Maximum growth

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Every year, we’ve been saving sunflower seeds to replant. And every year, I say that we should cut down the sunflowers early and till it back into the earth as a “green manure” to replenish the soil.  But then, who has the heart to cut down such a happy explosion of flowers? These flowers divide two types of dry corn, which would other wise cross pollinate. The ones here are a crossed variety that occurred last year when I planted red corn next to multicolor corn. The result was a beautifully blended striated corn. Who knew the seeds are so vigorous and would turn into these strong plants?

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These are a purple okra plant. Hard to know if colorful food plants were always colorful, but were bred out because of demand for uniformity, or if market growers know that a colorful display is good for business. The only way for me to know is, save the seeds, and regrow them next year.

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Cucumbers left and right, hidden beneath all that foliage.

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Succession planting for continuous crops. The four short rows are carrots, string beans, beets, and more zucchini. I managed to maul a partial row of string beans this weekend, trying to avoid tractoring over zucchini leaves. Now that I think about it, does one ever NEED more zucchini plants?

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Definitely Sunflower Season

The sunflower rows that face our road are in full bloom. 016

This is the pumpkin and winter squash field, under attack from weeds.  That plus the fact I planted seed relatively late this year, not feeling too hopeful for our winter bounty.
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Anticipating buckets and buckets of pickles in the new few weeks!

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Thoroughly weeding the watermelon row in anticipating of late August. These are heirloom sugar baby watermelons so they will have seeds. A bit of inconvenience while eating, but I will have my own seeds next year!008

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Pick Your Own Snap Peas Event!

2017 vegetable season is beginning with a blast of sugar snap peas! They are about 4 feet high, and they are flush with pods. The four-day blast of heat had me worried, but luckily the plants made it through. The next 4 weekends will be prime sugar snap pea picking and we are posting hours for pick-your-own! Sat and Sun from 3-5pm: Jun 24, 25, July 1, 2, 8, 9. We might host a midweek event as well, stay tuned.

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The early spring spinach is definitely over as you can see the plants bolting and forming copius flower heads. Those hot days and longer daylight (until summer solstice Jun 21) meant the plant is getting ready to set seeds.

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The several rows of kale sprung up seemingly overnight. Since we don’t spray pesticides, the tiny beetles make holes here and there, though it doesn’t affect taste. I sowed the row without thinning, and it provides some shade and coolness to the soil at the roots.

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What’s a farm update with strawberry pictures? I’ve had to improvise a cage to keep groundhogs from eating….. wait for it…. the leaves! They left the berries alone, but went to town on the leaves. Go figure.

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Seeds Up 2017

Planting is well under way for the 4th season at the farm. I cheered for the wet and dreary days, which coupled with the perfect temperature range for this time of year, meant a good sugar snap pea start.

 

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Midas Touch

010A bit of frost and suddenly everything turns to gold. Warwick is a good 5 degrees below the coastal cities, though it’s not all that far. Those 5 degrees mark our transition to closing down the farm. It’s time to tractor over the weeds and clear the plots. Also, this year we picked up winter rye as a cover crop, which is grown in late fall as a way to prevent soil erosion.

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014 Brussels sprout plant is loaded and toppled. I did not remove the top leaves this year, wondering if it does indeed result in smaller heads. This plant is fairly hardy and will tolerate quite a bit of frost until November.

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017 What do you do when the stray horseradish roots from last year sprout and grow conspicuously where they should not be? Dig it up, wash, and garnish a bloody mary drink of course. They can become invasive so leaving even one small bit of root will quickly  turn into a horseradish patch the next season.

021Checking on the daikon radish! They can grow to 2 feet or more in prime conditions.

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027With the bit of rain on Sat, some of the dry corn actually are sprouting on the cob. The ones I’ve collected are going into a dehydrator for a more thorough drying. Planting 3 types close together resulted in some interesting hybridized corn colors. One type was a red miniature popcorn seed, and it hybridized with the full-size to form a large all-red corn. This might just incentivize me to get a grain mill!

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Pumpkin Matrix

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It most definitely is turning into pumpkin season on the farm.

023 Perhaps we are all living in a pumpkin matrix – I have no idea what crossed with what to form these yellow-green, ribbed-patterned, smooth-skinned pumpkins. I can’t wait to save these seeds and test what the next generation brings!028

We are hearing about a frost on Mon night, so that means we cut as many pumpkins as we can. Optimally, they would be covered for the frost night, then uncovered during the days to form its hard shell. Looking at the tinges of green, I’m not quite sure how many will make it. The best I can do is huddle them with the cured pumpkins on the perimeter.

