Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some happy harvest news

One of the brightest spots among this year's efforts is the condition of the interplanted rows of corn, beans, and squash (aka Three Sisters). We only know of the Kerr Center as others who are experimenting with the three sisters plantings in rows. This will be our third season with 500 row-feet or more. Here's how it looks so far:

At this scale, we were able to lay drip irrigation along the center of each row; the plants are also heavily mulched with hay cut in 2010. We water when we can and most everything seems to be ripening well. We should start harvesting sweet corn for market this week. We picked one ear for a corn-tortilla soup last night. The ear was a little unusual, but tasty all the same.

Since the squash seedlings are transplanted after the corn and beans (both direct sown), they get a little later start than if we were planting them on their own. Even so, we had the first zucchini for lunch and expect to pick plenty more in coming weeks.

Elsewhere on the farm, it's dry, dry, dry. Despite some heavy rains in the area this past weekend, we received just .11 inches. Happily, we've successfully installed an old jet pump in a well that the previous owners dug and now have the capacity to pump a few hundred gallons daily. It's enough to keep things going in the high tunnels, maintain some of the field crops, and make sure the pigs have plenty of drinking and wallow water. Since we don't know a lot about its recharge rate, we're taking things slow and steady, cautious of depleting this season's third irrigation system before the autumn rains.

There have been a good number of tomatoes and cucumbers coming out of the high tunnels and we harvested a decent sweet onion crop. Cabbages and leeks are holding on. The storage onions are sadly stunted and the potatoes, grown without irrigation, have almost completely died back. The yields on these plants is a fraction of our spring projections. We hilled more heavily the two rows of spuds we planted late, and they seem to be holding up. So maybe we'll have some storage potatoes for sale this winter after all.

Here's a picture of the sunflower, dahlia, and calla lily beds that didn't get irrigated -- we've always privileged food over flowers, whether it's watering or weeding.

All of these should be in full bloom this time of year. A heavy mulch, about a half inch of rain over the last two weeks, and one or two days of irrigating have jump-started them from not-dead to something more promising, but actually harvesting blooms for market won't happen any time soon.

Guess we'll just have to drown our sorrows in a big, fat Striped German tomato or two (the one below was 1.5 pounds!).

When we look at pictures of the baked corn fields out west, we feel quite lucky that while our fields are dry, the produce that has survived looks pretty terrific!

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