The Dirt on the Farm: 7/21/2016

Farmer Tim here. Wanted to take a few moments to give you some field updates.poster choice II Despite the inordinately high heat in May, and low levels of precipitation in spring, most of our spring cropping went as planned, with some nice new and surprising discoveries (salad mix for 1, which we’ve barely ever grown for CSA). We are now turning a corner towards summer crops, and it’s not a minute too late. Varieties of crops available for harvest over the past couple of weeks have decreased, as the heat, flea beetles (worst I’ve seen them in 10 years!), and the need to not give redundant contents in the shares every week have all whittled down what I have to work with. That’s about to change.

Many of our favorite summer crops are ready or almost ready for shares. Tomatoes have begun to show consistent signs of ripening, and should the weather cooperate(fingers very strongly crossed) we look to have a tremendous tomato crop for 2016! You may see tomatoes in your shares starting next week, but almost certainly before month’s end. These will start as a blend of slicers and heirlooms, and the season will end likely in late September almost exclusively with heirloom types.
Sweet corn and new potatoes will likely show up in shares next week. Sweet corn is being grown for us by Wholesome Harvest Farm in Ft. Atkinson this year and is Certified Organic. We needed to rehabilitate a couple of acres of soil, so didn’t have as much growing space, and they are very seasoned growers. Potatoes come from our farm, but are grown by my partner John Hall, on land he controls. We will give you 2 weeks of delicious smaller spuds, and then take a little break to allow them to size up.
Melons and peppers too look pretty good, and both are being grown in ways that are newer to us. We’re growing melons on a 1/2 acre field that is completely covered by landscape fabric this year. This allows for very little weed competition, and gives us convenient irrigation options too.  Peppers are growing on bare ground this year for the first time in 7 years. We decided to take a break from growing crops on plastic mulch this year, as it creates some weed issues that we have yet to master, and is a just a trashy way to grow produce overall. The plants look healthier than I’ve seen for a couple seasons, and should begin bearing fruits by the end of the month.
Losses for the near term have been considerable. Eggplant was completely decimated by Colorado Potato Beetles, and won’t be in our shares this year, unless we find a reasonable source to buy some in for our members. Our first beans should have been ready this week, but were overrun with weeds, making them too costly to harvest. We’ve replanted them, and are a couple weeks out yet, but with much better results. Same with carrots, of which 3 beds this year were lost to not enough hours in the day to weed them, and poor germination. Brassica (cabbage family) crops are suffering from a major influx of flea beetles. I’ve never seen this bad of pressure this late. Spraying them is not a practical option when they are this strong.  They are even eating full sized heads of cabbage! As a result, kale will be moth balled for a while, and broccoli yields will likely drop, but cauliflower hasn’t been affected, and should start showing up next week. Fennel too is not affected, and nearly ready.
Hope you are enjoying the share contents thus far. We’ll continue to work hard to give you diverse shares with some new items nearly every week. As we shift into a different cropping context, that will be much easier for us to do. Happy eating!