Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's New At The Farm? 7/29/09

As we approach the end of July I come to the unfortunate realization summer's end is but a few weeks away. And after what seems like an endless rainy spell that's lasted much of the summer we're finally getting some heat; better late than never.

Our crops here at Johnny's have survived amazing well. The tomatoes (and we've got lots of them) are looking good. Constant scouting for disease and pest damage, coupled with an aggressive fungicide program, has left them in pretty good shape considering the weather conditions since we transplanted them. The breeding workshop and the trials have all been trellised so that has helped them by getting them at least some air circulation.

We basket weaved a tomato for seed production; a first in memory. It's a cherry tomato, and with several other cherry tomatoes in production this year, I am concerned about how long it's going to take to harvest them for seed. Many years ago we did a cherry that had over 500 tomatoes in a bucket, and it was prolific (you could sit in one place and fill a bucket); so it takes a while to pick 500 cherry tomatoes. Couple that with the fact we have a half acre of these little devils... well, you can see where I'm going with this. So anyways, we did basket weaving so at least we won't have to be on our hands and knees for days on end picking these.

Other seed productions we have this year include melons, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. Melons are probably the most fun to do. We wait until 90% of the fruits are in the "ripe to overripe" stage and then pick them, slice them in half and dump the seeds into buckets. While some of the fruit are well beyond eating stage there's always a few that makes you wish you'd brought a spoon. A lot of people can't stand to eat what we're harvesting, especially if they have a weak stomach, but some of us enjoy it. Nothing like a cool and sweet melon while working in the field on a crisp but soon-to-be warm day.

Critters are keeping Jeff busy catching and releasing. He started in earnest last week and has gotten a squirrel, two raccoons and two quill pigs (porcupines) so far; all within a week. The squirrel went home with him to get released into his new home up the road a bit, the big quill pig went down on the "bog" six or seven miles away, the raccoons went to Palermo on a back road and the baby porcupine went to the Wildlife Care Center in South China as he was pretty small to be on his own. Bait of choice this year, and yes I know it sound strange, is sliced apples in a shallow bowl of peanut butter. That combination works on everything except raccoons; they prefer canned sardines.

Until next week, enjoy the summer while it's here.


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