Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 6/16/10

This is the last big push week to get all the transplanting done, or least most of it. We'll put in around ten thousand transplants a day until we're done. And most of these transplants get row covers as well so we're kind of busy.

Insect pests arrived earlier this year; the Tarnished Plant bugs have been out for a couple of weeks. We usually don't see them until well into July. Flea beetles are voracious feeders this year so we're using lots of row covers to save our crops. Striped cucumber beetles and potato beetles have been out for quite some time.

In addition to protecting our crops from insects, floating row covers guard against predation from other pests as well. Deer are always an issue as they relish our tasty crops. Crows like our sweet corn so this crop gets row covers as well and the ever present turkeys cause all kinds of problems.

Turtles - well, what do we do about turtles - not a whole lot. Chasing them out of the fields doesn't work very well. They don't scare so bird balloons don't work. Row covers - they bulldoze through and I really don't like the fencing idea as I'm concerned the would become entangled and die there - not a good way to go. I guess we'll just plant some extra plants to make up for what they destroy.

Deer usually won't tear up the row covers to get at early season crops and we don't use them once the crops get big. Deer are smart - they get used to things, like fencing, scare tactics and row covers. And while deer are smart - they're not the smartest animal out there that eat our crops. Ground and grey squirrels and rats are far smarter than deer and much harder to keep out of our crops. In one of our breeding squash fields we have constant problems with rats and squirrels. They really like our crops and the mulch we put down for them to live in. They live in the fields under the plastic mulch and have their meals right outside their front doors. They have everything at their front door most of the season so why should they move on?

Mice are seldom a problem of cultivated field crops here. We sometimes see them in the field when we are harvesting but they have yet to cause any problems. They don't have many places to hide in most crops and I imagine the hawks take care of many of them. Birds don't bother us much except for crows in the spring and sometimes blackbirds in the fall.

Groundhogs (woodchucks) present us with challenges as we try to trap and relocate them whenever possible. It's just hard to convince them to go into a trap to get iceberg lettuce when they have a smorgasbord within their reach at all times. We have one large one living in close proximity to one of our tomato plantings - he'll be a challenge to get moved.

And on the home front, I bought two Pawpaw trees that I will plant out this week. I also bought a couple of walnut trees I think will be nice for shade someday; probably long after I'm gone.

Until next week, enjoy the season.


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