Pollinators on the TC3 Farm

Pollinators on the TC3 Farm – Student Post by Kateri

Bees at Dyce Laboratory
Honey bees in a managed hive buzz as the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students observe them during a field trip to Dyce Laboratory

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!

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Week of July 11th – CSA Newsletter

after the storm carrots

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!

Some beets, post storm
A field plowed earlier in the week

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. 

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Week of July 10th – CSA Newsletter

Greenhouse tomatoes growing, growing and growing!

Week 5 of the TC3 Farm CSA is here and we had an entire week without any significant rain events. This time last year, I was in total freak out mode with the lack of rain. This past week was a welcome relief but looking ahead, it looks like the rain is returning. We kept plugging away at our weekly plantings by getting in lettuce, basil, carrots, beets, kale, collards, chinese cabbage, cucumbers and fennel. Our greenhouse tomatoes are finally all tied and are really starting to take off, as well as the hoophouse tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Hoophouse eggplants
Hoophouse peppers

It shouldn’t be too long until we can start harvesting these crops and filling your bellies with summer goodness!

This week’s share has a bunch of new items in it. There will be the first chard of the season. It’s not too big and can easily be eaten raw or lightly sautéed. There will also be fresh garlic. This isn’t the biggest garlic but the plants are telling me that it’s time to start harvesting them. Fresh garlic isn’t cured like you see in the store and it’s flavor is slightly mild but can be used just as you’d use garlic that is cured. Another new crop this week is sorrel. Sorrel has a lemony/sour flavor and is a nice addition to salads. I also like to add it to pasta dishes by pouring the boiling water over the chopped sorrel when draining the pasta. There won’t be any snow peas in the share this week (I think) but there will be sugar snap peas. The last new addition this week will be cucumbers.

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Week of July 3rd – CSA Newsletter

Monarch caterpillar snacking on some milkweed

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.

Heirloom tomatoes beginning to form!

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Transplanting Greenhouse Tomatoes – Student Post

Tomato Time – Student Post By Cody – Week of July 26th, 2017

Greenhouse Tomatoes for Transplanting
A Flat of Tomatoes Ready for Transplanting

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. 

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Week of June 26th – CSA Newsletter

A covered field of summer squash, cucumbers, melons and winter squash

Well, the rain drops are falling once again as I type this. As dry as last season was, the theme this year seems to be wet, wet, wet! A couple of bright spots with all this rain is that for the most part the rain has been happening in the evenings and over the weekend, right after we transplant and there have been some killer rainbows.

Last week we were busy getting about 4000 transplants in the ground. We got in a second planting of fennel, the first planting of basil, another round of lettuce, rutabagas, the first of the fall broccoli, another round of cucumbers and summer squash, the watermelons and cantaloupes, pumpkins and all of our winter squash. It was a busy few days around harvesting and field trips! 

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