It’s been a while since my last update. We’ve been through a lot in the past two months. We are currently in a stretch of extremely wet, humid weather. It is too early to tell what the final impact of getting four inches of rain in four days will be. The ground is completely saturated and the plants are soggy. We really need things to dry out over the next couple days to stave off disease. Just think, a week ago I was begging for rain. Ahh….gotta love farming! Always keeps us on our toes. We are starting to hit our stride with the summer crops – the peppers and eggplant have been magnificent, and the tomatoes are about to pop. I personally am looking forward to those red and orange peppers just around the corner. Onions will start to be available this week. This rain also comes at a bad time as we’re waiting for the onions to dry down before harvest. We may experience some more rot than usual, but otherwise the crop looks better than last year! We’ve also stepped up our garlic game this season. After an almost 90% loss last year, the garlic has been keeping us busy this go-around with harvesting, hanging, and trimming over 5,000 bulbs. It will be the first time we will be able to use our own garlic for planting seed in the fall. Every year we take some losses along with the wins. This summer we’ve been unable to catch a break with the cucumbers. Our first planting was ravaged by cucumber beetles, which not only affect fruit cosmetics, but also transmit bacterial wilt (game over). The majority of our second succession never got past the seedling phase; we lost most of them to hot, dry weather shortly after planting. We replaced those after about a two week gap, and now they have downy mildew just as they are starting to produce. In previous seasons we’ve been swimming in cucumbers…drowning, really, because of the time demand to keep up with the harvest. I’m not sure how many of you would take the trade of eggplant and garlic for cucumbers, but that is the way the cookies crumbled this year.
Earlier this summer we also had two crew members decide farming was not for them, which left us a little short-handed. At two-thirds labor force, we’ve been supplemented nicely by a slew of regular volunteers. It has been truly awesome to have the extra help as we make our way through the heart of the growing and harvest season. We just finished a big push to get most of the fall crops in the ground. The recent blistering heat definitely exaggerated transplant shock for the new baby plants, and we had to replace some of them. They should be stable now as long as they did not drown in the deluge over the past week. We also potted 3,500 strawberry cutting last week, which will be planted in a month or so. One of the silver linings of no rain in June was a long, glorious strawberry season. Let’s hope the new planting is just as successful!
Despite the trials of the growing season, we are really happy with the harvest this year thus far. Every season has its own challenges. We are improving as farmers each year, and that allows us to withstand the stresses and losses all the more. One of the beauties of diversified crop production, is that when one crop fails, there are dozens of others to fill in the void. I must also mention that I am very excited about the winter squash…looks like there are some real monsters out there!