5/18/05 Vol. 2 #11

Wow, what glorious weather!  Summer must be right around the corner.  This week as we were planting yet more Celosia flowers (this is an inside joke at the farm, Betsy always seems to have more Celosia to plant) Rett asked how many folks who had worked for us had gone on to start their own farms.  I had to think about it for a bit and finally came up with at least six (mostly in this area) and another three or four who most likely will someday.  That is out of the twenty plus people who have worked a full summer with us in the last ten years, that’s almost 50 percent!  I always say that only about one percent of the folks that start out to farm actually make it past the first five years.   Now some of my market gardener colleagues would view these new operations as competition but we view it as an indicator of sustainability.  An indicator that we have developed a sustainable farming system that can thrive and hire quality people who can then go on,  take parts of our system and create their own.  An indicator that this kind of farming is truly being embraced and supported by consumers and communities all over the country.  Remember that one of the three tenets of sustainability is the social component and we feel that in the long run it really is the glue that holds it all together.  This is an example of why certified organic is really a narrow view of farming, it doesn’t take into account these sorts of social dimensions.  Rett who is working on his own side market garden project had his first day at farmers’ market yesterday, so another one is launched!

You know that summer must be close when we start planting the winter squash!  We planted 2500 feet of row to six different varieties including acorns, butternut, and my favorite  Sweet Dumpling.  We got the second planting of corn in and cultivated the first planting (not a great stand due to the cold soil temperatures)  More sunflowers and other warm season flowers too.  Finally the late spring cover crops began to bloom and so we have started to plant the no-till peppers and late tomatoes.  We roll down these huge cover crops, which kills them, and then we cut a slit into them and the soil then plant the transplants right into the mulch.  By the end of today all of the peppers will be in the ground and we put the last planting of Cherokee Purple tomatoes in last Friday.  The irrigation rolls out behind all of these new plantings as we are beginning to get dry and these little quarter inch rains just don’t do much, when the hot days come it will become critical quickly!

On a literary note, I knew last week that I had mangled Twain’s quote about cold weather in San Francisco.  The quote actually goes “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”.  Well I had several corrective e-mails and further conversations at market, including one that said he had used that statement about Portland or Seattle.  This all peaked my interest and so I did a little research and it turns out that it is all an urban legend, there has never been any documentation that Twain ever said or wrote this quote.  So I guess we where all wrong!  None the less, the comparison to the generally cool temperatures in that part of California allowing ideal conditions to grow lettuce still holds.

Picture of the Week
Tough love, peppers planted directly into the rolled cover crops.  Better for the soil and the sweet bell peppers
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