Last Monday we finally decided we were ready to trust the weather for tomato planting. We were able to get most of them planted on Monday, but ran out of landscape fabric for between the rows so had to continue with the rest on Tuesday after picking up another roll. Overall this new system is working well to both reduce weeding and reduce our use of disposable plastics so it is worth the investment. And we are so glad to be done planting so quickly especially given how late in the season it is already.
We may have just planted the tomatoes in the field, but the cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse are coming along very nicely and we are seeing just the first few ripe ones! It won’t be many this week but soon we will have cherry tomatoes!
This week in CSA we have: Asparagus, Arugula, Cabbage, Carrots, Rutabagas, Swiss chard, and just a first few cherry tomatoes.
Our other project last Monday was getting our third batch of chicks and getting them settled in. Chicks like heat so normally the challenge is keeping them warm enough, but Monday was so hot that when we got to the hatchery they were warning us not to overheat them on the way home. There is a first for everything.
Through most of last week were working on spreading wood chips any chance we got where we had time and the loader tractor wasn’t busy with the transplanter. It was a big project but we got chips spread for the biggest squash patch we have ever planted. Then we scratched in rows and planted squash late in the week. We have a few more rows to plant today but we managed most of it on Thursday and Friday.
Much of organic weed control is paring the right tool with the right timing. This year it has felt like we have done better on that than often happens. But to make it happen means making it a priority almost regardless of what else was happening that day. So on Friday Nathan was out tine weeding the potatoes. The potatoes are just coming up, but they are tough plants and the weeds were mostly still small so by disturbing the soil surface we are able to kill about 90% of the weeds while doing minimal damage to the crop. Another technique for a different crop and different timing is Flame Weeding. Again, best when the weeds are small, we pass a torch over the soil to cook the small weeds before the crop germinates. Ideally the day before for maximal results, but it is delicate timing and a lot of guessing. Parsnips generally take about two weeks to germinate, and since we planted them a week and a half ago and I wanted to be organized and efficient about it this year, I have a calendar alert to go cook some weeds today. But as things happen, the heat combined with the fact we have also been really good about watering them consistently since planting got them to germinate faster and the parsnips were up yesterday. Now we have to wait for them to be big enough so they are easy to see and carefully pull larger weeds from around small parsnips. So much for good planning. I need to make a note that we should flame weed 7 or 8 days after seeding next year.
Overall this spring we have been suffering from the lack of rain. It was dry before the rain we got two weeks ago, and while it helped some, it was insufficient and we haven’t had a drop since. On Friday there was rain in the forecast and it did rain only a few blocks from us, but we got nothing. But now, this week, we actually have a few days when we hope it doesn’t rain. We cut our hay on Saturday and need dry weather until Wednesday when we hope to get it baled and stored away for the winter. Because of the strange weather it hasn’t been a good year for hay for most people in our area, but our’s looks mostly fairly ok. We hope we can preserve good quality and make the best of the dry conditions while they last to make hay while the sun shines.
Related to storing hay, we have a new tarp for the coverall (fabric covered hoop building) where we store our hay. But it doesn’t do much good unless we install it. So we are hoping now to install it before Wednesday when the hay is baled so we don’t have to avoid piling hay under the leaky sections of the existing tarp. We don’t expect to have much room to spare.
Well we have had a very productive week last week, but there is lots to do this week as well. We got the first few tomato steaks in last week after planting, but hopefully this week we can do the rest of them. There is a little irrigation to finish up for them as well and the last of the squash to plant. And of course the hay to finish and tarp to change as mentioned already and the weeds are a constant source of work right now so we’ll be busy. But for now at least it doesn’t feel like we are much behind. So there are some positives at least.
Well that’s about everything for this week.
Until next week,
Nathan and Aleta Klassen