Leafing Behind

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Even with our “weed cover” providing water and shade for cool-weather plants, the heat of summer make many leafy vegetables bolt. Spinach are starting to bolt and I am curious whether we might be able to create some seed for the next season.

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Found this bok choy varietal in a row that was replanted with herbs. I guess the seeds were good, but there was not enough rain. I will retry a planting for the fall harvest. Incidentally, the tiny holes in the leaves are beetles that attack brassica crops. There are several ways to combat the critters – pyrethrum-based insecticide, physical row covers, planting out of beetle cycle. I actually tried growing pyrethrum, a flower in the chrysanthenum family, during our first season. That didn’t work out, and the more I thought about possible toxicity and exposure, the less problematic the holes in brassica became. At the end of the day, I think the tradeoff for safety is worth a bit of an ugly vegetable.

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July means it is halfway over, too late and too hot to make up rows that didn’t germinate. It means weeds are growing at breakneck pace over the entire farm and will overtake us. It also means summer squashes, lots of them, in a neverending parade. This is the start of it all – a precious 5 or 6 on 2 plants. In 2 weeks, a new one sprouts each time I walk past. I like summer squashes, they come in different colors and shapes. They are pretty, and they can feed an army once they start producing fruit. As the plant ages, the fruits are less tender and the skin toughens faster. But as I discovered last season, you can accidentally revive a plant by removing tired vines and old leaves and inundate yourself with additional, unplanned squashes that take over your refrigerator. It is also the time that neighbors lock their doors when they see me.

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Cucumbers are in the same family as summer squash, but they have not fared as well without rain. We removed weeds and started watering, they will be latecomers this season.

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Winter squash plants are also relatively small.

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The carrot row got a haircut last weekend to remove tall lambsquarter and amaranth plants. The carrots are hiding in the grass, and the roots are pipe-cleaner thin. They are work to seed, work to germinate, work to weed – none of which we spend enough time doing. But kids and adults seem to love pulling them up and eating them right on the spot.

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