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from the Field

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September 29, 2019
Growing with the Flow
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

Late Fall transplants growing quickly in the greenhouse.
It's practically October but I'm pretty sure it doesn't seem or feel like it. Another potential 90 degree day is in store for us this coming week. Plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures, and added water are causing many of our late season crops to grow quicker than usual for this time of year. That's not a bad thing, as long as temperatures don't drop drastically and frost/freeze. Slow growth and slow acclimation to colder temperatures is essential for crops to best tolerate the cold of October and November. Eventually we'll switch to only harvesting tunnel grown greens, but that isn't until late November and December. Much of what we are growing outside now is tolerant of temperatures in the 20s, but a hard frost can burn the tips of lettuce leaves. Quicker unexpected growth also throws a kink in the crop plan if what we anticipate harvesting in week 24 is actually ready in week 22, but it typically all works out fine.
We're now also pretty used to the dry weather and don't even expect a rainfall anymore. We're irrigating on a regular basis, giving crops about a 3-hour drink every week or so through our drip/trickle irrigation system. That's probably more or less the equivalent of a half-inch of rain (based on the moisture content of the soil afterwards). I don't scientifically measure that; there could even be a formula to figure it out. I simply just observe the appearance of the crops and soil, notice the weather and temperature, amount of sunshine, the type of soil, type of crop, and the stage of growth. For example, the broccoli and cauliflower are heading up so they might be thirstier than, say, arugula, but because of the field they're in the irrigation might not need to run as long because the moisture sticks around longer due to the soil properties (more clay less sand; size of soil particles). Just add water and observe.
This coming week marks a smooth transition to the start of cold weather indoor growing. The first of four tunnel transplant successions goes in the ground and will be safe and protected in a controlled environment until a Late Fall harvest. Up this week is lettuce mix (1 of 4), arugula (1 of 3), and spinach (1 of 3). Eventually it will probably be colder.
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