Vermont Vegetable and Berry News – October 11, 2006
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 ext.13,
(Alburgh Springs) Considering all the rain, our crops did fare well. We had an excellent sweet onion crop, for our processing room, retail, and wholesale. Green beans and cukes had to be replanted. Beans lost flowers during a hot spell, not a good crop. Tomatoes were the best I have ever seen, grown in our 5 foot cages we made a few years ago, I think that every flower on the plants produced a perfect tomato of great size.  Picked all sweet and hot peppers today, in case of frost, good harvest, one sweet pepper weighed in at .93 lb! Earlier this year in the field reports I couldn't believe the story about worms pulling out freshly planted onions because this exact problem happens to us every year. When I would tell this story, people looked at me like I was off my rocker, “worms pulling up onions, no such thing, are you sure?” they would say. One year we spent all afternoon planting hundreds of onion plants by hand only to find the next morning most of them laying on the ground, some by clumps of  2 or 3 pulled down into the worm hole with only the roots sticking out. A lot were never found. The area looked liked it had been blown up by a bomb, I cried.  I've learned over the years to cut the long leaves short enough so that the plants do not lean toward the ground and to water them enough so the root systems grow fast, because once rooted, the worms have a hard time pulling them out. I guess our gardens have good soil, because we sure do have huge worms. There should be open season to get rid of a few. Have a great winter you all.
(Stamford) Fall crops are finally harvested now. Frost hit everything good in the low fields. Amazingly the hill side plantings including tender basil are still growing, sheltered from the cold night downdrafts by large conifers. Winter squash yields were down because of late transplanting. Overall quality was good. Most varieties sized up well. Stripetti and Small Wonder spaghetti squash are both extremely tolerant to pest pressure. Gladiolas are also still producing. Soon I will have to dig the bulbs. I really do enjoy the flower side of the business. Beautiful flowers along with quality fresh local grown produce really can bring out such a positive response from people. Makes you really feel what you do is all worthwhile. Getting to know your customer is #1 in a direct marketing and in a global world. Most people I meet really do trust and believe in what you can do for them right here on the local level and want to be able to make informed choices for themselves and their families. I truly believe the support is out there. It’s been a great time for me over the last few years to actually do what so many only dream about doing. Even with all economics factors aside, I hope I can continue to share my experiences.
(Starksboro) I used the Zea-later this year on sweet corn. I'm favorably impressed because I usually have a lot of corn earworm damage in September, but I had virtually none this year. I started spraying my tomatoes with copper as soon as they went out. That was a good move. All that rainy weather would have ruined them this year and instead I had a great crop. Potato yields are not great, but at least I have a crop, and prices are good. By-and-large, that's a pretty good general comment on the season as a whole: "At least I have crop, and prices are strong."

(Royalton) We’re still harvesting mesclun and chard from under covers after the first hard frost of the fall Friday night. That should sweeten the kale broccoli and cabbage yet to harvest. Have plenty of carrots beets, potatoes and rutabagas also to get out of the ground for storage. Farmers’ market sales picked up after all the wet weather early on and still going strong.  Overall a decent year for us, with our light soil rain didn't bother us as much as others.  Peppers and eggplant didn't set fruit well although there didn't seem to be many TPB around for most of the summer to get the blossoms. Some of the long term crops like sweet corn and some of the mid season brassicas didn't do well maybe too much leaching of nutrients from all the rain earlier and they weren't sidedressed with any fertilizer.  Hornworms in the tomato greenhouses again but we were ready this time and one spray of B.t. did the trick.
(Plainfield NH) No frost yet has allowed us to get more fruit and vegetables out of the fields later than ever. With such a rocky start to the year weather-wise, our diversity (which is the bane of our existence) has been our savior. Fall raspberries have held up so well. Tomatoes and beans are still nice, along with the rejuvenation of all the greens (even the ‘Hail Mary’ corn planting made it) has made for a good fall income wise. With all the harvesting it has been hard to get the fields and greenhouses cleaned up and to get onto fall projects. Overall this year won’t be a barn-burner, but will finish out much better financially than I would have ever expected back at the end of strawberry season.
(S. Royalton) Overall a great season, our sales are up. Pumpkins were a bit smaller then normal but a great yield. Tomatoes were slow in coming but held up well. Sweet potatoes did very well, as did the cantaloupe. Problem areas were some disease in the greens and broccoli at points, and generally smaller ears of corn with a lighter yield. Overall the year reaffirms my business model that it isn't how you grow it that makes the money, it’s how you sell it.

(Weare NH) Things are going well for our multi-farm CSA. The lack of a hard frost has kept us in greens and herbs and peppers. Also, we’ve been able to continue to offer greenhouse or tunnel tomatoes for all of our customers.  Field tomatoes did not do well this year for most of our growers. We still have a variety of other fresh items like leeks, cauliflower, salad turnips, radicchio, etc.  It has been a good year for root crops. Onions, carrots, potatoes, beets and garlic have all been strong. Winter squash has been ‘hit or miss’ depending on the farm and variety, but with a group of farms supplying the CSA we have had plenty. We are entering our 18th and final week of our main CSA. After that we have a 5-week fall plan focusing on storage crops and hardy greens. One of the biggest crop disappointments of the year is broccoli. This past week was our first really good week of broccoli all year. The oddest thing about this year is that one farm has had bad luck with a certain crop and another farm 10 or 20 miles away had a good year with it and then vice versa on a different crop. The early rains seemed to have had a strong impact throughout the entire year. I wish all the farmers good luck this fall and winter!

(Madison NY)  Things are definitely winding down. A few more potatoes to dig, and then the fall root crops. No sign of rust fly damage on parsnips yet. High tunnel eggplant, pepper and tomatoes are slowing down. Fall salad greens are in good shape although I wish that we had planted more spinach.
(Durham CT) Our greenhouse tomatoes are still producing good tasting, almost summer quality fruit. Especially productive are the Sungolds, which are always in demand at market. We are most busy with planting winter greens in high and low tunnels. The low tunnels are new to us this year, and hopefully will fulfill our long-term goal of harvesting outside until past Thanksgiving. Tracy Frisch, former head and founder of the Regional Farm and Food Project has written an interesting article about the advantages of low tunnels. We will be planting latter than ever in hopes of starting winter greens that will reach maturity in mid winter.  Best choices so far are kales, endives, claytonia, and spinach. One suggestion: why don't you keep the field reports for those of us who grow winter greens. I for one would be interested in what other growers are experiencing during the winter. (editor’s note: I’m game, if I hear from others that they want this, too; maybe once every 4-6 weeks?)
(Little Compton RI) Some nicely-timed rains the last few months have made the disastrous spring a distant memory. Our cole crops are some of the best we have had in recent years. Though I must say I have about had it with Marathon variety of broccoli. We have had problems for a number of years and thought it might be of our own making. But now the gig is up I have put the question to enough competent growers and all seemed to agree. This year is our third year growing cherry tomatoes in buckets hung from the rafters of our greenhouses. We got some automatic waterers going to keep them well-fed and watered. The production and fruit quality is remarkable. We brought sixty pints to our last farmers market and got $3.50 a pint. We are on our sixteenth picking and will expand our production next year. We also had a great year with greenhouse grown peppers. We bought the European GH varieties from Hydro-Gardens. We used the some string and clips we use on our GH tomatoes but added a few extra strings to handle the natural branching the GH varieties often display. The only bug problem was a few aphids controlled with natural predators.