Wow, that was a quick month! October here we come.
The grasshopper population is still increasing and now they are chewing on just about everything. The last week we cleared quite a few of the weeds in the east terrace and thereby eliminated a lot of hopper habitat, so many of them moved to the squash and into the high tunnel. We should be able to get them under control this following week as we eliminate most of the rest of the weeds and use neem oil derivatives to slow down their reproduction and development.
Removing the weeds has also opened up beds for planting, so we have been applying compost, preparing the beds and doing some direct seeding. The spinach is in and yesterday I planted another bed of greens mix.
We had a few mornings in the 40s and one in the high 30s over the last week. These cool morning temperatures really slowed down the ripening of the tomatoes. In just a few weeks, the weekly harvest plummeted from about 400 pounds down to less than 100. There are still many green tomatoes on the vines, so we will have them for awhile. Once we get the new cover on the high tunnel, the tomatoes (along with the sweet peppers and chiles) will have a warmer environment in which to grow.
As we have been mentioning the last few weeks, we will be selling CSA shares for our fall & winter CSA season that will start on November 12 and continue until mid-March. The fall & winter CSA program is now about 1/3 subscribed. The forms will be available at the Sunday market, and in the CSA box on the right sidebar of this website,
Today we will finally get our Kennebec seed potatoes in the ground. We have been preparing the soil for the last week or so and it is finally ready. Yesterday we dug the trenches for the potatoes; it took a chunk of the afternoon to complete the digging.
Yesterday I noticed that the blackberry plants are starting to bloom. The plants have been pruned and fertilized with compost. We added a couple driptapes to the bed to ensure the bushes receive plenty of water. Next, we will put shadecloth over the bed and put up netting to keep the birds from feasting on the berries. If the heat doesn’t fry the blossoms like it did last June, we should have a bumper crop of blackberries in late June.
As a reminder for our Green Valley customers, we will be delivering CSA shares to the Good Shepherd Church on Monday mornings between 9:30a and 11:30a, STARTING MONDAY MAY 15. I neglected to indicate the date in last week’s newsletter. Our Green Valley customers who are not CSA shareholders this summer are welcome to email us your orders by noon on Saturday and we will bring your order to the CSA distribution location. Please email or call if you need more information.
As mentioned in the last few newsletters, this week at the market we continue to reserve spots and accept payments for the spring/summer CSA program. The forms are available at the markets, and in the CSA box on the right sidebar of this website, and here. We will stick with a 50-share program this round, so please let us know if you are interested in a spot. The summer shares will include potatoes, blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, chiles, flowers, cucumbers, melons, okra, squash, salad mixes, among many other tasty ingredients.
The cold has finally completely shut down the summer crops. The 16° low temperature on Wednesday morning froze all the remaining summer plants.
Yesterday we cleared all the trellises from the field. We use cattle panels secured to t-posts to trellis cucumbers, chiles, peppers, tomatoes and the mouse melons. We removed the wires holding the cattle panels to the posts, stacked out the panels against the field perimeter fence, pulled up the posts and stacked them as well. The field is a lot different now, especially the middle terrace where the trellises were.
The winter crops are under double row covers now. This makes more work for us as we uncover all the beds in the morning after it warms up to allow the sun to shine on the plants, then cover everything back up in the mid-afternoon. This traps in some heat for the night and also protects the plants from the freezing temperatures.
Our spinach crop is finally growing more quickly. What a difference a week makes in the daytime temperatures! The spinach has been basking in the sun and warm air, so we finally have enough to include some in your shares.
I am thinking of offering work trade shares for the late spring/summer CSA program. The idea is that a work trade shareholder would work a set number of hours at the farm in exchange for a share. The work days would likely be Saturdays, since that is our busiest day, but we would have some flexibility. I am interested to know what you think about this idea, if you would be interested, if you think others may be interested and general comments on the concept.