Riverbend Farm Newsletter July 8, 2013
The weather continues its all or nothing pattern. The heat has been good for growing things, but it is getting quite dry. We have been watering for a week or so. Our neighbor’s corn is starting to turn gray and the leaves are rolling up, a clear sign of lack of moisture. Our other neighbor has had their corn drowned out twice and he is not going to replant a second time. Some of our weeds are starting to wilt.
Lettuce and cucumbers don’t like being under water for several days. The big rain and flooding wiped out most of the cucumbers and about half of the lettuce. The warm weather this week caused a lot of the remaining lettuce to bolt. Once the plants get stressed they take any opportunity to go to seed. The good news is that the deer did not get to eat any of the lettuce this year. I’m planning on using the enclosure to keep the deer away from the spinach and beets.
We put in one last round of zucchini and cucumber transplants last week. At the same time we direct seeded some cucumbers. There is a reasonable chance that they will make it, even if we don’t have a long fall.
The tomatoes were dry enough to cultivate just before the crop mob on the 27th. There were some very bad washouts in those beds. Elissa, Jacob, and Noelle went out and rescued dozens of tomato plants that had washed out of the field and replanted them back in the rows. Not all of them will make it, but I bet that more than half of the will.
The tomatoes that didn’t get washed away look great. There are flowers and small tomatoes on several varieties, but I have not looked to see which ones are the earliest. The biggest tomatoes are on the left over plants that were potted up for bedding plant sales. Rather than throw them out, they were hand transplanted into the rows.
The peppers and eggplant need to be cultivated. The weeds aren’t the problem. The big rain packed the soil and formed a crust that is keeping the air from getting into the ground. The tricky bit is that they are in a relatively moist part of the field so the soil takes longer to dry out. Here the moister soils generally have higher fertility, which is usually a good place to put peppers and eggplant.
The potatoes are looking very good this year. Potatoes need to be hilled, to have soil piled around the base of the plant to keep the developing tubers from being exposed to sunlight. The light turns them green and causes a slightly toxic compound to form. Hilling the potatoes killed an amazing number of weeds in the row and the loose soil forms a ‘dust mulch’ that conserves the soil moisture. Everyone has been walking the field looking for potato bugs. I would like to get through one more year without spraying for Colorado Potato Beetles to avoid any issues with resistance.
The greens and radishes took a beating with all the water. The smallest ones just got buried. Some got washed out, between a third and a half of a couple plantings wound up under water for several days.
Greens and radishes are something that I plant every week. After the rain there wasn’t anyplace that I could get in to. There was a bit of the oat and pea green manure that was about done, the peas were flowering, That was high and fairly dry. Jordan plowed that up and I planted in there. It was not exactly like eating your seed corn since I’ll go back with oats and peas when the greens and radishes are done. Next year it will be planted to sorghum sudan grass. Those plantings look great.
The creek finally went down between us and Cathy’s so Andrew could get across with a cultivating tractor. The winter squash needed to be cultivated. Cathy has a new pond that is three times the size that it used to be so the edge of the squash field was very wet. Andrew had to turn over a few of the plants to cultivate. I’m sue that we lost much less than we would have to the weeds.
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