Summertime

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love August.

We have officially made it to midsummer, a time of bounty, vegetables of colors other than just green. Rainbow cherry tomatoes! Rainbow chard! Rainbow beets! Needless to say, it’s also a time of year that has been characterized in the past by long days, lower back pain, and a general sense of exhaustion. Though the weather this summer looks to be mostly cooler than average, meaning the flood of tomatoes will be a little less ridiculous than last year, we still have a ton of work to do. The difference is that this year we get to do things other than just pick and pack tomatoes! We get to weed things, take down the spring pea trellis, mow our aisles, spread fertilizer, and go out for late night hornworm hunting (more on that below). So all in all, the farm is in excellent shape, and that’s largely due to our phenomenal crew! We made sure to hire more hands this year, because if we’re working so hard that we’re hurting ourselves, then what’s the point? A couple years back we were on a farm tour of a friend’s place. Her mom is still actively involved on the farm, and certainly getting up in years. But she put it perfectly – you shouldn’t be doing it if you aren’t having fun.

We’re looking forward to a tour this evening and having the farm actually look pretty presentable. Less to show it off and more just knowing that we’re not constantly falling behind and putting out fires.

Major things are happening on the farm – we are prepping a new piece of land for growing in 2018! We’ve enjoyed our current field for the past 3 years, and it’s time to give it a rest. We’ll till it all in next spring and plant some cover crops to make the soil happy. But our new patch has a thick application of manure from a dairy farmer friend down the road, and will soon be planted into cover crops to create biomass, a winter mulch, and some of them will survive the winter and come back with full force in the spring (clover, I’m looking at you!). We’ll be experimenting with some new cover crops (at least to us), so we’re excited to see what they do. We’re also entering the rush of tomato season – the next month should yield a lot of tomatoes. A lot. And picking them is only part of it – we have to sort, pint, and box them to get them to Willy St., into CSA shares, or our market table. People just can’t seem to get enough.

{The rainbow of spring transplants has given way to rainbow bunches of chard!}

Last night after a long day, especially for Clint who went to the Whitewater market, we went hornworm hunting! Any of you who have grown tomatoes are likely familiar with these enormous caterpillars that blend in incredibly well but have a voracious appetite. Fortunately for us, they have an Achilles’ heel – they glow in the dark! Well, not exactly, but they do glow in the dark if you shine a UV light on them. We have a couple high powered UV flashlights, and all you have to do is walk out there at night, shine your light around, and you will find even the tiniest ones that don’t have markings yet and haven’t caused any observable damage. We probably got 80 or more of them in half an hour. Keep in mind, this is a 2500-plant patch, so most of that time is just walking up and down the beds.

{The dreaded tomato/tobacco hornworm – it’s huge!}

We’ve all been getting out for walks, bike rides, get togethers – unheard of for August! It’s still plenty busy, and we’re working quite a bit, but turns out you can get by with a little help from your friends. It’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through our CSA season, but sure enough we’re starting to haul in major storage crops from the field. We harvested nearly 5000 beautiful bulbs of garlic last week and are drying them down in the greenhouse, we’ve started pulling up all of our onions. Even some winter squash is starting to get ripe colors on them! Soon we’ll be swimming in sweet red and orange peppers – my personal favorite snack of the entire season. Cucumbers are still cranking, but they’re noticeably a little tired. It won’t be long before we hardly are harvesting any – transitions happen so quickly this time of year. We were looking at a bed of buckwheat we had planted as a cover crop and thinking about whether we’ll be able to harvest some seed from it – it’s just 60 days until frost! Time to get back to harvesting!

 

-Dennis 8/2/17