Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crop Update

Yes they are here...our second planting of squash is now coming in and we have seeded our third planting...despite the rain and the rain and the rain...the squash still produce.

We are harvesting this amount of squash and zucchini every other day ...that is about 700 lbs every other day...Yikes!!!!

It seems that almost every day a new crop is ready...Friday the cucumbers hit there stride and today it was the green beans. Today Chris did a scouting harvest checking in on the onions and the garlic and the...yes, the potatoes.

The garlic is looking good, we will be able to offer fresh garlic soon, quite different from their drier later selves, the green beans are looking great, the onions need a little more time. They do the bulk of their top formation before the solstice and now will put their energy into bulb development.
Our first potatoes will be red skinned and as always extremely delicate. New potatoes must be handled with extreme care because of their super thin skin. In a few weeks the tops will die down, and then they are left in the ground for a bit for the skins to set. No longer so delicate we can harvest them with a machine and wash them in our barrel washer. But in the up and coming weeks, we will begin the potato harvesting.
Oh and we even have a first crop of baby carrots this week, sooooo tender and sweet!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Keeping out the deer

Here are some pictures of the double lines of electric fence that we have throughout the farm to keep the deer out of some of their favorite foods. In a year like this, lush and wet, it is very upsetting to us that they choose lettuce and strawberries over all the tender alfalfa and grasses out in the fields
Deer are persistent. But this year we are attempting to use temporary fences surrounding close to maturity crops in order to break their routines. So far so good. The strawberries have a more permanent set up as the deer destroyed last years plants by eating every last green until they could no longer photosynthesize. Sad!!! Maybe will will bite the bullet and put up a permanent super high fence around the farm....we don't love that idea, it will feel a bit like a compound, time will tell.
Of course we also have a few nuisance hunters patrolling the property at dusk. The neighbors all know to expect shots this time of year. Jose, Carmello, Eduardo and Efrain will be eating well this summer, they enjoy the venison and hopefully the hunters will keep it coming.
Regardless of these attempts at deterring the deer, we try to plant enough with them in mind...
but they often take more than their share.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Here they come!!!!

Over the years we have grown many different types of squash and zucchini. We seem to have honed in on straight neck squash, green zucchini and a yellow patty pan called sunburst. We have tried the light green Lebanese, the round shaped zucchini, even the green patty pan which are flatter than the Sunburst. It is not to say that we won't do some of them again, but the fact of the matter is, we grow twice as much zucchini as
yellow and patty pan...people like green, and the darker the better.
Our first harvest was yesterday, the zucchini came in first...500 pounds of it, very exciting!!!! Funny how the vegetable that is the most plain and probably the most given away come July is so very exciting in early June. To us it represents the first "hard" vegetable of summer.
Don't get me wrong, we have been harvesting beets and peas and delicious spring turnips for a few weeks, and lettuces and greens for months now. Squash and zucchini open the door to so so much more to come. They clearly state that summer has arrived....cucumbers and tomatoes will not be far behind!!!
So here they come...get out the us any good ones that you love, I am particularly looking for some dessert uses. I am thinking about organizing a pot luck surrounding this over productive vegetable, we will see how that develops

The cucumbers are not too far behind. Here is one just waiting to mature to adorn you salad or hold center stage on it's children just love cucumber salads!!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oats and Peas

The oats are just heading up this week. Chris decided to turn in some oats and peas this week in order to prepare the ground for summer vegetables. We plant the oats and peas into ground that we plan on using late summer to early fall. Cover cropping is a practice which not only prevents water and wind erosion, it feeds the soil as well. There are many different types of cover crops, but oats and peas are nice in the spring because they are quick growing and can handle the early season cold snaps. The peas are a legume, which means that they fix nitrogen.

Here are some pictures of the nodules created by the rhizobia (nitrogen fixing bacteria)that are growing on the roots of the peas plants. They are the slightly pink small round things attached to the roots. The soil is teeming with many different types of rhizobia and when the peas roots begin to grow, they attract the particular rhizobia that will work with the pea plant, in a process called symbiosis, to fix nitrogen. Each legume has a compatible rhizobia and if your soil does not have the correct match, nitrogen fixation can not happen. Our soil has the right rhizobia judging by the pictures. It is possible to purchase rhizobia called inoculants which you mix with the seed to insure symbiosis.
The nitrogen is already present in the air spaces of the soil. The gas moves through the nodule at the root and then is converted by the rhizobia into amonia which the plant uses. The plant in return provides energy to the much as 30% of the plants captured energy goes to feed the rhizobia.

When the plant flowers it release the rhizobia back into the soil and focuses it's energy on seed formation. The rhizobia can live in the soil for up to three years if soil conditions are right.

We turned in this small section of oats and peas before the flowering time because we needed the space. The rest of the oats and peas we hope to let mature and combine so that we have seed for next years cover cropping.
Chris is using the Soil Saver to turn in the oats and peas. It will take two passes over the course of a few weeks to kill this crop. It will take another few weeks for the organic matter to break down into fine enough pieces for the vegetable seeder to not get clogged up.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Playing in the Fields

Fun in the fields
We went for a big bike ride, up fields and down
We walked through the crops and checked them all out!

There was even time for playing with the rocks ....who needs building blocks when the rock rake leaves this behind!