Bounty and Blight

Well, so sorry it has been awhile since the last post. Early July can get the better of a farmer with its bounty, weeds, and holiday, leaving little time for the computer. The weather has been really lovely for the farm. Plenty of warmth and sunshine, punctuated with enough rain so that running the irrigation is not necessary most days. The majority of the plants are growing beautifully. Beds of carrot and beet seedlings have finally gotten the better of drought and cut worms, and we have plenty coming along nicely. The pole beans and red russian kale are really something beautiful to behold in the field. And the tomatoes and cukes are getting along beautifully also. The weeds too are growing with aplomb, and have kept us all busy.

The past couple week’s harvests have been bountiful to say the least. Shares saw giant beautiful heads of broccoli, an array of salad greens, radish, napa cabbage, cauliflower, snow peas, beets, carrots, spinach, garlic scapes, kale, swiss chard, strawberries, collard greens, flowers, and I am sure I am forgetting something. I hope that you all have been eating bountifully!

We have seen a significant onslaught of striped cucumber beetles over the past few weeks. The little buggers nearly destroyed the summer squash plants, and made an utter mess of the winter squash. The rain seems to have helped the summer squash get ahead of the bugs this past week, and tiny zucchini and patty pan have begun to appear. We can only hope, now, that the beetles do not chew on the little squash fruits beyond the point of edibility. Today, we replanted quite a few winter squash, and trust that they will still have time to grow up and ripen before the fall freeze. Very interestingly the beetles have a clear preference for some varieties of the squash. For instance they much prefer zucchini to patty pan, and devastated the delicata, while hardly touching the acorn and butternut squash. As such, we replanted with acorn and butternut!

We heard from the Department of Ag earlier this week that late blight has been confirmed in New York. (Here is a post from Cornell http://blogs.cornell.edu/hort/2011/07/01/late-blight-on-long-island/) For all of you that remember the devastation caused by this fungus in the ’09 growing season, you understand why even mention of the blight puts fear in the hearts of all who love fresh tomatoes and potatoes. That year we lost virtually every tomato plant, literally harvesting about a quart of sungold cherry tomatoes before the blight wiped out every other plant. Our potatoes were harvestable, but did not hold up to storage. The Extension Service determined that year that the blight entered the state on seedlings being sold at big box stores. It spread throughout New England rapidly, and very few farms saw any tomato harvest.

Lucretia has sprayed biodynamic equisitum (horsetail), in an effort to bolster the plants, and I have been working hard to keep them pruned well up from the ground and open. We will apply copper (a certified organic fungus preventive) withing the next few days. There is really very little that can be done to prevent the blight infecting the farm if it reaches our region; the most we can do is try to keep it at bay as long as possible.  We ask all visitors to the farm to stay away from the tomato and potato beds if at all possible, and to be conscientious of where you have been before visiting: Have you walked in a store or field that sold/grew tomatoes or potatoes? Has your car recently driven through an infected region such as New York or New Jersey? If so, you might consider driving a different car to the farm, or changing your clothes and shoes before visiting. The spores of late blight can attach to almost anything to be transported, and the longer we can forgo infection, the more likely we are of a harvest.We will keep you updated on this situation, and hopefully will have little to report, except the ripening of lovely fruit!

I hope that all of you have been enjoying the lovely summer weather, and eating many fresh, diverse meals. Please feel free to be in touch about varieties you are particularly enjoying, or things we just need to stop sending – ‘the micro salad mix is delicious’ or ‘do you really need to send beets again?’ This sort of input really helps us to plan our successive plantings for the rest of the year, and know how we are doing. Happy eating!

Lee

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Bounty and Blight

  1. allen Northup

    The more salad greens the better. Allen

  2. Pingback: Long Island Tomato Blight | Enviro Strides

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