August is here! We’re half way through the CSA season. The farm is finally starting to look more normal as we have finally caught up, the plants are growing, and we are awaiting the summer crops. In the previous update I wrote about the 6 weeks of rain in the spring that set us back tremendously. This entire growing season will feel the effects of that huge disruption all the way to the end. But, many crops are recovering and we are returning to a more normal rain-free farming.
This season we have had more crop failures and missed crop plantings than ever before. At the same time we have stayed focused on getting the most important tasks done first and have been constantly prioritizing what to do first. The Red Wagon crew this season has done a great job of accomplishing everything quickly and efficiently all with a good attitude. We are not out of money yet and are hoping for the usual sale increase as the summer crops begin to arrive. I am somewhat baffled that we are not doing much worse when I add up the thousands of dollars in lost crops. I think we lost well over $50,000 in crops that we planted that are not going to make it.
Most years when we make the weekly harvest list for CSA we have more choices than we need each week. This year it has felt like there were no choices and that we only had what we gave the CSA. We have brought much less food to the farmers’ market than usual. Twice a week we email a crop availability list to restaurants and for the last 2 months the list has been very short.
The crop failures are as follows: the first two plantings of potatoes rotted. We tried a July planting and it looks promising so in late September we might have potatoes again. The early cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli that we grow for July to add some variety to the CSA did not survive the wet weather and were stunted. The first cucumber and zucchini plantings are dismal, but the second planting is doing extremely well. We did not plant many cucumbers in the second planting due to not having enough dry field so we will be light on cucumbers this year. The Brussels sprouts and fall cabbage don’t look good. The peppers and tomatoes and eggplant all look good but are about a month behind. They were planted late and it has been cool and wet. We row covered them to try and accelerate the growth. We will have some tomatoes, peppers and eggplant but it is not clear how much of a crop we will get. It will not be early, which is what we aim for since it usually freezes by mid-September. The melons look good and there are cantaloupe almost softball size. The first planting of cantaloupe (3,000 plants) are good. The second planting probably will not yield much. The watermelon were planted on bare soil. We normally plant them on the agricultural plastic mulch to get them to produce in our cool summers. We will see, but I don’t expect watermelon. The winter squash is growing but it is not clear if it will make a very good crop. This last hot week has helped, but it is difficult to tell. The pumpkins are growing terribly. Not exactly sure why but they seem to hate the soil they are growing in.
We do have many of our usual crops doing well:
The parsnips are glorious and are the greens are thigh high. The sunchokes are beginning to flower, which means they are just about ready. The later planting of kale and broccoli is looking very good and the last planting of kale and chard for fall was planted yesterday. The beans will continue to produce. The carrots and beets are finally doing well and we have several plantings all looking good.
Onions- I have been working on learning to grow onions better and have been trying different planting methods. I apologize to people who do not want so many onions. I cook with lots of onions and use them up quickly. There is a pretty good crop of onions that we have already harvested with many more to be harvested.
The leeks started to bolt early. I think they were stressed when planted. They were planted late due to the rain. The first planting is almost done and the second planting should be ready in the fall.
The melons are coming and I think we should have a few weeks of cantaloupe for our CSA. They need to ripen before the first frost and hopefully before it starts to cool off in September.
The edamame was planted in May and survived the rain and is looking like it will make a nice crop.
As a bit of insurance for having enough food, we have just planted another acre of greens, radishes, beets, etc., this week. Normally we wait until mid-August to start planting for fall. In the upcoming weeks we will plant more carrots and spinach as well as more successions of greens.
We are doing our best to keep our CSA members fed and hope to finish the season with a good variety and plenty of produce.