The News from Windflower Farm
Hello from a hot and humid Windflower Farm, where tomorrow’s heat index is supposed to be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit!
What’s in your share?
- Lots of tomatoes
- Zucchini or Zephyr squash
- Sweet peppers
- Kale on Tuesday, collards on Thursday
- And more
Your fruit share will be Yonder Farm’s blueberries or peaches. Pete says it’s most likely to be blueberries.
This year’s flower share was just six weeks long. The shorter flower season was designed to give Jan a chance to undertake new projects this summer. The share wrapped up at some locations in week #6 and at most locations last week, which was week #7. It comes to an end for the last two sites this week. We’ll miss having all those lovely flowers everywhere – greenhouse, fields, packing shed.
What’s new at the farm?
It’s Sunday morning. Jan has just finished harvesting flowers – her last of the season – and is now cleaning up one of her flower fields. Nate is mowing. Heidi, a nurse and friend who stops over every now and again for “weeding therapy,” is in the carrots. And the Medina family, working as a group, as always, are harvesting tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and squash. It is the tail end of a hot July, the dog days here in the Hudson Valley, and the work starts early to avoid the heat. I’m on irrigation duty. The pepper and tomato tunnels in our front field ran from 6:00 to 8:30 am (Jan, an early bird, actually turned those on). I’ve got the carrots running now and I’ll let them run until just before the lunch hour, after which it’s on to the red and yellow onion block, followed by a block of eggplants, chiles and peppers. All of this water is coming from a well that is 470’ deep and delivers nearly 100 gallons per minute.
Nate is on irrigation duty tomorrow. He’ll use the back pond to irrigate the squashes, cucumbers and melons in the back fields, all of which are mulched and on drip irrigation. He’ll then irrigate the back tomato, ginger and pepper tunnels. He thinks that the pond will be empty when he’s done with this round of irrigating, leaving just enough for the snappers and frogs and water bugs to carry on their lives. We’ll need to tap into the newest well if we are to irrigate those fields again. He’ll run the drip system on the sweet potatoes in our big field, too, but using our bigger pond in this case, which seems to still have a fair amount of water. And if he has time, he’ll use a tractor-mounted tool he fabricated to lay out drip tape on a block of cabbages in the big field and then run them for a couple of hours. We like to keep Nate busy.
In a hot, dry season, few vegetables will give good results without irrigation, and even irrigation won’t help if it’s too hot. You’ll get our unirrigated corn soon and see what I mean. The flavor and texture will be good, but the “fill” will be poor. Broccoli and lettuce becomes bitter in the heat, and no amount of irrigation seems to remedy that. In the case of broccoli, the bitter compound is glucosinolate, and it can be leached out to some extent by boiling in salt water, the downside of which is that it probably also pulls nutrients out of the vegetable. We have planted more of both and hope they will be sweeter with the return of cooler weather.
We have quite a bit to do this week besides irrigating. Tomorrow, we’ll pick up some row covers and till under old crop and weed residues. It’s time to think about seeding down cover crops in fields we’ve finished using for the season. We’ll sow oats and peas if it’s early enough and a mix of rye and vetch a little later. We spread compost and some other soil amendments on a couple of fields last week and we’ll continue to transplant fall greens and more Cucurbits and to field-sow spinach and salad greens. We’ll try to find time to use the old G tractors to cultivate the radishes, arugula, turnips and lettuces. And we’ll go through the sweet potatoes and melons one more time before the vines run, taking out the weed escapes by hand. And we’ll make time for siestas, because these are the dog days, and it’s hot outside.
Have a great week, Ted