Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The old man's first attempt at posting on the blog

The Veggie Van lives!! Yes it only needed the radiator repaired and filled with new coolant. The top hose and the fan belts were changed while the radiator was out so we're good to go. Now return the expensive rental and do with out a comfortable cab and AC. Hmmm is that good? Ask Becky.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

End of the road for the Veggie Van?

On Friday as mom and dad came back from running some errands, they discovered that the van's radiator was boiling over--really boiling over so that when they checked it there was oil and transmission fluid in the overflow. Fortunately, they weren't going to market with a full load of vegetables or coming home after a long day. It couldn't be fixed before Saturday morning market, so mom had to find a rental van that we could use to haul stuff to Beaver. Since many students are returning to college this weekend, it was difficult to find an available unit. (We do know several people who have pickups, but they are all short-bed models and just don't have enough space.)
Eventually the did get this moving van from Volmers. It's bigger than our old one, but since it doesn't have our custom built shelves we needed the extra room to get everything to fit in. It does have an air-conditioned cab, which is a nice break on hot days like today. After market today, mom and dad checked a local dealer, but all they had was a new, seventeen-foot box van. It's way past affordable. So now they must decide whether to 1.) Try to get the van fixed 2.) Check the Farm & Dairy ads and find a used trucks or 3.) Just quit.

I'm pretty sure they won't quit, but setbacks like this make it seem attractive. Here's a view of the Veggie Van from the back with the shelves that dad made. It give new meaning to the phrase "custom van."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rainy days

Saturday was beautiful and cool, but since Sunday we've gotten nearly 3 inches of rain! The lawn is unusually green for August; there's no need for irrigation in the fields either. Even though the sun hasn't been shining recently, our late-planted sunflowers have started to bloom.
Other crops are continuing to produce well. Mom has also started to pick tomatillos, or husk tomatoes, which are used in salsa. The summer cabbage is nice and big; some of them are ten pounds or more. There are tons of tomatoes; Aunt Laurie is sorting out the ripest for canning bushels. We don't have time to can much ourselves, but sometimes have time to freeze things or get extras from what Aunt Christie puts up.
Usually by this time of year, all the plants are in the ground and all that's left is the harvest. This year, though, we have new lettuce plants just sprouting in the plug trays. They are under a piece of plastic to protect them from heavy rain and hot sun. There's more lettuce that is ready to be transplanted, and some that is big enough to put in the ground, and still more that is ready for harvest. It's the continuous crop!
Summer isn't winding down yet. Unfortunately, dad went back to work this week. Not to say that he hasn't been working all summer, but now that fall is just around the corner, it's time for him to go back to the job that really pays the bills--Penn State Beaver. Mom has been doing double-duty as township tax collector all along, but especially since August when the new bills went out. She says every year that we must plant less, but that never happens.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Drying out

Last week storms brought over five inches of rain and some heavy wind. We did not get any major damage or flooding, like some areas closer to Pittsburgh and some places in Ohio did. On Thursday mom and Sue got pretty wet at market. The zucchini vines and leaves were damaged a little bit, but at this time of year, maybe everyone is tired of zucchini anyway. One thing that people aren't tired of is cucumbers; unfortunately, ours have gotten disease and quit producing sooner than expected. The beans were also affected by all the rain; when they stay damp for a while, they tend to get a white mold. It remains to be seen how the tomatoes and peppers will be affected by the extreme heat wave. Sometimes they don't set fruit in very hot weather.

But now for the good news! The peppers are producing prolifically right now, and just beginning to turn red. Enough tomatoes have ripened that Aunt Laurie took off the two pound limit for people buying at the farm, and mom was able to take a few quarts to market on Monday. Even better, our few melons have ripened so I can have sweet cantaloupe for lunch. And despite the minor problems that I mentioned earlier, lots of crops are coming in pretty well. In a month or so, we'll have even more when the winter squash start.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Everything's growing like crazy now. The pepper and tomato plants are loaded with fruit. Some of the peppers have gotten sunburnt because the leaves don't cover them. The hot weather during the past week has helped to ripen the tomatoes, so Aunt Laurie has a few to sell at the farm stand now.

The basil is growing well, partly thanks to mom's effort of squashing all the Japanese beetles. This would be a good time to make pesto! We've been watering lots, but some days leaves were drooping and wilting just from the temperature. On Sunday night a big storm gave us over 2 inches of rain; today there was lots of thunder and lightning, but barely 0.1" of rain.

The pumpkin patch is really taking over. It's impossible to walk down the rows, but as I walked along the edge, I did spot some small green pumpkins and winter squash under the leaves. The beans are also very nice and young. Here's dad picking some this evening. Aunt Christie has been doing most of the picking, but tonight she went with Aunt Laurie to the Edgecome Apartments in Monaca. They take orders and then on Tuesday evening make deliveries to the old folks there. Many of them used to come out to the farm stand, but don't drive anymore.Last night we had quite a crowd over for a church picnic with six visitors from Brazil who are members of our sister church there. The Brazilians were very impressed with the sweet corn; they said the corn at home is very hard and not sweet. I thought the same thing when I was down there, but ate it anyway to be polite. We don't have time to plan a big party like this, but we do have good neighbors and friends who helped out with food and setting up.