The News from Windflower Farm
Hello from Windflower Farm. We had 2 1/2 inches of rain last week, but at least it wasn’t the 5 inches that have fallen in neighboring counties. The weatherman reports that July was the third wettest on record. After two rain-free days, waves of light rainfall came this afternoon and it is now coming down hard.
What’s in your share?
- Squash or cukes
Fennel is this week’s new crop. It is perhaps best known as one of the ingredients in a roasted root medley. What can you do with it now? It’s an excellent addition to any summer salad used raw and sliced thin. At https://www.acouplecooks.com/fennel-recipes/ you’ll find ten fennel recipes, including a fennel orange salad. Our tomatoes are coming along well, in spite of the rain, and we expect to continue to send them in bags of mixed kinds and sizes for as long as they produce. Our corn will be ready next week, as will our peppers. And Martin, at Markristo Farm, tells me his organically grown yellow and green beans are also starting and that we should see them very soon.
Your fruit share will consist of our blueberries (probably on Tuesday) or Pete’s peaches (likely on Thursday). We are sending peaches to Central Brooklyn CSA this week. Like strawberries and raspberries, blueberries have to be harvested fully ripe: They won’t ripen after picking. With strawberries, it’s easy: we wait to pick until they are completely red. With most blueberries, they not only have to be fully blue, they have to be nearly black. We find them to be a challenge to harvest because the little bit of purple that indicates they are not yet ripe is very hard to see. With many varieties, a few tart berries are inevitable. In the weeks ahead, you can expect more stone fruit from Pete and melons from our farm and local farmer John Hand.
What’s new on the farm?
I spent a few hours this morning on my cultivating tractor trying to eliminate the weeds that are in our newest beds of greens and root crops. Weeds represent a substantial challenge for those of us who farm organically. It appears that there is no weather in which they don’t thrive. During last year’s dry season, they were formidable. They excel at colonizing newly disturbed environments like a freshly tilled garden and can do so with very little water. This year, because of the rain, they are also fierce, in part because it is often too wet to get into fields with my tractors to slow them down, and even then it seems that all we do is replant them.
Weeds are worth getting to know in the same way getting to know any adversary is worthwhile. Galinsoga, pigweed, purslane, lambsquarters, shepherd’s purse, ragweed, quack grass, crabgrass, field bindweed, Pennsylvania smartweed and chickweed represent our biggest foes. All but two are annuals. and only one is a winter annual, which means that most germinate and grow along with our vegetables, where they rob them of nutrients, water and sunlight. And they complete their life cycles in a fraction of the time our vegetables do, producing great numbers of seeds that produce next year’s competitors.
My cultivating tractor did a good job. On its belly, where I can see, it’s outfitted with a gang of German-made discs on parallelograms that are intended to eliminate weeds between rows. And on its rear it has locally made finger weeders designed to take care of the weeds within the row. After just a couple of hours the battery charge on the tractor was depleted (it’s a plug-in electric tractor). To enable me to continue on, my son Nate outfitted the tractor with a small Honda generator, turning the tractor into a hybrid. Now I can cultivate all day!
Have a good week, Ted