Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crop Report

It's been a while since we've done an honest to goodness crop report...

Frost Watch
Rob has had September 14 down since April as the first possible frost date for the year.  He hopes he is wrong.  But, watch temps as we head toward mid-week!

On everyone's mind, including our own, is the slow tomato crop this season.  Part of the issue is the early and prolonged warmer weather this summer.  It prevented fruit set on many plants, which is why we have so many green tomatoes that need another couple of weeks to ripen.  Here's hoping!

Green Beans
They've been very tasty this season - for which we are most grateful.  We feel like this has been an average year for this crop on the farm.  We are pleased with the addition of Black Valentine to Provider and Jade this year.  The reality is - green beans are a time intensive crop during harvest - there isn't much likelihood we can find a way to do more than this.  Unless we can get a picker that will *work* for green beans.  We don't expect much more out of the green beans in the field - but we'll see what we can get out of them before Wednesday.

The next batch is starting to put on the finishing growth.  We can't be sure that they'll make it for this coming week of the CSA.  It would be nice if they did - but...  More is going in the ground soon (tomorrow).

It's been a reasonably good pepper year.  It could have been better if the entire plot behaved consistently.  But, this year, the North end has been unhappy and the South end has been happy.  So - Wisconsin Lakes (red bell), Quadrato asti Giallo (yellow bell) and Tolli Sweet (red sweet pepper) have been very happy on the South end.  Jupiter (green bell), Purple Beauty (purple bell) and Golden Treasure (yellow sweet) have not been pleased with the North end.  As a result, we'll have an average to slightly below average pepper season.

Winter Squash
They're out there.  The acorn squash varieties are likely ready and we just have to wade in and pull them out.  It won't be a bumper crop.  But, we'll have some.  The early season issues with cucumber beetles caused havoc with the seedlings.  The net result is we're going ahead with plans to start all winter squash, melons and water melons as seedlings in trays in 2012.  This does cost more in supplies, electricity, etc.  But, if the cuke beetle trend isn't just an aberration, we need to respond in this fashion for a more reliable crop.  The one thing that worries us about this (just one?).  Ok, one of the things that worries us about this - the time/timing required to transplant all of these.  If we miss the timing, we have to toss seedlings and start again.  Guess we'll have to make it work.

Most rows of onions did not go anywhere this year.  The CSA has seen some white onions of modest size.  We have already noted that Sierra Blanca will not return for next season.  On the other hand, White Wing and Red Wing are ready to come in.  They were put in late (in response to issues with other onion crops).  So - we'll have another batch of onions for everyone.  It's not a bumper crop.  It's not even an average crop.  But, it's a reasonable amount for our CSA members.  We'll be adding the use of paper mulch in our onion rows for 2012.  We just can't compete with the expanded weed germination periods we're beginning to see.  That, along with some drip irrigation and maybe raised beds.... hm.  Sounds like wholesale changes there.

The stars of 2011!  Ok ok... we know many of you are getting tired of eggplant.  But, let us remind you that a year is 52 weeks long.  You get fresh eggplant for maybe 6-8 of those weeks.  Yes, we know they are consecutive...but, that's the way of seasonal eating.  And, need we say "2010" to remind you that we can have weather that shuts us out on the eggplant?  We have another post coming with something we did to process extra eggplant and it is yummy!  For those who care - we are 47 eggplant away from breaking the harvest record in 2009!

Speaking of feast to famine.  We had SOME cucumbers this year.  But, when you lose over half of your seedlings to cucumber beetles and then several plants to disease the beetles carry....  It's the way of things.  We'll be doing some experimenting with transplants in 2012 and changing their companion planting in an effort to make it easier to work with them.

Spinach and other Fall greens
We've been putting them in the ground.  The spinach is balky and we'll have to reseed.  The arugula looks great.  Mustard goes in this week.  Pok choi plants need transplanting as do Fall kale.  The Fall collards and cabbage took a hit with the cabbage worms, but we think getting them in the ground may result in something positive.

The process of digging has begun.  We don't know what to expect this year.  Some of the plants looked great, some did not.  Part of it is the field they were in.  We need to implement raised beds for this crop to get past the variability of drainage in some of our fields.

It's been a good basil year.  Good growing degree days = good basil.  Once we get a frost, they are done.

Yes, we have other crops -but that's all I felt like writing up!  As far as the season goes, it has been a reasonably good season.  We feel good about what we've been able to provide our CSA members.  On the other hand, we haven't had the surplus we need to make it a truly profitable year.  You may have noticed our absence from the Waverly Farmers' Market on Saturdays so far.  We're waiting on that tomato surplus to carry us a while and it has not.  On the other hand, we aren't reporting complete crop failures like we did in 2008 and 2010.  That means a lot.  But, our expectations for ourselves and our farm are high - we wanted so much more!


  1. I am excited to see what will be in my bags this week. Coming to see you is like Christmas.

  2. If the green tomatoes get the better of the growers (I say this with a garden-full of them myself) have a 'green tomato salsa' recipe that is intended to use tomatoes that didn't have time to ripen!


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