8/19/09 Vol. 6 #21

Betsy says that Colombia is not ready for tourism yet.  A beautiful place with beautiful, friendly people but it was hard to get around in.  She took every kind of transport around the country (they don’t have rental cars and she wouldn’t want to drive there anyway) short of a horse drawn cart even though there were plenty of them even in the big cities.  She declared that many of the roads were worse than any in Kenya, even when the Kenyans just took off and drove cross country, so travel was difficult.  Like her trip to Ecuador, the cut flower industry is a dichotomy between huge operations (like a 2200 acre mum farm) to small family places (like the two brothers who had 4 acres and grew many different crops) but all of it for export to the US and Europe.  She came back glad we grow and sell the way we do, with more pictures for our “carts of the world” collection and happy we don’t have to grow mums!
This must be a record fig year for everyone, even with minimal attention, our bushes have been loaded up with fruit.  We planted our ten bushes really just to have some for us and if there was an excess we would take them to market, which we do.  One of the reasons we got out of the blackberry business was they are the most perishable thing we could possibly grow, if they didn’t have a place to be sold when we picked them it was a loss.  At least with the blackberries we could hold them in the cooler for a day or two and they would be fine.  With the figs we have tried many ways to hold them and they just don’t like it.  So they may be the new “most perishable” champion.  Our current method is to pick them ripe, Wednesday morning just before market and Friday before the Saturday market.  Seems to be working but the soft, sugary fruit are noticeably different on Saturdays when they have been off the bush just three quarters of a day longer than Wednesdays figs.  Enjoy them while they are available.
Leeks for Thanksgiving went in the ground yesterday, another sign that fall really is coming.  Next week we will seed carrots, beets and more for Thanksgiving and later fall and over winter eating.  The first tomatoes in the little sliding tunnels were taken out this week, clearing the way for even later planted spinach, beets and carrots for early next spring.  We have rounded the corner and can see the end of the summer season, now we just need some more cool weather to show up.

Picture of the Week

My father told stories of sitting under the fig bushes and eating until you couldn’t, the perfect ripe figs

9/2/09 Vol. 6 #23

Whoopee!  We made it to September!  As you know we don’t usually, instantaneously, go right into fall when the calendar flips months but it sure feels that way this week.  Our farming friends in Texas are celebrating too as the temperature finally fell below 100 degrees after months above it, now if they can just get some rain, makes one realize that our summer has not been too bad.  The lowering angle of the sun and the darker mornings are the first signs that fall is really around the corner.
We have had shade cloth on the transplant greenhouse and some of the little sliding tunnels all summer to try and moderate the temperature a bit.  The lettuce we have had for the last few weeks is only possible with some shade cloth and consistent irrigation.  Likewise the celery and Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, that have been in the ground since late July are only really possible with the help of shade cloth (in my opinion anyway).  But now the amount of daylight is so much different than just a few weeks ago that, today, we are taking all of the shade off for the rest of the season.  Too much shade and the lettuce, in particular, gets wacky and starts to twist as it grows.  We have learned this one the hard way when we first tried to grow lettuce in the late summer and had an entire hoop house cork screw up and didn’t harvest a single head.
Soon we will be mowing down what cover crops we have and the remains of the other summer crops and begin the preparation of the soil for next years crops.  It is a slow process this dismantling of the summer farm but one that feels good as it goes along.  Tomatoes and trellises out.  Lisianthus and Celosia trellises out.  Irrigation lines taken up bed by bed as they are no longer needed.  The Big Tops uncovered, rolled and stored for another winter.  Soil amendments spread to help feed next seasons crops.  Finally by mid October it is all seeded to cover crops for the winter and another market season comes to a close for us.  Breath deep, you can smell fall just around the bend!

Picture of the Week
The lengthening morning shadows of September, celery and Brussels sprouts under shade