Fresh Earth Farms - CSA

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Eggplant Flower

In this week’s newsletter I discuss the ramifications of having a constant supply of water provided by Mother Nature. But first an announcement.

Next Thursday is July 4th. The plants couldn’t care less so we don’t change our schedule. We are open the usual times and deliver to the usual places. For on-farm pick-up, if you want to switch days please let me know so we can harvest accordingly. For drop site members, let me know if you want to switch to a different day and pick-up at the farm. We could also switch you to Tuesdays at the Cathedral drop site if you prefer next week. Let me know ASAP. Thanks!

We could use someone to deliver our Shoreview boxes on July 2nd due to a conflict with our usual delivery mechanism. If you are looking to go to Shoreview on Tuesday please let me know.

What will we have this week?

We’ll have lots of green onions, lots of green garlic, some lettuce, some snap peas, a few snow peas, some kale, some bok choy, some chard, a few zucchini, some broccoli, some radishes, some basil, and maybe some other things.

Don’t store basil in the fridge. If you won’t use it soon you can freeze it. Simply wash it, spin dry and put into a freezer bag. When you need it you can break off as much as you need from the frozen chunk. Of course it isn’t good for caprese salad after freezing but works great for pasta sauces!

We have FruitShare and EggShare this week. No flowers yet but perhaps next week.

Some flowers, just not enough yet

Farm News

I don’t think I’ve talked about the weather yet this year so let’s make this issue about weather and specifically the effects of all the rain we’ve had so far on the farm.

It is very interesting how different this season is from the past two season (that is as far back as I can remember). Lot of rain this year compared to very little the previous two. We’ve gotten into the habit of laying drip tape for most of our crops and so far we haven’t used it except for the hoop house. Seems like on some of the crops it may be a waste of time and resources since we could conceivably harvest the crop before we ever use the drip tape. But it is probably better to think of it as an insurance policy. You hope you don’t need to use it but if you do need it, it is there and available. I suppose to expand this metaphor, much like insurance companies, drip tape can be a pain to work with and is getting increasingly expensive and probably won’t cover most disasters.

So other than wasted drip tape, what other issues does all this rain cause? One of the first things I noticed that I had never noticed in prior years is our first planting of sweet corn is looking chlorotic. That’s a pretty impressive word that means lacking in chlorophyll. The corn is planted in the lowest part of our field and has been under water a significant amount of time. I think this may have been the cause of the chlorosis. But what is the actual mechanism? Is it a lack of oxygen in the soil? Nitrogen leaching? Something else or all three? I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before. I’ll throw some extra nitrogen on the soil and see if it rectifies the issue. It may be too late but what do we have to lose other than time and a $49 bag of fertilizer?

Garlic Scapes waiting to be harvested

The second issue I’m seeing with all the rain is a large increase in diseases in the melons and watermelons. Again. it is something I haven’t seen in quite awhile if ever. The amount and frequency of rain is unprecedented in our 22 years farming here. Could the rain be the cause of the diseases? Well it isn’t the cause but it is a huge contributing factor. Apparently whatever disease we have the wet weather is favorable for its ability to — in the words of that famous agronomist Dr. Spock — live long and prosper. I don’t know if the melons will grow out of it or if there is even an organic solution to try to reduce the disease pressure. Something I have to figure out soon.

Another big issue with all the rain is our inability to keep up with the weeds. With wet soils, we are prevented from driving the tractor around to cultivate. Hoeing is also a pain when the soil is wet. And weeds love all the moisture. I’m hoping this week we can get some dry time to run the tractor around and try to clean up a few of the weeds. But we also have a number of plants to plant which may take precedence. Ay-ay-ay. Too many things happening all at once.

Oh, the deer seem to love the rain. They are out here eating every night. Must be some good eatin’.

Delicious Basil

Another issue with all the rain — and in particular the frequency — is it is hard to spray for bugs. We use a variety of organic pesticides as needed for certain pests. Most of these wash off when it rains or decompose rather quickly and so are not persistent. The biggest pest — other than deer — right now is cucumber beetles. They are difficult enough to control organically without the constant rain. With the rain it seems we never have a time to try to kill them so they are proliferating. Cucumber beetles are interesting in that some season we see very few or practically none. The last two years they’ve been low in numbers. Five years or so ago we were overwhelmed. This year is seems we are at the higher end of the cucumber beetle spectrum. The pesticide we use seems to have an effect but not a great effect. It knocks them back for a bit but they seem to rebound quickly. We try our best when it is dry enough to spray and we have the time but it seems to be a losing battle this year. But does the rain cause the increase in cucumber beetles? Since the beetles over winter in the south I suspect that if we have more storms coming from the south we’d have more beetles riding the currents and arriving on our farm. Seems like the southern border of Minnesota is where we should be building a wall.

And of course the wet weather makes for wet soils which make for dirty produce and an increase in workload, but I covered this in last week’s newsletter.

Kale!

On the positive side, it does seem like plants grow better with rain than they do with irrigation water. I don’t know why other than maybe rain brings down nitrogen — especially when there is lightning — and other nutrients that ground water may not contain. Or if could just be the massive amounts of water compared to what we can do with irrigation. In any case, there is this one aspect of all the rain that is positive.

Well, that is it for now. As always, do not hesitate with questions, comments, suggestions, jokes, etc.

Joke of the Week

What do you call a deer that loves precipitation?

A Raindeer

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