Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 6/23/10

It's raining and wet but the crops like it as do the weeds. As long as it clears off and becomes sunny and warm again we'll be OK. I remember quite well last summer, or should I say what was supposed to be summer. Cool, damp and disease ridden days in the fields of 2009 was one memory that won't be soon forgotten!

While 2009 was certainly an odd year 2010 is shaping up odd as well. With the early season many things that don't normally happen until much later in the season are already happening. Galinsoga is in bloom in places and I've seen redroot pigweed with seed heads already. Many flowers that I typically associate with July have come and gone. The peonies and iris are going by fast and the teasel is starting to bloom; an odd year indeed.

The geese at the pond only have three goslings this year. We saw a mother turkey this morning with a half dozen young poults by her side. Even though they were small, there were experienced flyers; I can see how they could avoid capture by predators easily. Herons seem to be flying around quite a bit lately; they must surely have young ones by now. They are relatively shy as I've never seen one of their nests. I would think it would be interesting to watch a nest up close, like the eagle and osprey cams.

Insects are also early this year. Lots of striped cucumber beetles (SCB) and tarnished plant bugs out although the SCB aren't early; they're just out now. And hungry! We use row covers on many of our crops so we don't have much damage. In some places where the row covers have blown off, SCB can do a lot of damage in a hurry. The size of the plants now is small so any number of beetles will do damage that is quite noticeable. Later in the season, once the plants are well established and growing, the plants can handle some insect pressure without too much damage. Squash bugs are out as well.

We got the planting mostly done last week and are finishing up a few planting projects this week. We are closely approaching the 99% done planting benchmark but we won't be 100% done until sometime in November. The garlic and overwintering crops in the poly tunnels will be the last of the crops to plant, so planting seldom gets "done". Still left to put into the ground is the fall cabbage, another round of kale and collards, and a few more small fall trials like late lettuce and fall radishes. I like radishes, probably one of my favorite vegetables, and hard to get really good ones. Row covers and adequate irrigation makes for good radishes.

Crops that will be ready shortly include lots of lettuce, spinach and over wintered onions. The lettuce field outside my window grows daily and soon the space between the rows will be filled in. The spinach is looking quite lush and tasty; I wonder if they'll notice some missing. Actually we plant what we call guard rows at the beginning and at the end of the trials. These are sacrificial plants in case the cultivators or other equipment is not exactly lined up; these plants will be ripped out before we get into the actual trial plants. If no such "cultivator blight" happens then we can take from the guard rows for our personal eating pleasures.

Until next week, Brian

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