16Jul2008

Coming out from the weeds, we think…

It must be true, since I’m feeling a little less demoralized about the farm now that we’ve got the weeds semi-under control. The weediness issue is one I feel gets dealt with best in retrospect. Specifically, this is exactly the reason we keep a farm journal. It turns out, that every year we have farmed, around Spencer’s birthday (July 12th), we find ourselves mired in weeds. Weeds of all kinds (and while it can be interesting to catalog them, I won’t because there are just so many, and I did mention that I was feeling less demoralized about them – no reason to bring them back up in startling detail, now is there?!), weeds that get HUGE with the perfect combination of rain, humidity, heat and sun. Of course, we should mention that the use of row-cover or reemay does help to keep the bugs off of certain things (arugula), but it creates a hothouse that the weeds love. As Spencer is fond of saying, “How do we want to kill our (fill in the blank) this time? Melt it with reemay? Leave it unprotected for deer to eat? Let the weeds overtake them?”

At any rate, my point is that this happens EVERY year right around this week or so. We’ve kept really good records of weed frustrations, and that at least helps us to remember that no matter what we do, they still come, and we still have to fight them. It’s a war out here, people. Constant, unending, with various victors, and sometimes that victor is us. You know, farming on floodplain is wonderful for sooooooo many reasons (great soil chief among them), but one detail that gets overlooked (mostly due to short memories) is that if you farm on land that floods annually, you will never win against the weed seed bank. Every year you can weed your heart out, and still get that fall or spring flood, and that will bring in a whole host of new weed seeds to deal with. Every year at least once. SO. We content ourselves with beating back the crabgrass from the perimeters with mowing and hoeing, and that inevitable weeding day that happens every year – the plucking out one by one of huge galansoga weeds from the baby carrot bed (or two or three). Usually we don’t succeed with every planting, and end up having to till in a round of carrots out of sheer lack of time and will (always depressing since carrots take 60-75 days until harvest). But, so far, we are winning, and haven’t had to till in a bed yet! This, at least, is one measure of success in the battle. We’ll take it and hope that the weeds start to taper off as the light starts to not hang around as long each day. I always start feeling ready for fall around now – but then remember we have 3 more months to go! And so….here we go! So many fun veggies are right around the corner! And rest assured – there are plenty of carrots to go around this fall! Finally.

A teaser to get excited:
The hoophouse tomatoes are looking grand – growing like weeds, and thanks to the landscape fabric, have virtually no weeds!

Just for the record, here’s one ripening up just today! Feels late for tomatoes (been growing them since April!), but a quick consultation to last year’s journal shows that we didn’t have them this time last year either! We also harvested ~2 pounds of the first cherry tomatoes yesterday. They’re coming!!!

Here’s a fun new addition to our repertoire! Romanesco cauliflower. It’s just so darn cool-looking, we had to try it. And for all you fellow nerds out there – the florets spiral in the Fibonacci sequence, so that makes it even cooler! This, too, takes forever to grow, and we were happy to see the first nubs emerging. Soon!

Here was our last project yesterday afternoon – pole bean trellising! You can kind of see the Hortonova net we use for the trellis in this picture. I’ll get more detailed pictures as they climb. We are trying tons of different types of heirloom dry beans this year.

The haricot vert have flowers! Looks like next week!

Always amazed by the cardoon/artichoke family, I felt compelled to take this awesome depiction of how different the two plants look side-by-side, eventhough they are very close relatives. The cardoon is the tall massive plants up top, and the artichokes are the deeply serrated leaves below. More on cardoons when it’s time to eat them – fall. Artichokes, however, are just around the corner!

Just for fun – wanted to share today’s big project – the liberation of our Haygrove pieces from the weeds, and piling up of them in an orderly and hopeful fashion in a non-weedy place. Doesn’t look very intimidating from this angle, does it?

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