Field Report | June 30, 2010
Thank you to all who have recently volunteered your help!!
You have really made this farm come together for our first season!
Sometimes I just get in the groove and go about the business of what needs done during the day; checking for bugs, spraying, planting, and planning. Occasionally someone will mention the beauty of this farm for its first year and then I stand in awe at what this farm looked like 3 short months ago. It has been transformed from a former stand of field corn and cover crop to greenhouse, high tunnel, amazing flower picking areas, and stands of row covers and crops.
So many thanks go to many persons who have been helping regularly! The flower garden have had the professional hand of Gail Alderfer, the wash station was voluntarily built by CSA member Karl Boericke, the fields maintained by volunteers Dawn Ruth Nelson and Aaron Clemmer. Many more of you have been putting in your time and I need to get those hours logged for you as well. Thanks to all of you for making the CSA portion of this farm amazing. You can see I need to update our photos on the rotator above...but it also helps you remember what it DID look like a few months ago. I told Karl I would send along his website and a photo of his work...look for this as soon as I get a chance. And if you see him, please thank him for doing a fine job...the station has more to be done but is definately keeping us out of the sun.
As amazing as things look we have sure been battling bugs. I think we have had every bug we could have this season. Much of that is due to the lack of beneficials...our ground really lacks earthworms too. We could dig for hours and not find even one. We have had flea beetles attack our eggplant and potatoes, cucumber beetles, cabbage loopers, squash vine borer, mexican bean beetles,and a few others that I forget the names of but which have been identified by the Penn State Extension office in Montgomery Co. I do alot of squashing to say the least! On the flip side...the heat has been great for bug suppression. They would rather be in moist conditions.
I would just like to remind parents to please be aware that our nippers for clipping flowers and herbs are VERY sharp. If children's fingers get in the way of the blade it will definately create a good slice. Please monitor their cutting if they are assisting you.
As each of you cut flowers or herbs we would like to remind you as well that we never want to cut to the root or ground for harvesting (unless it it lettuce or cabbage). We take leaves, sprigs, or in the case of flowers...look for the stem you desire and follow it down to where it Y's and creates a branch to two new flower bud stems. This way our flowers will contine to regrow and be available for your cutting pleasure. When cutting herbs each is a bit different:
Lemon thyme: lift the thyme and look underneath...cut above the hairy branched section...this portion will reroot itself and create more thyme. Do not cut the hairy portion away.
Tarragon: because we do not have an overabundance of tarragon, choose the two or three sprigs that you would like and cut 3-4 inches above the soil line.
Chives: locate a cluster of chives and either split it in half and take half of the stalk or all of it...cutting again, 3 inches above the soil line. We have flat chinese chives and English garden chives for the taking.
Basil: cut basil like you would cut flowers as they will branch again and create a new head.
If you have questions, please ask another CSA member, intern, or JIll. Eventually we will all be able to assist one another...a great thing to take place on the farm.
A reminder that if you are not able to pick up on your day please find someone else who would like to take your share or see if you can switch ahead of time. A good place to try to find another member to switch with you may be our facebook page. This has been successful, I believe, in the past already. Remember we harvest for only the number of pick-ups that day...and if you miss your pick up day you will have to wait until the next one. It is not convenient for us to be asked to fulfill your order the next day or two later - and often your vegetable will not be available. Thanks for planning in advance.
Groundhog Traps (Havahart)
If anyone has any traps sitting in their garage unused and lonely...the farm could use them. We have caught six groundhogs in 6 days and one opossum with babies. One had set up house in the lettuce field with a house the size of the Grand Canyon. My son is taking great pleasure in ridding them from the farm but their numbers are abundant due to having the heavy hedge covers outside the fenced area. We have three active traps set daily but notice many "hog runs" that we would like to set traps for. Recently we have even had one find his way into our high tunnel and munch a few tomatoes!!! EEK.
Speaking of our high tunnel. Our extention agent and board member, Andrew Frankenfield has been making regular trips to our fields and checking our progress on our tomatoes. So far we are fine. We do have some signs of early blight but that is nearly to be expected with the number of tomatoes that we are growing. We have also taken a few samples and sent them to Penn State for analysis as the extension office was unable to identify our leave issues. We do not show any signs of late blight right now...which is good because with that, within just a few weeks, the plant can begin to die. We do ask that no one walks through the high tunnel at any time. It has become a tighter space and blossoms can be knocked off if we are not careful. We also make it a practice to never touch our tomatoes or vining plants when they are wet as the ability to spread disease is increased. So all our harvesting of vine crops, squash, and tomatoes waits until the sun has dried the crop (and unfortunately it is often hotter too!)
You will find various events listed below that are upcoming on the farm. Please remind me if you would like to be on our calendar for cooking up a special dish to share or demonstrate cooking, a class you would like to teach, or an activity you would like to do with the children! We would love to incorporate your skills and interests! Also, if you have a business card...please hang it in our pick-up center in July...it is a great place to network with other CSA members!
Thanks again for all your great work on the farm...