Springtime Challenges

May 21, 2017

Oh, I just remembered. This is the time of year when you can’t say “No” to the farm.

—Steve Cecchini  

 

 

 

Yup, that’s the story of May. Crops are growing, weeds are growing, and off-farm plans are easily dismissed. Let’s hope you like your coworkers. 

 

Harvests are a week away, and field work is now at a fever pitch. Truth be told, we’re having another challenging spring. As many of you already heard, we lost our first planting of onions to seedcorn maggot. This is a new pest for us, and the attack caught us completely off-guard. Fortunately, we were able to source replacement plants from friends, and the second planting is coming along nicely.

 

But the challenges continued. We had high hopes for the kale, one of our most reliable crops, when we seeded it back in March. But it failed to thrive, growing at less than half the rate it should. We suspect nitrogen competition from the grass pathways seeded last spring. We've been giving it applications of kelp and fish emulsion, two standard organic fertilizers, hoping it might still pull through, but we decided to play it safe and seed a backup succession in case it doesn't. Seeding replacements can be depressing—you can’t escape the feeling of Didn’t I already do this?  But we’ll sleep easier knowing we’ve covered our bases.

Dan and Steve planting sweet potato slips.

 

On the upside of things, the garlic is looking great, and we got near perfect sprouting of the potatoes. The strawberries are full of flowers, the sweet potatoes and finding their roots, and the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are ready to move from the greenhouse into the field.

 

We often agonize over the first harvests—it’s impossible not to put a large stock in first impressions. That said, there’s simply no getting around the fact that these pickups are always leafy and light. But the tomato wave will crash before you know it, and we’ll be loading you up with broccoli, winter squash, and garlic in the blink on an eye.

The second onion planting salvages hope for a 2017 onion harvest.

 

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