Crop Mob

Riverbend Farm Newsletter                                     September  29, 2013

 It was quite a day today. The crop mob was postponed due to rain on Saturday.  Today a dozen (or more) people showed up on short notice and harvested a field of winter squash. It was great. And what a beautiful day.  The good news is that  there were tons of squash. The bad news is that there were tons of squash. I’m sure everyone will feel muscles that they didn’t even know they had tomorrow morning.

 The Butternut squash that was from saved seed did at least as well as the purchased seed, but maybe a third of the saved seed planting was lost due to flooding in June. The saved Delicata  did much better than the purchased seed even with the higher losses due to flooding.  Next year I’m going to have Denny grow  some more pumpkin varieties.  And I’m going to plant them some place where they won’t get flooded out.

 We got a very welcome  quarter inch of rain on Saturday. The warm weather last week encouraged all the oat and pea cover crop to come up. The rye and vetch popped up after the rain. Rye emerges after a week at this time of year. Oats take about two weeks. The peas are a little slower and the vetch is slower still.  Overall, things are looking good for cover crops this fall.

 The fall cover crops do several things. They keep the soil from blowing oe washing away until there is snow cover and they keep the soil from washing away in the spring.  Cover crops also either hold or add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil for next year’s crops.  Rye is a particularly good nitrogen scavenger. It is trying to grow a big root system to help it survive the winter. It seeks out any loose N and uses it to grow a bigger plant.

 Tomato seed collection is in full swing. On Wednesday our crew harvested seeds from about 25 different tomato varieties.  On Friday they cleaned the seed and set it out to dry.  On Friday they also harvest the zucchini that were hand pollinated for seed production.  Cucurbit seed production is new ground for us. I say us because our crew did everything but clean the seeds out of the rotting zucchini. The most mature seed is produced when the insides of the zukes are rotten. Rubber gloves are required to remove the seed. The smell is not good. 

 Our crew is the best. When it is my delivery day I leave them a to do list and  usually only the worst or least understood task is left when I get back. This Friday they hand harvested five rows of pole beans that were being grown out for seed production.  With the rain coming in on Saturday, it was important to get the beans out of the field before they got wet  and had a chance of spoiling the seed.

 The full tilt harvest continues. The schools have backed off their tomato purchases to 12-1500 pounds per week. I am very grateful for the extra three weeks of harvest and the tomato sales that we have had this fall.

I’m sure there is more for this newsletter, but I have had a busy few days and am looking at a big day tomorrow.

 Reminder: We have having an open house this Saturday. 2 pm until whenever.  Potluck supper.  Farm tour. Hay ride.  Bonfire. Hope you can make it.





Riverbend Farm Newsletter                                                 September 19, 2013

Whew, what a day. Looking at the radar this morning it was clear that we were going to get rained on.  The question was ‘would we be in front of the severe part of the storm’. We made our preparations and headed out to do our harvest day.

 Rain gear was the order of the day.  The Crew started bunching radishes and I got set up to dig potatoes. Digging potatoes in the rain is no fun. The soil ends up being looser, but the potatoes are still buried.  It rained hard and the wind blew but it was not bad enough to keep us from harvesting radishes We picked up 0.55 inch of rain.  The rest of the day was pretty decent.

 We have been as busy as we can possibly be. We had a record sales day today, about twice our typical volume in August.  Two major differences from August: 1) we are down two people, 2) the days are getting shorter much faster.

 One of the reasons that we are so busy is because the Hopkins Schools decides to make all of their tomato sauce for the entire year  from local tomatoes. That translates into about seven tons of tomatoes. Since the season got off to a slow start there is about a month to process all those tomatoes. Today they ordered about 1200 pounds of tomatoes.

 Of course, this is on top of our usually busy late summer volume. The co=ops and restaurants have been buying more than usual too. If it doesn’t kill us it will be great. We had a pretty mediocre season going into September. It is turning around pretty quickly. Thank you all very much.

 We had our  first brush with frost on Monday morning. It was 36º at the house at 6:30 am. The dew was frozen on top of the cars. Down in the cold spot in the field the tops of the tomato plants were blackened. The basil had been covered, but some of the leaves were damaged. The next chilly mornings will be Saturday and Sunday.  At this point it looks like Saturday will be the coldest.  We will see.

 We have been getting a little rain. Saturday we got 0.8”, more than we have had in the past six weeks. The fall rains are critical to germinating the cover crop seeds that I depend on for rebuilding the soil.  The oats and peas that were planted in August  came up today. This is good.

 Now is the time to fill up on summer veggies. Winter is just around the corner. One of these days we will have a freeze that kills all the summer season plants. Frost can occur at 38º or below. It will damage the leaves and some of the exposed fruit. A freeze is 32º or colder. The severity depends on how much below 32º it gets and for how long. Below 28º most summer veggies are toast.

 Cook. Eat. Can . Freeze. Pickle. Now is the time. Soon it will be cabbages, potatoes, and winter squash. Not that they are bad, it is just that so many flavors are unavailable  until next summer.

 The tasteless, picked green, ‘tomatoes’ that  get sent up here from California or Florida aren’t fit for compost, much less eating. The same with all the out of season produce that appears in the grocery stores. It is bred for production under high input systems. Taste is not a consideration. One jar of home canned tomatoes has more flavor than a case of  cardboard winter tomatoes. Savor now.

 We are having a farm open house on the first Saturday in October. You’re invited. We might take hay ride, pick some corn. Eat some good local food.  Sit around the campfire and tell  stories. Put it on your calendar and stop by. It will be a potluck so you can show off your picnic skills.