Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Farmer's Thoughts

The last few weeks, I've been kicking back and just watering what will be a late summer's bounty. Nine of the 29 raspberries are showing some signs of sprouts, and six of the seven paw paws seem to be coming along. Being that it's midsummer, I thought I'd do some reflecting on the season so far.

That first picture up there highlights one of my mistakes in garden layout this year. I put the corn in the middle of the plot! Blocking the sprinkler. Shading the other the crops. I had no intentions of even growing corn, but there were so many requests, I had to comply. And with that submission came haste in my design, and hence the corn in the middle.

Even up to a week ago, I was thinking I was done with corn as a crop. But after this week's visit to Marietta, Ohio, where I bought some just picked at three o'clock in the morning, sugary Bicolor Ears; I'm starting to believe it's every Ohio citizens right to picked that day summer corn. I want to see how this year's ears fill in, and if it's halfway good, I will probably continue the pursuit next year.

Cheap soakers hoses are just that, which is mostly to say that they are cheap and aren't worth the hassle. On that note, my whole irrigation "system" needs an overhaul. Sprinklers and spray hoses are okay and definitely do the job. However, straight rows and drip tape will do it better in the future. Now anybody that knows me will tell you my lines/rows/swathes of cool beard zigzags are never straight.

In my personal garden, I have four tomatillo plants. Three are right next to each other and the fourth is about six feet away from the cluster. Now it is a given fact that it takes two tomatillos to tango. That is to say, tomatillo plants are not self-pollinating and it formally takes two separate plants for tomatillo fruits to form. And even though my lonely tomatillo is just six feet away from the other cluster, and my garden is like an epinephrine accident design lab, there are no fruits!

In other layout design news, tomato cultivars will be planted with their own kind to ensure ease of staking/weaving and flush picking next year. That means Amish Paste with the Amish Paste and Caspian Pink with Caspian Pink. The "cool" Monet-inspired color palette of random planting does not outweigh the future convenience of these necessary grow steps.

I'm growing these gnarly blue Hubbard pumpkins that will grow up to 40 pounds and will look like a giant tear drop with warts. In contrast, I'm also growing these cute lil two-pound pumpkins called the Sweet Dumpling. Regardless of size, pumpkins need a ridiculous amount of water and will suck up whatever I give them. One of the Hubbard vines is 16 feet long and seems to grow a half foot a day.

Prepaid customers. I'm looking for a few of them. I'm not talking a full blown CSA by any means. Nor am I talking about a regular "pick-up" schedule. I just need a few folks who can regularly take irregular amounts of produce at irregular intervals just like real life. This would really help me even out my production kinks because some times there's just too little to make a farmer's market worthwhile and too much to eat myself. So, I'll be looking for a few "Prepaids" soon. The means to communicate produce availability may be email, texts, tweets, or facebook announcements, whatever works best for my Prepaids. If you're out there, let me know.

Now that I'm starting to see some production out of my plot, next year's planning is starting to take hold. The number 15 has been resonating in my brain. A few weeks back I heard some SPIN Farmer mention something about 15 bundles of anything being the minimum volume to take to a farmer's market. Conceptually, I thought this was great. Though the SPIN Farmer was referring to sales displays, I feel that 15 could also be applied to number of plants in a planting. Like next year, I will do two plantings of Japanese Long Cucumbers with 15 plants each timed at a 10 day interval. This will give me an abundance of cukes throughout the season for grander displays.

Wow. That was meant to be a quick one and it's two hours later. I got to do this more often. Lastly, I'm not sure how I grew white beets, whether is was a genetic defect or a seed packing mistake, but those two white beets pictured up there tasted like pure sugar. Like, I was thinking they'd be good on oatmeal, for real. Perhaps, these were sugar beets?

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