5/6/09 Vol. 6 #7

This is the kind of weather that berry and lettuce growers fear.  In the winter and early spring we hope for plenty of wet days to keep things cool and help the little plants grow.  During harvest season we prefer to have widely spaced rains with brilliant sun in between so the berries and lettuce can dry before the dreaded molds get a foot hold.  When we were in the wholesale blackberry business this kind of weather would give us sleepless nights.  We just knew that the beautiful glossy black berries we sent to the grocery stores would all be turning white with mold in the produce coolers and we would have to give them credit for many dollars worth of hard earned/picked fruit.  Because we were not going to spray fungicides it is one of the reasons we got out of the blackberry business.

On the lettuce side there is a soil borne fungus that is commonly called bottom rot and the lettuce heads just melt down.  Not all heads and just in places here and there in the field.  When the lettuce is at harvest stage and densely packed together on the beds the soil underneath them never sees the sun and stays moist, perfect for molds to grow.  We compounded the situation with this rainy period by irrigating Monday afternoon because we had to and weren’t sure if the storms would come, water on water.  Our only defense now is when we harvest, to try and cut the middle row out of the three on each bed to give them better airflow and hope the sun comes out.  Looks like we have a few more days to wait for the sun to appear.  Just when we are in the early weeks of delivering lettuce to Weaver Street Market, classic.

On the rest of the farm this is clearly a changing of the seasons.  The last of the lettuces are being planted while the first tomatoes and zinnias are in the ground and the peppers are going in next week.  In preparation for the peppers and other warm season crops the last of the huge winter cover crops went under the mower or the roller this week.  Some of the rye and vetch combos were mowed to turn under for the following crops but most were rolled down to provide mulch and slow release fertility for the sweet peppers, late tomatoes and winter squash all to be planted in the next few weeks.  The last pass through weeding the onions and other late spring crops, have to get all of these chores rounded up before the end of the month and the beginning of blueberry season.

Picture of the Week
Bright Poppies on a dreary day
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