This week I brought my daughter along as I visited the farm. She just began helping out at the stands recently and I thought it might be a good idea to walk the farm and get more familiar with what we are growing and at what stage it is. Anyways I could use the company.
Upon our arrival we met with our field manager who had just helped out at a neighboring farm in exchange for some advice on our tomatoes. We have noticed some sun scorch on our beefsteaks and were wondering if it has to do with how we are pruning and trellising. He came back with a “bag of evidence”, a zip lock bag full of sliced tomatoes from our farm as well as our neighbors; and lots of ideas for improvements for next year not just for the tomatoes but perhaps our farm overall.
The first suggestion may have to do with the varieties we are selecting. Apparently there are taller varieties that provide more of a shade canopy for the tomatoes. They may have a slightly thicker skin which could translate to less bruising during harvest.
The second note had to do with water. Currently we use a drip tape for irrigation that has holes every 12 inches. The water forms a circle with about a 4 inch radius from the hole and then is absorbed by the ground. Ideally the wet areas from the drip would intersect and overlap so that there is consistent moisture all along the tape. Currently, since the holes are too far apart there is a possibly a gap which is not getting water. To remedy this we would need to use drip tape with holes every 8 inches. However this could cause a new set of problems since it would require more water and we are limited by the strength of our well. S0 stay tuned.
My daughter and I walked the fields inspecting the cucumber plants and a rows of greenbeans about ready to be picked. We walked over to the melon patch and picked a half dozen sugar cubes and set them in the shade for later. We picked a few beefsteak, heirloom, and cherry tomatoes and walked down a long row of sungolds. I explained how the heavy rain from the previous evening caused the ripe ones to split. It was much more noticeable with the very thin skinned orange cherry tomatoes. We walked up the hill past okra and eggplant to the red and yellow peppers where the crew was picking and filling 20 bushel bins with bullhorns and bells. And I showed her the bee hives from where all our honey is coming.
Later, on our way back to our car we walked through the butterfly garden of zinnias, dahlias and daisies. She attempted to tame tiger striped swallowtails like she did as a kid. We gathered our cantaloupes which filled the ride home with a fragrant, sweet memory of a pleasant afternoon.