We’ve been making a point to not complain about the weather this season–it just seems like too easy a target. This year, we have had so many torrential rainstorms that it is hard to keep track. It adds up to 22 inches of rain in the past three months, and much of that was in late May and early June (for comparison, we had 36 inches of precipitation in all of 2012). We are doing relatively well for such a wet season. Our soils are listed as “excessively well-drained” in the soil maps, and so we are doing much better than many of our friends who have wetter soils. Still, there are spots on the farm where the lower leaves of our tomato, pepper, and squash plants are coated in mud from the flooding. Our late fall carrot planting had to be replanted when we had a 4-inch deluge the day after it was planted, creating a huge washout through the lower section of the field. Here is the outlook for some of the crops our crops, and a summary of how they have been affected by the weather.
We had a difficult period in late June and early July when we had wet weather, making it hard to fields ready for planting, and then really hot weather, which inhibits lettuce germination. We are seeing the effects of that now, with a really short supply of lettuce for the salad greens. There should be some more coming in a couple of weeks, but for now there should be plenty of arugula, mizuna, baby bok choy, and other “mustard family” greens, which germinate better in the heat and which also grow faster than lettuce. We should start seeing some more baby spinach in a few weeks as well–this is another crop that doesn’t like to germinate in the heat. Cilantro gets seeded the same way as the salad greens, and this popular pick-your-own crop suffered the same fate as our salad greens, but by the time we had better conditions, there wasn’t enough time left in the season for another seeding. We had one good crop of cilantro, at least, but have sure been missing it in our salsa this year.
Summer Squash and Cucumbers
We’ve had a great run of squash and cukes this year, but they are starting to wind down. Our squash fields now are a compendium of squash diseases–we were joking today that the plant pathology class from UMass should take a trip out here because we have it all. The wet weather certainly helps encourage disease pressure. We do have a late cucumber planting in one of our greenhouses–it may have gone in too late to produce. We’ll keep you posted on that.
We’re pretty sure that this won’t be a fantastic tomato season. Tomatoes don’t like wet weather–they crack and split and have many diseases that affect them. We have the dreaded late blight in our fields, no surprise given the conditions. The good news is that while it won’t be fantastic, it looks good that we will have a tomato crop this year. All of our investments in hoophouses and other structures have paid off with a great early crop–almost all of the tomatoes we’ve given out so far come from the hoophouses. The field plantings have been slow to ramp up in the cool weather we’ve had lately, but we picked almost 500 pounds from the field today, so look for the tomatoes to continue to increase.
We usually wait for our peppers to turn color, and only pick them green towards the end of the season when it is clear that they won’t be ripening before frost. This year, however, we’ve started picking off some green peppers because we are getting antsy about our chances with the ripe ones. The plants are loaded with peppers–the best crop we’ve seen in years–but everything is slow with the cool weather, and one of the diseases we have in the summer squash field is also something that infects peppers, turning the fruits to mush. We decided to hedge our bets and pull off a few green ones just to be sure that we get something.
We are happy to report that we will be having a parsnip crop this year. Parsnips are notoriously fussy to germinate, and we haven’t had any luck. After talking to some farmer friends, we finally figured out what hole to use on our planter to put a ton of seeds down and ensure a thicker stand. They are doing well, and have been kept quite clean of weeds by our intrepid weeding crew. Rutabagas are another fall root that has bedeviled us–this year we transplanted them and they are looking good. We’ve had lots of trouble with beets, but we have a decent stand for our last planting for fall harvest. And our earliest carrot plantings have done amazingly well. We have actually been living off of our first planting for almost two months (usually they last about 3 weeks). The last fall planting was the one that got washed out twice in July–it will be meager, but hopefully there will be enough carrots from our earliest plantings to cover the supply we need for the winter. The sweet potato crop has an extremely vigourous set of vines, which should correlate into a nice bunch of roots. All of our other fall roots–daikon, turnips, watermelon radish–are in the ground and looking good.
If there are other crops you are wondering about, please don’t hesitate to ask the farm crew at pickup–we can always update you on how things are growing.