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from the Field

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July 7, 2019
A Little Rain is a Good Thing
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

Cantaloupe and the 2nd planting of watermelon looking healthy. Our first planting of watermelon succumbed to excess moisture a few weeks ago when we received 4" of rain in a few days. Fingers crossed these melons reach maturity.
Last weekend I was looking forward to continued dry weather and by the end of last week I was feeling desperate for a bit of rain. And the weather gods did come through with practically 2" received over Friday and Saturday evenings. Following overly wet weather I'm very reluctant to invest time and energy into the set up of irrigation infrastructure. These days I would be very surprised if we don't receive ample rain every week or two. The hardest part is the mental game of deciding whether or not the crops need added well water or if they can wait for sky water. Two full weeks had gone by without a decent rainfall and our soil was probably at its driest in years. Two weeks is a test of tolerance, especially following the planting of 7,000 dormant strawberry plants on a 90 degree day. Physically and mentally, this task is one of the more challenging ones to participate in during the heat of the summer season. With the help of a couple of wonderful CSA members, farmer/mama Dana, and our great crew we managed to complete the job with nonstop planting over 5 hot and humid hours this past Thursday. Thankfully rainfall arrived Friday evening when it was absolutely needed. Another round came through on Saturday and now those dormant strawberry plants should be well on their way to waking up and converting sunshine to 2020 foodshine.
Mid-July marks a pretty big turning point of the growing season here. Spring crops are mostly harvested and now those areas will be cleaned up, mowed, composted, plowed, and sown into cover crops. The 'big harvest' time commences with the large and mostly one-time harvests of carrots, garlic (next weekend), onions (July/August), watermelon (July), cantaloupe (August), potatoes (August), winter squash (September), and sweet potatoes (October). End of June, all of July, and most of August is also the time for the twice or thrice weekly harvests of cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Each time these crops are harvested the haul could range between 500-1000 pounds (or more occasionally). This is definitely our peak harvest season, and also peak sun and temperature. It's also the time when our farmer bodies begin to feel the labors of the past few months and our minds are challenged to push through this difficult time. I would say that by mid-August the reduced day length and proximity of autumn provide us with breath of relief. For now, we push through this bountiful season.

Little baby melons forming under vine canopy.
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