This Week on the Farm 7/5
It has been very warm this week. Friday we took the afternoon off from field work because of the heat index and focused our attention on some paperwork that has been piling up over the last month.
Friday morning before it got disgustingly hot we managed to get the row covers over all of Field 7 where we have the cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. This year we upgraded to larger sheets of the insect barriers that are nineteen feet across. This allows us to cover more rows at a time. We ran out of sand bags to weigh the covers down, but as soon as we order more we will also be covering the cauliflower.
We have to cover these crops because of Imported Cabbage Worm. The white moths lay eggs on the leaves of plants that are in the Brassica family. Once the eggs hatch the caterpillars eat giant holes in the leaves. This makes it unattractive to eat, and can reduce photosynthesis so much that crop yield decreases. The insect barrier prevents the majority of the moths from being able to reach the plants, thus protecting them from damage. A few moths find their way under the cover, but they don’t cause too much damage.
Friday morning I also stopped by the Rio Elementary School. I talked to two gardening classes for elementary school kids. I brought in our Earthway seeder and demonstrated how to plant beans. I also brought in a potato plant that had been destroyed by Colorado Potato Beetles and a container that showed all six life stages of the beetle from egg to adult. They thought the beetles were really cool and opinion ranged from thinking they were cute to absolutely disgusting. It was very cool to hear about all of the gardens that they have at home and to see kids interested in growing veggies.
In crop news, the turnips are looking great. They should be ready to harvest in the next week or two. Depending on where they are in the row they range from an inch in diameter to two and a half inches. We think this has to do with the soil in Field 8. Half of Field 8 is sandy and dries out really quickly, and the other section is a little bit lower and is more loamy. The lower section holds more water and the turnips are larger.
Last night we irrigated the tomatoes, peppers, okra, and eggplant. Hopefully the extra water will help push them along. The plants are all looking healthy, but they are still fairly small. The weather this summer has not been as cooperative as far as rain as we would like it, so we have had to irrigate a lot more than we did last year. We have had to go through and pull flowers from the jalapeños. The plants are not big enough right now to handle the stress of bearing fruit. In a couple of weeks they should be large enough that they can support multiple fruit.
I took a walk through the summer squash field this morning and there are a few baby zucchini and patty pan squash that are starting to form. I think it will be another week or two before we have enough to put in the boxes. The cold spring is still impacting many of our crops and pushing harvest dates back by several weeks.
The pumpkin and winter squash plants are growing like gangbusters. I feel like that field turned green overnight. The squash flowers are very pretty, creating a sea of green and gold. (We like our vegetables to reflect our love of the Packers…)