Farm News- August 27, 2009

Circle Brook Farm
Circle Brook Farm

Hello Everyone,

We have arrived at the mid point of the season. While it has been one of the most challenging years ever, I am fairly satisfied with what we have been able to provide thus far. I only hope that you, the shareholders feel the same. I strive to make each year better than the last as I learn from my mistakes and improve my soils and growing systems. In a difficult year this may mean that my production is only equal to the previous year or at least not much worse.

In almost every year there are crops that flourish and others that fail. Last year there were no sweet potatoes because I was unable to buy plants. This year we have planted about 2500 plants and they are doing well.

Last year we had a bumper melon crop, in spite of problems with the crows drilling holes in many of them. This year I am sad to report that the deer have destroyed my entire main planting of melons. I have planting melons in the open, with no fencing for 12 years and have never had a problem until this season. After many years farming I thought I knew what the deer would bother and what was safe, unfortunately they seem to have continually evolving eating habits.

The problem began right after transplanting as they started munching on the young plants, pulling some right out of the ground in the process. We covered them with an agfabric normally used for protection from insects and frost, and they grew beautifully for several weeks this way. However once the plants begin to flower and run they must be uncovered so that bees can pollinate the flowers and the vines can spread. Once they were uncovered the deer resumed eating not only the vines but all of the young fruit as soon as it formed. We planted a second smaller batch of melons later in the season inside the deer fence and those are growing beautifully, but were planted quite late and it is uncertain whether they will have time to mature fruit. For the sake of the melons as well as the winter squash and other main season crops let’s hope it’s a warm and not too wet fall.

We are beginning to harvest quite a few ground cherries, so depending on availability these may be in your share this week or next. These members of the tomato family are closely related to the tomatillo and share the paper husk that surrounds the fruit. Simply squeeze them out of their husk and eat them out of hand, in salads or make a sauce with them. They make great snacks for kids as they are quite sweet.

Two weeks ago the share included All blue potatoes, an unusual spud that many people really like. The following week we noticed that nearly half of those we had stored had rotted. This particular crop was planted at another field which has very heavy clay soil and is in a valley, and so the ground was saturated during much of the season.

I apologize if your potatoes went bad, but it takes a few days for this condition to manifest itself and there is no way to detect which are good and which are not. I will now have to decide whether to harvest the rest of this crop and hold them to sort out the infected ones, or abandon them entirely.

The share for this week will be:
Red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, red skinned potatoes, Rattlesnake pole beans, carrots, red onions, and choice of an herb.

Farmer John

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