We continue planting this week with lots of squash and pumpkins; and I mean lots as in acres and acres. We've got around 7 acres of breeding and trials, and around 5 acres seed production. All plants get transplanted and we install row covers on them immediately. We like to exclude the striped cucumber beetles (SCB) from the plantings as they'll prey upon the seedlings at a critical time in their life. Newly transplanted seedlings may succumb to the beetles if left unchecked. Floating row covers are the best way to combat them. We'll leave the covers on until right after the fourth of July; by then the first and biggest flush of SCB have come and gone and the plants will be strong enough to withstand some damage from the ones that are left.
Insects in the field are early this year; probably due to having no frost this past winter. Tarnished plant bugs have shown up already; we don't usually see them until much later in the season. Flea beetles have been ferociously feeding on the greens and the brassicas elsewhere, and without row covers we wouldn't have any crop left. A few potato beetles are out but not in full force yet, or at least we haven't seen many but then again we use lots of row covers.
Cultivation is in full swing right now. The Allis Chalmers "G" is cultivating many direct seeded crops as well as some of the smaller transplanted crops like lettuce and onions. The Farmalls - the AV and the 200 are both out cultivating plastic and the Ford is holding the wire winder unwinding wire for the tomato trellises. The small weeds are being taken care of with the Lely weeder where we can use it. Weeding and thinning by hand is being done in the greens and radishes. Lots of activity going on outside my window now.
Two deer were standing in the road out front of the house this morning; I think they were on their way to check out what I have planted in my garden. Fooled them; haven't planted anything yet! Probably won't. I've got to take care of the blueberries and grapes I planted and a few minor crops like onions, Brussels sprouts and summer squash so that's enough for this year. Sorry deer - no time.
Turtles are out in force; I've seen many painted and snapping turtles in the past few days. No squished ones yet but I wonder how they avoid being a casualty as they stand ever so defiant in the road. I suppose some of the older ones have been traveling the same routes from before there were so many cars to contend with. Think about it: The lifespan of a snapping turtle is around 50 years, and fifty years ago there weren't nearly as many cars so they could travel as they pleased. Now there are lots more cars and more people driving them and everyone is in a hurry except for the turtle. Even his shell won't protect him from cars as it has protected him for the last few thousand years.
Until next week, keep planting and avoiding the turtles.