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This Week on the Farm 5/21
We are still waiting for the rain. Tyler has been out almost every evening to irrigate the fields. The next chance for rain is on Thursday, but it isn’t a very good chance. The meterologists on TV make it seem like this is fantastic weather, but farmers everywhere are wondering when the next rain is going to fall. We are lucky that we have drip tape and over-head irrigation in place. Our neighbors to the east of us grow flowers for farmer’s markets and they are outside all day with a watering can!
We wouldn’t be farmers if we weren’t complaining about the weather! The unseasonable temperatures in March have pushed up the arrival dates of a lot of insect pests and weeds. While I was out hoeing in the onions today I noticed velvet leaf and ragweed seedlings. Normally we don’t see those until mid- to late-June. The Colorado Potato Beetles have also appeared. It seems like we got our trenches in a week late, since the adults were already in the field. Hopefully when the beetles start to move out of the potatoes and toward the eggplant we will trap them in the trench. Until then it is hand inspecting the plants for egg masses and picking adults. The blower/vacs work well when the adults are on top of the plants, but they don’t suck up the egg masses so we are still going out and inspecting every plant. I feel like we caught them in time and if we go after them hard this week we shouldn’t have too many problems with them.
Our peas and beans we planted last week are starting to pop. We planted sugar snap peas and snow peas. The snow peas are my absolute favorite and I have been craving fresh peas since March. We have three more types of beans to plant in the next couple of weeks. We are trying successional plantings of the beans to try and offset harvesting dates and to extend the season by a week or two. Like a lot of things, we are experimenting to find out the best planting methods and timing to increase yield and decrease labor.
It seems like we have been hit by bacterial spot in our tomatoes for the third year in a row. We are in the process of burning all of our tomato seedlings. Tomorrow we are going to hot water bath our left over tomato seed and reseed the crop. There is no cure for bacterial spot, especially in organic (or transitionally organic) production. We don’t want to plant diseased plants out in our fields because the disease would then enter the soil and stick around to cause problems in future years. Instead we cull out the diseased crops and reseed them.
Last year we thought it was because our plants were too large in the greenhouse and the canopy was too dense to allow airflow between plants. This created a humid environment where the bacteria thrived. We planted our seeds two to three weeks later this year to make sure the plants were smaller and less dense, but we still got an outbreak. I think our plan for next year is to bump the planting date later by another week and automatically hot water bath our seed. The hot water bath should kill any pathogens on the outside and inside of the seed. We also need to adjust our watering schedule/how we water to try to minimize the amount of time the leaves are wet. Don’t worry about tomatoes for this season though, we will still have tomatoes this year. Like last year they will be in the boxes a little later in the season since they are a couple of weeks behind schedule, but they will be just as tasty!
In non-plant related news, we went up to Harrisville today to pick up two more shields for the cultivator. There is an antique farm equipment/junk dealer in Harrisville that is a great place to find old equipment parts. We had two sets of shields for one of our two row cultivators, but we changed it to a three row cultivator and needed another set. Now we can cultivate between our three row blocks and the shields protect the plants from being covered by the worked up soil.
Like all of our equipment, old and new, the shields got a good cleaning with our pressure washer. We then bleached it and let it air dry before we went out in the field to give it a test drive. It ended up working really well, which is great since we can keep planting stuff in the three row blocks to save on space.
We want to give a shout out to our friends (and CSA members) Lara and Mike who are getting married this coming Sunday! We want you to know that we are hoping for rain at any point this week, except on Sunday!