Fresh Earth Farms - CSA

Just Wait ‘Til Next Year

Potato Field

Thanks to the few people who helped plant the potatoes this Sunday. I was correct in forecasting rain on Saturday and a nice day on Sunday. My forecast for people attending was a bit off. I guess Sundays are just not the best day for our members to farm. In any case, those who made it had a spectacular time! Thank you!

We are looking for a delivery driver for our deliveries this season. It isn’t like a normal delivery driver driving around in a big truck. We can fit all our boxes in the back of our minivan. The requirements are a good driving record, the ability to lift 25 pounds and an unbounded enthusiasm for driving around for an hour or two every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. We can also entertain different drivers for Tuesday and Thursday. We can also look into using your vehicle if you prefer to head home after making the deliveries and don’t want to come back. And for those who may drive past one of our delivery locations we can discuss possibly taking those boxes in your vehicle as you head home. The options are endless! Let me know if you are interested. Click on this link to see our drop site locations.

The season will most likely will start the week of June 17th. Put it on your calendar but use the pencil font so you can erase it if we determine a different week would work better.

We are still selling shares. We are caught up to last season so that’s good but we’d just like to be done selling as soon as possible. Sign-up now and send all your friends!

We are also still taking orders for other items like ‘Shrooms, Coffee and WinterShare. There is also an EggShare waiting list. If we get a few more EggShare orders we will purchase another case of eggs.

We might set out your plant six packs for pick up next week — weather permitting. If we see the temps drop near freezing we will pull them back in the greenhouse. I will send an email to those who purchased them once we set them out.

Farm News

Let’s talk about the trials and tribulation of grafting tomatoes.

We started grafting tomatoes three years ago and have had variable success. There have been a number of problems with grafting. The first season it went reasonably well except that the root stock grew faster than the scions. Since it was our first time grafting we figured it was a success and something to build on. Just wait ’til next year!

Grafted Tomato Plants in the Healing Chamber

So the next season we did an experiment where we started root stock every day for five days to find the ideal time to plant it relative to the scion plants. Of course since we do ten or so different tomato varieties the scion plants don’t all germinate at the same time or grow at the same rate. The root stock plants seemed more consistent. So there wasn’t an ideal time to plant the root stock but we got an idea of where to space the plantings to have a reasonable amount of root stock at the same size as a reasonable number of scions. Again it was a qualified success. Just wait ’til next year!

This year we thought we had everything figured out. We knew when to plant the root stock relative to the scions so that they matched better on stem size. We also knew to plant multiple successions of root stocks since our scions were so inconsistent. This year it will be wildly successful we thought!

When we went to order the root stock seeds we discovered the root stock we used the prior two years was not available. So much for knowing when to plant what. This seems like a typical feature of seed purchasing. Once you find something you like and know how to use it the suppliers discontinue the crop.

So we got a different root stock this year and even though we planted it according to our study from last season we didn’t match up the root stock and scion growths as well as we liked. The scions out grew the root stock this year. On the positive side, with larger scions we can cut the scion higher up on the plant and find a stem diameter that works with the root stock stem size. This doesn’t work as well the other direction since we prefer to cut the root stock below the cotyledons so no root stock suckers (new stems) form. Having root stock suckers requires us to prune the plants and we prefer not to have to do that if at all possible.

Pea Plant

So, despite the seed companies best efforts, we managed to graft about half the plants we planted. Not too bad and it gives us a hedge against future failures. (Narrator: “And of course there were future failures”)

One on the most important lessons we learned this time is that grafted tomatoes are worse than newborn babies. Both need constant supervision so that they get exactly what they want when they want it. The big difference, and the reason grafted tomatoes are worse, is that grated tomatoes don’t let you know when they need something. At least newborn babies scream when hungry or need changing. Grafted tomato plants stay silent then die. And unfortunately that is what happened to quite a few of our plants.

It occurred to me this season that grafting tomatoes is actually pretty easy as long as you have time to check on them every hour or so — especially during transition times. If you have other things to do, like plant Brussels sprouts, or fix irrigation lines, or repair tractors, or weed garlic, or seed spinach, or fix hoop house structures, or trap gophers, or all the other things we do here on the farm it becomes difficult to keep watch on our little babies and the result is less than ideal. But every year we learn something so eventually we will have success. We just need to find a plant monitor that can tell us when the plants are screaming for something. Just wait ’til next year.

That’s enough for this newsletter. As always, do not hesitate to send in questions, comments, jokes, brain teasers or orders. We love the attention!

Joke of the Week

I had no choice but to stop grafting tomatoes. I was given an ul-tomato-m.

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