Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Week's Harvest:
Green Peppers
Cubanelle Peppers (these have a little bite to them....I'm dreaming of serving them with sausage!)
Summer Squash
Patty Pan Squash
Green Onions

As you can see from the list we are getting into the height of summer harvesting now. Some items are just little tastes, like the cilantro, and the peppers. We are also going easy on you with the zucchini and summer squash. Just a couple to add to the grill.
Our squash crops have been a roller coaster ride this season. Not that we are old timers, but when we started out a decade ago, we just planted, weeded, and then harvested... no fungus diseases, no cucumber beetles, no squash bugs... But after loosing the majority of our crop in 2011 and 2012, we are fully aware of the challenges.
Squash bugs primarily. Hard to kill. Slow and steady, they suck the life out of the plants.
I have recently resorted to flaming the bugs. 3,000 degrees... that's a pesticide that works! But the best control is a physical barrier. We spent over $1000 on row cover this year, which is the light weight fabric you can see covering our fields especially in the Spring.
We covered all of our squash crops (which include zucchini, summer squash, patty pan, cucumbers, melons and all of our winter squashes) in the beginning. Eventually, though, they flower, and we need to let the bees have access in order to get fruit. The row cover came off the zucchini and summer squash first, and the bugs flocked to them. After a few good weeks of harvesting, I have given up on those crops with lots of bugs, and I have been torching the bugs, and using the the summer squash and zucchini as a "trap crop," which keeps the majority of the bugs away from the winter squash. By the way we also spray: foliar feeds like fish and seaweed emulsion; plant teas; whey and milk. These materials hopefully cover the leaf surface with a probiotic environment, as well as supply the plants with extra trace nutrients. We also spray neem oil, an oil from an Indian tree,, and pyrethrin  an extract froChrysanthemums. The winter squash still looks pretty good so far...

But we don't want to jinx it! As our neighbor farmer John Snell says, "There's still plenty of time to screw up." 
Every year's challenges and lessons gradually build upon each other. The further ahead I can project our farming, the more I am able to solve complex problems we encounter. The fields for next year are in the middle of their fallow period. Cover crops grow and organic matter builds all spring and fall, but summer we till it all in and try to flush out the weeds. We'll grow our onions and carrots here next year.
Ok, maybe its not a roller coaster to most people... but when my mind flips back and forth between the micro and the macro its hard not to get a little seasick.
...and a flower picture to finish it off...

Blessings on the meal-

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