We continue to be dogged by heavy rains here—delaying our seeding, transplanting, weed control and now hay making. We spent a lot of time at the end of last week scrutinizing the weather report on the computer and staring up at the sky to see what was really going to come down. Twice we harrowed the vegetable fields—a wet, slogging mess that the horses barely could make it through, hoping to fluff up the top layer of soil so that it would dry out in the wind fast enough to make ridges to plant in before the next rain storms let loose on us.
We managed about a twelve hour window starting Sunday afternoon. With huge thanks to an awesome team of farmers and a couple of dedicated csa members we planted all of our tomatoes, winter squash, summer squash, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and pumpkins and cultivated every row of planted crops in the hopes of breaking up the rain-compacted soil—all before sitting down to a late and extra-delicious dinner. Then headed back out in the dark to seed carrots, parsnips and row after row of dry beans.
The working members we have this year and our spring intern Emma here have been troopers—spending days out in the pouring rain picking tiny leek moth larva out from the very inside of each and every garlic plant with a little bamboo stick, and hand-weeding all of the rows of vegetables. Weeding in these conditions is a particularly thank-less task, crawling along on your hand and knees with mud-soaked clothes. The weeds love this rain, they thrive on it and as soon as you’ve turned your back they have grown back to the same exact height as what you just picked. We can’t use the mechanical advantage of hoes or the horse drawn cultivator to help fend off the little weeds since the soil is so wet. We just try to keep up with the big weeds so they don’t overwhelm the cultivated plants and hope that soon we will have a long enough dry spell to get ahead of the weeds for real.
I tried a new spring turnip this year called hakurei. These little guys are tender and surprisingly sweet with just a little spicy kick. They are incredible sliced raw on salad or pop it in your mouth just as is. The greens are also great raw or lightly cooked. I’ve never been a fan of turnips, but I find these to be irresistible, even if you think you won’t like them give them a try.
How Other Crops Are Doing
The kale and chard are growing at the end of a row, in an area that is really more pond than field right now, their growth has been delayed quite a bit but they are coming along. The strawberry plants are loaded up with green fruit waiting to ripen. The pea vines are really stunted from the hot weather earlier this spring but they are flowering. Given their size it doesn’t look like a real bountiful harvest but we should all be snacking on some sweet peas soon. And we lucked out with the potatoes, they germinated just before the first big rain storm so we now have rows of thriving plants rather than a field of rotted tubers.
In the Farm Shares
In the veggie share: Napa cabbage, 2 kinds of pac choi, hakurei turnips, mesclun mix, beet greens, lettuce heads, arugula, asparagus, beets, white and fingerling potatoes, wheat berries, whole wheat regular and pastry flour, cornmeal, dill and thyme. Coming soon: kale and chard, bunching onions are just about there!
In the meat share: Fresh broilers this week. All cuts of beef, pork, and stew birds in the freezer. Stock and organ meats from beef and chickens, lard and leaf lard are available.
- Full and By Farm: Rain and Then Some (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Surprise Visitors (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Super Wheat Berries (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Mosaic Puzzles (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Dreaming of Spring (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)