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Farm Update, September 23

This week for me was more about working at the stands and the CSA than being at the farm. It was actually a nice change of pace and good to see so many familiar faces. With most or our summer staff back in school or on other endeavors the last leg of our season is one which involves just a few folks wearing lots of hats.

Early in the week, which feels like ages ago, I did get a chance to catch up with our crew and get and update on the farm. They were hard at work picking piles of the most gorgeous greenbeans of the season. Not much has changed from last week. There is picking, maintenance, and cleanup in equal parts happening in each day. The spent crops are getting pulled, plastic mulch if not being reused is getting pulled up as well. The beds plowed and seeded with cover crop. We are using a mix of winter rye to suppress weeds and restore nutrients, and forage radish to decompact the soil.

Another thing we are doing this week is discussing possible changes and improvements for next season. This year was prettysmooth sailing at first. We had a good crew and a good plan. However, beginning the latter half of August the weather simply didn’t cooperate and shut down our tomato plants.  All the work that went into staking, trellising, pruning, irrigating and caring for the plants may not have panned out. We also noticed after a rain that the water droplets that remain on the fruit magnify the sunlight and can burn the tomatoes in spots. Next year we may consider covering them with some sort of shade fabric.

Then there were the sunflowers. At first we raised beds, and laid plastic mulch with drip irrigation underneath. The plants would burn and weren’t successful. Then we realized they do much better directly sowed into the ground with no plastic and drip irrigation. Next year we are thinking of adding acreage of lower maintenance crops. Sunflowers, pumpkins, gourds, fall squash can all be directly seeded into the ground. We can set up sprinklers when needed. The idea is to keep our costs down in materials and labor while utilizing more land.

With this Indian summer and string of hot days our squash and cucumbers are really going gangbusters. That’s all for this week. Enjoy the bounty.

John Norman

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