Friday, May 24, 2013

An unfortunate pepper incident

We've been busy.
First, working up the ground with our plows and disks, then planting.
Then irrigating because it hasn't rained much this spring.
Now we are cultivating!  That's just a fancy word for getting the weeds out, with a tractor.

Meet Princess Rose III, our 1948 Farmall Cub!  She prances around the farm, going over nearly every 200 foot bed of growing vegetables at least two or three times in the spring, delicately scraping out the "bad plants" and leaving in the "good plants"...  She is especially designed for maximum visibility, so hopefully the driver can make this distinction.  It's tricky.

If you've driven by the farm lately, you might have noticed the big field by the road is covered with a white cloth, weighed down with black sandbags.  That's called "Row Cover" -- we use it mostly for pest control on our farm.  It works by excluding the bad bugs, instead of killing them, like spraying would do.  The broccoli-family plants attract flea beetles something awful, and so we use it for them.  Cucumber-family plants need protection from cucumber beetles.  We take the covers off when the plants are large enough to withstand a bit of nibbling.  These tiny bugs really can do a lot of damage!  We feel that using row cover is more sustainable than spraying something.

The other benefit that row cover has, is it creates a little greenhouse environment out in the field, which the plants love.  The sun gets through, and the rain gets through, but not the bugs!  Moisture doesn't evaporate as readily, so our irrigation water goes further.  

And on cold nights, it can protect the crops from freezing (it's also called Frost Cloth).  Which is what happened last week, to our tender unsuspecting peppers, except it got just a little TOO cold!


We had these awesome pepper transplants, which we watered diligently for over two months in our greenhouse.  We had just planted about 3,000 of them out into the field, when the weather was great.  Then, the weather turned sour.  The temperature was under 50 degrees for several days, and one night it dipped down to about 25.  We had the heavy frost-grade cloth on them, and even then, they succumbed to the frost.  

A few days after "the event", we hesitatingly peeked under the cloth to look at the peppers, to find that all the growing points had shriveled, the plants just looked melted.  How depressing.  And ironically, we had just given away all our extra pepper plants to CSA members!

Luckily, the small organic CSA farmer circuit in New York State is extensive enough and generous enough, that I found another farmer with a few extra flats to spare, and we were able to purchase about 1,000 more sweet pepper plants.  Not as many as we were planning on, but so it goes-- mother nature throwing a wrench in our well-laid plans again.

But so it goes, the adventure of farming.

Meanwhile, daily life on the farm goes on.  
Plants get watered, farmworkers sweat, and baby animals get bigger.

We look forward to sharing our nest with you this summer, our little fields by the creek, bountiful and full by the sweat on our brows, the determination of our souls, and the financial support of our CSA members.  I look forward to that first bite of butterhead lettuce, fresh cilantro, delicate swiss chard, and crisp watery radishes.

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