By Zannah Porter, Farm Manager
|Farm Manager Zannah Porter tending to the field edges|
This past week we said good-bye to two hard workers. Zack and Ruby are off to focus on their academic pursuits. I really enjoyed getting to know them; they were both wonderful additions to our team this year and they will be missed. We have also had the joy of welcoming two new staff members. Katie Bekel is a new member of the Field Crew and Miriam Stason has joined me as Co-Farm Manager (stay tuned for a big introduction next week).
I'd like to take this opportunity to give you an update on how the plants are doing so far this season. The ever constant march towards fall continues. The weather this week was quite autumnal with nights in the 50's and cool, dry days in the 70's. This is great weather to harvest in. Unfortunately it is not great growing weather. Heat loving plants like eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes tend to slow their production as the days and nights cool off. Fortunately we are supposed to get a final summer blast this week with highs up around 90 on Wednesday. It has also been very dry. Our lettuce has really suffered due to these conditions. Certain varieties really can't handle temperature fluctuations and they kind of freak out. They tend to bolt, or go to seed just as they reach a harvestable size. When lettuce begins to bolt it turns bitter and unpalatable.
This week we will start harvesting our storage onions. They are located at our fields in Weston this year along with the peppers, potatoes, eggplants, and sweet potatoes. After harvesting, the onions will be set out in the greenhouse to cure. Through the curing process, the onions release moisture, drying out their outer skin and concentrating their flavor.
The peppers and eggplant should hold on well into the fall but other summer crops, like the summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, will soon give up production with the cooler weather. We should be harvesting ripening peppers beginning this week. When I started farming I learned that red and orange peppers are just green peppers that have been allowed to ripen.
Our fall brassicas are in the West Field this year and they look amazing. I invite you to walk out and take a look. They are a sea of leafy plants that wave their blue-green leaves in the breeze. I have to give a shout out to our fall collards as well. They are just spectacular!
Thus far we have managed to keep the late blight at bay on the tomatoes this year. Careful planning, variety selection, and regular spraying of copper fungicide (a certified organic control) have led to a healthy crop and consistent yields this year. Late blight has been identified in our region so I will continue to monitor our plantings for signs of infection.
We are at a point where most of the crops are in the ground for the rest of the season. Now we monitor, irrigate, cultivate, harvest, and repeat. It has been a typically unpredictable season. Some crops fair better than others. Unforeseen obstacles come up. We do our best to problem solve and adapt. This is why I love farming. Every day is different with new challenges and new rewards.