7/8/09 Vol. 6 #16

What glorious weather for July (except that lack of rain thing), can’t remember summer weather so delightful for such an extended period of time.  I am sure we will return to the normal steamy hot days before it’s over but we are really enjoying it for the time being.  We are into the “easy” days of summer where we have designed the program to have everything in the field done by noon and then hide out in the shade (or air conditioning) the rest of the day.

Some of this means fewer crops to manage and less planting going on but what ever is in the field now needs to be established and/or tough enough to handle the conditions.  Betsy is in the thick of Lisianthus harvest, it is a daily process of cutting truck loads of stems, taking them back to the packing shed (in the shade) and then processing them for later use.  The big job for the staff is the Monday and Thursday tomato harvest which takes all morning to complete.  The rest of the week is filled with a little harvesting of other crops, a little planting, a little trellising, a little mowing, a little weeding, a little irrigating.

Fusarium Wilt (chapter two).  I want to thank everyone who has expressed on their sorrow for our problem with this disease in the heirloom tomatoes.  It is a damn shame but it is just the kind of thing that happens in farming that you become used to and learn to adapt.  The good news is we have several things we can do about it for the future and it appears to only really be in this one area in the Big Tops field.  I have already taken the first steps this week by saving seed from plants that showed no signs of the wilt or at least a strong resistance.  The seed for the Cherokee Purples we are growing is some we saved two years ago, from plants grown in the same field.  They are showing no signs of the wilt and producing lots of great fruit.

The other two things we can do are to solarize the soil in that area by covering the bare, moist soil with clear plastic in the hottest part of the summer and basically cooking the fungus spores out of the top few inches of the soil.  That process will have to wait until year after next when we have a rest year planned for that spot.  The last thing we can do is to take advantage of the research we have done with NC State over the last few years and use grafted tomato plants.  I have mentioned this in the past and didn’t really think we needed to use this technique until now.  It is just like fruit trees where you graft what ever tomato variety you want onto a wilt resistant rootstock.  So next year we may actually have to graft some of our own plants.  There’s always something when farming.
Picture of the Week
Beautiful Lisianthus beds flanked by brilliant Celosia
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