Monday, November 10, 2014
All in all, it was a pretty good season. The weather was on the wet side, but our soil is more than a little bit sandy, so things worked out well. After a cold winter, and a slow start in the spring, the weather never got outrageously hot, and it rained enough that we didn't use our irrigation setup at all. That was a good thing, because it broke in August 2013, and we didn't get it fixed until this September. Actually, it is now mostly fixed, which is a good thing, because after two wet years in a row, we've got to have a dry spell some time next year. Here is a crop-by-crop rundown:
Asparagus: Hah! We don't grow that, not yet! But we prepped up an area to plant next spring and bought in some (organic, of course) from Warner Farm to include in the Spring Share. We should be picking our own for the Spring Share in 2016 or 2017.
Beets: We had a little trouble getting used to our new seeder in the early part of the season, but once we got it figured out, the new seeder let us drop seeds a a more precise spacing, with the result that we have more beets for winter storage than we have ever had before.
Beans: Eaten up by Mexican bean beetles! We hope for better luck next year.
Broccoli: Our strategy of making a couple of big fall plantings seems to have worked out well . We decided that trying to have broccoli all the time meant that we had not-enough broccoli all the time (broccoli takes up a lot of space in the field, and we just don't have the acreage for it). Whereas this year we had plenty of broccoli when we had it. Next year we will put in one later planting so that we have a bountiful supply for the whole fall.
Brussels Sprouts: We had some good brussels sprouts, but a lot of them got rot on the sprouts. Not a total loss like some years, but not the best. Picking off the lower leaves seemed to help--we will try to do that earlier next year.
Carrots: We had one small gap in carrot production due to getting used to our new seeder, but just as with the beets, in the later plantings, the new seeder has meant that our carrot yields are out of the park. If we don't develop some new carrot markets over the winter, we might have enough to last clear into June.
Cilantro: Sorry, but we kept trying to get a decent stand of this, and it never happened this year. We suspected our new seeder, but finally decided that it was a germination issue with the seed. We hope for better luck next year on this one too.
Cucumbers and Summer Squash: We had a nice long run of these crops from June into August. They tend to get killed by disease in the late summer, and we are looking into organic ways to control that in hopes to extend the season a little longer.
Eggplant: We had plenty of it, and well into the fall.
Fennel: We had a nice crop through mid-summer. Next year, we plan to plant some for the fall.
Garlic: We had some nice large garlic varieties several years ago, and then lost most of those varieties to a nematode issue. This year, we are planting all new larger varieties and hope to have a more bountiful supply.
Kale: We continue to be amused by the new-found popularity of this leafy green. In some ways it symbolizes the change in our culture towards the healthy side of things, but what about chard, or collards, or other greens? But anyway, we had plenty of kale all summer and will be picking it for a good part of the winter too.
Lettuce: We got a new "finger weeder" that has really improved the weed control for lettuce, including for the new "salanova" types that grow like a head and then fall apart into individual leaves for salad mix. We had a couple of short windows without head lettuce, but the wet weather really helped this crop out.
Leeks: We have been trying various techniques to plant the leeks deeply so that they'll form a nice long white stalk. This works out well, except that we then end up covering some of the plants as we fill in the trench and get a thinner stand than we would like. We had good leeks for a while this year, but think we have a better idea for how to plant them next year that should result in enough leeks to last throughout the fall.
Melons: This was our one real loss to weeds this year. We are going to try and have some more help next year in May, June, and July, so that we can stay on top of the weeds better.
Onions: We had crazy weeds in our onions this year, due to never getting in for a second hand-weeding, but that doesn't seem to have stopped us from getting a decent crop. We may try growing some without plastic mulch next year, and use our new finger weeder to keep the weeds out.
Parsnips: We had a crop loss on parsnips this year because we just couldn't get the seeding rate right on the new seeder. This is especially hard with parsnips, because they have a 3-week germination period so you don't really know what happened right away, and can burn up the planting window with only two or three tries. We spent years trying to get the seeding rate right with our old seeder, and finally had a crop in 2013. Maybe we'll keep the old seeder for parsnips...
Potatoes: We had to mow these down early this year because there was late blight in the plants, but we already had a nice crop underground by that time. We've had plenty all season and should have enough for the winter share too.
Salad greens: The wet weather was great for getting a nice stand of our various salad greens established just about every time we seeded. We didn't have a gap in production the whole season.
Strawberries: They were awesome. It seems that this was an exceptional year for berries all around, and we hope that how we managed this crop also contributed to the great harvest, since management is something we can replicate in future years.
Sweet Potatoes: Wow! We had a nice crop of sweets this year--over two tons (thanks, weeding fairy!) We should be eating these all winter, assuming our cobbled together heated storage unit keeps working properly.
Tomatoes: We continue to be plagued by late blight. Our strategy of spraying biological controls until the blight shows up and then switching to copper didn't seem to work out very well this year, so we will be using copper right from the start next year. We are also looking into growing more of the crop inside, which would mean some new investments in greenhouses. We had a pretty good crop this year in spite of the blight.
Winter squash: Our best crop ever. This isn't a crop that we have excelled at in the past, but we hit it this year. The finger-weeder really helped a lot with the weed control.
That's the rundown on the major crops. If you have questions about any of the minor crops, feel free to shoot us an email. We hope you enjoyed the season and that we'll see you next year and at the winter share or winter market.