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.

Oh those apples

It’s 9:15 Wed. eve. and I just got in from spraying the apple orchard. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and because of all this wind it’s been hard to find to find a non- windy morning to spray. I wanted to get a protective spray on before the impending rain [which will create another fungal infection period]. I’d much prefer to spray in the morning. My energy is better and I like to have daylight to see what I’m doing.It’s good to be alert because there are plenty of things that take careful attention. The tractor used for this activity is about 35 years old and has more than just a few issues. So, I had to jump the battery to get it started.It’s not the first time that this has been needed but then I don’t normally spray at night. Now it’s dawning on me that we must have a charging issue. On my second trip to the orchard I discovered that the lights were just barely working and it’s getting dark! When you’re outside for any length of time your eyes adjust to the light [or lack of it] it but it certainly helps to have a little help from the moon. No such luck-1/4 moon tonight. The rows are mighty close and long and I’m sure hoping I didn’t wipe out any branches with the tractor tires. I’m thankful that I have such an intimate relationship with the apple orchard. I’ve spent a lot of hours and years pruning these trees, driving the rows and picking the fruit. Thank goodness-because there is no stopping once you’ve commited to filling the spray tank. The few flowers still on the trees helped to guide the way. It’s amazing how even dandelion flowers seem to almost glow in the dark.Well I made it! Getting the tractor parked in the shed without lights was a lot of fun too. Even with functional lights you have to watch what you’re doing so as not to hit all the other stuff parked in there.
I’m hoping all this effort results in wonderful fruit! It’s been such a topsy turvy growing year so far that its hard to judge what to do based on former years. We rely heavily on our IPM traps to help indicate when we might have a pest population that needs to be dealt with.The tufted apple bud moths[TABM] were what had my attention tonight. By using these traps and pharamone mating distruptants we can minimize the amount of chemicals in the environment. I’ve discovered that nobody likes wormy apples. If everyone could tolerate a little less beauty in the fruit we eat there could be dramatically less pesticides in the environment.
Anyway, I’m happy to move on to a shower and some diner. Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps it will have a tad less adventure. I’m sure we’ll be spending a bit of time under the hood of our old David Brown tractor. We call it/him “David” for short.
Farmer Karen

April Rainfall

I checked the rain gauge at 7pm. It read 1and 1/3 inch and I think it’s just gearing up. Finally a measurable quantity of rainfall in the month of April!  Three weeks into the month of April and we had less than an inch of rain. So far it’s been great for working the fields without the normal Spring worry of having soil turning work to do but really having too wet conditions to deal with.
We hustled unbelievably this past week rototilling in anticipation of planting potatoes and laying plastic for the soon to be planted summer squash and cucumbers. With the help of some wonderful volunteers from the Chester County Food Bank and our own workshare members we cut up more than 600 lbs of seed potatoes and between Friday and Sat. got them all planted! Thursday we layed a number of rows of plastic. Amidst potato planting we then managed to haul and spread about ten loads of the semi-decomposed leaf mulch that we use to keep weeds down between the rows of plastic. These were all essential tasks to do before the rain. Everyone is pretty tired but satisfied to get the job done! Now it can rain and get those potatoes [and other plantings] off to a good start. Hopefully it won’t rain so hard that it washes any of the plantings out and the sun comes out tomorrow. Isn’t there  a song  that goes something like that?
Farmer Karen

What an odd Spring it’s been!

Everything is rather flip flopped this year. Eighty degree days in March got us primed for thinking Spring and Summer. What happened to “April showers bring May flowers”? The May flowers have bloomed already in early April. The March winds have been blowing all April. And the showers? As to date, we have less than 1/3 of an inch of rainfall for the month of April.

I would much prefer a dry Spring to a wet one. We have been unimpeded by rainfall when it comes to the preparing of the vegetable fields this year. I can’t ever remember when we needed to set up irrigation this early. We have more plantings to irrigate too since we’ve had such great weather. It requires quite a few hours to set up the irrigation system and of course the added expense of fuel and time to monitor everything. It is far easier to have a timely shower from the heavens to keep all the plants and soil biology happy.

The constant winds we have experienced this month have not been helpful when it comes to spraying and maintaining the orchards. It doesn’t matter whether you’re growing with organic or conventional means- the orchards require a number of spray applications primarily at bloom time. Miss the timing [because it’s too windy to spray] and the likely hood of bug be-riddled fruit is a distinct possibility. Every disease and insect species has its own life cycle and in some cases multiple life cycles. We monitor with special traps baited with a pharomone distinct to each key insect pest. Our “trap count” gives us needed input to target spray applications at just the right time to be most effective as well as minimize our impact on the environment. The better job we can do now means the less needed later. Timing can be everything- so knock it off wind!

Much to our relief, the mob of geese that were frequenting our farm for the last several months has eased up. Only a few pairs remain to raise up the new generation. Now that there are fewer birds, Izzy the dog likes to halfheartedly chase them. She must have been intimidated by the shear numbers earlier in the Spring and really was innefective in detering them from hanging out. I’d like it if we could add “goose chaser” to her job description but sadly it just isn’t so.

For the most part the soil enriching cover crops have recuperated from all the geese feeding on them. I was worried that the geese were destroying the plants faster than the plants could grow. We have protected the lettuce/spinach field [what goose wouldn’t enjoying eating that!] by adding an additional line to the deer fencing. It’s a regular nylon string placed at about 18 inches from the ground level. We figured that this might be enough of an obstacle to send them in another direction. So far it seems to be working! Not much in farming is inexpensive and effective too so hip hip hooray on this one!

The greenhouses are filling up with young plants awaiting their time to head to the fields. The apple orchard is gorgeous and in full bloom now. Lots and lots happening!

Farmer Karen