Farm Update October 2015
- posted on: November 7, 2015
- posted by: 21 Acres
It’s been a mild fall so far after the record-breaking hot and dry summer. This mild weather may persist well into November and beyond according to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). The forecast is for warmer weather and drier conditions are expected for the rest of 2015 and well into 2016. El Nino is developing strong at a record level and becoming “super” El Nino. We usually see an early frost here in the valley by now, but we have not seen any sign of frost at all so far, which is another indication of this year’s “mild” fall. However, the season has definitely shifted as daylight gets shorter.
Fall/October is also the time when some seasonal growers and farmers markets come to a close. But, some farmers and winter markets continue to offer locally grown produce. Here at 21 Acres, we stretch our farm season into November. In the fields, we still have fall/winter greens and root crops sustaining healthy and looking good….lettuce, carrots, beets, leeks, fall greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard, mizuna, komatsuna, yukina). Some of the fall greens get even sweeter after frost and root crops store well for winter. The good news is the ground hasn’t gotten too boggy yet, thanks to the mild and not so soggy weather.
We just finished our season’s last planting this week….garlic. The five varieties (soft/hard neck) panted are Chesnok Red, Spanish Roja, Silver White, Inchelium and Elephant. This year’s yield/quality of our garlic was excellent, so finger crossed for the garlic harvest in 2016. If you are a garlic lover, you can still grow your own garlic by planting now so that you’ll be able to harvest your own garlic next year. Winter cover crop (Merced rye) has been planted in most of the fields except those beds of the ongoing fall crops. The mild temperature with moderate precipitation is also helping cover crop to grow much better. We normally experience a low germination rate of cover crop particularly in Field 3 (most boggy site on the farm during fall/winter/spring) due to rain and cold temperature, but this time is different. Cover crop is growing like a lush green wild fire in this mild weather.
Sweet potato…..our first trial of growing sweet potatoes was a success…..well, sort of. Most of them produced a small size, but they are amazingly sweet and flavorful. As a rule of thumb for a good yield of sweet potatoes, the soil temperature needs to be kept above 70 to 80 degrees day and night. Black plastic mulch is often used to keep the soil warm at night, but our sweet potatoes were grown without using black plastic mulch. Why? It is our principle that we consciously farm with carbon footprint factors in mind: plastic = petroleum. Hence, we don’t utilize plastic mulch for crop production at 21 Acres. At least, this summer’s heat waves naturally helped some growth of sweet potatoes, however.
We had the annual inspection for organic certification this month. This is the fifth year since the farm became Certified Organic. Once a farm becomes Certified Organic, organic certification is an ongoing process every year. Besides growing food in compliance with the National Organic Program standards, we are required to keep all the production/sales records for annual inspection and document farming practices as an organic producer. By the way, we recently conducted a water quality test for our well (irrigation) water. We tested it for E.coli, fecal and total Coliform and the test result said the pathogens were “not detected.” We also checked arsenic and nitrate/nitrite in well water. Nitrate/nitrite were not detected. Arsenic was detected slightly higher than state reporting level, but we are not required to report to DOH (Department of Health) because we use well water for irrigation purpose only and not for drinking. Interestingly, according to the lab, arsenic is generally detected higher in well water in Woodinville, Duvall and Carnation area, whereas in Bothell and Bellevue there is no detectable arsenic in groundwater and North Bend/Preston’s well water contains three times more arsenic than Woodinville. To speak of arsenic, here’s additional information on arsenic and environment in the Puget Sound area. We continue to monitor well water quality as well as heavy metals in the soils which I talked about in my previous farm update.
Fall is a great time for comfort food. Check out our retail market for all the good stuff grown locally so that you can keep eating healthy throughout this fall and winter. Happy Halloween!
You can follow this farm update in pictures here.