Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #12, 6/6/12

What’s been going on!

Beautiful gentle rain this morning, just what we needed both for the flower crops we just seeded but for everything else as well.  With the relatively cool temperatures we have not had to irrigate much but we were getting to the point of having to get into a regular watering schedule.  I decided to pump some more water into the upper pond while the irrigation demands were low and the creek was still running well.  Should have looked at the creek first but didn’t.  After 24 hours of pumping the lower pond almost empty I went down to turn off the pump and the gravity feed line that keeps the pond full from the creek was barely trickling after having run strongly for weeks, Hmmm?  Using the irrigation pump I push water back up the gravity feed line, towards the creek to flush it out and to refill it to get a strong flow going again.  This entails walking the 900’ up to the creek end to make sure the intake is clear where I find the creek is barely flowing!  I am really surprised to see this as we have had OK rains and it has not been really hot so the trees should not be pulling as much water out of the ground but alas the ground water must still be really low so the springs are still not flowing much.  This rain will help give us time to get the lower pond refilled before it does get hot next week.

More general chores this week in anticipation of real tomato harvest.  The big project has been to get all of the red onions out of the ground and into the greenhouse to cure.  The staff got the last of them pulled yesterday, just in time.  Not as big a crop as last year but still enough to have until at least August.  We never grew storage onions in the early years because they are so cheap and abundant at the grocery store but some years ago I was at a conference in Arkansas where I heard an onion breeder talk about how red onions are much healthier due to higher levels of anti-oxidants than white or yellow onions and he was breeding red onions to have even higher levels but remain sweet (the anti-oxidants are also associated with “hot” onions).

So our red onion growing experiments began.  The problem here in North Carolina is we are in between the good onion growing regions.  Up North they have long days and lots of onions bred for that, more South they have short days and onions bred for those conditions.   We have what they call intermediate day length and there are only a few varieties of red onions we can choose from but fortunately we have found a couple of good ones.  In any case they are just in time for summer salads and salsas with the impending tomatoes and peppers!

Picture of the Week

Brilliant Zinnias even on a rainy day

What’s going to be at the market?

Come on sun and heat to ripen those tomatoes.  Just a hand full of tomatoes this week with some red Ultrasweets, Cherokee Purples and they tasty Orange Blossom.  Carrots are back.  Tender spring Leeks.  Nice sweet Cucumbers.  Beautiful Escarole for soups, grilling or salads along with the Lacinato Kale.  Still a fair supply of Lettuce with the crispy and sweet Summer Crisp in Red and Green, maybe some Green and Red Oakleaf.  Round red Radicchio and tall green Sugarloaf Radicchio, great for grilling.  Basil, just in time for tomatoes!  Flat Leaf Italian Parsley.

Betsy and the flower department are leading the show this week with Campanula (Canterbury Bells) is in pinks and blues.  Tall orange tufted Carthamus or Safflower.  It is Hydrangea season big time!  The fragrant Oriental lilies in yellow, salmon and white.  Brilliant long lasting Dianthus.  Zinnias a true sign of summer.  Sunflowers and Gloriosa Daisy (Black Eyed Susan).  Beautiful Bouquets!

As a reminder if there is anything that you would like for us to hold for you at market just let us know by e-mail, by the evening before, and we will be glad to put it aside for you.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

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