Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July Farm Report

It is time for a farm report because we take communication with those who receive our produce seriously!  And, because Rob wanted to SIT DOWN for a little while.  In the interest of full disclosure, this report was written on July 17 and is scheduled to post on July 22 - so some things might have changed.  No, never mind.  Things WILL have changed.  It's just the way it is.  We'll all just have to muddle on despite the possible inaccuracies that might follow.

This month's report is going to be a POSITIVE REPORT.  No negative reports in this one because we want to be positive today!  If you want the negatives, tell me and I'll add them in another post.

Many of you might recall that we over-wintered some ducks to see if they would raise their own ducklings.  As soon as we got them outside, they stopped laying.  We then threatened them with a trip to the park.  Now, we have five nests of eggs (one for each hen) in the pasture.  The eggs, if they are viable, should be hatching soon.  If this works, we may be able to reduce our overhead costs on duck production.  Plus, it's just kind of cool to have ducklings being hatched and raised naturally on the farm.

Knocking on Wood
We don't like to count ducklings before they hatch and we don't like to set ourselves up to be hugely disappointed if a crop fails after a promising start.  But, we do have enough experience at this point to recognize conditions that might lead to some record yields for our farm for particular crops.  For example, you may have already heard about our excellent snow pea crop.  To be perfectly honest, our goal for snow peas is approximately 150 pounds and our record was 160 pounds.  The "if everything goes well" goal was 300 pounds and I set it AFTER I recognized we were heading for a good year on these.  Now, we're heading for 400 pounds. 

Other crops that we have a good feeling about that might lead to some record yields include swiss chard, potatoes, melons, carrots, cauliflower and onions.  The great thing about this list is the diversity in vegetable types here.

It's a new Chard!
The big difference for the swiss chard crop this year has to be the overall quality and size of the leaves.  Part of the difference has been the addition of two more varieties to the growing list.  Fordhook can really put out some big leaves!  The weather has been cooler, but not horribly so, apparently making it a good environment for these plants.  And, the we hit the timing pretty well.

Rainbow Chard - colorful AND tasty
Root for Us!
Potatoes actually have nice looking flowers
The potatoes have been looking good all season long.  It started with workable fields and reasonable four inch soil temps in late April and early May.  Add in some better equipment and a little more experience and you've got a good environment for success to begin with.  Potatoes are pretty hard to say much about because you never know until you actually DIG them.  But, the health and growth pattern of this year's plants equal or exceed all of our previous years of production.  I'm really getting anxious to have a big batch of German Butterball potatoes!  If we break this yield record, it will be saying something - but it is possible.

No Melon Collies!
A Minnesota Midget melon hiding in the vines.
Sorry, we do not have any dogs on the farm.  As to why that is - that's a story for another time.  But, we do have melons growing in the Southwest field, in the old high tunnel, in the new high tunnel AND some watermelons in the East fields.  Most of the varieties are making a serious mat of vines to cover the ground right now.  Lots of flowers on the vines and we're seeing more and more pollinators on them.  We are still concerned that the pollinator numbers are lower than we think they should be.  But, we're doing what we can to address the issue.

We do have to be honest and tell you that the yield record for melons is a ...pardon the pun... low hanging fruit.  Last year we were just under 400 melons to set our record.  And, we know we should be hitting numbers well in excess of that.

We Don't Carrot All
St Valery carrots from 2013.
Actually, we do care!  We care a lot!  And, we could have alot of carrots! We harvested over 1000 pounds of carrots in 2012 and these carrots actually look better than those did.  A couple of samples show that the root development is progressing well.  And, we even put some in the old high tunnel - and they are doing well.  Rob is being patient with them, but harvest time approaches.

Call a Flower?
We've never really pushed hard at cauliflower, but we're giving them a bit of a push this season.  We wanted to get the broccoli crops into a better position first.  Then, we wanted to see how romanesco worked.  So, this year, we hope the cauliflower joins them.  Like the melons, breaking prior records should not be difficult because we've simply increased production.  If plants finish off even reasonably well, we should smash prior records.  The key was finding out approximately where the edge for Fall producing cauliflower should be for our season.  We're starting those plants now and expect they'll be ready to harvest in October.  Some of the Spring crop already have dime sized heads forming!

Snow Crown cauliflower
Joining the Onion Union
Last season saw us finally put all of the pieces together for onion production on our farm.  So far, we are showing that 2014 was not a fluke in this respect.  And, we've got 250 feet MORE onions in good shape than we did last year.  Add to it the fact that these went in earlier by about three weeks and you have a great chance to make last year's record crop look a little silly.  What would have happened in that fifth row of onions would have made it?  Hmmmm.
That's alot of onions!

Celebrating with Caution
On July 27 of 2012, we experienced an event that has become even more prevalent over the past few years around the state.  Pesticide/fungicide spraying season is about to start in our area and we are, understandably, very nervous about it.  But, assuming there isn't a repeat of three years ago - the West part of our farm will be re-certified as organic in five days from the day this post goes live.

All of our crops in the East are certified organic, and have been since the spray event because they were not affected.  However, the old high tunnel and southwest fields will not have certification until the 27th.  We will also have the option to begin certifying poultry again because pastures will be eligible again.

This anniversary means a great deal to us and we hope you can help us to celebrate.

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