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White pumpkins. That’s all we got this year, but they are great!

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Pumpkin beer brewers love the giant pumpkins.

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Tatsoi rebounded from nibblers of the past few weeks.

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Merchandizing with Shapes and Colors

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Fun event this weekend at Greenwich’s Garden Education Center where I participated in a little vegetable stand for their Dahlia Show Open House. Bringing back 14 crates of veggies in an open back truck, under tarps and bungee cords was a first for me. I was hoping to bring back a vertical stand to lay out veggies, but decided last minute that it would be better not to have a metal rack fly off the truck on the NYS thruway.
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Here’s an up-close look at a share of our CSA this week. I’m glad to be moving back into leafy vegetables.

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Found, Lost, and Eaten

019This time of year, farm nights turn far chillier than city nights. The first question of the day is “how cold will it get tonight”. An early light frost ruined a lot of cayenne peppers last year, something I am trying to prevent this season. I’m also keeping a watchful eye on pumpkin progress, not that there’s much to be done except pray against frost and hurricanes. There are many immature squash as the vines and leaves brown and die out.

022I could have sworn I planted way too many blue hubbard squashes, giant blue winter squash with a rind as hard as a steel jacket. But they are nowhere to be found. Instead, I found Dan’s favorite, acorn squash, growing well this year.

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New vegetables started in August are struggling to grow. I had purposely left this field open all summer to beat back bindweed starting in the field, so for the fall planting, this was a perfect plot. Though they made their way through the dry weeks with our once a week irrigation, survived the heat on black soil. but they were defenseless against deer and/or groundhog appetite. I put in some stakes, mounted a flashing solar lantern, a smiley-face beach ball, and some human-scented t-shirts.

026Must protect sugar snap peas!

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The Deep End

026 I waded into the pumpkin patch and found these guys ready to pose for the camera.

018By wading, I mean battling through tall weeds, looking at a field of still-green vines, and plottng how to step through without destroying too many vines.

030The nexus of pumpkin varieties. This is the end of the winter luxury pumpkin, meeting up with a French heirloom Rouge Vif d’Etampes, with a jack-o-lantern type sneaking in on the right.

017This Rouge Vif d’Etampes surprised me. I am fond of growing heirlooms and have learned that they don’t always produce well, or uniformly, or timely, or in enough quantities. This is a deep red, gorgeous, cheese-wheel shaped squash, that announces its presence in the field.

021Another surprising hit, the miniature white pumpkin. I’ve tried several times with larger white varieties to no avail. But these little guys seem have prospered. We cut them, and store them out of the sun so they don’t get a sunburn and turn yellow. Usually pumpkins sit in the sun to cure, which forms a hard shell, and allows it to keep for a long time. Out of the sun, it needs to stay at 85 degrees with good air circulation.

027The delicata squash, still blooming and vining.

029Winter luxury pumpkins are coming soon! Beautiful netted skin. Dry flesh, not stringy. This makes a wonderful pumpkin pie, the first type that got me cooking pumpkins and the only type I will use.

031New crop of flowering broccoli rabe. They struggled through August heat and drought, but were helped by some weeds providing shade and moisture in the roots. While I wouldn’t say hand-weeding is efficient, the fall season does make the work less tedious as weeds don’t crop up week after week with the same tenacity. I

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Taking A Breather

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It’s time to begin checking in on pumpkins and winter squashes. These baseball-sized pumpkins are cute and beloved by PTA’s for the fall. We start cutting them off the vine, and letting them cure in the sun to form a hard shell.

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Okra plants continue to flower and form pods prolifically. As the plant ages, the leaf shape changes into thin finger-like leaves. It really was a good year for 50 feet of okra.

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The weeds finally overpowered all the watermelon vines, so I went treasure hunting. I was not expecting a full cart of them though. These are heirloom, seeded watermelons. One type has yellow flesh, but I can’t seem to find them in the ones I crack open.

These first few weeks in September offers a view to the end of the season. The newly planted crops won’t have as much weed pressure this late in the season. We’re still waiting for a bunch of rain to fall from the sky to kickstart germination. Pumpkins need a few more weeks to fully ripen, so there isn’t much to do there. Usually this would be a good time to can and jar produce for the winter, but lacking a kitchen, I’ve been spared that task this season.

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