Urban Farm Updates, June 7th, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? Saffron, a spice typically used in Mediterranean cooking, is actually the pollen of a fall-blooming crocus, Crocus sativus, that has been harvested and purified.
What’s Growing On?
Oh for the love of rain!!!! I love that fact that Mother Nature is watering my plants for me, but this is a bit overkill! There becomes a point at which too much rain, in a short period, is not a good thing! We have approached that mile marker! My onions, carrots and squash are especially having a hard time putting up with such wet conditions. I am having to harvest the rest of my onions before they are quite ready, my carrots when they are still quite small and I am having to remove any squash rot as soon as it appears. And, as the farmer, I am also having a rough time putting up with all of the bug activity going on, with the high humidity and standing puddle throughout the farm. We need some sun to come and dry this place up a bit!
Fortunately, the rain has been good for my Red Malabar Spinach seedlings, which have taken off which the onslaught of all of this rain. Malabar Spinach is not a true spinach, but is more closely related to swiss chard, both in physical structure and flavor. Malabar spinach is a vining spinach which grows upward instead of outward, and is the perfect summer green to grow on a trellis or fencing; my Malabar is currently planted along the front fence, in one of the new raised front beds that were built at the end of April. Malabar is a really neat “spinach” that grows well during the summer and withstands the heat and humidity of a southern summer. I started the seedlings in the greenhouse roughly 2 months ago, and then transplanted them outside when they were roughly 5 weeks old. I was able to harvest off the plants for the first time this week, and I got 2lbs off of them from their first harvest. I am excited to be able to introduce this new green to our market customers, and to have a unique green making use of the fence line along the front of the farm.
I have also been harvesting summer squash constantly over the past week and a half, and the squash season is just beginning. We sold summer squash at the 2017 “Loco for Local” event, hosted by the Spartanburg Library this past Tuesday, and summer squash also went into farmbag again this week. With 5 different varieties of squash, two varieties of pattipan, both yellow and green zucchini and yellow squash growing, I am going to be spending a great deal of time harvesting summer squash over the next several weeks.
I have really been enjoying being able to use my processing station for harvested produce from the farm, and the weighing and tracking system has been working out super well. Since the first of the year, I’ve harvested almost 700lbs of produce from the farm, most of it going to the Saturday market, farmbag, special events and the rest being donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries. With the new scale and system, processing goes so much faster and is more pleasant to do on a daily basis.
Last week I spent some time creating a mix of compost from Atlas Organics and Vermiculite from Palmetto Vermiculite, and adding that mix to one of my newly built raised beds. This raised bed is waist high and is available to volunteers who perhaps can’t bend over very well or can’t kneel down and garden in the traditional sense; it also serves as an educational piece, showing visitors what they can do in their own backyard and how they can garden, even if they have physical limitations.
I was also able to take the time to plant the waist high raised bed, before I went home on Friday evening; so the bed is now home to two different varieties of Cherry Tomatoes, some tomatillos, two different varieties of sweet peppers and some cucumbers.
With the addition of all of these summer crops, comes the conga line of new summer pests, including, but not limited to the False Potato Beetle. The False Potato Beetle is aptly named because of the incredible similarity that is bears to the Colorado Potato Beetle. I noticed the first few FPBs on the farm this week, and am certain that there are many more where they came from. This continual parade of garden pests is something that all organic farmers have to manage and deal with on a regular basis; we don’t use any harmful chemicals or sprays on the farm, so I have to go back to the basics and use natural, traditional methods of growing, protecting and maintaining the farm around all of these pests and insects.
Work on the Butterfly Creek Project has continued, with the closure of Farley Street, right out in front of the farm. The road was closed last Thursday evening, and they began jack-hammering up the asphalt on Friday morning. The farm fence will apparently be moved at some point this week, and then we will officially have less than half an acre of usable land on which we can grow. Through this whole project, we are losing 6 garden beds as well as our original compost bins. Looking into the future, I am hopeful that we will be able to replace the open garden bins with upright compost tumblers. These tumblers will be more efficient in the production of usable compost, it will reduce labor hours in the production of compost and will help to eliminate problems with nutrient leaching due to heavy rain storms and other environmental factors.
As always, I thank you for taking the time to read the blog, and I look forward to sharing the adventures of the farm with you again next week! Please remember to add the next “Open Farm Saturday” to your calendars, coming up on June 17th. I will be hosting a gardening class on the 17th, from 10am to 11am, called “Space Savers”, in which I will talk about the best gardening tips and tricks to get the most out of your space, and to maximize the use of your space, small or large. The cost of the class is $5.00 per person, that helps us to defer the costs of the materials, handouts and preparation. The farm will also be open to the public for farm tours and volunteer opportunities, on the 17th. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments, or if you are interested in coming to the gardening class (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Talk to ya’ll later!!!! Until next time, have a most wonderful week!