When we started this farm adventure, I said “We could always try something for 5 years right?” Well, our 5th summer should start just after this weekend. Funny enough, I am very conflicted about this season. After putting aside personal projects for a few years, I feel like I really need to tackle other projects this year. I mean, when your kid says “Can we just put some sheetrock up”, you’ve gotta re-evaluate the condition of your living quarters a little right? After your husband gets quizzed on his internet connectivity on weekends, you’ve gotta wonder is this hobby hurting his earning potential? When you are the running from the farm to home to the 5am farmstand setup to the 7am train to work, you’ve gotta wonder isn’t it easier to go to Wholefoods? When your kid is growing up without weekend friends, you’ve gotta ask is it time to quit?
But first let me tell you about a recent small diversion.
Each May, I get tomato and pepper plants to transplant due to the late frost date in this region. Usually I pick up $150 worth of seedlings and our farmer friends send their extra plants. This year, I decided to start seedlings myself, using the commercial fridge as rack space, and some LED grow lights. As I learned quickly, once the seeds sprout, you have to buy a lot of seed starting soil to transfer the seedlings to successively larger pots in order to accomodate the multiplying roots.
Several weeks later, I was on the internet clicking a button that says “Sure, send me $20 worth of red wiggler worms”. My thinking was of course I can try my hand at vermicomposting so that I have good seed starting soil. My son laughed for a good 20 minutes when I told him, and another 20 minutes when the package of live worms arrived. All this so I can start more seeds to grow more plants to transplant to the farm when the nighttime temperatures stabilize above 40.
I love the farm, I love planting, I love the people who stop to say hi, I love that my kid has a true connection to nature. Maybe I should slow down, but who am I kidding?
These pumpkins make me think of the matrix for some reason. Something about the square specks seem too digitally rendered. Last year in our pumpkin patch, there were 4 pumpkins that looked like this. It wasn’t the “kakai”, a pumpkin that produces seeds without hulls – meaning there’s no white hard shell encasing the inner pumpkin seed. I saved the seeds and tried regrowing it. The results generated a few of the possible strains that went into the hybrid – some white, some buff, some orange. Some had well defined lobes with long handles. Some were perfectly rotund in the middle and smooth with very fine veining on the rind. I will have to save some of these seeds and continue this breed.
On the opposite side of strange hybrids are these heirloom breeds. The Rouge vif d’Etampes, or the Cinderella pumpkin. Pink pumpkins are called Porcelain Dolls. Next year there were also be a blue pumpkin, and a light green pumpkin.
I didn’t quite finish this year’s barnside vegetable stand for Milo this year. Got busy learning to build things with a battery-powered, and awesome, miter saw. But I did get to set up a quick fall display for….
… the dry corn/indian corn/decorative corn! They grew beautifully and bountifully this year so that we’ll try our hand with a roadside market. Question is, who discovers this first – field mice, gophers, dear, or humans?
The various colors of indian corn varieties.
These okra flowers are a bit of tropics in the northeast. The pods can grow huge within a few days and the two-inch pod in the picture will probably become an eight-inch behemoth by Sat. They are edible raw, and when eaten this way, are not gooey. As the plants mature, the leaf shape changes and the lobes cut deeper into the center.
Peppers are thriving and are now starting to fill out. I placed the plants in a zigzag pattern this year, hoping that as the plants get heavy and lean, they can support each other without the labor consuming time of staking.
String beans. One of my favorite vegetables, blanched quickly and unseasoned as a snack. These purple variety “Royal Burgundy” are a treat to see.
Oh my pride and joy, the melon that is. 🙂
This variety of honeydew is called “Honeywhite”. The center is super sweet, but it still has a thick rind. Another week for a couple of the big ones on the vine, and early Sep for the rest.
Last year we lost the canteloupes to the one wet and humid week of the entire droughty summer. This year, we took no chances and put down a straw cradle for each and every melon.
Do you see it? The single untouched corn? This is our corn patch among the weeds. You would think the camouflage would help to disguise the ears of corn.
The potatoes grew fairly well this year, a first for us! The colorado potato beetles were out in force this year and did damage a lot of foliage. It led to the plants shriveling and dying early in July. We still received a significant number of tubers though. I just can’t figure out where the blue potatoes went.
Tomatoes are starting to ripen. Each year I have grand plans to stake, support, and manage the vines properly. They would be easier to harvest with proper staking and spacing.
I thought we put up the bird scares early enough. But the silver tapes that flutter up high in the wind didn’t scare these birds. They swooped in anyways.
Doing my yearly ritual of scavenging leftover portions of corn. The bottom two-thirds are perfectly fine to eat, for me.
Sugar baby watermelons growing and growing.
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?
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.
Cucumbers left and right, hidden beneath all that foliage.
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?
The sunflower rows that face our road are in full bloom.
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.
Anticipating buckets and buckets of pickles in the new few weeks!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
Checking on the daikon radish! They can grow to 2 feet or more in prime conditions.
With 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!