Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? In 2012, U.S. Farmers spent $329 billion, to produce $388 billion in goods and food product. That is one tight profit margin!
What’s Growing On?
Hello all, I’m back again for another weekly blog post! This week has gone by so quickly, it is so hard to believe it is already Thursday! Everyone at HCFM is passing along well wishes to our Urban Farm Wofford student, Luke, who is out sick this week. It is that time of the year, where bacteria and viruses are going haywire! It is amazing to me, how quickly we transitioned from summer to hard-core fall weather, and all of the sickness that goes with it! I guess we got the heater up and running in the Greenhouse just in time for the cool fall weather to roll right in!
My Greenhouse cucumbers are starting to produce little baby cucumbers, including the ‘Salt and Pepper’ cucumbers, which I have been so excited (impatiently waiting) for! Salt and Pepper cucumbers produce cucumbers that are white with black spines when ripe; however, I wasn’t sure if they turned white when they were ready to harvest, or if they started out white and stayed white during production. Well, my question has now been answered; Salt and Pepper cucumber babies start out green with clear spikes and then turn white as they get larger, with the spines slowly turning black. It is just amazing to come in every day and see the progression from green to pale yellow, and eventually to white! Watching fruit and vegetables grow just never gets old for me! There is something so rewarding and fulfilling about watching the plant start out as a seed, germinate, grow and produce flowers, and then make these incredibly flavorful fruits!
My little leaf cucumbers and Mexican Sour Gherkins are also starting to produce little cucumber babies, just in time for Thanksgiving! I am also particularly excited to see how the Mexican Sour Gherkins produce, since this is my first time growing them. My plants are certainly covered in little flowers and baby cucumbers, already. I expect that the Gherkins will take a little bit longer to produce a first harvest than the other cucumber varieties I have growing in the Greenhouse right now, but I think that the wait will be worth it!
All of the flats that I replanted after the bunny devoured my first cold crops, are outside hardening off as I write this blog, and they will be transplanted in the ground this afternoon. After getting such a late start (6 weeks behind) to the fall season, these cold crops will likely not be ready until late winter or early spring. While it is disappointing to have set backs like this (hungry bunnies wiping out my seedlings), it is a part of the farming process and the only thing you can really do is brush it off and start over again! As a farmer, you take the highs with the lows and do the best you can to make it all work! It is always such an inspiration for me to watch some of our vendors struggling with pests, drought, too much rain, or broken equipment, and yet they never fail to come out and provide what they have, all with a smile!
Fortunately, the PVC towers and row that I did get planted with lettuce several weeks ago (thankfully the bunny decided to leave them alone!), are all doing well and I have already been able to harvest several pounds of lettuce! I am trying out several new varieties in the PVC towers, and have 2 tried and true varieties going in the linear row outside; both the row and the PVC towers were planted with one day of each other, so I am interested to see how well the different varieties grow and produce in comparison to one another.
Earlier this week I was going through to thin my carrots one last time before the fall harvest, and I ended up actually pulling some decent sized carrots; several weeks before they are supposed to be ready! It was a very pleasant surprise to be able to deliver some unexpected color to the Mobile Market table! I have several different varieties planted on the farm, to give a variety of color and flavor. This first batch was a teaser of what it is to come throughout November and December, this year! As the fall temperatures drop and we get a few frosts under our belt, the carrots will just continue to sweeten up more and more. This first batch has excellent flavor despite the warmer weather, and I am anticipating an exciting fall harvest!
This summer, before I planted the carrots in the ground, I worked a lot of Vermiculite, from Palmetto Vermiculite into the Atlas Organics compost that was in my beds already. Adding that extra Vermiculite was my attempt to loosen the soil up as much as possible without adding sand, to help with the growth and development of my carrots and beets. I think, with the preliminary carrots that have been harvested, that that method has been a success and that we are going to have some nicely shaped carrots! The longest carrot that I have harvested so far, in the preliminary thinning phase, was 15 inches long! In the spring time, when I was harvesting carrots from pure compost material, the longest carrot that I got was 8 inches long! So, this appears to be a marked improvement, already!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! I look forward to sharing more Urban Farm adventures with you guys again next week! Until then, have a wonderful rest of your week, and I hope that you are able to get out and enjoy the Halloween Market at Harvest Park this weekend! There is a lot of special stuff going on at the market, for more information check out our Farmers Market blog, going up Friday morning! See ya next week!