Monday, July 16, 2012

Farm Report - July 16, 2012

It's been nearly a month since the last GFF "official" farm report.  So, let's put another one out there for your enjoyment, edification and entertainment.

It's making headlines now, so I'm sure most of you are aware of the weather situation.  The farm is very dry and the heat has not been helping us much either.  Rather than dwell on the weather - we felt we should give you a brief explanation on what it can mean for us and what we are trying to do about it.

The excessive heat - but more specifically - nights where the temps do not get below 75 degrees Fahrenheit - can reduce productivity of fruiting crops.  Each type of plant reacts differently and even varieties of the same type of plant can handle weather extremes in different ways.  In some cases, the pollination window gets shorter and does not overlap the pollinator's time frame.  In other cases, flowers are dropped by the plant without allowing pollination.  Whatever the case, the heat can reduce our crop productivity.

The lack of water can result in plant death.  We'll just keep it that simple.  In some cases, irrigation only keeps the plant alive, but it isn't always enough to give a good crop.  This is especially true if we don't get water to them before the stress level gets too high.  We're doing our best, but we only have one well and only 2 source points for the water.


Peppers - we are focusing on the sweet peppers and bell peppers.  I am afraid the hot peppers are not getting the same attention at this time.  It is harder to get them water.  And, frankly, fewer CSA members would cry if we had a crop failure with them.  Choices have to be made.  We'll try to get to them, but...

Tomatoes - these are looking pretty good right now, but we have a bad case of Canada Thistle in that plot.  We could use a crew to come out with leather gloves and give them a loving pull....

Potatoes - the shorter season potatoes look pretty good.  The longer season potatoes (such as German Butterball) do not look like they'll do their thing.  They are all weeded - yes, they could be weeded again, I suppose - but weeds are not the issue here.  Looking particularly good are the Purple Majesty potatoes.

Eggplant - they like the heat.  Many are in the irrigation path with the bell and sweet peppers, so they look pretty good.  the eggplant that reside with the hot peppers - not so much.

Green Beans - They are weeded and they are now beginning to produce.  The taste is excellent.  The trick will be trying to keep them producing.  We love green beans and we know CSA members tend to rate green beans as one of their favorites.  The problem is this - green beans are much tougher to produce for a CSA than other crops because picking is very labor intensive.

Peas are similarly situated to green beans - lots of labor cost.  But, they also produce less per row foot - and they grow less well for us on our farm.  We have some, we don't know if we'll get to doing anything much with them.  there just isn't enough to go around or to justify the time spent.  So, we will likely work the green beans and optimize their production for you.

Melons and watermelons are.... looking very good.  Especially the rows on the paper mulch we put down in some test rows this season.  Target is late August to mid September for these.

Pie pumpkins also look good, but need water.  To do that ,they need weeding.  Then we can run the drip line.

Cucumbers are water hogs.  We've got the drip line running on them right now.  But, it is difficult to work them into the rotation as often as they want to be in the rotation.  Succession I looks good and is starting to produce.  Succession II looks terrible as the cucumber beetles took about 70% of the plants out early in their life.  We're going to plant a third succession to replace those plants.

Broccoli - we have some nice looking plants.  The DeCicco are starting, but irregularly.  they are the early variety and only produce heads that are about 4" diameter.  We grow them more for the prolific side shoot production later.  We have them on the docket for water tomorrow.  They really liked their last shot of water, so here's hoping.

Onions are variable, but everything we have planted is either weeded OR removed because we couldn't get them weeded.  Such is life.

Kale and chard - Both are looking a little worse for wear and we're trying to keep them happy with water.  We're considering some straw mulch to help with this.

Lettuce - we just put in our latest transplants.  Yes, the timing is bad.  We're doing what can be done for them.  If they survive tomorrow, they should be ok.  But, tomorrow is in doubt.  We'll start another batch in trays.  But, if we have to wait for those to get going, we might be without lettuce for 4-5 weeks of the CSA.  We really don't want that.

Winter squash - needs weeding and drip line.  If we get it by the end of the week, they may do something.  If we do not, they are gone.

Summer squash and zucchini - second succession is joining the first in producing and look like they are really going to get going IF we can get them water.  We've weeded both successions and have to lay the drip line and run the water to them.  Succession III needs weeding still.

Fall beets, carrots, turnips - we're awaiting the window to put them in.  It makes little sense to put seed into this dry ground right now.  Soil temps are too warm for most of these.

Kohlrabi - currently harvesting from our 1st and 2nd successions.  It looks like we'll need to harvest all that will be harvested from these this week.  If they get much older, they will likely be woody.  The longer season kohlrabi is looking ok.  We'll start another batch for early Sept harvest.

Cauliflower, Romanesco and Brussels Sprouts - we had high transplant loss for various reasons on these.  Primarily pest related.  The plants that lived look great.  So, it is likely we'll have to put these in a 'choice box' when we get them.  Not enough to give some to every person.

Poultry - the hens have slowed their egg laying and are waiting for a break in the heat to bring it back up again (we hope).  The new hens are too young yet.  The ducks are growing well enough but have taken to picking on each other's tails and wings where their new feathers are coming in.  The turkeys are curious and generally happy.

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