It's been another dry week but we are persevering with our fall plantings. Most mornings for us are spent hauling hoses, watering cans and buckets to the garden, filling up the vessels with water (we have several sizes from 75 gallons on down to 3 gallons) than affixing the watering wand to the hose (all 400 feet of it) and getting to work watering the crops. We use row covers (the white sheets covering most the beds) to, among other things, keep the moisture we add to the soil in the soil. The covers shade the crops and soil as well as keep out drying winds and thus allow the moisture to stay where we want it for up to 12 hours longer than if the crops were exposed to the elements. This is a real good thing but it does mean quite a bit more work for us taking off covers and than once a bed is all watered putting them back on before nature robs us of all the water. Fortunately we are one of the first farms in the entire USA to use row covers so we are old hands at dealing with them and thus quite efficient at it.
We also have a drip irrigation system which is mainly being used on the established crops like peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc.. But the irrigation system and our well are not a great match-we feel if we were to water as much as the crops need we would quickly deplete our well which would set us back at least $7000 (but likely more as all the ground water around here is deep in the ground and most wells are 100'+) not to mention the well pump has a cute habit of shutting off when it is overworked. And since we have a pump designed for a family of 4 that uses perhaps 800 gallons a day and not an irrigation system that can use 4000 gallons a day this happens quite often. Especially if I make the mistake of doing something like laundry or dish washing while the irrigation is turned on. Fortunately it only takes around 45 seconds to fix the pump when it goes out but too often it will be hours before anyone realizes the pump is off (again) and that means some part of the market garden we thought was being watered is not and thus it or another section will suffer.
Another irrigation issue is the garden hoses. It is amazing how many plants one can badly injure from bad hose handling. If one is not paying attention one can easily drag a heavy hose through several beds of young plants. I write this because this is something that plagues anyone who gardens and has to water. yes there are hose guards but they are useless to use as we have so much area to cover and we don't want smallish stake like creatures sticking up all over the market garden waiting to gash someone in the shin (been there done that back in the day when we though hose guards would be a good idea). So I have learned to be extra careful with the hoses, especially when watering what we refer to as "area D" which are the beds at the northern edge of the property and the furthest away from the water font. To water those beds you have to have all 400' (or so) of hose and all that hose can be a hazard (as well as crimp up, usually several hundred feet from where you are). It's easy to stretch it out but harder to walk backwards as it has to be gathered up as you go.
But I would rather deal with the hose than have to do all the watering by hand using watering cans. It takes forever and a day to get things watered with cans. We do use them to feed the crops a kelp/fish mixture we like to drench the plants with about once a week. It keeps the plants healthy as well as repels a lot of bugs and other critters (they don't like the smell-I think it smells like the ocean or the Great Lakes, which I like). But it does take about 4x longer to water a 50' bed using cans simply because they have to be refilled 5 to 6 times and that means walking back and forth to the water tank to refill them. The water tank is a 50 gallon brine tank from a dead water softener that we fill with water a couple of times a day that sits in a central location in the garden.
All this effort is working for us which is great. I look at the growing crops that get bigger with each watering and I am filled with happiness. And it gets even better, some of the crops are ready for harvest and will show up in your shares this week. That is such a great thing considering that, even as of last week, we were not really confident that our fall/winter crops would work due to the bad weather conditions. Now we are sure that things are growing and will continue to grow for a couple of months (maybe longer if the winter stays mild and sunny) and we should be able to harvest various items through January at the very least.
Your shares will be ready, as usual, after 4pm today. Since there should be greens in the shares this week they will be in the fridge and not on the floor.
We are now taking winter share members-$350 gets you a spot. Pick ups start Nov 3rd and are every other week. Share items will be things like potatoes, parsnips, carrots (mainly red, purple and yellow as the orange carrots are not doing all that well), various greens (spring mix, lettuce, kale, broccoli raab, pac choy, chinese cabbage/napa cabbage, arugula, etc..) radishes, garlic, onions, winter squash, catnip, popcorn (though the 2010 crop is pretty much a big failure but we ought to get enough to provide our winter share members with a 1/2 pound or so), beets, pears, apples, tomatoes, turnips, etc..
Late Summer Salad
Arugula/baby beet greens
1 pear, diced
a few tomatoes, diced or sliced
1 ripe pepper sliced
1 or 2 radishes sliced
1 small sweet onion sliced
Optional: strawberries sliced, celery, feta cheese, nuts, shredded beets, carrots, etc..
Wash the greens (and I suggest cutting the beet greens in half, other wise they are a bit difficult to eat), slice and dice the fruits and vegetables and put them all together in a big bowl and add your favorite dressing. I made up this salad last night and it was vert tasty and brimming with health.
What's in the Share
Beet greens/arugula-a pseudo salad mix (actually if it used in the above recipe than not pseudo). You will get a 3/4 pound bag
Sweet Potatoes-this is the best crop we have ever grown (this is not saying much as we have not consistently grown these year to year and thus still have much to learn about this crop). At any rate, they are of good size and very sweet. A lot have scurf on them (dark patches) this looks bad but is not an issue as to edibility. You get a pound
Tomatoes-the plants are still hanging in there and producing a small amount every week
Peppers-4 to 5 sweet bell peppers in a variety of colors
Pears-8 heirloom pears ready to eat
Apples-6 Dr Matthews apples, what you have gotten for the past 3 weeks or so.
Garlic-2 corms of garlic, You get Music this week
Leek-a lincoln leek. These are our early leeks. The winter share members will get a different kind of leek
Radishes-a bunch of a mix of D'Avignon (long, red and white) and Easter Egg (round various solid colors)
Beets-around a pound of 3 grex beets. We did not name the beets, they are a 3 colored beet-i.e. the beets come in 3 colors, not that each beet is 3 colors, though that would be quite beautiful. So you should get some red, some pink and some yellow. But seeing as how the yellow beets population is about 3x greater than the other colors you will likely get mainly yellow beets