Harvesting tomatoes continues this week with three varieties to pick. This will mean by the end of the week we'll have completed first pick on all the tomatoes. Four tomatoes harvests have been completed along with the two melons we had.
We've been seeding down some fields and have several more to do this week. The month of September is prime time to seed cover crops before the cold weather settles in. This week we'll seed oilseed radishes, kale and probably some winter rye.
The "Good Idea" award goes to Jeff this week for developing a grinder for processing cherry tomatoes. Usually we use our vine crop harvester for doing tomatoes but we have one cherry that's really, really small. The grinding mechanism on the vine harvester won't close up tight enough to grind up the fruit, so he bought a used chipper/grinder that one would use in their yard. There are a couple of potential issues with using a chipper/shredder; one being they typically run too fast. I want to extract the seed not make paste out of it.
The other issue is cleaning the machine between harvests. The chipper/shredder he bought has a variable throttle on it slow we can slow it down considerably; problem one solved. Cleaning it between harvests is a critical step in producing clean seed. No one wants to buy and plant one variety and have other varieties in with it, so Jeff modified the machine so it can be easily cleaned in about a half hour with two people. Problem two solved.
We'll position the chipper over a barrel, feed the tomatoes into it and see what happens. We want to make sure this is going to work before we get out in the field to harvest our seed production. If everything goes according to plan we'll have a half barrel of ground up tomatoes we can sluice the next day. I want to make sure the seed gets separated from the tomatoes but that also no damage occurs to the seed. It should be fine as we have used chipper/shredders in the past for the same process.
Although the fall weather is right around the corner, it seems more like summer has been extended this year. Any summer weather is fine; we'll take it. September is such a nice month; the cool days and cooler nights; perfect working weather. The swallows must have left by now and the hummingbirds should be on their way too. I've seen lots of blackbirds flocking up now; they must be getting ready to raid the area cornfields.
Until next week, enjoy the late summer weather, Brian