mmm- The fruits of summer!

So much- so good!  It’s hard to know where to start eating!  My Sunday morning was spent out in the orchard followed by a respite on the front porch with something to read, a cup of coffee and some great fruits for breakfast. The cantaloupes and watermelon are fantastic and so are the peaches and apples that I brought back from the orchard to trial for ripeness. This is truly the sweet taste of summer!  Our motto is “taste the difference!” – and I believe it.
One of our workshare members just texted me ” I just ate the best peach I’ve ever eaten in my life”. I think it’s all the love that goes into everything we do here[not to mention the sunshine, rain and our great compost]. It all translates to great flavor. We really are what we eat!
Here’s a photo of some of the wonderful people who are behind the scenes producing all this good food. Everyone is sampling and comparing various watermelon varieties. Tough job huh?  Actually we just picked a whole truck load of melons in the rain. The forecast was for a substantial rainfall. Too much rain all at once could swell the fruit up so much that they could crack and spoil. So it rained while we harvested. It ended up being a nice welcome rain but not excessive. Wouldn’t you know it, it stopped raining and the sun came out when we completed the harvest. Not what we expected at all. Good reason to celebrate with a watermelon snack!
Farmer Karen

Hot Summer Days


We continue to have temperatures 8 to 10 degrees above normal. This prompts us to start our work day as early as we can. Some folks come to help as early as 6 am and others come at 8 or 9am. It doesn’t take long before everyone starts thinking of some activity that can be done in the shade. Izzy, the mostly black Australian cattle dog is particularly talented at this.
There isn’t much shade in the middle of the growing fields so we always start with harvesting those things that can’t take the heat such as Swiss Chard or crops that require that we wear long sleeves and gloves such as the summer squash and okra [spiny plants scratch the arms]. After that it’s good to get out of the long sleeves where possible and change from bending over activities to doing something that can be done standing upright. Picking red raspberries in the raspberry hightunnel or  picking peaches means standing up-though long sleeves are still desired so as not to get the peach picker itch. All that peach fuzz can get to a person after a while. Best be carefull not to wipe the sweat from around your eyes!
It takes many hours to sort and pack the produce once it has been harvested. This is the preferred job on a blistering hot day. This can be done in the shade in the barn. A nice breeze blows usually year round here on the farm. This is quit nice in the Summer- really cold in the Winter.
I’m very thankful for some timely rains!I know that there are many farmers looking at huge crop losses elsewhere in the country. Here everything is growing like crazy due to the warmth, rain and humidity. As a result we are looking at prime conditions for fungal diseases. The dreaded late blight has been spotted in Chester and Lancaster counties so we are on the look out for this horrible scurge[caused the Irish potato famine]. That’s farming for you- always seeking balance but all too often rolling with the punches!
Farmer Karen

Let us eat watermelon

The melon plants have made rapid growth and now when you look at the fields you no longer see individual plants but rather two big melon patches. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we started the plants in the greenhouse and then transplanted out the many young seedlings. They are now blooming like crazy and growing practically as we watch.

The crows have kept a keen eye on the melon patch also. They like melons! Several years ago the local crows ate every melon in a 1/4 acre patch. What to do? If we only had a few  plants we could toss a net over top. A net would not be practical in our 2 fields totaling about a half an acre.There is always the option of putting out a bird scaring cannon that would fire off periodically frightening the birds and neighbors alike. We figure this wouldn’t endear us to our neighbors. After discussing our options a couple of years ago we came up with this plan of staking and stringing the patch. We observed that the crows tend not to land in the dense foliage but rather fly in and land along the drive lanes and where there is a gap in the planting. By staking and stringing a network/maze of strings around and over the fields we can deter the pesky vandals.
This year the crows have started snacking prior to us being prepared but we are getting to work now. Each day the field is not protected can be the loss of several dozen melons.
We have lots of creative and energetic workshare members who often come up with and implement great ideas such as this.

Check out the picture. You can imagine us farmer/picker folk have to be fairly acrobatic to lightly and carefully make our way through the patch checking for ripe melons. But it should be so worth it!
It won’t be long and hopefully we’ll be eating yummy sweet cantaloupes, specialty melons and watermelon. All this hot, sunny weather [and our irrigating] can make for some really sweet melons. Can’t wait!
Farmer Karen

A Welcome Rain (7/15/12)

After weeks of sunny, mostly 90 degree days and little measurable rain we are very pleased to receive 6/10 of an inch of rain. Just what we wanted- a gentle soaking that nourished plants without the risk of wash out. So often these hot humid days lead to sudden thunderstorms and pounding rains that can wash out young plants without really soaking into the ground.
We’ve been busy setting up irrigation and irrigating plantings for weeks now. Good thing – it’s kept the harvest going despite it being dry, dry dry. It just isn’t practical to irrigate all the areas even though they would benefit from it. So, a beautiful rain from the heavens is very welcome and we’re all doing a happy dance here at the farm.
Farmer Karen

We’re Working on the Holiday

Lettuce

Last weeks’ rain put us behind on the ability to plant many of the young seedlings that have been growing in the greenhouse.So, no time to rest on our laurels and no time to take Holiday-not at planting time. Nothing quite beets consecutive plantings that all come ready at the same time. That’s not the plan but it’s what happens when one planting can’t get in the ground due to the weather and then the next planting is also ready to plant.  For instance we like to have  three consecutive melon plantings spaced each 2 weeks apart. Nobody wants to have 6 melons all ripe and ready to eat all in the same week and then none the next. That scenario can also lead to many sore farmer backs and a cooler that is overflowing.
Each day last week looked like it would open up in a shower at any time. I feel very fortunate that we only lost a couple of days due to the rain. Many of the rain storms thankfully went around us.  Fine thing when there is so much planting and hoeing to do. Vegetables and weeds alike are growing at a very fast clip now that the nights and daytime temperatures are warm.
I had the most incredible salad tonight! Fresh and Tasty- makes you want to sing!
Farmer Karen

CSA Season Gets Going

The CSA season begins on Friday June 1st for weekly and Bi-weekly A shares.
Friday June 8th will be the first pick up date for bi-weekly B shares

Tuesday share pick up begins June 5th for weekly and bi-weekly A shares.
Tuesday bi-weekly B shares will start on June 12th

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone for the start of the season! Get ready for some salads.