The Dirt on the Farm: Solstice week Updates

Shelly cools down the broccoli out in the field with a gentle ice bath, keeping it super fresh and happy.

Shelly cools down the newly harvested broccoli out in the field with a gentle ice bath, keeping it super fresh and happy.

The yearly calendar just marked Summer Solstice on Saturday. This season didn’t seem to build up to the long hot days that often time precede the longest day of the year. The farm though, seem to be full of life, both wanted and unwanted, with the weeds loving all this rain most of all! The 25 pigs are a mighty project that will up the challenge for farmer Tim. April’s bee sanctuary has grown, and with a little luck will keep the members and South Shore Farm market goers supplied with honey this fall. And the crew is an off the charts rock star group this year that is really making things happen.

The fields definitely are starting to look like summer. In the upcoming weeks we expect to see items like peas, summer squash, parsley, cucumbers, beets, radicchio, broccoli, cabbage, and more lettuce, bok choy, and radishes. (By the way, a fun easy way to eat your bok choy…spread peanut butter on it, just like you do with celery.) The weeds that we are fighting are vigorous grasses, thistle, pig weed, also known as amaranth, and lambs quarter. The funny thing about our weeds is that more than half of them are edible and in some places considered a super food. They happily and easily grow here, but we don’t want them, as they threaten to choke out what we are working so hard to make grow. Sometimes I laugh that we could just be eating the weeds and working a lot less.
The barn yard also welcomed more pigs this week. We will be raising a total of 25 heritage breed pigs out here this year. The breeds are mostly Berkshire, with 6 Hereford, and 2 Mangalitsa pigs. They are fun to watch and each has its own unique characteristic. I can’t wait to see the Hereford’s ears get big and floppy, covering their eyes. In winter, the Manalitsas get long curly hair like a sheep and they are well known for their great fat. In 2008, the Berkshires were listed as a vulnerable breed, with less than 300 breeding sows known to exist.
Out in the Honey Bee Sanctuary we are seeing honey come in and the flowers are producing a good supply of nectar. With the large amounts of rain that we have been having, it gets diluted and the bees have to work harder to make it into honey. Hive populations seem healthy, but the parasitic mites that plague them also seem to have a healthy population. In addition to other natural methods, we will treat with organically approved formic acid to help them with this battle.
The crew continues to work hard and have a great attitude. We also brought in temporary helpers to start tackling the weeds, but could use more. Plus, we will start to see high labor harvests, like peas, and summer squash, that will require extra efforts. This time of year everyone starts to get a little hot and tired, plus, the mosquito season is about to begin. But our group is great at doing things to keep moral and production high. We definitely couldn’t do this without them. Here’s to the folks out on the front lines that work for us rain or shine and make sure those veggies can go out each and every week!
Until next week, here is to happy and healthy eating. And to taking a minute to breathe and to enjoy summer.