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.