REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of April 30)
(Putney) Greenhouse tomatoes ripening. Japanese eggplant selling wholesale at $1 each. We will see if I can make them pay for their space in the greenhouse this year. Picking cukes and basil. Lettuce and greens are in the field.
(Starksboro) I don't need to tell anyone about the weather whip-lash of late April. But it's interesting to note that after one week of hot and one week of cold, it's a zero sum game. The progress of spring is just about average. This is why I plant by the calendar and don't get too excited about early spring heat waves. Our farm stand opens May first and I expect that with dry conditions, many home gardens will be ready and eager for early plant sales.
(Westminster) Happy to report that previous greenhouse problems were due to high soluble salt levels introduced by adding a bit to much Chilean nitrate and were not due to purchased compost- based potting soil. All plants have been re-potted in fresh potting soil and have returned to normal and sales have been great! Garlic looks great in the field!
(Grand Isle) Greenhouse plantings continue. We got seed potatoes, peas, radishes, spinach, and beets planted on a well drained soil by mid-April when things were warming up nicely. Time will tell how things come through this current cold, wet spell. The asparagus is at a relative stand-still. It's too bad the earthquake didn't seem to shake up (down) the hungry voles that have a taste for good food, including tomato plants.
(S. Royalton) I was all hot to trot and got cold weather stuff planted in the ground just before the heat wave. It germinated and then winter returned and nothing has even remotely grown in 8 days. I have discovered that 3 inches of wet snow makes row covers and hoops not happy. Things in the greenhouse look great.
(Westminster) The field’s been wet but we only got one truck stuck bringing in manure. After shoveling manure onto our one acre field I see the advantages of using a bucket loader and spreader. Last fall’s buckwheat gave the field a much needed lift and will improve the soil once it’s turned in with the manure. We are preparing to plant the Three Sisters (inter-planted corn, beans, and squash) a project funded by a SARE farmer grant. We’ll compare performance of different varieties in individual mounds. There will be about 1000 mounds and I’ve found it rather easy to build them using a 3-prong fork.
(Plainfield) We’re scaling way back this year, and enjoying the change - less stress and less hectic. Concentrating on greenhouses and bedding plants and instead of 22 acres of mixed vegetables we’re growing only 2 wholesale crops on 3 acres. Rather than managing a crew this year I get to do things myself. After 20 years the infrastructure’s in place and it feels like we’re coasting - there’s fewer tasks to do and I actually get half of them done. We’ll gross less but expenses will be lower so we hope to net what we need.
(Saunderstown, RI) After 2 inches of rain and 40 degree temperatures, its feeling like coastal spring again. Flea beetles are out but everything is safe under row cover. Birds or some other predator are eating the worms off of the early Brassica crops. Peas are up and growing with the oats that will end up being their trellis. The hay crop is finally growing with the rain despite the electric company driving over it to service the poles and the National Guard making an emergency landing with their helicopter. There's always something new to deal with in this business.
(Argyle, NY) Very challenging weather to farm, but markets start Wednesday and we'll have rhubarb, spinach, parsnips, and root cellar crops to start out the new season. Peas did not germinate well due to the cold and our first 2 seedings of radishes and turnips were almost destroyed by flea beetles (even with row covers) during the very hot 90 degree weather! Lots planted and hoping for warmer weather. The strawberries are more advanced than we've ever seen them; in full flower with many berries already formed. It will be a heroic event to keep the flowers from freezing, especially with this cold rain. Row covers have saved them so far (triple layer some nights). The lesson learned was to always put straw on in the late fall, which holds them in dormancy better in March. Pears also in full flower and apples starting to open up. We're opening up a new field for production and we're looking for 4 or 5" aluminum irrigation pipe.
(Amherst MA) Lots of moisture in the fields from recent storms. After a flush of weeds from the 90 degree weather in mid-April, everything has come to a standstill (except the grass) in terms of growing. Luckily our strawberries weren't blossoming yet (as I heard many in the Valley were) since we got to 22 F. Spreading compost and planting are on time and we're hoping for it to dry out so we can get back to plowing. Brassicas are covered with row cover but flea beetle populations are low. Glad we have a greenhouse to work in during cold wet days.
