Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 8/11/10

Welcome to the dog days of summer.

The crops are growing fast and furious now, as are the weeds. The insects are letting up but this weather doesn't help with the disease situation. No Late blight here yet but it's wise to be ever vigilant keeping an eye out for it. Lots of early blight and septoria out there now but both can be controlled with copper fungicides.

Now is a good time to think about harvesting for seed. We have one tomato (a cherry) that's ripening fast. I think it will be ready for harvesting about the time I want to take my late summer vacation; the end of August. We've got lots of barrels and bucket clean and waiting for when the harvesting begins.

I've got some efficiency projects I want to work on this fall which includes projects to speed up and do a better job at seed cleaning. The way we clean squash and pumpkin seed now is pretty labor intensive; we typically have six to eight people working on one seed cleaning project. I'd like to get this down to three or at the most four; too many people and it can easily become a dangerous situation. There's lots of machinery involved and our seed processing location quickly becomes muddy because of the large amounts of water we use, so improvements in quality and quantity are the goal here. While this one involves cleaning squash and pumpkin seed another one involves picking cherry tomatoes and still another one involves picking up plastic mulch by machine.

When we grow cherry tomatoes for seed we have to pick literally thousands and thousands of cherry tomatoes. In a typical 5 gallon bucket there can be up to 500 tomatoes. With some varieties you can fill a bucket without moving it. 500 fruit per bucket and a hundred buckets to pick and you see where I'm going with this. We've tried different methods of picking large amounts of fruits quickly but have yet to find the perfect method. This is the most expensive part of raising tomatoes for seed.

Pulling plastic mulch is done with a potato digger; by far better than anything else out on the market. The drawback with this is the plastic is still left on the surface of the field s where it has to be picked up by hand. Usually in the fall, and almost always In the mud, but it must be taken out of the field before we can wrap up the growing season and put everything to rest. Not a pleasant job at all; there must be a better way.

Most everyone has sweet corn now; one of my favorite vegetables. We take the silks out then cook it on the grill until it's done. Fresh is best; I like to get mine daily for the best taste. It matters a lot to how the corn is taken care of once picked. I bought some corn that had set out in the sun all day and that's what it tasted like. I couldn't put enough butter and salt on it to get any flavor so I sent the remaining ears to the henhouse. They're not as picky as I am. I got some really fresh corn last night and it was good; much better.

Until next week, enjoy the bounty. Brian

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