Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July Field Walk

I made my rounds of the farm early on the fourth of July. It is so nice to come across a field that the crew has recently weeded. Our first planting of dill shows excellent vigor, solid germination, and is virtually free of weeds.

I am also happy to report that the chard that I wrote about in an earlier post has recovered well and has quickly grown ready for harvest. However...

 A recent conversation with a local producer of chard seed has brought another issue to the table. Some of our red chard is beginning to flower; probably due in part to how early we started it in the green house and then finalized by the consistently cool temperatures we had in June. He is concerned that our crop of red chard may contaminate his yellow chard which is about 1/2 mile away. If so we will send our field crew out to remove those plants which have gone to seed.

Chard, like many other crops, including kale and parsley, is a "cut & come again". We harvest mature leaves from the outside of the plant every week, and the plant continues to produce, sometimes for the entire season. We do not harvest from plants that have "bolted" or gone to seed. So in this case it is of little consequence that we have to remove the flowering plants, just a bit more work.

Our first planting of sunflowers is well established and beginning to take hold. Soon this field will be a solid forest of bright yellow flowers.

The mystery guest under the row cover is, in this case, my personal planting of tomatoes. I have a favorite. Fantastics by name they are admittedly not an heirloom, but rather a very old hybrid developed in the northwest. I have been growing them since I started my own garden in the early eighties. They are a beautiful, vining plant that produces huge very traditional tomatoes. They are the best in my opinion; absolutely fantastic. In a few weeks after we cultivate them one more time and they begin to grow unmanageable, we will stake them and trellis them, cover the hoops with a row of fabric and hope for a bumper crop of great tasting tomatoes.

One of my jobs as I observe the fields and plants that make up the farm, is to monitor trials. We are always looking to improve the quality of the produce we grow, and trial several varieties of several crops every year. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the difference, other times, like with this trial of two different lettuces, the choice is clear.

Gratefully I ended this particular day with another great set of beds; good germination, excellent performance and very few weeds. I hope you're hungry for cilantro.

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