Ok, so we finally got some rain. There was an intense downpour Friday evening, followed by an amazing double rainbow, that definitely provided some relief to our crops. It wasn’t much but it delayed additional watering for a couple of days. We put another 1000 plus plants in the ground last week and getting them water has been crucial. Not only for their survival of transplanting but so you all can enjoy them later in the season. The soil is so dry that we need a few (at the bare minimum) soaking rains that will deeply penetrate. The established and newly transplanted crops could really use it. Their resiliency amazes me but they would be (as would I) much happier if there was a little more precipitation mixed in.
I really try to limit my complaining and resign myself to what is the reality, especially with farming. I have an amazing job, I love growing good healthy food for folks and always try to look at the big picture and positives of every situation that I face throughout the growing season. The positives out of all this dry weather we are having are: weed pressure is relatively low (they need water, too), diseases that thrive in wet weather are not present and overall, it’s been super pleasant to work in.
Last week, we had the opportunity to take our Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students to visit our good friends over at Main St. Farms. It was really nice to show our students how a beginning farmer has scaled up over a short amount of time and the diversification of different farming sites. If you get the Cortland Standard, you may have seen us on the front page last week. They were doing a story on how the dry weather has been affecting area farmers. The irony is, if you looked closely at the picture, you would have noticed a bunch of folks in rain coats! A storm had rolled through while we were on our tour. Alas though, that rain didn’t make it down to the TC3 Farm. The weather patterns in this area, specifically rain, never cease to amaze me.
In addition to our field trip, planting and subsequent watering, we also spent a lot of time trellising the tomatoes in our hoophouses. Tomatoes are wild plants and if you let them, they will grow all over the place. The way that we grow our tomatoes in the hoophouses, is that we have one single vine that we call the “leader”. We train that leader up a piece of twine hanging from above. Since all 22 varieties of tomatoes that we grow are indeterminates, they will grow as tall as we let them or have the energy to do so. Each week, we spend time suckering (a fancy farming word for pruning) the extra side shoots and wrapping around the twine. We know that we will get less fruit per plant but the plants will have more energy to produce higher quality fruit. They will also ripen a little faster because that energy won’t be distributed among a lot of fruit clusters. Our students are finding that it takes some getting used to doing but the more we do it the easier it will get. It takes some time but is one of my favorite farm jobs. The end results are extremely satisfying.
The saddest news that I have about this week’s share is the 2016 strawberries are officially done. We were super happy with our first year’s crop and hope that you all were, as well. Again, the lack of rain has really put us behind in terms of veggies popping out of the ground but we’re making do. This week’s share will consist of lettuce, garlic scapes, kale, radishes, chard and fresh garlic. The garlic is one of our many crops that are hurting from the lack of rain and we really need to start to get it out of the ground. Fresh garlic can be used just as you would cured garlic, although the flavor is bit milder. If you wish, you can hang it yourself to cure and maximize using your garlic scapes.
Have a great week and let’s hope for some rain!!