Another week of monsoon and nearly another inch of rain at the farm. The plants and farmers are happy! Everything is growing very quickly and putting on lots of fruit. The tomato and cucumber vines are growing so fast that we are barely able to keep up with the trellising. These plants will both soon reach the top of their 9 foot trellises.
We will have some peaches and more black mission figs at the market this week. Both of these are from friends that have organic home orchards that are producing too much for them to use, so they are allowing us to harvest and sell the fruit.
So far we have had an entire week with no rattlesnake surprises in the field. I hope I didn’t just jinx us for the harvest.
As I write this I am hunkered down inside the TinyHouse trying to beat the heat. I harvested until a little after noon when the temperature climbed above 100 degrees. It is 105 out there right now. Of course, those of you living in Tucson have had to endure much higher temperatures.
I am currently running sprinklers in the field, moving them every hour or so to cool off the plants. I have been doing this all week. So far, the bush beans have fared the worse in the heat. About a quarter of the bean plants in one bed has perished – they just couldn’t deal with the 110+ heat earlier in the week. Luckily another bed of bush beans has survived okay. The greens beds are also suffering a bit, but there are some new beds on the way.
The plants in the high tunnel are doing much better as the 40% shade cloth is keeping it significantly cooler in there. They are still subject to the hot winds we have had the last few afternoons, but the sprinklers help quite a bit.
The onset of the monsoon should occur soon – can’t happened quickly enough for me! We have already had some decent cloud build-ups and a brief shower. I was in Sierra Vista Tuesday evening and there was a nice rain just after sunset.
We’ll see you this Sunday at the market and Monday at our Green Valley/Sahuarita CSA drop off.
We have had some spectacular skies this last week or so; you can see a small sample in the images.
Our tomato plants are finally cranking out a decent amount to harvest now. The tomato hornworms are thick on the plants, so we have been picking them off every morning. They are hard to see at first until your eyes get dialed in and then it is pretty easy to find them. Of course it is really clear where to look for the fat worms because they strip all the leaves and small branches from the plants, so there are lots of bare branches where they have been.
The date for the Agustín Kitchen farm dinner has been changed. Please pardon any inconvenience this may cause. The dinner will be in the evening on Sunday, August 21.
This weekend is the Tomato & Basil Festival at the Rillito market, so if you like tomatoes and/or basil check out the market Sunday morning.
Where is the rain? We’re waiting on it – not so patiently. I am simulating the monsoon in the field by watering with sprinklers during the heat of the day. That makes it nice and humid in the field and a little bit cooler than the surrounding desert.
Our cucumber vines are finally producing! The variety we are growing this summer is Suyo Long, originating in northern China. These cukes are slightly spiny, but the skins are pretty thin and the flesh is sweet and crunchy. We should be bringing these to the market for a couple months. We are growing this variety this summer because they are resistant to cucumber beetle damage and are also resistant to the bacterial wilt that the cucumber beetles spread. Last year the beetles wiped out our cucumber and melon plants, so we have changed our varieties and some of our cultivation practices. For example, this spring we started the cucumber plants in pots and transplanted them after they were fairly large. This prevents the cuke beetles from killing the seedlings as they sprout.
The blackberries are almost finished; we should be able to harvest a few pounds over the next 2 weeks, but no more large harvests.
As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, Agustín Kitchen will be hosting a farm dinner using our produce. The dinner will be in the evening on Sunday, August 7. We will send out a flyer later this week, plus make announcements on Facebook and on Instagram @southwindsfarmaz.
As you have likely noticed the moisture that fuels the monsoon is starting to creep in to southeastern Arizona. The cloud buildups have been visible south and east of the farm for the last week or so and there has been a teaser shower or two at the farm in the last few days. We are impatiently waiting on the monsoon rains to begin. When they start, everything will grow more quickly and the plants will be a lot happier. Lately they have been really droopy in the afternoon heat and are perked back up by the morning, only to repeat the cycle.