Monday, June 23, 2014

A Game of Pepper

We enjoy giving updates with pictures and text to those who have interest.  The difficulty is in how we can feed these to you without overwhelming AND how we can keep them up to date and timely.  For example, the pictures you will see below will show how things looked around June 10.  This post is being written a week later and it will post about a week after that.  If we can manage it - we may add an updated picture to the post prior to the point it goes live.  But, hey - sometimes you have to go with the weather and what you have time to do.  That's why we often write clusters of blog posts and either schedule them OR we start them and then edit them later (publishing them once the edit is done).

A Quick GFF Pepper History
Ok - maybe not a full history.  We'll just give a few pertinent facts.  In 2012 - we had a fabulous pepper crop.  But, it was in the area that was sprayed.  Thus, we were forced to pick, then compost, all of the fruit that year.  That meant that we (and our CSA members) were not able to consume a single one of those peppers.  (Sigh).  Last year (2013), planted our peppers into a field that was still pretty wet, but we had to push just to get anything in.  Inside of a couple of nights, we had lost 70% of the peppers to rabbits and deer (along with normal losses for various other reasons).  Luckily, we had some peppers from the high tunnel, so everyone got some, but it wasn't what we really wanted either.  For that matter - we had a complete crop failure of peppers in 2010 because of the excessive rains.
Something must be up - the yellow cart is out!
And, a number of Adjustments for 2014
By now, most of you who read our blog realize that we don't keep doing things the same way if there is a problem.  For that matter, we make changes even on things that appear to be going well.  Clearly, we needed to do something to address the problems that caused the losses in each of the prior years.
Peppers in pots - awaiting the ultimate repotting!
Plant Peppers in Multiple Locations

One of our adjustments has been to split our pepper crop into three locations.  We have done more of this each year with most of our crops in an effort to avoid complete crop failures.  For example, the spraying issue hit the Western half of our farm, while the East was fine.  All of the peppers were in that Western half, thus we were unable to provide any from our farm.  In 2010, all of our peppers were in a particular field.  And, it just so happened that field had the worst issues with the excess rain (not that others were in perfect shape).  By splitting the crop, we hedge our bets a bit. 

On the down side, it does make management more difficult.   But, we'll keep fine tuning until it works reasonably well.

They always look better when they are IN the pots.

The Rabbit Fence
Deer are an issue, but not as much as the rabbits were last year.  So, we invested in some electric netting that runs off a solar charger to discourage the critters this year.  The portability of these fences are a big plus for us since we can move it from this location to protect another sensitive crop once the peppers are big enough to hold their own.

Gotta like the solar charger
A solar charger for an electric fence is appealing for many reasons.  You might like it because it is a renewable energy source - and perhaps that is a good thing.  But, we like it even more for the flexibility this gives us.  We can set up these fences anywhere there is some sunshine.  That's pretty much near any of our fields. 

Only 2 sections of fence for the entire area.

Most of our fields can be surrounded by three sections of fence.  Or, more accurately, 2 and a half sections.  And, they are easy to move once you learn how.

Wasn't that cart full a little bit ago?

Looking forward to this

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