REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of June 20)
(Tunbridge) Despite more rain then needed the early greens all did great. We got second cuttings off a lot of our spinach plantings. We lost some taters in the mud, and then it was too wet to replant. Colorado potato beetles have not hit them hard yet because they came up so late, but the eggplants have been keeping the beetles busy. Best looking onion greens ever. Started picking zucchini. Ninety-degree temperatures and solstice are a great combination for growth. Brassicas are stressed from wet feet, I am hoping that the broccoli heads amount to something. Deer are starting to find the lettuce and beets.
(Plainfield) We have come through the wet spell OK. The new strawberry planting took very well. Winter squash transplants look good, but the melons all drowned and had to be replaced. Every carrot seed germinated, a terrific stand. Strawberries are covered with tons of green fruit, should start to ripen the end of this week; this means we have to clean up the place for the invasion of the PYO crowds. We have more leaf spot than I like to see, but I think the foliage is sufficient to ripen the fruit. Either the organic sprays are working this season or the tarnished plant bugs just thought it was too cold and wet to bother us here. Transplanted corn is doing well. The tine weeder is beating back the barnyard grass and galinsoga. Some problem trying to find places to plant when the planned spot is just too soggy. Spring plant sales have been strong, but we seem to have spent all the money that came in growing vegetables.
(Stamford) Real hot now. Working a new piece of ground this year. Good light soil, has a lot of rocks though. Got plenty of plastic down. Been very busy planting. Pole beans are in. So are cucumbers, peppers and eggplants. Field tomatoes are next. Definitely later than usual. Lots of obstacles to overcome this season. If the weather wasn't bad enough, wildlife was just that. A deer snacked on some of the sunflowers. A chipmunk got into the winter squash flats tearing up seeds and seedlings and a woodchuck got to some of the cuke plants. Had to reseed a lot of cucumbers and winter squash this year. As for smaller pests I have seen a few potato beetles on the eggplants already. Farmers’ market opens in 4 weeks up here.
(Londonderry) I think the heat we had on farmers’ market day was equivalent to driving rain and high winds. Both Sunday markets we attend were 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity, and sales were dead. The farm stand is doing better and people are back in their gardens. I can’t complain about the plant sales! My weekly average is up in overall from last year due to greater greenhouse production. The investment made in the new houses has saved us this year so far! Thank you VT Community Loan Fund. The fields are dry I have worked more land up and will be finishing planting potatoes, cucurbits this week. I have never been planting this late before. One advantage is the lowest amount of CPB on potatoes planted so far, and some equally frustrated cuke beetles.
(Argyle NY) Each year seems to bring a different weather pattern, but we keep adjusting as farmers must. We have been fortunate to dry out a little and have used the Lely tineweeder more than ever to knock those first small weeds in the peas, beans, carrots, leeks, potatoes, etc. It worked great and then after basket weeding and/or push-hoeing, most crops are quite clean. Strawberries are waning and we are looking to root some of our own cuttings for the first time for this fall's planting. Hopefully this heat will push along the hot weather crops. Lettuce and spinach have done great except for slugs with all the rains. Peas and beet greens now being harvested and we're planting final squashes, melons, Brussels sprouts, etc. in green hay chop that we've flail-chopped. Hope to see lots of sun and drying weather for the hay fields soon.
(Killington) The growing has started. Finally, we are picking mixed greens (and so are the flea beetles)! Garlic scapes will be harvested next. The tomato plants in the hoop house are loaded with tomatoes, hopefully ready by July 4th. The farm stand is open seven days a week. We're still waiting for "buy local" material. Our turkey supplier decided at the last minute not to sell turkeys. We're on the hunt for turkeys.