2002 VERMONT ON-FARM ‘TWILIGHT MEETINGS’
Wednesday May 22, 5-7 pm
Wood's Market Garden, Brandon
When Bob and Sally Wood retired two years ago, their long-established farm was purchased by Jon Satz, with help from the Vermont Land Trust. Jon has built on the farm's reputation for high quality and diversity. He's put up 6 new greenhouses, expanded the farm stand, and converted to organic production methods. There are 25 acres under cultivation, including 2 acres of strawberries, and 10 acres of sweet corn. The greenhouses produce bedding plants, ornamentals and greenhouse tomatoes, and the farm stand also features a variety of local products. Among the many innovations on this farm, Jon will show us his technique for transplanting corn, and the tool he uses to roll up row cover that helps it last for several years. He will also share his experience with renovating the ‘annual hill’ strawberry system.
Directions: the farm is on Route 7, 1½ miles south of Brandon and 15 miles north of Rutland.
Tuesday June 18, 5-7 pm
Crossroad Farm, Fairlee
Tim and Janet Taylor operate a diversified vegetable, berry and ornamental farm with 13 greenhouses and high tunnels and about 50 acres in cultivation. Dairy manure is the primary source of soil fertility in the fields, and the many weeds that result are managed rather effectively without herbicides. Tim will demonstrate some cultivation equipment he uses, including: a Perfecta field cultivator, Lely tine weeder, Buddingh baskets, 'bat-wing' shovels, Lilliston rolling cultivators and his latest tool, a Reigi weeder, which has PTO-driven rotating mechanical fingers that are steered by an operator.
Directions: Take Exit 14 off I-91 (Thetford), turn west onto Route 113 and go about 7 miles. North of Post Mills look for the state sign saying Crossroad Farm. Turn right, the farm is a half mile on the right. From the northwest, take the Exit 5 (Northfield) off I-89 onto Route 64 east into Williamstown. Turn right onto Route 14 south. Just past the village turn left onto Williamstown Rd. Take that over the hill to Route 110, turn right go to Chelsea, then turn left onto Route 113 east. After West Fairlee turn left on Crossroad, the farm is about a half mile on the right.
Monday July 15, 5-7 pm
Paul Mazza’s Fruits and Vegetables, Essex Center
Paul started as a commercial grower when he was quite young and he has been at it for 15 years. He now farms 150 acres at 3 locations, growing a wide variety of vegetable crops plus 10 acres of strawberries and 7 acres of blueberries. He markets about half his crops through his farm stand, and wholesales the rest. Paul has had success in managing strawberries for early yield, controlling birds in blueberries, and he does a beautiful job maintaining older farm tractors. Recently he has been working to manage a Phytophthora problem that affects peppers, tomatoes and cucurbits, something that is becoming more commonplace in the northeast.
Directions: Take Exit 11 (Richmond) off I-89, go north on Route 117 about 6 miles. The farm is on the left.
THE BLUEBERRY BULLETIN ON-LINE
Dr. Gary Pavlis of Rutgers Cooperative Extension produces a weekly update
for blueberry growers that is now available on-line at: http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/blueberrybulletin/
The April 10 issue contains a comprehensive summary of blueberry insect, disease and weed control recommendations, including some specific pest control notes. Contact me if you’d like a hard copy mailed out.
THE BEST VEGETABLE PEST BOOK?
‘Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada’, was published by The Canadian Phytopathological Society and the Entomological Society of Canada in 1994. Edited by R. J. Howard, J. A. Garland and W. L. Seaman, this is an indispensable text for producers. It contains a lot of practical information on infectious and non-infectious diseases, insects, mites, nematodes, molluscs and weed pests of most major vegetable crops. Topics include symptoms/damage, epidemiology/life cycle, and management of pests. There are 554 pages and 1030 color photographs. UVM Extension is making this book available to growers for $55 including shipping. Send your check payable to UVM to: Ann Hazelrigg, Hills Building, UVM, Burlington VT 05405-0082.