Late Spring Newsletter 2018

Riverbend Farm Late Spring Newsletter June 10, 2018

Our CSA will start up next week on Tuesday the 19th.

The past few weeks have bee a whirlwind of field work and planting, with a little cultivation thrown in for good measure.

The weather has moderated which has made my life a lot less stressful. Daily high temperatures have dropped back to a few degrees above normal and lows are 5-10° warmer than usual. The big change is that we have been getting some rain. There was a big one, 1.6”, after the tomato planting in late May and we have been getting about 0.6” per week since then. The rain showers have been well timed, usually coming a few days apart.

We have the ability to irrigate, but not having to do it opens up time to do everything else. This is our busiest time of the year. Besides getting cover crops turned back into the soil, there is the greenhouse to tend to, plants sales, a ton of planting to do, weed control, the first harvests, and simple stuff like just mowing that all needs to be done. Moving headers and sprinklers takes time and that backs up the schedule for everything else that needs to be done.

On the last Saturday of May about 20 people showed up for our monthly crop mob to plant tomatoes. It got to be another beastly hot day but we did set out around 5000 tomato plants. Even with watering as soon as we were finished some of the plants in the last section to get water did not make it. We will have to go back and fill in those rows with plants that were left over or plants from the second planting.

Direct seeding crops like beans, corn, and squash can get pushed back a little by the need to get transplants in the ground but they were all planted within a few days of Memorial Day, the traditional time to plant gardens. By then the soil had warmed up and dried out enough to be the ideal seedbed. The seasons have shifted around a little but it is still a deadline I try to meet to let the veggies mature before first frost.

A couple weeks ago, we, Logan, Kathy, Rachelle, and I planted a couple thousand pounds of potato seed and got them covered up a day before it rained. Mary and I have been planting onions. I’m still not giving up on growing them even though my success rate has been very low. Last week Logan’s dad, Dave came by and helped us set out 3000 sweet peppers and eggplant. On Thursday afternoon we put in a couple thousand hot peppers. I did have to water some of the hot peppers. Rain was forecast for Thursday night into Friday morning but it did not appear and some of the habanero plants weren’t big enough to be root bound in the flats.

If a transplants roots don’t fill up the entire volume of soil in the cell the plug of wet potting mix weighs too much and the plant can’t pull it out. In the process, a lot of the plant’s roots get torn off. We usually try to lift the plants out of the cell with a butter knife when that happens but it does not always work. Fussing with them to much when we have thousands of plants to set out is a non starter. We aim to plant about 500 plants per hour per person, but there is time spent making rows, marking rows, making maps. carrying flats, etc. The over all average is only 250-300 plants per hour, which still puts a lot of plants in the ground in a few hours.

On Saturday we had a rainy day. It was great, a nearly all day gentle rain. We did not need or get the 2-3” that fell just to our south. It made for a great day to get caught up on all the things that get set aside for later in the rush to do things now. Since it wasn’t raining first thing in the morning I was able to do some mowing, things look much better now. While it was raining I washed up all the trays and flats that we emptied when planting, sharpen and oil all of the clippers, organized and stored all the pot stakes we use for plant sales, cut some new row markers for the field, and do some basic clean up. It was very satisfying.

Looks Like a little more rain today.