(Kinderhook NY) After a warm and very dry start followed by cold and very wet conditions, things are turning finally back to normal. What a difference one week of warm weather can make. Most crops sitting in saturated soils did not grow and showed signs of nitrogen deficiency. The dry warm weather made these symptoms pretty much disappear. Crops grown on high raised beds and plastic esp. when a row cover was applied performed very well, despite the dismal growing conditions. The tomatoes have three strings and are over three feet tall, the onions are dark green and sizing up very nicely, and the squash is producing quite well. On the other hand we are still suffering in the production of greens from early infestations of flea beetles and cold weather. Strangely, most flea beetles have disappeared. We made two applications of Entrust with good results earlier in the season, but now the later planted arugula and Tokyo bekana are free from damage without the benefit of these applications. Also the ECB moths do not show up in their traps anymore.
(W. Rutland) Garlic looks awesome, corn is losing that yellow tint, squash bugs are everywhere. Decent day at the market. No four-legged damage thus far but I saw a track yesterday.
(Grand Isle) It has been wonderful to have the rain stop so we can get in the fields and set out transplants that got held a bit too long in the greenhouse. Strawberries and greenhouse tomatoes are about a week behind usual. We’ve had a few cases of bacterial canker in the greenhouse tomatoes. This is an unfortunate first for our farm. Sweet corn has been a challenge for us this year on our heavy soils. Even the reseeded corn rotted and the little bit that did come up proved to be a tasty treat for our resident crows. However, the transplanted corn looks fabulous. Bets are on that the raccoons and blackbirds may think so also. We are on a mission to be sure that everyone working on the farm is free of the danger of fiberglass splinters. We have painted our insulated rods and the seats of aging transplanters with acrylic latex paint and it does the trick. We are mowing and trimming in a beautification effort to get the farm ready for our annual strawberry social that we hold each June to benefit the local volunteer rescue squad.
(Weare NH) Things are going pretty well. Our Local Harvest CSA is having its second week of pickup. This is a great year for a multi-farm CSA. We are offering lettuce, spinach, green garlic, cooking greens, radishes, tomatoes and pea tendrils this week. No one farm has a complete lineup of produce, but all put together it is working out good.
(Little Compton, RI) The weather is finally straightening itself out but only after burying my tractor in a field for a while. Still playing catch-up with winter squash. I am not worried about acorn, I have put that in as late as July 4 and still had great crops, but Butternut is a different story. It seems to need those critical warm days in July and August to bulk up the plants and get good fruit size. We went to California a few years back and visited Earthbound Farms. We saw a lot of fields in a new green manure combo many of us were unfamiliar with. They were using Bell beans (a fava type bean) and a rediscovered variety of Mustard seed famous for high levels of mustard gas that created an organic way of ridding the soils of disease pathogens. This was January and the crop was about five feet tall. All of the seeds are available from Snow Seed Co. of Salinas. We tried the system this spring and ran into some trouble. First the bell beans could be put on with the spin spreader and harrowed in, but not so true for the light mustard seed. The mustard seed needed a Brillon cultipacker to set it at the right depth. The biggest problem, though, were the flea beetles the mustard seed drew to the farm! They came from far and wide and attacked a lot of plants that they normally would pass by for a brassica. We’ll wait till mid-August to try it again when the flea beetle numbers are way down. The Earthbound farm manager said because of the mustard gas effect, the fields need to be out of production for about three weeks after the green manure is harrowed in; especially if the first crop in is a lettuce crop.
PRE-HARVEST CHECKLIST FOR STRAWBERRY PICK-YOUR-OWN
(from David Handley, UMaine Extension)
Review the following items to evaluate your farm’s customer readiness: Signs to the farm are neat and easy to read. There’s easy access to the fields and plenty of parking. Someone is ready to greet customers and offer parking instructions and directions to the field. Access to the field is free of hazards. Transportation is provided for the elderly and disabled. The rules regarding picking are clearly posted. Someone is in the field to show customers where to pick and to answer questions. There are plenty of picking containers available. Clean restroom and hand washing facilities are available. Someone is available to help customers carry fruit out of the field. The checkouts are fast and efficient. Beverages are available. Shade and seats are available for customers wanting to rest. The help are friendly and knowledgeable. Remember: a friendly, clean, and organized atmosphere will leave a lasting impression on your customers, encouraging them to come back and to recommend your farm to their friends.
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