The News from Windflower Farm
What’s in your share?
- Greenleaf lettuce
- Swiss chard
- ‘Caraflex’ (pointy green) or ‘Tendersweet’ (round green) cabbage
- Assorted squashes
- Japanese turnips
- Garlic scapes
- Yellow onions
Beets and spinach and red onions will come next week. Peppers should be coming soon. Your fruit share will consist of fresh blueberries from Yonder Farm.
What’s new on the farm
I’ve just weeded our first four beds of eggplants out of a total of eight. They were not especially weedy, but I wanted to deal with the situation before things got out of hand. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll weed the other four tomorrow. But weeding can be tough on the lower back, and tomorrow may come a little too soon. The eggplants comprise a quarter acre of garden in total. They are all on drip irrigation and poly mulch and make for a tidy planting. There are perhaps half a dozen varieties in all, including the Pingtung Long that I weeded today and another slender Asian type, two or three bell-shaped Italian varieties and a couple of stripped and neon novelties. They are just beginning to fruit, and it will be a few weeks before they are in shares. The weed species were the usual suspects: pigweed, lambsquarters, Galinsoga, barnyard grass, lady’s thumb and purslane.
As I weeded and listened to the irrigation water gurgle under the mulch, I witnessed one of life’s small dramas unfold in the eggplant canopy. The lambsquarters were loaded with aphids, and the eggplants (and many weeds) were loaded with ladybugs (or ladybird beetles to be more precise). The progeny of a ladybug is often called an aphid lion (lacewing larvae also go by that name), and this is where things became dramatic: the aphid lions were in hot pursuit of their prey – the aphids on the lambsquarters. Interestingly, I couldn’t find any aphids on our eggplants. When I think about it, we almost never have aphid problems on our vegetables, and I think it’s because of a healthy resident population of ladybugs and lacewings, which appear to be our farm’s insect invasion quick response team. Oddly, the adult ladybugs play no direct role in this deadly game – they are bystanders who watch as their offspring pounce on their prey.
We have been irrigating around the clock, which has kept our vegetables in good shape, but has also exhausted our water resources. I called a well driller last Thursday, and today, Sunday, he installed a new pump at the bottom of a new well, some 360’ below grade. Tomorrow, we’ll be pumping even more water. This has been our driest spring and early summer ever, and our ponds have become dangerously close to empty. We’ve been close before, but never this close. This newest well should take care of four to six acres of vegetables and should take the edge off. One indication of how dry it has become is that the lawn has died back. Any green that can be found now is not grass but dandelion, lance leaf plantain, yarrow, white clover and mallow, all tap rooted plants that can mine the deeper reaches of the soil profile. Another indicator is the state of our two irrigation ponds – which are discouragingly low. All the ponds’ inhabitants have become concentrated in what little space remains watery. Predator and prey species are now uncomfortably close. Water striders are living cheek by jowl with pond frogs, their beady compound eyes intensely focused on those dangerously long frog tongues.
Have a great week, Ted