Well, that's Minnesotan.
Good evening All!!
I want to start with an update from last week's blog post about the freezing weather. We covered all of our sensitive plants with our row cover. Thursday and Friday night were both concerning for us but the lowest temp we recorded was 33.
After the threat of frost passed we were quick to go out on Saturday morning and start uncovering the edges of the row cover. Then we balled it up by the row, and have it drying in our shed. There isn't really any good way to store this material because it's SO BIG once it's unraveled and off of the original roll it comes on. The plan is to let it dry more, then put it with dryer sheets in plastic bags (so mice don't want to use it for bedding), and store it to use another day.
I mentioned this in my last post too but frost damage doesn't always set in immediately. You can see some damage (that they sometimes recover from) on the foliage. This time around, we lost a significant portion of the first planting of zucchini and pickles in addition to almost all of the slicing cucumbers.
As they say, farming is as good as a gamble. A well educated one at least...
Succession planting is the practice of planting the same variety of produce several times over the season to get the maximum yield throughout the season. We do this with all the varieties I mentioned above in addition to things like green beans, some types of greens, cauliflower, broccoli, and many more varieties. Muskmelons for instance, we don't want ALL of them to ripen at the same time of course, so we plant the patch in 3 even increments to ensure that we have them for longer, because the variety is very important especially in a CSA!
PLANTING We were planting everyday, up until the heat wave. Our schedule revolves around the weather. We're in the greenhouse watering every couple of hours depending on the weather, which has been SO STINKING HOT. I have to say that this season (up until this threat of frost) has been going very well! We're very thankful for that. Now this weekend & week it looks like we have several scorchers ahead of us, but hopefully some rain in the forecast too.
I wanted to add this picture to show you the condition of the soil right now. To put the field size in perspective look at Ben's truck to the right hand side. It's literally a dust bowl. I was just joking with the kids that when someone drives down a gravel road around here we know it for about ten minutes afterwards because of the impending dust storm!
This weather dictates what types of work we do around the farm. We had *planned* to plant all the watermelon and muskmelons in the evening. Yes, I even welcomed the thought of planting the melons after the sun went down a bit- thinking we'd get started at 7pm tonight and plant into the dark. WRONG. It's still 86 degrees at 7pm!! We can't plant anything in this weather without constant irrigation and honestly EVERYTHING on the farm is getting irrigation today. That entails a trip to the store and some new waterline because the far part of the field is too far for our current set up (that we can re-use from year to year for the most part).
Here is a picture of what we did for a lot of today. We laid waterlines down the rows and have got them irrigating now. We also did re-seed some of the cukes into the rows that froze and will wait a few days for them to germinate. With faith, we did lay waterlines down the rows of "nothing" so that the seedlings would be successful (far left; not pictured). The gap to the left here is actually the designated road between the two fields; it's not tilled there.
This picture is the zucchini patch and there is some green that you can see here. Though it's not what we would hope for- I'm sure you would agree that we'd rather see some delayed growth because of the heat than failure because of the frost. Gosh, how ironic and perfectly Minnesotan.
No matter how much planning goes into the spring and planting season, nothing can take away from the sheer volume of planting & the time it takes. We have almost 7,000 peppers in the ground!! Eeek!! In addition to all the lettuces, kale, tomatoes, swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, beets that we've planted... the list goes on. We are well into our planting season!!
Here is a picture of Ben with the transplanter on the back of the tractor. This is one of those photos where I pop out of no where and say "HEY BEN". He loves it when I do that ;P
I posted a video to our social media channels a while back but it's too large to attach here (check it out on Facebook). The transplanter has two disks that rotate, you feed in the plants and then the disks spin the plant down to the soil where the wheels on the side bury it in. It's a pretty quick way to plant tomatoes this season because we're not putting them on mulch like we did last season. That's a story for another day.
We had to dump all of our spinach today. The trays full of plants were too small to handle the heat and ended up bolting. This is what happens when a plant goes to seed, which can happen at different life stages for different varieties of produce. This case here is that the plants were so stressed out they thought, what's the last thing we need to do before we die? Reproduce!! As terrible as it sounds, it's true. It's nature; and they did all start going to seed. We dumped all the trays and will be starting over.
Our lettuces look amazing!! They're growing well and have rooted themselves down pretty far. Meaning that even if we couldn't irrigate them, they wouldn't die. They'd grow slower without the additional moisture but they'd still make it. That's something to brag about in this heat, that's for sure!!
I hope while you hear me talking about the good and bad happenings around the farm that you realize that the losses are not just written off with a shrug. We're ALWAYS working to replace and supplement the varieties we grow to make sure we're offering our CSA families the best we possibly can throughout the growing season! As silly as it sounds- if every variety of produce did well every season we'd never have enough room in the CSA boxes to fit it all. In other words, we plan on failures and account for them in advance. We've got you.
Real quick summary of the week here: We had FROST and lost hundreds of plants and then had an immediate HEAT WAVE and lost hundreds more. All in the same week. The most Minnesotan thing I've seen in a while.
Short & sweet- Our farm store is closing TOMORROW. If you know you'd like some Brown Family Farm apparel, bags or travel mugs, please get online and check out the selection. Final date to place an order online: June 5th 2021.
You guys know I like to make sure that you get what you want in all aspects of the CSA. Part of that is being able to make exceptions and allow for mistakes. I can do that with the farm and in our personal CSA Farm life but with the online store they don't have an exception. Fair warning, if you email them on Monday they'll deny your order. So please make sure that you get online tonight if you're interested.
YOUR FIRST CSA SHARE
I can't believe it's already June!! We're so excited to start sharing produce with you in a few weeks. Our first CSA Share deliveries are the week of Monday June 21st through Friday June 25th. Your first pick up date is actually determined by the location you chose to pick up your CSA.
When you signed up for a CSA Share, you likely received the CSA Member Handbook. That includes all the details about your CSA site, the pick up day & time frame, holiday schedule, and "what to look for on your first pick up". That section will be very helpful when the time comes!!
Before the CSA harvest season starts you will receive an email from me. It'll include the CSA Handbook that I mentioned above as well as reminders for when your first pick up is, and any last minute info I need you to know. It will also include our farm to table storage guide!! I'm super excited to share that with you and I hope that you'll find it useful through this journey of fresh produce we'll enjoy this summer together!!
I try to wait until the week prior to our first CSA harvest to send out the reminder email because if you send a reminder too soon it defeats the purpose ;) I'm sure you'll see a blog post or 2 before then anyways, but please know that a site specific email with your CSA info is coming to you in a couple weeks. We also sent the Member Handbook out with the "confirmation email" that you should have received. If you want you can reference that in your email inbox or just shoot me a message if you have immediate questions :) We're happy to help!!
Looking forward to our first shared harvest together,
~The Farmer's Wife