Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's new at the Farm? 9/1/10

The first of September is here and harvesting is cranking up. Hopefully with the change of the calendar the weather will change as well. While it's been a great growing season the hot and humid weather is becoming a bit old at this point. Cooler, dry weather will be welcome after this latest stretch.

Did I say harvesting? Yep, seed crop harvesting begins this month with Swiss chard and tomatoes. Hopefully by  the time you read this we'll have the swiss chard seed crop harvested and drying in small seed storage – well, actually I don't think it will need any additional drying as it's pretty dry in the field now. We cut the plants off last week and they've had the past week to dry so threshing will be relatively easy now.

I plan on threshing Tuesday this week and harvesting tomatoes Wednesday this week too. Looks like a busy week!

The tomato seed crop we are harvesting is a small gold cherry. We have 1,500 plants and each plant has at least a hundred tomatoes, so we have a minimum of 150,000 tomatoes to pick this week; hopefully in one day as we have other projects that need doing as well. There are around 400 tomatoes in a five gallon pail and it takes about 20 minutes to pick a pail so it's a big time consuming project. It would take the farm crew of 8 people at least two full days just to pick this crop let alone process them. After doing a tomato like this one last year, we should be able to pare the time down to about a half of a day, with some harvesting shortcuts we have developed over the years. We'll see.

The summer squash and cucumber trials are done now and the eggplant will be soon. Tomatoes are ripening full bore now and everyone has far more than they need. I think the melons are about half done, the spring carrots are done as is the summer broccoli and the bush beans; done and gone and soon to be planted to a cover crop to get some growth before winter.

The swallows have gone south or at least I haven't seen any around. I expect the hummingbirds will be next. The young ospreys are flying with their parents and, I assume, are hunting on their own now, or will be shortly. Turkeys are everywhere in all different stages of growth. Goose season has started; September again this year to thin out some of the local geese. I remember when seeing geese were a rare thing and seldom did you see them nesting in central Maine; now they're pretty common here and everywhere in Maine. Lots of them in Aroostook also.

Time now and for the next few weeks, for the agricultural fairs around the state. I think we'll plan on going to Windsor this week. We like to go in the mornings to see the animals and displays without the throngs of people. The midway has lost something over the years, and yes now, the vegetable exhibitions mean a lot more. It's interesting to see so many of Johnny's varieties displayed in the exhibition halls. 

The advantages are in for us not having a garden this year. Although I miss working in the garden I find I have more time for other projects and I have plenty of them. I'm still trying to get the bark mulch put around my blueberry bushes, and I still need to build the arbor for my grapes. It's just really hard after working in the hot and humid weather to do more of it when I get home. Plan for next year -- do everything I can before May because once May hits I don't have much free time right through October. I suppose if I took the time I spent thinking about the blueberries, and applied that to putting the mulch on, I'd be long done, but you know how that goes.

Until next week, enjoy the last hot spell of the season, Brian


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading What's New. I'd like to see more details, too. Sometimes when you say such-&-such is being done, I'd like to know more about How. Thanks so much for such a great blog. Best wishes for a great harvest. Your friend from Florida,

KatyDaly said...

We've been ordering seeds from you for years, but this is our first attempt at a bigger vegetable garden at our new "farm" in upstate NY. We had some corn in NJ, and corn smut one year.

Two questions: What causes smut?

And, we planted corn in 2 plots, a few weeks apart. The earlier planting did wonderfully (just one smutty ear, all the rest very tasty), but the second planting produced just large beautiful stalks and not one ear of corn. It was the same variety. What did we do wrong?

Rhockey said...

I just found your site on Google search. GREAT!! I have heard the name from other seed catalogs,etc.
I'm a small backyard gardener in the Philly 'burbs. Expect an order in the future although I wouldn't plan on funding college fromit(my order)!

KatyDaly said...

Another ? for you: I bought Mammoth Red Clover Seed from you in the spring. I intended to spread the seed in our "weedier" area, but instead decided to mix it in with the grass seed when we had our lawn done (new construction).

Just curious...the clover looks great mixed in with the grass...will it reseed and come back next year?

Johnny's Seeds News said...

KatyDaly: Here's some information about your corn issues from one of our product technicians:

Here is a great reference for you to take a look at for corn smut info:

The plants with no ears… that could be due to spacing (too close together; this is the most common reason corn does not produce ears).

Did the second plot tassel already? What variety was it? Here’s a good website for reference for you with more explanation to your no ear dilemma:

Johnny's Seeds News said...

The red clover we sell is a biennial; it will come back next season and put on lush growth until it blossoms. Then it will die. If left unmowed and allowed to blossom it will reseed, although I doubt anyone is going to let their lawn get that high. It will continue to grow once mowed and will probably be good for next year but will eventually die out.

KatyDaly said...

Still checking on the corn variety and also on those links you gave—thank you! We are in the process of moving from South NJ to upstate NY. We have 2 gardens going right now, and not much time to tend them...

As for the clover: that sounds just perfect for our needs. We don't want a perfect lawn, and are mowing as infrequently as possible. We have had several blooms on the clover so far this year, and even more in the way of leafy growth. The bees love the flowers.

I am hoping that it reseeds after next year, and, if not, we'll just buy some more seed from you.

Johnny's is a great company, and we are encouraged by the fact that you are in Maine, and that gives us hope that we should succeed in growing in upstate NY.

Keep up the good work!