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Desperately Seeking Moisture

July 22, 2011

Have you been by lately? It is hectic huh? Well believe it or not things are going incredibly smoothly. Don’t believe me? Don’t look at the piles of metal and mountains of dirt amid the parking spots, just put the above video on loop and relax to soothing sounds of summer.

With weather like this things are growing beautifully, especially as we have more or less kept up with the irrigation needs of the crops. It keeps a few people busy all day every day but keeping things wet is saving us. Many of our crops are on drip irrigation, meaning small tubes drip water drop by drop right at the root base of the plants. This keeps moisture right where it is needed most with little waste.

This young Sunny Delight Patty Pan Squash is watered with drip tape underneath the plastic into which it is planted. This method of irrigation is in place for Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and many other crops around the farm.

Snapdragon and other cut flowers got a nice drink earlier this week, and are showing off already. We have made a few bouquets with the first blooms and will have fresh-cut flowers available throughout the season now.

Other crops get watered by overhead sprinklers, either several in a row of pipes, or one large one in the middle of a block of plants, or even traveling ones that creep down the rows while they water. Sometimes we are even left just standing at the edge of the field holding a garden hose, touching up the fringe. As important as how we water, where it comes from matters as well. Both our home field and Greenways Field are plumbed for town water. The home field is also irrigated via an electric pump that draw from a man-made pond at the back of the field. This has been our main source of water for several years now, greatly reducing the cost of  the town supply. Our Standish field is also irrigated via man-made ponds that encircle the fields, through gasoline powered pumps.

Anyway the important thing is that it is getting watered, and because of that there should be not too much delay getting lush produce to your table.

Small ears still pack a sweet punch. Plus these ears have enjoyed protection from our new partners in nature, Trichogramma wasps, which have greatly reduced the occurrence of European Corn Borers in our early crops, and hence our need for excessive spraying.

Speaking of lush, we are rolling in the good stuff right now. Of course you know corn is in. We are still picking Temptation, currently at our Standish field, and soon from our Greenways field. It is our classic early corn, smaller than the mid-season varieties, but a steady and sweet performer, especially in a cool summer. So if that were our situation we would also be in good shape.

Just a few homegrown beauties remain after yesterday's pick, guess we will head up on blueberry hill again tomorrow!

Although strawberries have moved their harvest location further North,

and are scooting down from Quebec several days a week, blueberries are in full swing and we will have them available homegrown many days of the week, and locally harvested the rest of the time.

Sunnycrest's Peaches never last long enough. Get them early get them often.

In the realm of good fruits, another reminder that local peaches are back in season. Sunnycrest Orchards has already delivered several baskets of sweetness, and we look forward to more this weekend.

We have just begun picking our second crop of summer squash, which includes a trial of a new yellow squash, Slik Pik, which so far looks to be a skinny, pointier version of the ones we are used to. This crop also marks the return of Baby Squash. The assortment includes very juvenile versions of both yellow and green patty-pan squash, as well as young Papaya Pear squash. Baby Squash are excellent in their one to two bite sizing for grilling whole on skewers, roasting, or in any application where a little novelty could spur  someone to eat more vegetables.

Roughly the size of a golf ball, these are the perfect treat for the zucchini weary.

Normally at this point I would say that summer is almost here, all we are waiting for are the tomatoes to start. Not this time. Summer is here. We picked our first singular bushel of Early Girl tomatoes today. Really nothing to write home about, but then I know you were waiting with bated breath. Give it a week and they might be coming in heavy enough you will actually see them on the stand. Cherry tomatoes are starting in earnest as well, and we picked a few pints of Sweet Gold and Sun Gold today, as well as our new trial grape, Red Pearl.

First reviews describe how tomato-y it tastes. As opposed to a cherry tomato perhaps. Let us know what you think of our new Red Pearl.

Not content to stop at tomatoes, we brought in our first bushels of Eggplant and Green Peppers today, plus some Little Fingers eggplant, and some assorted colored peppers.

From L to R, Blackbird, Aristotle green, Dove, and Bluejay peppers. These black purple and white peppers are colorful additions to any recipe that would normally call for green peppers, as they are also the immature fruit of their varieties, as green is to red.

We should have some hot peppers available homegrown in a few days, and that could get your mind thinking about ways to incorporate them in a little southern cooking with another of our newest crops: Okra! Unseen on our farmstand since it was last attempted in the 70’s, we felt it finally time to give this gummy little guy a second chance. We are thrilled so far as the first basket sold out in under a day. That’s almost as impressive as our other new crop, Onions. They continue to be a popular addition to the stand and we will continue to bring them in as long as the crop holds out.

We are just rolling into our third crop of beans, which means more fascinating green beans for you to sample and let us know about. We currently have Provider and new Boone, but other favorites like Lewis, Caprice and Jade will filter in shortly. Romano, Wax, and Kentucky Wonders are part of every crop as well. The Fava beans had an excellent season, but the heat has put a crispy end to them til next year.

The last week of July and peas are still coming in. Will wonders never cease? Well Mr. Big rarely performs as well as he has this year with several bushels of our slowest and largest pea closing out the spring pea season, days before August!

The passage of time comes to the broccoli crop as well. From just last week when there were virtual mountains of green in the stand and in the chest we are now beyond the initial cuts and size and quantity will decrease as we move into the dog days.  Many of you will be thrilled to take broccoli home in sizes smaller than your head, I don’t get it but I know you are there.

And as I may have mentioned at the beginning, construction continues at pace. The foundation of the new farmstand prep area and basement are poured, and the metal framework that will support the floors and walls of the back building are easily seen all about the parking lot.  The next step has Greenhouse 14 coming down rapidly, temporarily creating a chasm between the greenhouse and the farmstand. This will be remedied soon as we begin to move our produce operations into the greenhouse for the remainder of the construction process. More on this soon.

The new farm stand will have an entrance near this end of old greenhouse 14, lined up with the new glass greenhouse. #14 was erected in 1990 and was our main retail house for nearly 20 years.

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