Saturday, June 30, 2007

First fruits!

Here are the first pickles and zucchini. (The little round one in the upper left corner is supposed to look that way--it's called 8 ball.) Right now mom can sort and wash them in the kitchen, but soon they will be so prolific that it will cover up whole tables in a garage. Bees from Tom McCormmack are to be thanked for pollination! The slower growing peppers and eggplant are also looking good. They have a few small, immature peppers on them. Yesterday we planted all the pumpkins and winter squash. I was able to help a little while before going to work in the afternoon. They look small in the field, but on the big pumpkins the vines will reach across the rows and get so tangled that it's impossible to tell one plant from another.
Last weekend we did get the hay in, in spite of the rain. This past week we planted flowers in some of the rows below the house: zinnias, marigolds, alyssum, and sunflowers. The top rows are dedicated to herbs. One row is basil, and when the sprouts are big enough we will add dill, cilantro, parsley, and more basil.This morning Dad is plowing the strip below the cabbage while mom is at market. It's another beautiful day, with clear skies. There were some fierce storms that went through the area this week, but we didn't get much rain from it, and fortunately, no hail or damaging winds either. The fields are pretty dry; dad is running the irrigation to keep everything growing well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Knee deep in June

And also knee deep in work. It has been a busy couple of weeks here. We've had almost 1 1/2 inches of rain, which has been great for the fields. The first planting of corn is in tassel now.Unfortunately, the last four tenths of that came yesterday on top of some hay dad had cut on Wednesday. Dad thinks that with the nice breeze and sunny days that by tomorrow afternoon it will be dry enough to rake and bale.
Mom has been going to market and almost all of the first planting of lettuce has been cut. Today dad planted the newest seedlings in the empty holes. They also transplanted the latest sprouts into larger cells. Those ones will be ready to plant when the second planting (what's in the picture) is cut.
Last week Dad, Sue, Anthony, and another couple neighbor boys hammered stakes in for trellising the tomatoes. Mom, Dad and Sue put string on them. When we got some rain storms with heavy winds, this prevented them from being blown around too much. As the plants grow, we'll add more string to keep the branches lifted up and out of the rows.Here are two more pictures of the plants. The peppers are really getting leafy and the cucumber plants are starting to get blossoms.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

To market, to market, to sell the fresh veg.

Mom has started going to all three of our regular markets already: Ambridge on Thursday, Beaver on Saturday morning, and Coraopolis on Monday. It's much sooner than we usually begin at market, but this year we have an early crop of lettuce and some bok choy. There are some gaps in the lettuce field now that harvest has begun, but we'll fill them in as the next seedlings grow big enough.
Thursday was a very busy day. Sue came over to help plant the tomatoes. When mom had to leave for market, our young neighbor Anthony came over to help finish the field. That day they got over 2,600 plants in. On Friday, dad and mom filled up the last couple rows with some indeterminate heirloom varieties. Today Anthony dropped stakes between every two plants. They are for the trellis system. Next the stakes need to be hammered in, and twine strung around the plants.Over the weekend Dad hooked up the irrigation to all the peppers and tomatoes. Then it rained 0.7" again. It's still good to have a backup system in case it's a dry summer.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cats are in the doghouse (metaphorically speaking)

Last night two barn cats (Joe and Ashes) got locked in the greenhouse. They did not like it and tried to claw a way out.
Dad fixed the holes (there was another bigger one, and several places where they made a bunch of little ones) with special clear tape. The cats catch at least two small rodents per day, which goes a long way to making up for it, besides which it really wasn't their fault.

In other greenhouse news, a few seeds are in there again. For about a week it was empty because it was so hot, and because the plants were big enough to harden up outside. Yesterday dad planted the fall cabbage and other cole crops, while mom planted pumpkins, winter squash, and gourds in peat pots. It still looks barren compared to earlier in spring.This evening mom and dad were planting zucchini, summer squash, pickles, cucumbers, some melons, and a few of the shorter-season winter squash (like acorn). When I got home I helped by dropping plants and marking varieties while mom set the plants and dad drove the tractor. Included in this planting are several varieties that Jamie is observing. Right now you can barely see the plants in the plastic, but soon you will barely be able to see the plastic.

Crops planted in the field are all doing well, particularly after all the rain we've gotten recently. The tallest parts of the first planting of corn are knee-high already (on my legs at least). The first planting of lettuces is growing so well that mom will probably take some to market this week, along with pak choi, a.k.a. bok choy, which is definitely ready for harvest. The garlic has completely recovered from the frost damage in early spring. Mom cut off the scapes (seed heads) and scattered them around the pepper patch to repel deer (she hopes). It will be another month or so before the garlic is ready to be dug.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Busy Week

Phil spent many hours in the cockpit...of the tractor. He tilled lots of fields. On Tuesday, he and Becky laid black plastic mulch for peppers.
They went to Ohio for farm supplies on Wed. afternoon. Many were making hay and we bought the first strawberries of the season! On Thursday, Sue helped us plant 4,000 peppers and eggplants.
The next morning deer, perhaps a doe and fawn judging by the footprints, had eaten the tops of 100 plants. While Phil planted sweet corn and prepared ground for tomatoes, Becky put up deer fence using broken tomato stakes, twine, plastic lids and mylar tape just to let those deer know we're watching. After Kate came home, we planted 250 cabbage. Then the tractor battery blew up!
If you've never experienced that, it is a hydrogen explosion and it was loud like a shotgun going off. Phil had just climbed into the tractor seat to start it and turned the key, which made the spark that caused the explosion. He was stunned, but nobody was hurt. Our attempt at a hydrogen powered vehicle didn't work...we'll stick to diesel! A John Deere battery in a red tractor doesn't work. Saturday, after buying a new battery, Becky, Kate and Sue transplanted some tomato, cabbage, and lettuce plugs for later plantings. We planted 550 lettuce into the field. We laid plastic mulch for tomatoes, 12 rows nearly 400 feet long, creating a dust storm. Then it rained...0.7"!