Week 4. Summer's heat

Hard to believe Week 4 is here.  The weather is getting hotter and drier, with intense storms.

While we’re sheltered with woods all around, the storms are still strong, with trees bending in high wind and the rain drumming hard on a tin roof.  But the rain is welcome—and much needed in the garden.

This week, our radishes are about done, but the variety of peppers (green, cayenne, Thai, banana) are doing well and you should be getting a good mix in the next crates.  We still have lettuce; the Redina heirloom red lettuce is doing really well.  And our tomato vines are loaded with both cherry tomatoes and regular tomatoes.  We’re digging potatoes—some of you have received the ‘All Blue’. We’re thinking of sending some green tomatoes in the crates for anyone who is interested in fried green tomatoes! 

More beets, peas, and beans are being planted. The beans planted earlier in the season are coming along nicely and we should have a ton in about a week or two. Herbs are doing well also and we should be adding more to the crates in coming weeks.

One of our members requested gold wax beans, and our “Gold Rush,” an heirloom variety, have sprouted.  Our other beans are loaded with blossoms or small beans.

Corn is slow. To try to give everyone some variety we got some bi-color corn from a farm a bit south of here (grown sustainably). As our growing plan mentioned, we plan to occasionally outsource in our first year, especially with fruits.

We have pear trees and peach trees on the farm, along with many nut trees (black walnut, pecans, and hickory) but we need more peach and pears than we can provide for in the shares. Our pecan trees here are ancient—a rarity this far north. The nut trees usually bear every two years, so we’re waiting to see how the crop turns out—black walnuts are however, guaranteed, as we have a ton of black walnut trees.

We are planting more beets and turnips and are planning a fall CSA crop, that will go from November to December—more information to come!

The keets and hatchlings are getting bigger and it is almost time to move them outside.  We’ll have to be careful as the keets still need very warm temperatures. And moving birds outside comes with lots of other challenges as well—hawks, eagles and black snakes are a normal part of the population here and they love small birds (as dinner, of course)!

There is such a difference between the guineas, an African bird, and the Plymouth Rock hatchlings. The guineas look and act like miniature ostriches, grabbing a piece of the Washington Post (their bedding is newspaper) and making a great game of it, one bird with a strip of paper being chased by all the others. (Hilarious to watch!)

The Plymouth Rocks, however, are much more domesticated. When I arrive in the kitchen to feed them (everyone is in my farm kitchen in tubs, under a lamp for warmth), the chicks are ready and waiting.

One of the aspects of the farm that we’ve realized practically, in addition to
“academically,” is that growing heirlooms and being sustainable makes farming much more challenging.

Hot pepper sprays, praying mantises and using a tiller to control the weeds means that we don’t have the reliability of a chemically managed crop. That being said, we also don’t have the toxins.

We want to do a great job and we’ve had some bumps along the way. One improvement is our new delivery system for the large Saturday delivery, where we don’t pack crates but rather have the produce in larger boxes. That seemed to work well. We’ll still continue with the crates for deliveries on other days.

I’ll close with noting that four wet dogs are curled up and nervous about the storm that is brewing outside. We have a symbiotic mix of animals here. Cats control the house and ensure that there are no mice; dogs are around outside (although they come inside, too) to protect the gardens and prevent deer and groundhogs from eating too well. Then we’ll have the chicks and keets for bug control.

A farm is an ongoing system of checks and balances, something of a dance with nature, or a mix of technology, human innovation, done best in tandem with nature rather than against. That is the heart of sustainability.

We appreciate so very much your support and look forward to doing a better job each week in the season!!

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