Week of July 16th – CSA Newsletter

Ok, so this is going to be one of those weather newsletters. It’s been dry and hot out there. So, I need everyone to put on their dancing shoes and start doing a rain dance. It’s not as bad as it was 2 years ago but we are definitely due for some rain. I’ve started to see some reports that we are approaching drought-like conditions. Because we got some good snow this winter and some really good rain events earlier this season, we are in pretty good shape. but a lot of the crops are in a holding pattern. We even took last week off from transplanting because I didn’t want the newly planted crops to struggle to survive. We have the ability to water but setting up the irrigation is very cumbersome so I just usually try to wait it out. I’m ever the optimist but I think my gray hair is getting a little grayer.

That being said, we kept plugging away with the weeding on the farm and made a huge headway. July is high time for weeds on a farm and we are doing our best to stay on top of everything. We made it through our onions and leeks last week and started to work our way through all of our other crops. I tried to make everyone feel a little better about all the weeding by letting folks know that I have friends that are hand-weeding 350 foot rows, so our 100 foot rows aren’t so bad. I’m not sure how that worked :). In addition to all of our weeding and cultivating that we did, we also managed to hill our potatoes. Hilling potatoes is an important job because it allows us to increase our yield per plant. The more of the plant that is covered with soil, the more potatoes we should get. It also helps with exposure to sun. With every rain event, we have a little bit of erosion, so we don’t want to expose those precious little tubers to the sun. We’ll hill again at least one more time before we start harvesting and if we’re lucky, we’ll get a third hilling in.

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Week of July 9th – CSA Newsletter

I hope that everyone had a good 4th and got time to enjoy the day with family and friends. It was mostly a quiet week on the farm with the students having a mini-break but we kept plugging away at our weekly list of tasks to do. July is primetime for weeds on the farm, so we are doing our best to stay on top (but mostly catch up) of them. We’ve made it through all of our onions and now just have a few beds of leeks and shallots to get through and then we’ll move onto the next priority area. Today we welcomed some new friends to the farm. This is our third summer partnering with Challenge Workforce Solutions as a job site for youth workers as part of their Youth Employment Program. It’s been a great partnership and I’m looking forward to another summer with them as part of our team.

Our hoophouse/greenhouse crops have really been enjoying this stretch of weather and this past week we spent a good amount of time in them. Our continual pruning and trellising of tomatoes, some solid weeding and the trellising of our sweet peppers all happened.

Trellised peppers

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Week of July 2nd – CSA Newsletter

We (and the plants) survived the mini heat wave. I hope that you did, as well. I would have been a little more stressed going into the weekend but we got just over an inch of rain last Wednesday right before the temps started to rise. After a heat index over 100, the rain this evening will really help to get things popping in the coming week. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last week was another busy one with lots of things getting crossed off on our weekly lists. With all of our big plantings behind us, we are now able to turn our attention to cultivating and weeding. The big task we started was to start to liberate our onion/leek field. After last season’s complete onion failure, I am determined to have as a successful crop as we can. We put about 6000 transplants of sweet onions, red onions, yellow storage onions, leeks and shallots in the ground this season. And they will need a lot of maintenance throughout the season. We started with an early season cultivation but as we continued to get plants in the ground and start harvesting for the season, the weeds began to thrive. So, now we’re at the point of hand-weeding. It’s not the most glorious job and definitely not the fastest, but it sure is satisfying. To be able to look down a bed and see a nice stand of plants without any competition from weeds gives everyone on the farm a tangible accomplishment.

Hello! Onions, are you in there?
Oh, there you are.

(Shameless plug time.) If you want to come on out and enjoy that feeling, join us for a Farm Friday, from 10-12. 

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Week of June 25th – CSA Newsletter

Well, June has zipped right by. It’s hard to believe but the summer internship for the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students is just about halfway over. The students continue to impress me with their work ethic and how quickly they are picking up life on vegetable farm during the summer. Last week was a big week of transplanting on the farm. We got all of our winter squash, melons and second round of summer squash and cucumbers in the ground.

A field of winter squash planted and covered.

It was a lot of work to get them planted, fertilized and covered with remay, aka row cover. We use row cover on our cucurbits (and brassicas) to protect them from pests while they are getting established. The main pest that goes after all the squash, cukes and melons are cucumber beetles. These little buggers can affect the plants in a few different ways. First, they can stunt the plant’s growth, especially when they eat the flowers. They also can transmit bacterial wilt and do damage to the fruit. There aren’t many effective organic sprays that also won’t harm our many wonderful beneficials, including bees. So, we don’t do any spraying. Instead we use cultural controls, which includes row cover. We also try to select varieties that have good disease resistance. This season we are also using a trap crop to hopefully lure the cucumber beetles away from our main crop. We have two beds of a Hubbard squash that is supposedly more attractive to cucumber beetles not covered. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it has a positive outcome.

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Week of June 18th CSA Newsletter

Ok, so it was hot out there today! But we managed to get in most of the harvest by mid-morning. Now, if you’re new to the TC3 Farm CSA, you’ll soon find out that I end up giving a lot of weather updates and how it’s affecting the season. It’s inevitable. I won’t dive too much into it this week, but I just wanted to acknowledge that. This past week, we were kept busy with more transplanting, lots of cultivating (aka, weeding with tools) and hoophouse tomato management. We are growing 25 different varieties of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes in a fairly intensive system. All the varieties are indeterminate, which means that they will grow as tall as we let them (or season length). We keep a single “leader” and each week we go through the houses and “sucker and trellis” the 730 plants.

Suckering and trellising tomatoes

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Week of June 11th – CSA Newsletter

Well folks, we made it! The start of the TC3 Farm CSA is here. It’s hard to believe, but we are embarking on our 5th season and I’m appreciative that you are taking this journey with us. We have a long way to go, but the farm has grown immensely since our first summer when it was me and a rototiller. It’s been a whirlwind start to the season. We broke ground about 3 weeks later than we usually do because of the cold wet spring we had and then things got unseasonably warm. Definitely a strange start to the season but we are doing our best to be resilient. There’s a great group of student interns this summer who have been working their tails off since they started at the end of May. We’ve been doing our best to get ourselves caught up. I don’t have an exact number but there are probably close to 20,000 plants in the ground already. I think we’re about a week behind at the moment and with all the uncertainties that come with farming, I’d say that’s pretty good. I could go on and on with all that we’ve been up to but that would take way too long. Some highlights so far for this season are: we have 25 varieties (700 plus plants) of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes planted in the hoophouses, 1000 new strawberry plants got put in the ground and after last season’s complete onion failure (I don’t even want to get into it), there are 6000 onions, leeks and shallots in the ground and they are doing pretty good.

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