As of June 15th, here's how things are looking in the crops department:
We usually get 3 good weeks of strawberry picking, with a not-so-great week on either end. The crop is looking great so far, after the first good week. Don't wait too long to get out and pick--the season always comes and goes so fast!
Cucumbers and squash:
We are just starting to get a trickle of cucumbers out of the hoophouse. We brought a few pounds to market on Saturday (there just weren't enough to give every shareholder 1 cuke), but we are hoping to have enough to put them in the share soon. Out in the field, the first few baby squash and zucchini are trickling in, which means that we might have full-size squash by the end of the week.
Onions and Garlic:
We had a nice success with our early spring onions. Those plants were started in flats last August, planted in the field last September, and then over-wintered under the cover of an old piece of greenhouse plastic. They over-winter onions for spring harvest a lot in the South, but this is a new system for our latitude. We hope you enjoyed them! They're all done now, and we will have scallions for a little while before we have some "superstar" white bulb onions coming in, probably by mid-July, to hold down the allium. Our garlic is looking the best it has in several years. We had lost our garlic seeds a few years ago to an infestation of root knot nematode, and the varieties we bought in to replace them where just not big enough. It looks like the seed we bought in last fall from Next Barn Over may be hitting the spot--the stems sure seem to be sizing up nicely!
We had another overwintering success with our carrots this year. Many of you probably saw the little "low tunnels" in the fields off Pine Street that we had out there, buried in the snow, all winter. There were some little tiny carrot seedlings in there that took off growing once things warmed up this spring. There wasn't 100% survival, and there are a lot of weeds, but 4 long beds of somewhat sparse and weedy carrots should still be a lot of carrots! If they are big enough, we'll start digging them this week. Our first spring-planted carrots are also doing nicely--they have been weeded and thinned, and should be ready about 3 weeks after the overwintered carrots.
Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant:
We have a bunch of blight-resistant varieties in the field this year, including some plums and cherries in the pick-your-own area. After several years in a row of problems with late blight, we are trying resistant varieties. We will also be keeping up with our organic disease control program, but we don't want to spray even the organic materials in the PYO section. And with luck, maybe we won't have as wet a summer, which would hold the blight at bay. But we should have a decent supply of tomatoes regardless. We have a few peppers and eggplant in the hoophouse and in the field, too; those plants are looking very healthy and advanced. We are building a heated greenhouse this year, which will be used to produce some extra-early tomatoes--this time next year, we may be picking tomatoes!
Kale and Chard:
Our kale was hit by a wicked outbreak of Cabbage root maggot. This little fly goes and lays its eggs at the base of cabbage-family plants. When the eggs hatch, the maggots go and eat the plant roots! We lost a whole planting of cabbage to the buggers (no roots, so the plants just wilted and died,) but the kale was just weakened. We are sparingly picking leaves off of the kale plants, and hoping the second planting, which was planted after the influx of root maggot flies, will be a little more vigorous. We also had a big problem with an insect called leafminers in the chard, along with some plantings of spinach, and beets. The leaf miner larvae burrow through the leaves of plants in that family (Chenopodia, for the botanically inclined). They usually cause a little problem, but this year it was bad enough that we had to strip a bunch of bad leaves off of the chard and start over. We think that these two pests were partly worse this year because we didn't put row cover on those early greens because of the relatively warm weather.
Both the salad lettuce and the head lettuce are fantastic this year! We are getting just enough rain to keep it nice, and we are so pleased with the way our finger-weeder keeps the weeds down--we have lots of nice lettuce lined up, and haven't weeded it by hand at all!