Happy foggy days! We here at the farm have been taking advantage of the near perfect weather by chipping away at the immense checklist of fall chores. Since last week we have completed one hoophouse and planted it with late summer squash, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, parsley, basil and turnips. We’ve started the last round of fall seedlings in the greenhouse (kale, collards, broccoli, fennel and lettuce mostly). We have sown over 4000 row feet of carrots, beets, arugula, turnips, radishes, chard, Asian greens, and spinach. We have harvested sweet potatoes by the score, trellised some beautiful-looking fall tomatoes and planted around 300# of regenerative cover crop seed in fields that need a rest until spring.
It’s a great feeling to get so much accomplished in such a small amount of time, but as you can probably tell by the themes of previous correspondences, there is no such thing as being ahead of schedule on a farm. The is always something that desperately needs tending, or an idea or experiment that needs work. Planted beds need to be weeded, watered and fertilized. Equipment breaks, vehicles require costly repairs, an insect decides to visit your farm and loves it so much it procreates by the thousands…
That was the emergency this week- the aphids. I’ve had aphids before. They’d come in and maybe establish themselves a little bit here and there on some lettuce and spinach. The ladybugs would come in shortly thereafter and make quick work of most and the rest could be controlled by a light spraying of neem oil. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the all out invasion that took place over the last few days.
Word to the wise- aphids apparently like rutabagas. Alot. Our rutabaga crop was the first root vegetable we planted for the fall. We planted it in late July and it looked fantastic. 800 row feet of large leafy greens soon shaded out any weed competition. The turnip-like roots were beginning to form, and we were sure that we would have a great crop. Within a week every leaf was covered with hundreds of tiny green monsters, all sucking the life out of our precious investment. We sprayed an insecticidal soap, twice to no avail. The poor lady bugs are vastly outnumbered, but they are doing what they can. I had the idea of trying to thin out the worst patches by hand and two hours later I emerged with a sore back and hands dyed black to the writs from the stains of a thousand bug carcasses.
Unfortunately that just made the survivors move to the surrounding brassica crops- the broccoli, the collards and the kale. If it gets much worse, we are going to have to till in a large part of our early fall plantings- something that pains me beyond belief. But if I’ve learned anything from my time as a farmer, it’s that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure- a loss on two or three weeks of vegetables isn’t nearly as bad as loosing a whole field.
This constant battle often seems overwhelming- why put up with such a constant barrage of variables to produce a perishable good for which you measure sales in painfully small increments? The funny/weird thing about that is, to me, that is the best part of farming- we are constantly required reexamine our operation and find new ways to make it work. It’s kind of fun, if you can get past the whole idea of constantly having your livelihood threatened by forces that are entirely outside of your control. Farming is perpetual practice of expanding your patience and defying you own limits. I just wish it didn’t involve me washing bug guts off of my hands for 15 minutes before I can eat lunch…
Take Care and Eat Well,
In The Box
-2# Sweet Potatoes
-1 bunch Arugula
-1/2# Komatsuna (Asian Green similar to Pac Choi)
– 1 bunch Radishes
– 1 bunch Salad Turnips OR 1 bunch Beets
-1# Cucumbers OR 1# Summer Squash/Zucchini
-1# Asian Eggplant OR 1/2# Okra
-1 Herb Bundle
We wanted to let you know that we will be hosting an incredible farm-to-table dinner at the farm on Sunday, October 9th. Just to give you some background, I started a project a few years back with a friend called The Kudzu Supper Club in which we brought local eaters in direct contact with their food by arraigning elegant dinners prepared by master chefs right in the middle of the farmer’s field. After a long hiatus we are thrilled to reprise the supper club at Burge. This would be a great opportunity to come and see firsthand what you have been eating and how it is produced. We would love for as many of you to come as possible. I will be sending an email out in the next week inviting all CSA members to join us at a discounted rate, but in the meantime you can check out the Facebook page we created for the event. It’s going to be great- we hope you can make it!
ps- Sorry, no time for recipes this week- we will include more next time!