Monday, June 17, 2013

Too much water!

 Boy, has it been wet! We got more rain in the past week (over six inches) than we did during most of last summer.

Even though most of our fields are really well-drained, there is standing water in many areas after the most recent deluge.

The current joke that I've heard too many times is "Growin' rice this year?"


Our irrigation lines lay useless in the swampy muck, waiting for perhaps a late summer drought?  I continue to hold on to the hope that the sun will come out tomorrow.  The rain is great.  Just a bit less please.

At least we have designed our fields to be surrounded with grass strips, that keep that good soil from washing away.  Plant roots are key to helping control erosion.  Sometimes you'll see farms where they've plowed "fence-row to fence-row"... and this quickly turns creeks very muddy.  Along with good soil, storm runoff from agricultural fields includes whatever yucky pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that have been applied to the fields.  And those creeks that take the runoff eventually flow into our drinking water sources.  Something to think about next time it pours and the muddy creeks rise.

 Soil is like a sponge, with lots of air pockets that help plant roots and earthworms breathe. The roots of the plants require oxygen to help them take up other nutrients from the soil. The ground was already pretty saturated before this last storm, and now it's submerged! Imagine taking a tractor onto a soaked sponge: you would just flatten it. But unlike a sponge, it wouldn't bounce back into shape, but stay compacted.
So we are a bit behind on the things requiring a tractor:  cultivation (weeding), planting, plowing.

But we can still harvest!  What a first harvest week it's been.


The greens are growing so fast you can almost watch them grow. Lots of lettuce, spinach, chard, and cabbages!

Spring broccoli is hit-and-miss, some of it looks like it will come in really well, some is making irregular heads due to the crazy cold/heat/wet/dry conditions we've had this spring. It's so picky.

Peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, melons, and cucumbers, are growing really slowly due to the lack of sun and heat. There may be smaller shares as the spring greens end and before the summer crops come in.

The onions and potatoes (on really sandy ground) are really happy! Let's hope these staples pull through for us this year.

Our winter squash field is half under water. We will try to plant again when the soil dries out, but that squash will come in really late. We may have a small harvest this year, sadly!

Some carrots, beets, and lettuce are really soggy, and we'll see if they're tough enough to push through.

The garlic is bulbing up, faster now that we just removed the "scapes" (flower buds), and looks like it will be another great crop!  Harvest starts in July.

We are late on a bunch of succession plantings (squash, lettuce, carrots, beets, beans), so there may be a gap in the harvest.

The U-Pick garden looks great. Herbs and flowers are coming in quickly.

I just saw a Mexican bean beetle on the green beans, which is bad news for green beans. I will try planting some of the later U-Pick green bean successions across the street, to get away from the beetles.

Wild field greens are doing great with all this rain! These are the more nutritious “weeds” that grow on the edges of the fields... I prefer these to any of our cultivated greens actually. Purslane, lambsquarter, dandelion. These are packed with minerals and nutrients, and purslane is high in omega-3s. I added chopped dandelion to egg salad last week, with a garlic scape added in for some zest!

Besides the vegetables, most of which will make it through this crazy weather alright, our parking lot has really taken a beating. We had to distribute bags of vegetables on the road on Thursday! Hopefully after a week or two of sun, we can start using our grass parking lot again. Someday (hopefully soon!) when we are on more permanent land, we can invest in a nice gravel lot. We are looking for a spot off-site to distribute when the lot is too muddy.

It's a big bummer for me to have to bag up people's shares and hand them out off-site, because I think picking up on the farm is so much a part of the experience. The U-Pick fields are very muddy right now.

Coming soon to U-Pick: the first flowers!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Getting ready for lots of guests…

Hi folks, Farmer Ruth here with another guest blog post.  We asked for rain, and boy did we get it!  Its been raining enough that we haven’t turned on any irrigation for over two weeks.  

All the sweet corn was seeded before the first big rain, and its already up!  And on Wednesday, we pulled the first 11.5 hour day and got all of the winter squash seed in the ground, and covered.  We are a little short on row cover, so we spent quite some time stretching what we had over as many beds as we could (there are 24 beds of squash).  We did have one more piece of row cover that we didn’t use, because that mourning dove is still nesting on it.  She has 2 chicks who are about old enough to fledge.  This is her third brood of the year, so once they fly off, I think we’ll probably evict her.

All this effort just to keep those pesky cucumber beetles off the squash!

The other thing we were able to get in before the rain was 7 beds of cherry, heirloom, and paste tomatoes in the pick-your-own section, as well as half a bed of tomatillos and half a bed of ground cherries.  And after planting them all, we laid down irrigation lines (for later!) and then mulched them with hay.  Mulching is always a sticky, itchy job, but it was a lot more pleasant in this cool weather, as opposed to mulching last week in the 80 degree mugginess.

 Things are looking very lush and green at the farm, and it’s nice to lift row cover and find that those tiny little plants you put in look like real food all of a sudden.  There’s always some moments of panic before the first share goes out, when you think “do we have enough food!?”  But then you walk around the farm, and all those crops you weeded and covered a while ago have magically grown huge and harvestable.

Broccoli is making little tiny heads already!

The panic was a little stronger this year because of the cool, wet spring we had.  Things didn’t get out as early as last year, and slowed down every time it got especially cold.  But then the crops grew like crazy during those few weeks of unusually hot weather, and they’ve almost caught up to make a normal sized first share. Our first share turns out to be a pretty nice bunch of stuff: Bok Choi, Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Kale, Hakurei Turnips, and Garlic Scapes, and then in the pick-your-own section there’s Garlic Chives, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, and the very first few Sugar Snap Peas, which it’s difficult not to snack on every time you walk by. 


Bok Choi


Garlic Chives

Redbor Kale


The garlic is starting to make a bulb!
Speaking of things that have been growing like weeds, Petey the goat has been growing like crazy.  He has little tiny horns, and lots of energy.  He is pretty good at amusing himself, but he still loves company, so any time one of us comes into view from his pen, he jumps on top of his house and bleats for attention.  He’s in for a big treat, when lots of CSA members suddenly show up to visit him!