This Week on the Farm 8/6
The garlic is done curing. I spent about eleven hours on Monday trimming tops and roots, grading everything, and cleaning the garlic that we will be saving for seed. I still need to clean the garlic that we will be putting in the boxes this year, but it was a long day and I decided to pack it in and go to bed.
This is the first year that we have officially graded our garlic. I built a grader using a piece of scrap wood and nails that sorts the garlic into standardized grades. The categories are: medium, large, extra large, jumbo, and premium. Anything that fell below “medium” was culled out, as well as any damaged or soft bulbs. Of the five varieties that we grew this year, three of them performed very well. The other two we were not expecting a great yield since the seed garlic we planted last fall was not of the highest quality. We planted the smaller cloves to see what would happen, and now we know that it isn’t really worth it to plant lower quality/small cloves.
We have enough garlic to put it in the boxes twice this year. After several seasons of growing garlic and getting a better understanding of typical yield per amount planted on our soils, we now have a better idea of the number of pounds of garlic that needs to be planted each fall. We have to not only account for the number of pounds that need to be saved for seed garlic, but also calculate how many boxes will be going out in a week and how many weeks we want to have garlic in the boxes. Given the number of members we have in our CSA, this means we need to plant a lot of garlic!
The cool, dry weather has slowed down plant growth significantly. It has been a very cool summer, so plants that like it hot (peppers, tomatoes, etc.) are not maturing as rapidly as we would like. Each plant has a lot of blooms or small fruit, but development to full size and maturity is slow. Hopefully we get some more heat in the next couple of weeks to push the crops along.
Now is the point in the season where Tyler and I like to step back and take stock of how things are going and what we want to change/improve for next year. We already have a long list of improvements that range from equipment adjustments to crop varieties that we want or don’t want to grow again. The most important change for next year is to install a grass waterway in the back field. The seven inches of rain we had in mid-June are still impacting the CSA boxes and that is something that we feel we can mitigate by modifying the drainage pattern in the back field. By shedding excess water away from the growing areas and into the bordering areas we won’t be as susceptible to flooding in the future.
Flooding definitely was not something that we expected after last year. We planned for another drought, but not for flooding. Mother Nature likes to keep farmer’s on their toes, so now we know how to prepare for both.
Some of our fall crops are starting to put on size and to mature. The winter squash field looks great and all of the plants are setting a lot of fruit. We planted nine types of winter squash and a pie pumpkin. In a week or two it will be time for Tyler to carve faces and names into some of the pie pumpkins. If you scar the pumpkins when they are still green they will scab over and look very cool when the pumpkins turn orange.
Tyler noticed yesterday that the Jacob’s Cattle bean plants are starting to change color. They are one of two dried beans that we are growing this season and are the shorter day length variety so it seems like they are right on target. I need to spend some time devising how we are going to process all of the dried beans. We planted fifty pounds of dried beans on about an acre of land, so that is going to be a lot of beans to harvest!
We have been so busy that we totally spaced on the fact that some of our fields are now Certified Organic! On July 15, our oldest fields passed the three year transitional phase and are now USDA Certified Organic. Any garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers that appear in your boxes are certified organic.
*A note on the zucchini. Sometimes the zucchini get pretty big (we actually refer to them as baseball bats). These zucchini are perfect for use in breads, muffins, cakes, or scoop the seeds out and stuff with tomatoes and other veggies and bake in the oven.