Farm Update July 25, 2013

It’s been an unpredictable season so far as the weather is concerned.  Consistent rain gave way to scorching heat last week, and this week feels more like September than July.  Although we shouldn’t be surprised as predictability has pretty much gone out the window the past few years – unusual weather has become the standard.  In the past handful of years we’ve seen extended periods of drought, unrelenting rains, hurricanes, snow storms in October, and unseasonable temperatures come and go.  We try our best to do the things we can control well and with proficiency.  The rest is out of our hands and we have no choice but to adapt and take what comes in stride.  The positive consequences of not always being in control come in the form of creativity, ingenuity, mandatory efficiencies, and stress management.  All of which are transferable life skills.  

The heat last week was no doubt oppressive but considering the wet weather preceding it, it was welcomed (I’ll let the crew speak for themselves).  The high temperatures gave a boost to our timid summer crops; tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.  More importantly it slowed the spread of disease and development that the rains had so inconsiderately facilitated.  Specifically, temperatures over 90 degrees as well as UV rays kill the spores of the dreaded late blight that has the potential to lay waste to an entire crop of tomatoes and/or potatoes within a week.  It is not an uncommon disease to encounter, but usually it waits until late summer or fall to rear its ugly head.  A cool, wet June and early July expedited its arrival to the northeast region this season.  With reports of late blight already documented in New Jersey and Pennsylvania we sweated in the heat last week with some satisfaction and comfort level knowing that the threat was mitigated for the moment.  

Since our last update there have been some losses around the fields.  The long term effects of the rains include losing our brussel sprouts to alternaria (a leaf blight).  A tissue sample of the watermelon sent to the diagnostic lab revealed that we have phytophthora (root rot).  The progression of both pathogens was favored by the cultural conditions that we experienced in recent months.   Downy mildew has been weakening our cucumber patch for a couple weeks now.  In recent years it has become the usual suspect for taking down successive plantings of cucumbers and other crops in the cucurbit family.  Seed varieties that were once resistant to various races of downy are no longer as the disease has evolved.  We do have second plantings of cucumber and summer squash in the ground but they were delayed due to the consistently wet soil.  We’re hoping they will recover sufficiently from being in their trays well past their planting date.

Despite this update being laden with bad news I hope you are enjoying the good news in the form of your weekly veggies.  The next month will be full of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, onions, herbs, and flowers.  There will also be appearances by garlic, leeks, string beans, and tomatillos.  It’s been fun and exciting to have members bring in various dishes on pick up days for everyone to sample and share ideas.   If you still would like to participate you can sign up on the calendar located next to the sign-in sheet when you come to claim your share.  Keep an eye out for upcoming posts introducing our crew.  They come from various walks of life and are doing a phenomenal job at growing your food and creating community here at Sandbrook Meadow Farm.  If you get the opportunity to chat with any of them I suggest you take it.  They carry pertinent wisdom to inquiries regarding the farm but also about life.   Thank you again for your support, your community and letting us touch your vegetables.

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