Farm Update October 2014

Farm Update October 2014

  • posted on: October 7, 2014
  • posted by: 21 Acres
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Hi, all.

It’s October and fall is here!  That means the leaves are changing colors, the air is cooling down and the daylight is getting shorter. I hope you had a great summer and enjoyed the prolonged warm weather since July.  In fact, this summer was unusually warm and dry in Washington according to Agweathernet, and it looks like that abnormality may continue into fall, at least for now. The forecast is for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the next 1 – 2 weeks.

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The farm season has been going well, and this summer was particularly busy with a bounty of harvest and some challenges – weed control, water conservation, tractor repair, just to name a few. Is farming like gambling?  The expression interestingly proved itself this summer….if weather favors what you grow, you may hit a jackpot = a bumper crop. This summer we had it, indeed, with summer squash, tomatoes, peppers and some of the root crops like beets and carrots.  Summer squash and tomatoes are the two big bumper crops we had both in quantity and quality, thanks to this summer’s warm and dry weather.  The yield of summer squash and tomatoes was 20 – 30 % up even though we actually planted/grew about the same as, or even less than, last year.  On the other hand, corn and onions, for instance, are generally supposed to do well in warm weather, but resulted in mediocrity because of weeding, watering and pest issues. Onions got so behind with weeding; corn wasn’t watered enough and also attacked by corn earworm. Well, every year is different in farming.

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Fall crops are looking great and abundant in the field.  Here is the highlight:

  • Fall/winter greens (Kale, Chard, Spinach, Collards, Mustard, Mizuna, Komatsuna, Yukina) are prime and abundant, and looking vibrant.
  • Lettuce is finally catching up again after the summer’s heat is over….nice-looking lettuce is coming up.  Endive, Radicchio and Arugula look happy, too.
  • Carrots and Beets (Red and Chioggia) are a bumper crop. We’re planning to offer bulk buys for carrots and beets like in previous seasons. You can save money buying in bulk. It’s also great for winter storage….our carrots (Merida/Chantenay) and beets (Red Ace/Detroit Red) are ideal for winter storage.
  • Turnips, Kohlrabi, Radishes are happy with fall weather and regular harvest is expected.
  • …Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Cress are still going strong and enough for fall until frost.
  • Specialty greens/brassica….Bok Choy, Napa, Gailon, Daikon, Cabbage/Broccoli are looking good, but a small production for fall.
  • Winter Squash is gorgeous!  We just picked them for sale at the market this week.  We have Honey Boat (Delicata), Acorn, Sugar Dumpling, Gold Nugget, Baby Blue (Hubbard) Sweet Meat,  Orange Summer, Kabocha, and Spaghetti.
  • Pumpkins are ready!….Sugar Pie (great for pies), Howden (carving/eating), Jack Straw (carving/eating), Cinderella (beautiful!) and Winter Luxury (sweet!). The U-pick pumpkin event is set for October 18!
  • Leeks….aren’t you ready for leek and potato soup yet?  We have lots of leeks ready for fall/winter harvest.  Do you know leeks are related to Elephant Garlic?
  • Hot Peppers….we have dangerously hot Orange Habanero! It’s supposed to be 40 times hotter than Jalapeno. We also have Black Habanero (mild – hot), Cayenne (hot), Hungarian Yellow (hot) and Jalapeno (average).
  • Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) are blossoming now and will be ready for harvest soon.

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By the way, we recently had some animal issues….dogs and coyotes (?) damaging our crops in the field. They ripped row cover and damaged some of the growing crops. To protect the fruit of the season and our hard work, we were forced to put up a fence enclosing the main production area in Field 3. So far it’s working….no more damage by intruders!

We have a project of a compost trial partnering with WSU, beginning with this fall for the next two years. The objective of the compost trial is to observe and collect data on how compost helps/affects crop production and soil tilth such as nutrients, moisture and pH as well as metals in soils and plants.  It’ll be interesting to see what kind of result it yields.

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Seed saving….we are saving the seeds of beans, tomatoes, flowers, and some herbs to begin with this year. It was great to have those 6th graders help us harvesting bean seeds when they came for their community service day.  They had a good time experiencing how to save bean seeds.

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Growing food keeps us synchronized with the rhythm of the seasonal change. And all the wonderful bounty is not only the fruit of Mother Nature, but also the fruit of the labor of those who tend to grow, rain or shine….seeding, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting….and repeat again.  Thanks to you all who have become part of the rhythm and for helping the growing season to be bountiful.

Fall is the time for fall fest and Halloween, and also the time to have a good appetite. Hope you enjoy the rhythm of the fall harvest!

Farmer John