweaty days of August I was expecting! "Sweater weather" some might call it, or "Soup Weather"... I put my fleece on in the mornings. And rain, rain, rain. Severe thunderstorms romping freely through the Northeast. Let's see how it's treating the crops.

It may be slowing down the lettuce a bit, which is kind of a good thing. In the summer, lettuce "bolts" easily and we lose it when we have too many other things to harvest.
It also is slowing down the beans & other summer crops, which formerly grew so fast we needed to pick them every 2 days.
We managed to squeeze a day of planting into the solid harvesting schedule-- here are some small lettuce & fennel transplants, next to some newly seeded herbs, beets, carrots, & beans.
Can you see these tiny carrot seedlings in this rocky soil? We flame-weeded them the day before they germinated, to kill most of the purslane & other weeds that came up faster. Now the tiny carrot plants have less competition & have a little elbow room to grow.
This is what that carrot bed will look like in a couple weeks (these carrots will be ready to harvest next week maybe):
It may be the year of the eggplant here on the farm, but the unfortunate sacrifice crop may be the tomatoes. Most of them have brown leaves from some kind of blight, and haven't really appreciated the soggy weather. For some reason, despite the early summer heat we got, we have very few red ones... lots and lots of green ones though! I think they will all choose the same weekend to ripen, and we'll have to spend a whole day picking them... maybe we will give only tomatoes for a share one week!
I found quite a few with bites taken out of them-- some furry creature has been gnawing them! I think it's probably a rabbit, but it could be a groundhog. It's pretty sad to see these beautiful, 2-pound heirloom tomatoes that are finally starting to ripen, robbed from our CSA members. The negative aspects of a healthy wildlife population... maybe we could learn to share I guess. But my heirloom tomatoes!
The abundant pepper field is beginning to look like christmas... the green peppers turning to a delicious red:
Some scallions almost ready to harvest:
And, alas, the melon field is no more. A brief life, but it sure was sweet and juicy. We disced in the last of the vines yesterday, after harvesting everything we could. It was just in time, because the weeds were large & going to seed.
The winter squash, however, is in it's prime ripening stages. Check out this abundant butternut squash, some fruits almost mature, and more flowers blooming:
I went down this row of newly germinated summer squash with the sweeps on the Cub tractor, hilling the soil into the row so that no hand weeding was necessary. The cucumber seedlings to the right of this bed aren't doing so well, though. They have been decimated by 2 things: cucumber beetles & a mouse. I saw it scurrying away, the little scoundrel. I saw a burrow hole, and about a full third of the plants have disappeared. That's probably one fat little mouse, feeding on squash seeds this whole time. The case for sharing with wildlife is getting weaker, when you think about how many pounds of cucumbers that mouse stole from our members. Hm.
I covered it back up with Reemay, to prevent the cucumber beetles from removing the rest of the vulnerable seedlings.
At least we have lots of zucchini, growing fast & large as ever!
We planted the last 5 trays of seedlings in the greenhouse yesterday. Now we have 4 successions of lettuce left, and everything else we will direct seed.... like fall greens, turnips, radishes, etc.
My scarlet runner beans are doing well, making quite a few pods:
And the Chinese Purple Yard-Long Beans have finally started producing! We had them for dinner last night, slightly sauteed in olive oil, with garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Yum.
And my cayenne plants have lots of tiny green peppers on them... I can't wait for them to turn red:
And a summer photo from my kitchen window (can you see the sheep?):
Fall is right around the corner... I have been busy thinking about next year.

So much planning to do-- crops, equipment, marketing, employees, housing... I am looking forward to a long winter now finally!

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