Late Summer Newsletter September 2018

Riverbend Farm Late Summer Newsletter

What a bunch of beautiful days. This is why people live here. Okay, the last couple days were a little warm and humid but in the shade the breeze has been a little cool. Lately the mosquitoes have been noticeable, but they have been missing all summer and are nothing compared to other years. Moderate temperatures, no hurricanes, forest fires, raining frogs, it is darn near perfect.

Every weed in the world is trying to go to seed. If you are an allergy sufferer then you know that ragweed is in full bloom. The blackbirds are starting to flock together. With all of the available seeds the birds have not returned to the bird feeder. The sun is moving south faster. Fall is coming.

Out in the field the late planted buckwheat is just starting to flower. If you look around all the wild flowers except for the goldenrod and the yellow daisy like flowers are done. The zukes and cukes are still putting up male flowers but they don’t seem to have enough energy to produce female flowers. Most of the annual plants have not adapted to the longer growing season yet. It has only been about 5 years so that would be a very dramatic shift for them.

Bees on the other hand are active until it freezes. Once it gets cold at night they start to settle down for winter. Beekeepers can feed honeybees but the native pollinator and predators don’t have it so easy. Hopefully they find the buckwheat patch. Buckwheat has a small flower is very accessible nectar. Even the tiniest bees can reach it. I did notice a lot of tiny flying insects (predatory wasps I suspect but they are too small to easily identify) are investigating the flowers already.

All the neighbor’s corn is turning brown and their soybeans are yellow. Our corn is getting a few brown leaves at the bottom and the ears are fully filled. Some of the stalks have to be 12’ tall. The variety is Reid;s Yellow Dent, an organic heirloom variety. I don’t know if it is the year or the variety but a lot of the ears were set over my head. It is only halfway up the plant, but still. The seed tasted good so I’m interested to try this corn. I think that it will make great cornmeal.

The Peregrine beans are starting to fade from green to yellow and starting to mature the beans. The romanos are mostly done. I may try some of them as shell beans but most of the remaining beans will go as seed for next year. We did have some of the mature beans with kale and pasta. They made a decent large white bean, but not knock your cocks off flavorful. The real test will be eating them cooked with a bay leaf and olive oil. Worst case, they are seeds.

The peppers are starting to wake up. It may not be too late for them. We really need something like CSI for veggies but I think that it was too warm for the peppers at the wrong time. Peppers drop their blossoms when it is above 90° during the day and it stays above 75° at night. IIRC there were some July nights in that range. And then it cooled off making them think it was fall and decided to wait for next year. Peppers are perennials so the are not too worried about setting seed. Now that it has been warm for so long the pepper plants are getting going again and are covered with flower buds. It will be interesting to see if they can produce fruit with the warm temperatures and shorter days. The might make it since they are tropical plants that evolved nearer the equator with more equal length of days and nights.

The cosmos did not start flowering until just a couple weeks ago either.

There are a ton of winter squash but they too are taking their time. Back in the olde days of weather they would be freezing to death in the next day or two. Now the fruit still have green streaks or stems that have not started to dry at all. It looks like there are a ton of butternut and kabochas out there. If It does not freeze in the next couple weeks and we don’t get weeks of steady rain, there should be a good crop of them. Hopefully you are looking forward to when the onslaught of tomatoes is replaced by winter squash.

The tomatoes are doing great. The hybrids in the first planting are blighting out. The Open pollinated varieties and heirlooms are holding their own. The fruit are generally a little smaller but there are lots of them. The second planting of tomatoes is starting to ripen. The first fruit always rot so I’m not rushing in there to harvest. If the weather holds we will have tomatoes until the middle of October, a month later than ‘normal’. If not, it has been good so far.