31 July 2006

August looms. The bounty is impressive, overwhelming. The bursitis in my shoulders starts acting up every August--so many heavy buckets of produce. Two crops wear me down--melons and tomatoes. I grow so many varieties, so many heirlooms, each one with different ripeness indicators; I have been unable to train away this job. Many tasks on the farm I have been forced to delegate since having Romy but not this one. Every year I trial new varieties, mainly heirlooms, for taste, beauty, and marketability. I love it. Rare and obscure French heirloom cantaloupe and a new green-ripening tomato from Appalacia. I will try to write about my favorites when I am at the height of the harvest. Both crops are a little late but look promising.

I've been meaning to write about weeds. We have a weed problem. It never really has bothered me in the past. Of all the jobs on the farm weeding is the one I enjoy the most. Trouble is I hardly get any time to weed anymore and my crew just isn't able to keep up. We bought a Regiweeder last winter to help control weeds on the bigger row crops--corn, beans, peas and onions--but I feel mixed about the results. We had terrible compaction in the onions and quite a few casualties. The peas seemed better this year and the corn looks alright, but we haven't managed to keep up with it and some of the later plantings are choked with weeds and too tall to drive through. Now we're in the market for a bushhog to mow things down before they go to seed--the usual culprits ragweed, galinsoga, pigweed, and lambsquater but also our own introductions purslane, cilantro, epazote, mustard, tomatillos, and raab. Our hope is that by cutting down the weeds in the sections of field we haved abandoned (bolted lettuce, picked out brassica, etc) we will minimize the weeds going to seed and perhaps in a few years things will be more manageable.

The flowers seem at their peak, we are sending nearly twenty buckets a day and it hardly makes a dent. And, the corn is in and the cherry tomatos are getting going, and the peppers and chilis and eggplant. Things are looking good.

16 July 2006

For two weeks, or is it three, since it stopped raining we have been scrambling to catch up. Lists pile up in my head--thin parsnips, weed sweet potatoes, cover new planting of radishes with remay, direct seed dill, daikon, arugula, weed flower holes, weed beans, weed and weed and weed and weed, transplant and transplant and transplant: corn, mache, brassicas, cukes, gourds, flowers, lettuce and chicories, beets, summer squash, kale and chard. There is way more work than we can handle. My third spinach crop in a row is sacrificed to the weeds, flea beetles decimate my fourth unsucessful crop of arugula, and the tomatoes turn into unruly bushes. My crew is doing great, working long hours, and putting up with my stress. Romy, my delightful 18 month old farm-baby, is trying to cut some molars-- making for some painful days. And, our trusty produce truck finally died from the classic Maine culprit: rust. Addison searched the state for a few stressful days and brought home a good-looking new-used truck. A necessary expense that will take many many bunches of greens to pay off. Italian dandelion, mustard, turnip, kale, chard, beet, raab, bok choi, Asian greens--I am proud of our greens, but these big well-grown bunches are often what is left at the end of the market day. We pack them into the restaurant walk-in and serve them forth. People order greens like crazy but don't tend to buy them off the stand. Do people not know how to cook greens? We eat greens nearly every night--with pasta, with bread and beans, with tacos, stirfried with rice and tofu. It's what we crave, what we miss when we are away from home. Lately, Ted's been cooking the Agretti/Saltwort--trying to get a sense of how to best work with it--it is mild, mineraly and delicious. I bet all the spinach lovers out there would like Agretti.

I like seeing my farm workers revealing their individual vegetable loves. Jenny nibbling on the cut ends of Green Lance. Gallit eating squash blossoms and mustard flowers. Misshapen carrots stuffed into back-packs. Romy eating peas and more peas and oddly enough, onion leaves. Sara taking home green tomatoes as a special treat. For me, the nutty and sweet center of each raddichio I put into the mesclun.

The winter squash is poised to send out its runners, the flowers are a riot of color, and my first field tomato ripened this week (Glacier). Goldenrod starting to show some color and Queen Anne's Lace nodding on the road sides--the peak of summer in all it's bittersweet brevity.