- Slicer Tomatoes
- Summer Leeks
- Cucumbers or Summer Squash
- Green Cabbage
We’ve just past the halfway point of the CSA and are entering into our favorite time of year, harvest time! A season of hard work has paid off and we are all enjoying the fruits of our labor. The planting for the season is almost done and we now are focused on tending to the crops, keeping them weed free and fertilized as they mature. The small transplants that you all got to see when you came out for the farm dinner are maturing quickly and this week we harvested the first of the young, tender kale greens. The tiny carrots and beets that had just germinated are now full with their greens. Soon their roots will be sized up for winter storage harvests. As we walk through the fields we are amazed at the growth of our farm and more importantly the growth we have experienced this season as farmers. Since we still have 12 more weeks to go we are taking this time to reflect on how we feel the season is going thus far and hopefully get some feedback from all of you.
Farming in a new place brings it’s own set of challenges. Learning the soil, weed and pest pressures, and weather patterns in one of the more cool years has taken a lot of time and attention to detail.
Moving the farm this winter was a huge undertaking! It put us a bit behind at the beginning of the season as we were waiting for PGE to put in power to our propagation house and for the rainy spring weather to subside. Early season diversity was lower than normal, due to our move and the rain, but the trade off of moving this season will make every season much easier as a whole in the future. We thank you all for your patience as you have supported us through this challenging year!
The soil has brought it’s own challenges. As we have mentioned in previous newsletters the pH of the soil is very low, which makes it harder for plants to uptake the nutrients that they need. We added agricultural lime to the soil last fall to raise the pH and will be doing so again this year after we receive our fall soil test results. This being said we have had some issues with our plants not getting what they need due to this soil nutrient deficiency. We quickly tried to react to the situation, to mitigate the damage, with good results, however, some crops were definitely later than we would have liked. The weather also didn’t help as we have had a fairly cool year causing the heat loving crops to mature much later. The adverse soil conditions did help us to be more aware farmers, keeping a watchful eye on the plants and also being more aware of the soil chemistry, which we cannot see with just a naked eye. Being proactive about taking more soil tests and plant tissue tests, so we can know what is actually happening in each crop.
The biggest pests so far on the farm have been deer, elk, and the western corn root worm. The deer take their nightly walks through our fields nibbling here and there, their favorite vegetables being lettuce, carrot tops, green beans and squash fruit. The elk occasionally have come down taking a munch here and there too, but thankfully not too much damage overall. The western corn root worm, however, has given us the most trouble as it nibbles on the silk of the corn causing the corn kernels to not be pollinated, which means the ears are not full of plump juicy kernels for us to eat. This is the first time we have seen this pest and we are researching what to do about it. There is not much information on organic controls of this pest, however, we did learn that this pest is hosted by the invasive Reed Canary grass that surrounds our field, bordering the creek. Managing the reed canary grass to reduce the habitat for this pest will probably be our best long term solution. There is not much we can do about this year’s plantings, however, next season we will try planting corn in another location on the property away from the Reed Canary grass to see if we have better results. We will try to harvest some of the corn as a free item if there is enough okay ears, but there are no guarantees. We were sad to see this happen as this is the first year that we have been able to grow many successions of corn since we are not near GMO corn growers in Willamina.
Growing crops that have been directly seeded into the soil (vs. transplanted from the greenhouse) has been our biggest challenge as young farmers. Having the perfect balance of soil moisture, the correct number of seeds being dropped by our seeder and the soil being prepared well to reduce the high weed pressure is a huge challenge especially with bind weed. Despite the high weed pressure this year we are really dialing in our direct seeding on the farm. Solid stands of vegetables with few weeds thanks to our flame weeder that burns the weed seedlings before the vegetable seeds emerge. A huge learning success for our farm this season!
This season has been full of changes as we have established a long term home for our farm. This season’s improvements in infrastructure have made our operations more efficient, giving us the time to focus on the intricacies of farming. We feel that we have learned far more this year than our first three years combined as we are honing our skills and learning more about disease, pest and nutrient management. We have gained a lot of confidence as business owners and farmers and look forward to improving our farm for years to come.
Now it’s your tun! How is the CSA going for you? We will be sending out a survey this week and hope that you all take the time to respond. Your feedback helps us make more informed growing decisions based on your preferences! Thank you for your support and feedback.