Mid-Season Crop Round-up

Overall, I would have to say that this has been one of the better growing seasons we have had in awhile.  We had that really slow start in the spring with all the wet weather (although as I observed elsewhere, the cool season crops that were up and growing when that hit did just fine—largely because cool daytime temperatures were paired with warm nighttime temperatures from all the cloud cover).  We will still see at least one negative result from that (maybe two): we had to delay planting the potatoes this spring which means that they had put on less growth than usual by the time the dreaded potato leaf-hopper cut short their growing season (I’m saying that we’re not expecting a bumper crop of spuds).  The other possible consequence is from the delayed planting of the winter squash, although so far our mainstays (butternut and acorn) are coming along nicely.

I’m sure everyone has noticed that we’ve had a better than average year for cantaloupes, eggplant and peppers.  We’re really happy with our production system for the eggplants and peppers and are seriously considering scaling back the eggplant planting next year (there are just too many!).  We’re really happy with the attention we can give the very first planting of cantaloupes and watermelon, although we still struggle to come up with an effective, efficient weed control strategy for subsequent plantings.

Of course you have all noticed how well the weeds are doing as well, especially in the pick your own areas of the fields.  Weeds are plants too, so if growing conditions favor crop growth, then odds are they favor weed growth as well and some areas have gotten out of our control.  Over the next couple of days I hope we can get in with the mower and sacrifice a few beds of beans that have been swallowed by pigweed (aka amaranth, callalloo) to allow somewhat better access to the remaining beds of beans and flowers.

I must confess to a bit of anxiety about the fall cabbage-family plantings, between weeds and flea beetles (which inflict direct damage from feeding and vector a disease called ‘alternaria’) they will not be everything that they could be, but hopefully we all still have some yummy broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts and bok choi to look forward to.

Odds and ends:

  • We expect garlic to be available straight through the season
  • We have a nicer looking onion crop than in a long time, hopefully they will store well enough to be a presence through the rest of the season
  • We are planting some of the last rounds of quick crops now—just another couple beds of lettuce to plant, the last scallions went in today, the last fennel, too.  Just a little more escarole to go.  Although we’re really just starting with things like bok choi and radishes for the fall.
  • The celery looks nicer than it has in years, so it’s been flying out of the distribution room.  Unfortunately because of our disappointing crops in recent years, we didn’t plant that much, and it will be all gone soon, although celeriac is on its way.
  • We also have the nicest looking crop of fall raspberries we’ve ever had.  They’re starting to come in.  I’m thinking it will be another week or two before they are really coming on in earnest.
  • We didn't give the tunnel tomatoes enough potassium this year (that's why there are so many with yellow shoulders, and hard areas in the wall of the fruit) if the weather remains good, the field tomatoes should start taking up the slack soon.

 

Yours in the field,

Asher

Published in Harvest Line, August 2011


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