It certainly feels like the middle of the summer; with temps in the 90s and high humidity the past few days, but the calendar says the first of July so I'll wait a while to see if we are indeed in the middle of the summer or if this is a prelude of things to come. Certainly is different from last season which saw cool and moist conditions for most of the growing season.
The sunny and hot days of summer are great for killing weeds. I was cultivating in a field last week that had a carpet of weeds 6-8 inches high. One pass with the tractor was all it took; the field earlier this week look great! 90% of the weeds were killed and one more pass through this week will clean up the field for the season. Two cultivation passes for one growing season - if all crops were only that easy! Vining crops will canopy over soon so cultivation will be over for the season. Time moves so quickly this time of year!
The last corn cultivation happens this week; we'll seed red clover in the corn then cultivate it in. The clover will grow in the under story of the corn so once we mow the corn we'll have a nice crop of clover already established and growing. Next spring we'll plow under the clover once it has grown vigorously for a few weeks and is getting ready to blossom. This is the point in time where it will have the maximum amount of nitrogen in the soil and will benefit the subsequent crops significantly. Annual alfalfa works equally as well, but it's growth rate is much faster.
The spring crops have pretty much gone by now; the spinach is bolting and the lettuce is sending up its flower stalks. The swiss chard for seed is blossoming and will be setting seed shortly. The squash and pumpkins are loving this weather as are the melons. Everything that likes it warm is doing great right now. It's nice to see some warm weather after last year.
The challenges of last year like Late Blight and excessive moisture are but memories now and I'd like to keep it that way. I'd really like to see a "normal" growing season for this year. The next two months will see lots of growth here at Johnny's farm and that's one thing that makes it interesting; things are always changing.
And on the home front I checked on my garden the other day - well, at least what used to be my garden. I'm still spreading cleanings from the henhouses on my plot and tilling it under as time allows. I've added 18 yards of compost and at least 25 yards of henhouse cleanings and still have a few yards left to go. Once all my organic matter is tilled in I can plant a cover crop for the remainder of the season. It's definitely different not having a garden this year but we get many of our veggies from the farm here at Johnny's and the balance from the farmer's market and at vegetable stands close by. We picked up the first new potatoes on Saturday last week, along with a head of lettuce, and they were awesome! I kind of miss harvesting them from my garden, but, oh well...
We do have a few things planted on the one strip of plastic I put down this spring. We planted cabbage and Brussels sprouts along with collards on poly and covered them with floating row covers to keep the flea beetles at bay. We planted gladiolas on plastic; we'll see what they do. We like glads but it's a pain to dig them up and store them every year. I have a friend that plants them deeply, 8 inches or so, and leaves them there. The past few years they haven't frozen so they come up year after year. I suppose some year she'll lose them but it certainly saves a lot of time.
I had lots of volunteer potatoes, both here and at home this spring. They can carry a strain of late blight so we pulled them and disposed of them. The potato trial here looks great this year - the plants are tall and robust. In fact, everything looks great here this year!
Another month and we'll be harvesting - scary.
Until next week, Brian.