7/12/06 Vol. 3 #18

Now the weather is returning to more normal summers conditions this week but in general we are all looking at each other and saying “I don’t ever remember a summer like this”.  This, this… not so hot.  No complaining here mind you but it does sort of throw one off balance.  Just as you have your brain programmed to expect one thing and act in a certain way it doesn’t happen.  The only comparison is back in 1991, which we always refer to as the Mt. Pinatubo summer.  That summer that volcano in the Philippines erupted and sent huge amounts of ash into the stratosphere which circulated the globe for months.  The result was a very cool summer in North Carolina,  we barely got into the 90’s.  Back then we were in the midst of the long and expensive “Raspberry Experiment”.  The most noticeable result from that cool summer was that the raspberry canes grew almost twice a tall as normal and the following year we had the best harvest we had ever had.  It turns out that it is too hot here for raspberries to grow vigorously, but that summer it was more like the conditions further north where they produce them in abundance.  Soon there after the raspberries came out of the ground never to be planted here again (under threat of certain penalties from Betsy!).  So while we are not experiencing as dramatic conditions as that year it is still affecting crops here on there farm.  Most noticeably the tomatoes are still not producing at the level we are accustomed to.  Every Monday and Thursday we go out and pick and while we are getting some of all the varieties we are not bringing back the number of boxes that we should be.  Normally this would be the peak week of tomato harvest but it will be at least next week if not later.  Yesterday we were up working in the peppers and the rows that are on black landscape fabric are moving along well but the rows planted no-till are way behind.  The soil is cooler under all that mulch which in hot weather a good thing but this season it is holding those plants back.  Just when your brain is programmed one way…

We did manage to get the cover crops all seeded before the big rains last week and they are up already and looking great, little soybean plants raising there fat heads out of the soil and the millet with one blade pointed straight up towards the sky.  The turkeys have all been rotated around the farm.  The little guys as we call the Broad Breasted Bronzes right now (they will eventually weigh twice a much as the Bourbon Reds) graduated out to the blueberries from the brooder and are extremely happy lazing the days away in the shade of the blueberry bushes and taking group walks around their new grassy enclosure.  The Bourbon Reds have moved into Betsy’s first and now abandoned Zinnia patch (we plant Zinnias five times and she is now cutting off the second batch).  This is the same field that had the leeks, radicchio and the last lettuce among other crops so they are now eating the crab grass and other weeds while hiding out in the four foot tall Zinnia rows like outlaws only to come creeping out when someone walks by the fence.  The last Zinnias get planted this week and the Brussels Sprouts for Thanksgiving went into the ground this week too.  Despite the different weather we still march on with the calendar assuming that normalcy will return.

Picture of the Week
The effects of cool weather.  The same varieties next to each other but the plants on the warmer black fabric are much larger and have large peppers on them.
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