Fun on the Farm!
Did you know that the agricultural field employs 17% of the total U.S. workforce?! That is over 24 million workers! It takes a lot of hard working people to keep us all fed!
What’s Growing On?
What a hot, beautiful week it has been! For anyone who had to work outside in the upstate, yesterday, you certainly felt the heat! High UV index and high humidity made it for very sweaty working conditions for anyone outside! Thankfully we have had thunderstorms almost every evening lately to help cool things off and also water my plants after the heat of the day! Never thought I would be so grateful for rain after all of the wet conditions this spring and summer, but it is much needed with these high temperatures. Running into early July, we are still 3 inches of rain above the average for this time of year; even with January and February being pretty dry months.
My plants are soaking up the evening rain, and flourishing with the return of the sun! I was able to harvest off the first Okra of the season, yesterday, with more Okra plants that will be starting to produce over the next 2 weeks. It is exciting to see the hard work of the summer start to pay off with summer bounty! My summer squash plants are just about done for the year, perhaps a squash or two here and there. I will pull them later next week, prepare the row with fresh compost and plastic and then replace the row with some fall crops.
I have been continuing to train my Honeydew plants back into their row this week, ensuring that the vines and fruit are not sitting down in the walkways; which are still damp from all of the rain. The vines are fruit have the tendency to rot when exposed to the overly wet ground for any period of time, so keeping them trained up on the berm ensures that I have the highest success possible with the fruit. With good training the vines form a compact, uniform row, which makes it easier to walk and take a wheelbarrow down the walkways, and it also makes it easier to access the fruit for harvest.
As you can see, if you read last weeks blog, the first of my Honeydew fruits have changed a lot in just a week! Over the course of a week they have doubled in size, lost the large majority of their fizz and are starting to lighten up in color from a bright, vibrant green to a pale green in color. These are all signs that the fruit is starting to mature and develop their seeds.
The terrace raised bed that my Mom and I built in May has been growing like wild with the recent sunny weather! The Tomatillos are covered in flowers, the pepper plants are producing lots of flowers and fruit, and the cherry tomatoes are putting out flower clusters left and right! With all of the recent growth, the new raised beds are starting to form a jungle of vegetables and flowers! Seeing the plants so happy is what gives me the motivation to go out and work hard on such hot, sticky, humid days! Harvesting lots of fresh, organic fruit, off of happy, healthy plants is what makes it all worth it! I love knowing that I am proving good, quality produce for the people of Spartanburg County; and helping to serve those who might not otherwise have access to fresh picked, local produce!
Unfortunately, with this bright sunny weather, my vegetables aren’t the only things that are happy… The weeds are also going haywire, and it is hard for me to keep up with them. Weeding a row like the one in the photo, to prepare it for more compost and plastic, takes a lot of time and energy in this heat wave. The row that I was weeding yesterday didn’t have plastic on it over the winter because it had carrots planted there, and now the weeds have taken over. Once I am done weeding this row and adding plastic to it, every single row at the farm will have a sheet of plastic over the top of it, which will greatly reduce the amount of time and energy required to weed the farm. Over the winter time, I had 7 rows that did not have plastic, generally because of what was planted there, and I am so grateful for the nature of summer plantings and that I can use plastic on all my rows. Because items like onions, snap peas, beets and carrots have to be planted so close together and thinned, they aren’t good candidates for plastic row covers; so unfortunately that means that those rows always have to be hand weeded and kept in check.
My new summer row of cucumbers gave me quite the happy surprise this week when I performed a routine status check for pests and fruit. I was expecting to see quite a few 1 to 2 inch long baby cucumbers, and instead, I found about 8 pounds of ready to pick cucumbers. Between the recent rains and the sunny weather, these plants are happy as can be! With the Honeydew, cucumbers, okra and peppers looking so good, I am hoping for a good harvest this summer! It is still hard to wrap my head around it being July, though. It just doesn’t seem real yet, where did the first half of the year go already? I was trying to plan the dates for planting the first of my fall crops earlier in the week, and I kept having to remind myself that it is indeed that time of year already!
Speaking of peppers, between the peppers that I still have in the greenhouse (yes, I still have peppers growing in the greenhouse!), and the peppers in the terrace raised bed, I am hoping for a good harvest of peppers this year! Last year, I lost most of my peppers due to pests, right as they ripened up. Pests would come along just a few days before they ripened up and drill a few holes in each pepper and cause them to be unsuitable for sale. This year the pest impact is greatly reduced, and I am so grateful! So far I have been able to send a few pounds of peppers to the Wednesday Market with my coworkers, this year, and I am excited to be able to continue providing more as the season goes along.
Remember, our next Open Farm Saturday is next Saturday, July 15th 2017, from 8:30am to noon. The farm will be open to the public and we will be welcoming people for farm tours, volunteer hours as well as a gardening class. The gardening class costs $5.00 per person and is entitled, “You Bug Me”. The class is going to cover organic pest prevention and removal” in a small backyard setting. How to keep them away and then how to handle them when they do come. Please send me an email and let me know if you are interested in attending!
Stay tuned for more updates next week, and as always, if you have any questions, comment etc, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’d love to hear from you! As always, I hope that you have a wonderful week!