The cool spring season crops are loving this weather! The peas, broccoli and kale are thriving in this unseasonably cool June. Nights are still in the 50's which means that the Solanaceous "nightshade" family of crops - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes - are mostly just sitting tight waiting for the boost of July heat for the fruit to start ripening. If you look at the root of the plant family name, Solanaceae - you can see that solar power is critical to these plants. The term "nightshade" also suggests that these plants grow at night. I have heard folks refer to that concept of high night growth before and all I can say is that the plants definitely look bigger in the morning. I haven't been able to find any concrete scientific research that verifies tomato growth patterns in relation to day light. Perhaps I will have to conduct my own experiment. Since the tomatoes in the high tunnel are trellised up on strings maybe I should mark where a specific plant is on the string a the start and end of the day and night for a few days.... Citizen Science at its best!
Speaking of Citizen Science, I have been volunteering with the Green Mountain Conservation Group to help track water quality in the Ossipee watershed by testing and taking water samples in the Ossipee River and in one of its' tributaries. It is great to take an hour in the morning every other week to do something completely different. We are also collaborating to show the movie "Vanishing of the Bees" here at the farm in the CSA pick-up space on July 9th at 6:30. Light refreshments provided, and some seating available, but if you have a camp chair please bring it along in case we run out of seats.
This past week brought lots of exciting discoveries as I begin to uncover some of the crops that were
tucked in for the past few weeks since they were transplanted. Using “row covers” on the crops gives
them the chance to grow in a protected warm place for several weeks while they get established in the
garden. Using row covers also means that I can’t really see what is going on under the covers until the
plants really start to bust out! Most of the surprises were positive, the broccoli has tiny baby broccoli
that will be ready soon, the summer squash has flowers waiting to be pollinated and the kale is just
about ready to be picked! Of course there was also the less exciting surprises, like discovering that many
of my first planting of cucumbers had died, and that there are lots of very happy weeds growing up
under there too with all the crops! Thankfully I had more cucumber plants to replace the dead ones with
and friends to pitch in and help with some weeding last weekend.
#2 CSA Share contents
Green and Red Lettuce
Mix and Match greens including Spinach, Arugula, Lettuce Mix and Mustard Greens
To eat like a farmer in early June means eating lots of different kinds of greens! CSA pick-up started this
week with a great variety of salad and cooking greens. The lettuce transplant pictures from my 5/17 post
are starting to be harvested! Where did the time go? I look around one minute and feel like I just put
plants in the ground and the next they are ready to be eaten. Time is flying by and I expect the rest of
the season to be a blur of seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding, harvesting, washing, repeat,
repeat, repeat, 7 days a week for almost all the day light hours!
#1 CSA Share contents
Green and Red Lettuce
This past week we finally got some rain! It was amazing to be out transplanting in it all day. I finally got over 3000 onions in and the first round of cucumbers and summer squash! It was very interesting to watch and see how even with 2 inches of rain the soil that has been out of range of the irrigation was still very dry just below the surface. Most of the farm's garden soil type is "Champlain loamy sand" which is classified as excessively drained. Even though Bill has been adding organic material for years to the gardens the fact that this soil is a sandy out-wash brings it's own set of challenges. I have never experienced such well drained soil and am learning how frequently I must irrigate even with rain in the forecast. In case you have never checked out your soil type, I always find it very interesting to go online and look at soil maps! I know nerdy farmer over here for sure, but you can learn a lot and it's all easily available. Here is a link to the USDA Web Soil Survey in case you want to see what your property sits on!