Saturday, August 8, 2009

Farm Report

We're working on the newsletter, but thought we'd copy the farm report here since it may be a day or two before we are done with the newsletter and publish.

We tend to think of the newsletter as our 'polished' writing and the blog as, well, a blog. What we write here is still carefully considered, but we don't edit as closely.

As of August 6:

Rain is needed (got it AM of August 7 - but tad more would be just fine). Vine crops such as the cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini are showing stress and need rain to continue the pace of production. Speaking of which, the pace of production for these is lower than a typical year, but quite sufficient for what we need in the CSA (plus a bit more). We have found in the past that a nice soaking rain will result in a second peak in production for these plants. The first peak was a little off, so the second peak has the potential to exceed the first.

In comparison to 2008 - we are already at the halfway mark to last year's TOTAL production of cucumber. Put this in perspective - 2008 covers 11 weeks of production. We're halfway with only TWO weeks of production in 2009.

Peas and beans have been very happy with us this season. These are time intensive veg to pick and prepare for delivery. But, they are one of our favorites to eat (and we suspect this is true of many of our members). Part of the success with both of these has been better weather. A larger part has been our ability to get grass mulch down between many of the rows. Another factor is the strength of the potato crop. After 2007, we know better than to count the crop until it is out of the ground. However, I don't know if we've seen potato plants look this good since we started the CSA. The Yukon Golds are the earliest season and will come out of the ground first.

Melons and watermelons are looking like a loss this year. I don't think there is time for the problem to correct itself at this point. And, if we don't get the ability to run a good weeding crew out to them, we won't have much for carrots either, though we're trying to get a fall planting to go. We'll do what we can. But, we've learned that sometimes you give up a crop and maintain those that are doing well. If you try to save a crop that is too far gone, you waste time that would be better for the farm and the CSA members on some other task.

We've been pleased thus far with the kale and chard rotation in our share distributions. Both provide excellent nutritional value and interest in the greens category. We especially like the idea that we can allow one crop to regenerate while we pick the other. And, even better, we believe share recipients might appreciate seeing them in rotation rather than every week.

Some crops, however, do not give you a choice as to how you distribute. When they are ready, you pick them. Tomatoes are getting themselves going and we need to use some worker time to get that area weeded to make picking easier again. Peppers are another matter. The fruit have been large and very tasty thus far. The rain followed by heat may help them pick up production as long as night time temps don't stay too high for too long. If it goes back to the cool pattern, we may find a lull before a second batch comes on. Colored sweet peppers are always later in the season, but the Tolli Sweet peppers are starting to turn red. These are excellent peppers and we're happy to see the plants looking good.

On the slightly confused list reside the eggplant. Many plants set one fruit and grew it out just fine. But, the cooler weather is preventing a the normal heavy flush that begins after the first fruit grows through. Plants still look far better than last year, but are more compact than prior years. I would not be surprised to find a large fruit set beginning next week due to the rain and warmth (predicted to arrive Saturday).

The jury is still out on the onions. The white onions have been fine so far with a good taste. They are a nice early crop, but they often have a wide variety in size. The other onions run a very wide range of quality/growth at this point. We'll just pick them as they get ready, but we're thinking we may have a lot of smaller onions this year than we want. Broccoli main heads were smaller this year, but we're expecting good side shoot production. Cauliflower just put on a big growth spurt and will only do more after this rain. Garlic is due to come out of the ground. Lettuce continues to please and the beet crop has been good. We're surprised how good the smaller beets can taste! And, the winter squash field is looking excellent at this point. We are hopeful for an average sized harvest. Not looking for any records, but records are not needed here.

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