(Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]|
This week, we'll have sweet corn, eggplant, a cucumber, summer squash and zukes, green beans, beets, red potatoes, onions, garlic, kale and collards, cabbage, and a taste of basil. The sweet corn on Monday will be Incredible from last week and some very nice Bodacious for this week, so you can pick which maturity you like. I think there might be a enough Bodacious in this planting that we'll have some for freezer corn on the weekend, but I'm not making any promises after the corn surprises of last week. I'll let you know of Friday if we'll have some.
Eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and beans continue to set much less fruit than we would like. Peppers are even more behind and won't be ready to pick for at least a couple more weeks. But we'll harvest everything we can find for you, and maybe the slightly cooler week we're expecting will allow more fruit to set for next time. The beans have been especially disappointing. They plants look pretty good, and they are loaded, loaded, loaded with blooms. Just not too many beans, so they are VERY slow to pick. I have enough data now to tell you that the summer crops, like the things we are getting this month, are making somewhere between 25% to 50% of normal yield, tending more to the 25% to 30% neighborhood. It's a lot of work for just a little crop, but maybe if we keep the plants alive and the weather turns around, we'll have some very good crops for late summer. Gotta hope so.
We had .8" of very nice rain on Wednesday night. It soaked in about 2 1/2" into the soil and was present for a couple of days. By Saturday when I started planting fall crops, it was totally dry again. One great thing about the mid-week rain was that it gave me a chance to do some tillage for fall crops. I've been reluctant to get on the tractor and till dry soil, partly because it's damaging for the soil, but mostly because I think it would be too dangerous for me to work in the thick cloud of dust that the tiller stirs up. But, the rain held the dust down and I was able to get quite a lot of prep work done on Friday. We had an additional .1" (if I am generous) this morning. Every little bit helps now. One consequence of such dry soil is that the organic material that I till in to build the soil and get rid of the previous crop doesn't get decomposed because the soil microbes don't have enough moisture to live right now. So the residue remains and makes planting and cultivating more complicated. I sure didn't see that one coming when I thought about what it would be like to farm in a drought!
Now comes the big puzzle. How to figure out what to plant and where to plant it. Fall brassicas like arugula and broccoli can't go back into places where there were spring brassicas like cabbage and turnips. Too much disease risk. Some things like lettuce and beets have to go inside the deer fence, so you don't want to waste space in there on things that don't require protection. Then you need to find a place with the row the right length, and enough room to the next row, and with good enough tillage, and with access to an irrigation line to plant each of the other fall things. Usually it's easier. I just put the fall crops in the potato fields where I have plenty of room and nice loose soil and no diseases that can jump from potatoes to the fall crops. Can't do that this year because the potato fields can't be irrigated. It's a pretty big jumble. A challenging mind bender.
Because I've had enough excitement this summer, I'm delaying the open house that is supposed to be next Sunday afternoon. Most of you probably don't have it on your calendar, but if you do, scratch it out please. We'll do it later in the summer when it's not so hot and I'm not so preoccupied. If there's something you want to see before then, please feel free to look around. You're welcome in the gardens any time. But you might have to pull some big weeds if you're out there strolling around and I catch you.
Please remember to buy your SE Linn Community Center raffle tickets. Your donations help us keep the doors open. Only $1 each.
See you this week,
Posted by Laura
@ 11:16 PM CDT
This week, we'll have sweet corn, collards and kale, cabbage, summer squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, chard, and cucumbers. I also have a few carrots you can have, and hope to find enough eggplant for everybody to have one or two. Green beans and bell peppers are likely in the next week or two.
I planted enough sweet corn to have it for four weeks. With the heat, of course it looks like it's all going to get ready in the next two! The ears are small and not completely full, but it tastes great. (Raccoon approved, too.) We'll give you as much as my crew can pick in a morning, but I suppose that there will still be too much too fast, so there will likely be some to sell for the freezer. I'll let you know for sure at the end of the week. We start with Bodacious on Monday, and we'll have either more Bodacious or else Incredible for Thursday and the weekend.
We planted a few carrots in the hoophouse in March and finally dug them last week. They are, of course, weird sizes and shapes. Hope you like them anyway. Carrots are a real treat around here. I find them nearly impossible to grow when I really want to, and they unexpectedly survive when they shouldn't.
Eggplants seem to like drought, at least the plant parts like it. The plants are beautiful right now. Fruit set for eggplant is irregular when it gets hot, like it also is for tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers. The flowers pollinate in the mornings when it is cool, but abort in the afternoons when the temp gets in the nineties. So, we'll keep the plants alive, harvest as many eggplant fruits as we can find, and hope for more later in the season.
Summer squash, melons, collards, and kale also seem to like drought and are doing amazingly well. So far this year, we've really only had success with plants that we have set out as transplants. Anything planted directly in the garden from seed, including beans, herbs, carrots, chard, and cucumbers, has been tough to get as many plants as we need to survive. We continue to plant and irrigate, just in case it turns around. Hope it's pretty soon because most of the yummy fall crops are direct seeded, and it would be just fine with me if they would grow!
