Week 7 of the TC3 Farm CSA is here! That means we’re about 1/3 of the way through the season. I’m not exactly sure where the time has gone but I can’t believe that it’s almost August. And guess what? It rained a bunch again. I’ve been able to sneak in some tractor work here and there to prep some fields but we still have a field that we haven’t been able to get in all season because of how wet it’s been. And even though the weeds are growing at an epic pace, this wet weather makes them easy to pull. We slowly but surely continue to make our way through the fields. Last week we made it through our potatoes and were able to “hill” them. “Hilling” potatoes is when we mound soil around the base of the potato plants. This allows them to grow more potatoes per foot and protect them from sun exposure. After our potatoes, we started our field peppers. Hopefully, we’ll get through them this week.
Pollinators on the TC3 Farm – Student Post by Kateri
Hi all! It is the time of year on the TC3 Farm when flowers are appearing all around us! Tomato plants are flowering and fruiting, wildflowers are filling up the wild areas around our worked fields with color, and the squash plants need their white row covers to be pulled so that pollinating insects can visit their beautiful yellow flowers. All of these things make this a good time to share with our readers about these important friends of ours, the pollinators.
No doubt you have been hearing about bees in the news lately-and with good reason! The populations of these superior pollinators are on the decline-even in Upstate New York. But what do pollinators do for farms? Farmers rely on pollinators like bees to fertilize their flowering crops. Fertilization, occurs by way of the transfer of pollen (male gametes)-found in the plant’s flower and produced by the male part of the plant found there- to the ovule, the female part of the plant also found in the flower. This process must take place in order for the farmer to obtain the fruits of his labor (pun intended!). It is important to clarify that bees are not nature’s only pollinators. Butterflies, moths, and other insects also enable the fertilization of crops by spreading pollen, though not as much as bees. The incredibly designed hairs that cover the bodies of bees and easily pick up pollen as they buzz in flowers, make bees pollinators of extreme importance, and not just to farmers, but to anyone who eats most edible plants!
Well, we sure got some rain last week. The two rain events we got on Thursday and Friday were close to 5 inches! And Friday was the worst of it. There was no where for that water to go and the fields got flooded. It was one of the worst aftermath I have seen in my years of farming. Standing water everywhere. Little streams of water running down the hill. We put in about 2000 transplants on Wednesday and Thursday and some of them were buried in spots!
It got me thinking about resiliency in an ever-changing climate. Last year was one of the driest years on record. For 3 years we “dry-farmed”, meaning we didn’t use any irrigation. To remedy that, we had a well installed out in our field. This year, has been one of the wettest and thankfully we haven’t had to use our well. But a wet year poses its own challenges, field prep and planting being a couple. How do we remedy that? We could have drainage tile put in but that’s expensive. A few things that will help and what we’re working towards are more organic matter in our soil, more land and possibly some permanent beds in our consistent problem areas.
Happy 4th of July!
I’m not exactly sure what happened to June but here we are. Things are rocking and rolling on the farm; transplanting, weeding and harvesting. This past week, we started planting our fall brassicas. It never ceases to amaze me that we plant our fall broccoli and cabbage before we start harvesting our spring plantings. We continued our weekly maintenance of our hoophouse and greenhouse tomatoes. The signs of summer are here because fruits are starting to form on the plants.
Tomato Time – Student Post By Cody – Week of July 26th, 2017
Hey all! It is that time a year again to get excited about all the delicious varieties of tomatoes being sown at the TC3 Farm. With over two dozen heirloom, cherry and hybrid tomato varieties on the Farm, it is a mighty challenge to tame those taste buds as all the young seedlings are transplanted. The TC3 Farm grows both field and greenhouse/ hoop house tomatoes. Crop rotation best practices are followed in determining where the tomatoes will be grown both in the field and indoors. This week the farm team transplanted a variety of tomatoes in the greenhouse and hoop house. In this post, I will describe the techniques in preparing and setting up a greenhouse for tomato cultivation and some tips for having a successful and healthy growing season.
At this point you may be wondering why the TC3 Farm grows so many different varieties of tomatoes. I believe the unequivocal answer is that crop diversity is a key attribute to a successful and healthy farm operation. One might also be asking if there is an advantage to growing tomatoes in a greenhouse. I believe there are many advantages for the use of a greenhouse, especially in a relatively short northeast growing season. The first advantage is that a greenhouse can extend the growing season, and this is especially important for tomatoes which are a high value crop. Secondly, a greenhouse provides for temperature, precipitation and air flow control. This is crucial for tomatoes as it reduces the chances for fungal and oomycete diseases such as early blight and late blight which can devastate plants in the nightshade family. Proper crop rotation planning can reduce blight and pest problems during the growing season.
Edible Acres Permaculture Farm Field Trip – Student Post by Juliet
The summer Integrated Pest Management class had the opportunity to take a field trip on Monday June 19th, 2017 to see Sean Dembrosky’s homestead farm, Edible Acres. Edible Acres is a permaculture farm business and nursery where he plants, cultivates, cares for, harvests, and sells both perennial and annual plants like chestnut trees, currants, wild onions, and cacti. He farms several plots of land throughout the Ithaca area, owned by several different people. This flexibility allows him the opportunity to continually expand his business and experiment with different practices since he is not tied down by the cost of land ownership.
It was a gray, drizzly day on Monday, and the sky threatened to crack and cause a downpour. The weather this spring has been a complete reversal from what we had experienced at this same time last year. In any case, this was farming, and rain or no rain, we were all excited to head out on this field trip. And so, we quickly bundled up into our raincoats and jumped in the van to make the short drive to Sean’s homestead.
When we arrived at Edible acres, Sean eagerly greeted us in the front of his yard. Our class had worked with him previously, because he helped us to create a small nursery and permaculture minded growing space at the farm where we planted our gooseberry, elderberry, and currant bushes. It was during this past workshop that we learned about the true meaning behind the term ‘permaculture’. Coined by its founder, Bill Mollison, permaculture is actually a combination of two words- permanent and agriculture. According to Mollison, Permaculture is an ethically based design system for human habitation that is in harmony with the natural world. Mollison himself states that, “It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing for their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” For example, pumpkins planted in between hop plants, the ‘Three Sisters’ (corn, beans, and squash) system of planting, or peas trailing up a nut tree would all be examples of permaculture practices. (http://library.open.oregonstate.edu/permaculture/chapter/what-is-permaculture/)