Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blog-a-Roo, by Angela

I saw this little boy pretending to chomp down on the rays of sunshine that beamed through the church windows during the sermon. Ah, the sweet taste of long desired sunshine is what this week is all about. Hitting our first 100 degrees at 2pm on Monday, we stopped working early due to our newly adopted standard in accordance with OSHA precautions ("Occupational Safety and Health Administration"--click here for more).  Out of concern for the safety of farm employees, fieldwork will not extend beyond CSA harvests and critical farm tasks if the heat index exceeds 103 degrees or actual temperatures exceed 95 degrees. Share pickups will continue as usual because there is relief from the heat in the shade of the barn.
Brendan weed-whacking the walking paths
in the U-Pick
To help you see the U-Pick amongst the weeds, Brendan has been skillfully mowing down the aisles of the U-Pick field (see above) with the weed-whacker, making the produce and flowers far easier to identify alongside the intrusive weed invaders.

I'm learning a lot about the whole Three-Sisters application with the winter squash, popcorn, and dry beans. First off, it's a crazy zoo of stalks, vine, and weeds at this point, as the squash are climbing the corn among the weeds that blasted forth with the continuous rains. The zoo is not so bad, as all these items get harvested once they have dried back. Secondly, the location in which the experiment was planted gets a fair amount of morning shade due to the neighboring woodlot. So the squash has developed more vigorously closer to our main driveway, where it resides in the row; and I am afraid that the plants near the woods may truly be too far behind for good production, given the additional shade from the burgeoning corn stalks. All in all, it is a space saver, but when I glance over at the row of acorn squash (see below) all by itself next to the peppers in full sunlight, they are farther advanced than those winter squash competing with the corn and bean companions.
Exuberant acorn squash vines to the right of the peppers
Our "Two Sisters" corner (immediately to your left as you enter the farm), companion-planted with sweet corn and melons, lacks the vital addition of a nitrogen fixer like beans (for info on nitrogen fixing, click here). To assist these plants with all the nutrients they require, we have been "fertigating" (injecting fish emulsion into the irrigation lines). Fish emulsion is a time-honored, OMRI-approved (Organic Materials Review Institute) organic application of concentrated nitrogen. The plants feed on nitrogen much in the same way that we require carbohydrates for fuel. Corn is a heavy feeder of nitrogen and hence the reason Mid-Western mono-crops tend to result in a rotation of corn followed by soybeans (beans of all sorts help make nitrogen more readily available in the soil for the crops that follow the beans). If you were around the farm last year, you may have noted that the current location of the peas and green beans in the U-Pick field was the home of our sweet corn last season. We are following simple crop rotations in the same manner (but on a smaller scale) that benefits everything in the long run.
Molly fertigating the corn (injecting fish
emulsion into the drip-tape lines for nitrogen


  1. This is really an illuminating post--thanks Angela!

  2. Fun to see mention of the Three-Sisters method. My sister's family's current read-aloud book is Farmer Boy, from the Little House on the Prairie series. In the chapter we read a couple of nights ago, 9-year old Almonzo spent several days meticulously planting pumpkin seeds next to every corn stalk (he was especially meticulous because the longer he took to finish the task, the more days of school he could legitimately avoid!).

  3. So, Annie, your idea for a farm blog has come to fruition! Thanks for your comment--*love* Little House on the Prairie!