Last week, week #5, was the official transition into summer and therefore it feels like a fitting time for an official summer farm update, letting you know where we are in the fields and what’s coming up in your share.
Vegetables that scream summer to me are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, corn, okra, basil, watermelon and summer squash.
Well, besides already receiving basil, everything else is coming-soon! You can expect basil to be a U-Pick item for as long as we can keep it around, and we have a second planting that will go in the ground within a week or two. The tomatoes are looking great after being ‘suckered’ (pruned), staked, and tied at least 4 times. Green fruit is setting nicely and in anticipation we wait for that perfect ‘ripening’ moment when we hope for hot temperatures enough to ripen the fruit but not too much to kill all our other crops. Even after we get a few ripe tomatoes (which is not yet), it will take awhile for us to get the quantity needed to give out in the share. The peppers have been “fenced” in just this week, providing just enough support to hold up the plants as their branches become heavy with fruit, but not quite ready for picking yet. The eggplant made it past peak flea beetle damage by protection with row cover (also known as “agribon” or “remay”, a thin agricultural fabric), but haven’t quite developed any fruit yet. Our beans and corn have benefited from some much needed cultivation this week, but are still quite small because of such late planting dates. After all that rain early on, we’ll have to have the most patience on these crops as they catch up with the rest of summer. The okra is looking great, although still small, next to our pole beans, also quite small, both of which you should expect to see in U-Pick when they’re ready. Our first planting of watermelon has suffered quite a bit of aphid (a tiny insect) damage. However, Ben released into the watermelon field a package of ladybugs, which are fierce predators of aphids, and so we hope that there are hundreds of happy, full bellied, ladybugs out there feasting on thousands of tiny aphids. Only time will tell if the ladybug feast was in time or not. And now, for the cucurbit family of vegetables that include summer squash, cucumbers and winter squash. Cucurbits are hard to grow, especially in Kentucky, because of both insect pressure and fungal disease. To combat these two setbacks, we planted our first summer squash early (to miss the cucumber beetle peak season), however in the heat of late Spring at least a third of the plants died and the rest of the field has not produced more than a sporadic small bucket or two. The second round of summer squash, however, was transplanted and covered with a thin agricultural fabric to act as a physical barrier to the cucumber beetle. We’ve removed the fabric, also known as “remay” or “agribon”, this week to allow the flowers to get pollinated and the plants are looking great! We’ll begin to harvest it late this week and its possible (I’m crossing my fingers) we’ll have enough for the share by next week. We planted the winter squash field at the same time, but just uncovered it yesterday but saw signs of fungal disease so we’ll see how it develops as time goes on.
Other things on the farm include a second round of watermelons, pumpkins (yay!), potatoes, flowers, herbs, greens, cabbage, kale, asian greens, radishes, turnips, and sweet potatoes (maybe, if they survive). This list is by no means a promise, as things do or do not go as planned. Today, we worked on cultivating (also known as killing weeds) as much as we can by tractor and by human-power. The tractor cultivation went smoothly, killing weeds at the speed of 1-2 mph. The human-powered cultivation went much slower, at the rate of 6 people for 3 hours on one field, and yet the field where we spent the afternoon looks so much better. When we have to spend this much time weeding, it means we failed to get the weeds at the time we should have with less effort, but I have to admit the slow and steady work of hand-weeding (for me and I think I’m alone on this among the farm crew) is something I enjoy. It’s therapeutic.
I’ll leave you with a quote that I believe is fitting for summer as we enjoy the bounty of what it offers.
“May what we harvest be enough.” (a friend of the farm)