Crazy Weather and Vegetable Production
Well, this is week one of the CSA season. I’m excited to get going and start pulling some harvest out of the fields we’ve been tending. Or trying to tend is a little more like it this year. I think our volatile weather has everybody a bit worked up but I thought I would explain just how this extended cool wet spring weather and frequent storms have effected our vegetable operation in particular.
Our first major issue is planting. Although we plant all seeds with a hand-pushed Earthway Seeder, we put most of our crops in the ground with a Holland Transplanter which is pulled behind a tractor – me driving and Maree on the transplanter feeding the plants into the machine which are placed in the ground. With saturated soils like we’ve had, there have been very few opportunities to till the ground (with a big heavy tractor) and afterwards plant (with a big heavy tractor). We still have 6 flats of tomatoes and a couple flats of squash just sitting by the greenhouse ready to be planted – nobody knows when. Pushing our luck a bit when we planted in pretty wet soils a couple weeks ago, we left some seriously deep ruts out in the field. These ruts retain water like little ponds, making it impossible to cultivate and will probably leave this part of the field compacted for a couple years to come.
Which brings us to the second major issue – weeds! We cultivate our crops with a tractor where we pull an implement which cuts off weeds below the soil and disturbs germinating weed seeds to keep them from setting root. Normally we would have cultivated crops 3 times by the Forth of July, whereas this year we’ve cultivated once. Not only that, but anytime I starting looking at a hoe to go kills some weeds, the sky opens up and dumps a few more inches of rain. Regardless to say, sitting on the sidelines just watching weeds take over a field without even a chance to get into the fight is pretty frustrating. On a normal year I get physically exhausted this time of year combating weeds by hoe and by hand, but I would much rather be tired than have what I’m calling “weeding anxiety” like I have. Lying in bed at night, I keep running through my list of things to do but no ability to get them done.
The last major issue with this season is more related to the cold temperatures than the rain and that’s slow growth. Even if planted on time with low weed pressure, many plants are just sitting there doing nothing. I have eggplant and pepper plants that are maybe an inch taller than when I planted them 3-4 weeks ago. Heat-loving plants have an especially hard time, although everything could have done with warmer soil temps a month ago. Take a potato, for instance. When we planted them in mid-May we might as well have put them into a refrigerator and expected them to sprout; the soil was just so cold, plants emerged after 2-3 weeks, whereas, last year ,they just shot out of the ground in a week.
Any which way, the CSA season is starting and we’re in it for the duration. I’m hoping after this slow start things will start to turn around and we’ll kind of get back to normal. Something is bound to grow well.
In the box:
- Salad Mix
- Green Onions
- ‘Red Sails’ Lettuce
- ‘Cherry Belle’ Radishes
- Bok Choy
- ‘Emu’ Spinach – you can really see the hail we got last week on these big leaves, but, I assure you, they will taste the same 🙂
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 2 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles ( uncooked, broken up, & do not use seasoning packs)
- 1 (3 ounce) packages sliced almonds
- 1 (2 lb) bok choy
- 4 stalks green onions with tops
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- In large pan melt butter and add sesame seeds, sugar, broken ramen noodles, almonds.
- Brown and set aside to cool. After cooled, break up and set aside in small bowl.
- Wash and chop bok choy (smaller is better) and green onions in large salad bowl.
- Mix vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce.
- Just prior to serving the salad, (plan for this salad to be the last thing you pull together for the event), mix bok choy and ramen noodles mixture. Drizzle dressing over salad or pass dressing around in small bowl.