Norman’s News, June 15

Finally the sun is out and it feels like summer. Our zucchini and cucumbers have kicked in and we are picking at a pretty good clip. Mostly we are picking a beautiful dark green zucchini called ‘dunja’ as well as a gold variety. For cucumbers we have slicing and pickling coming in. Tomatoes are staked and setting fruit and the oats we seeded as cover crop are established as I watched them wave in the summer breeze.

I was talking with our field manager about how he feels things are going this season and how we’ve been impacted by all the rain. On Sunday at the farm we received another monsoon which flooded us out while at the stands and CSA in lower Montgomery County we barely felt it at all. I could hear the frustration and anxiety in his voice so I made getting out their first thing Monday morning a priority.

Monday was a different story. The sun was out, things were drying out nicely and we had a nice picking of squash and cukes. One problem we are having with all the rain is erosion. The soil is very vulnerable because it has just been tilled, the rows of plastic mulch are impermeable so all that water is ending up on the pathways in between or at the end of the beds washing out the soil. One thought we had was to use bales of straw to create retaining walls and capture the soil.

Another issue we are having is with deer. They have taken about 2000 heads of lettuce, a half acre of strawberries, and about 100 tomato plants. We’ve tried temporary electric fencing, row covers, and even waiting for them to scare them off. Permanent Deer fencing is not in our budget at this time. This coming week I’m meeting a representative from Maryland Dept of Natural Resources along with a couple CSA Member/Hunters to act as our agents to help us manage our problem. In the meantime I’m going to start putting together a list of venison recipes.

Other items that came up this week, we have purchased about 10,000 feet of a perforated row cover for our tomato plants. Last year we started to notice some amish growers using this new (to us) technique of protecting their tomato plants from rain by “tenting” them. We have done some research and think it could make a big difference. Last year we had a very cool and wet August right at the peak of tomato season which had us leaving about 80% of our crop in the fields as a direct result. A few other farms were using this tenting technique with great results, so this year we are giving it a try.

We also had a bit of miscommunication on our pepper plantings. My field manager called from the greenhouses with a bit of surprise that we still had some 1500 plants to pickup because we had already filled the space designated for peppers. Since all our field notes and plans dated back to last October/November I honestly had no recollection of what we came up with and why we would be so far off in our plan. Did we need to increase or decrease from last year? Change spacing or succession? Did I miscalculate the seed order or was it an error in the greenhouse? After some research I figured out that last year we had decided to double row the peppers plants while the field manager had ended up planting the first 1500 plants straight down the middle. Basically instead of getting 800 plants in a row we only planted 400. So instead of four rows we would need eight or six. Anyways, fortunately we have the extra acreage planted in cover crop for us to use. That’s all for now. Have a great week everyone.




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