Onions this week will be Ailsa Craig. They are often very sweet and don't store very well, like not at all, so use them quickly. They are about half size, so we should be able to work through the half-size pile pretty quickly.
If you are a Thursday person who might like to change to Monday, you can do it. I'd like a few families to change to Monday if possible to balance out our harvest a little better. Let me know right away if you want to make the change this week.
Remember the Southeast Linn Community Center fundraising raffle. I've got the tickets. Last year, three people who bought tickets from me won. It could work out that way again, so don't get left behind. $1 each. Lots of nice prizes. Drawing at Sauerkraut Days in August.
Thank you very much for all your kind notes, pictures, gifts, and blessings. It's getting to be a tough season! Your encouragement and assurances, plus my EXCELLENT workers, really make it easier to manage. We just keep doing our best to make this a good garden year for you.
See you this week,
Posted by Laura
@ 11:47 PM CDT
This week, we have new potatoes, lovely white onions, garlic, wonderful summer squash, cabbage. kale and collards, and the last lettuce until October. We also might be able to get some combination of swiss chard, broccoli, and/or kohlrabi. The last three suffered in the heat last week and aren't really the quality that I wish they were, but might be salvageable.
It's going to be such a relief to have cooler temperatures - for the farmer and the workers and the plants. Lots of things can't set fruit when it is very hot, like cucumbers, beans, tomatoes. The flowers are pollinated, but the fruits fall off within a few hours. And everything suffers from moisture stress, even when it is well watered. It got to the point by the end of the week that I didn't even go to the garden after lunch because I didn't want to see how it looked. Thankfully, this week is going to be a different story, and a couple of weeks from now, we won't be able to turn off the harvest.
I'm sorry that there are no herbs. Usually we would have them by now, but we've had such a hard time getting small seeded things to grow and/or survive. Even big seeded crops like beans and squash have been challenging, and herbs have been one of the more serious causalities. We'll try to plant some more this week so maybe we can have some for fall. I know you need your cilantro and basil or it wouldn't be a real summer.
We did manage last week to plant (and keep alive, I think) a huge number of watermelon and cantaloupe transplants. Won't that be great this fall!!! Nothing is better than homegrown watermelon on a hot afternoon in September.
Remember that Dan Specht will be delivering grass-fed beef this Thursday. Contact him if you want to be included. It's expensive, but very good.
I've got raffle tickets for the annual Southeast Linn Community Center fundraiser. $1 each. Great prizes. And your support helps keep the lights on, the food pantry open, and the space available for everybody. Our community center serves everyone in the Mt. Vernon and Lisbon school districts with emergency food, a clothing closet, senior dining, recreational opportunites for kids and seniors, transportation for people who need it, and much much more.
Heritage Days this upcoming weekend. See you there.
Posted by Laura
@ 10:25 PM CDT
Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader
This week, we have new potatoes, nice white onions, kale and collards, kohlrabi, bok chois, lettuce, fresh garlic, and cabbage. I hope we can find enough broccoli, summer squash, and beets for everybody, too. New potatoes are potatoes that were just dug and haven't had time for their skins to cure. The red potatoes we dug at the end of last week are SOOOO yummy, especially the skins. Don't peel them, just brush lightly and cook them skin and all. Unfortunately, they - like the onions and garlic, aren't irrigated, so their yield will likely be reduced from what I had expected at the start of the season. But they are just beautiful and taste so good. Onions and garlic seem very nice, too.
We keep the irrigation going six days a week, but rain is better. We had 1" last Sunday morning, then .6" on Friday night. Finally, a week with enough rain that we could still prove it 48 hours later! It should have boosted the beets, broccoli, and squash to finally get big enough to harvest this week. I sure hope so. Gardens need about 1" of rain per week - and probably more with irrigation - in order to have high yields and good quality, well-shaped fruits. I don't know how western growers do it. Just keeping the soil moist enough to keep things alive is a pretty big challenge. And our pond is shrinking fast, not because of irrigation so much, but more from evaporation and wind. Luckily, it is quite deep so it still holds lots of water, and hopefully, it will fill up in the fall so the fish will be happy over the winter.
Heat this week is going to be tough on the broccoli, lettuce, chois, but most of the other things can take it. The winter squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes are looking marvelous with their plastic and straw mulch. We've not had too many disease or bug problems, but I did notice lots of damage to leaves of many things from the wind on Friday. Chard is pretty shredded and may not be harvestable for another week. We'll figure it out when we get to the garden.
This week, we plan to dig the garlic and get it curing. The garlic we give you will be fresh. If you don't want to use it right away, leave it on the counter so it can dry out a little and it will keep longer.
Unfortunately, this is the first newsletter some of you are getting this season. I had a hard time getting my lists all set up this spring, but I think everything is figured out now. If this is your first note from me, please check out the past newsletters to find what's been going on around here this season.
See you this week,
Posted by Laura
@ 08:34 AM CDT