Summer is really swinging here in Conway, and our veggies, cover crops, grass, and weeds are all growing like crazy! We are finally awash in yummy produce and every week more thing seem to slip off the priority list behind growing harvests, hay making, and keeping on top of the weeds. But somehow we manage to keep up with what has to happen, and too soon it will be September and we’ll catch up on all those projects we have been putting off.
Last week Sidney included a picture of our next and largest hayfield, all of which is now in the barn. The first half of the field was rained on a lot (and hailed!) after it was mown, resulting in wet hay. Some of that was salvageable but a lot went to bedding hay. While we were bringing it in, the looming clouds broke open and we all got soaked. The already wet hay got wetter. The following weekend, David mowed the other half of the field, and we had a genuine four-day dry spell, resulting in beautiful dry hay. I got to drive the rake, which was really cool. We have a rolabar side-delivery rake that works flawlessly and is very smooth. I spent about two hours raking with Tim and Pat Tuesday afternoon, and this past Wednesday we picked up five and a half loads of perfectly dry hay.
As we head into midsummer, many of our cover crop fields are turning over into new plantings. Last week I mowed both the mustard and the oat/pea mix. David has disced down the buckwheat, and soon we will be spreading amendments and re-seeding each of the rest of the fallow fields.
We also finally cleared the last of the rye straw off of our last veggie field. Sidney drove the dump rake to pull the straw off and bring it to the heads of the tomato rows. We have staked and twined all four rows of tomatoes, and we were able to mulch two of them with rye straw from the farm. With the straw off, David finally had a chance to begin training Owen on the plow. Plowing is a complicated task with lots of pieces to manage, but he’s been cutting nice even furrows!
The veggie fields are really popping now, and the CSA harvest is growing every week. In addition to all of the crops we had in past weeks, we are now distributing turnips, daikon radish, parsley, beets, fennel, and more specialty greens. We also now have loads and loads of raspberries for u-pick. And just this last Friday we picked a handful of summer squash!
Even as the crops in the field are bursting with growth, we continue to look ahead to the Fall. We spent the last two Friday afternoons transplanting our cauliflower, fall broccoli, fall kale, collards, and late zucchini, plus more lettuce and parsley. The later fields are filling in fast, and very soon we will begin planting our last veggie field!
Over the last two weeks, we have twice sprayed the potatoes for leaf hoppers and Colorado potato beetles. There is a fairly narrow window to control these pests because once the plants get too big, we would do more damage with the sprayer than the bugs would. We have a pretty big potato patch, so we sprayed using the boom sprayer, a tank with many hoses attached which can spray multiple rows at a time. The boom sprayer covers five rows all at once and is pulled by two horses, making it significantly faster than the backpack sprayer. I got to drive the team for one of our first passes, and it was exciting and a little unnerving to drive through the growing crops, but neither Owen nor I ran over any plants.
We were also lucky to have lots of visitors the last few weeks. First, Sidney’s mama Linda came for the weekend! She helped us harvest for CSA, baked cookies, and washed eggs. We also went out for brunch together at our favorite spot in Ashfield and went swimming in the South River. We were also joined this week by Anna’s mother, sister-in-law, and nephew, all the way from Virginia. It was lots of fun to have them around.
Soon we will finish first-cut hay, soon there will be carrots and blueberries, and soon we will be done planting! We’re headed towards some of my very favorite crops; garlic is usually harvested in the end of July, and onions in August.