Monday, February 15, 2010

June 9th Update from the Farm

By Nina Berryman

One of my most common exclamations as a farmer is, “I can’t believe it’s that time of the year already!” It comes out at the beginning of almost every month (“I can’t believe its June already!”), and during benchmark events, like the first tomato pruning. Here’s a quick overview of exciting events that have recently warranted my favorite exclamation.

Potato hilling! The picture above is of the corn and potato field, on the other side of Henry Avenue. I bet many of you didn’t know there was a second field to the CSA! This field is slightly less than one acre (about half the size of the vegetable field near the pick-up site.) Because there is no irrigation over there, we are only growing corn and potatoes at this site. Students from the AgroEcology class cut the potatoes and planted them with us in the spring. Just this week we hilled the potatoes for the first time. “Hilling” is the process of mounding the potato plants with dirt once they are about a foot and a half tall. By covering more of the plant with dirt, more of the plant is underground and then it will produce more potatoes.

Tomato staking and pruning! Tomato staking is one of the most labor-intensive tasks we have at the farm. It involves pounding stakes into the ground every two or three tomatoes, and then wrapping string between the stakes for the tomatoes to climb. We like to prune our tomatoes for a few reasons. Removing secondary branches from the plants creates more airspace, reducing the chance of disease. It also encourages the tomatoes to grow taller, forcing the plant’s energy to go up one or two main stems, instead of many branches. Concentrating the plants energy like this results in fewer- but larger- tomatoes.

Seeding fall Brassicas! We start all of our plants in a greenhouse at one of our other farm sites, in the Awbury Arboretum. Just last week we started seeding some of our fall crops that are in the Brassica family. These include cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. These crops are some of the slowest growing vegetables on our farm.

Winter Squash planting! We just finished planting our winter squash. This is not a small feat, as there are five full beds. These will be ready in late summer.

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