Monday, June 25, 2012

Week of June 25 : Bees at Work

Here is a photo of the result of the honey bees hard work.  The bees were working the cantaloupes then switched rows and began to work the watermelons.  This is a Sugar Baby, which is the classic red seeded ice box variety.  The growing conditions this year havent been particularly favorable for most crops but the melons are sure loving it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week of June 18 2012 : Bees. BEES!

Here is a photo of a bee.  A real, and hard working, bee!  There are many bees working the blossoms this week.  This particular bee is working the rows of cantaloupes.  His hive friends are nearby working the watermelons.

Part of successful farming is timing.  We won't say how much of good timing is hard thinking and how much is blind luck because proper strategy is easily negated by the weather.

One of my habits as a grower was to start transplants too early.  My attempt to get plants to set fruit early actually back fired and caused them to set fruit later.  Just as the plants were accepting a life of being root bound in a tiny flat and begrudgingly beginning the reproductive phase, I would then set it out in the field.  Excitedly the plant would shift back to vegetative phase for a few more weeks before shifting back to reproductive phase.

This year I intentionally started the plants later.  It was a hard habit to break.  But the timing has worked out much better.  The plants have not had to waste time shifting between phases; as a result the plants reached vegetative maturity earlier and are now in reproductive phase.

Sure the heat helps the plants grow and encourages the bees to work a full day.  Combine better timing with great conditions and cantaloupes have set fruit about 3 weeks early.

Hopefully our watermelons share this same wonderful experience.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Week of June 11 2012 : Extras

Here is a photo of Nathaniel and Francie looking at the extra transplants.  They are discussing and deciding which seedlings they want to transplant.  Nathaniel is well prepared with his green shovel.  They chose two cantaloupes and further decided the best location was in their sandbox.  It's great to share the experience.

All the spring transplanting and direct seeding is finally done.  The eggplants, peppers and tomatoes were transplanted about three weeks ago and are already setting fruit.  The cantaloupes and watermelons were transplanted about a week ago and are already vining.  The transplants has been unaffected by the dry weather.  In fact, they are thriving in the heat.

The direct seeded plants are more of a challenge.  The dry soil has hampered germination, although we have taken measures to counteract the conditions.  During seeding, we incorporate vermiculite into the soil to minimize soil crusting.  Then we laboriously hand water until the seeds germinate.  This technique has produced great results.

Next up is the fifth and final stand of sweet corn.  Four stands have been planted, emerged, and are in various stages of growth.  Once that stand is planted, then its back to the greenhouse to start the fall transplants!

Friday, June 1, 2012

May 2012 : Capital Improvements

Here is a photo of Nathaniel protecting his transplants.  Each night we read a story at bed time, and lately his favorite book is "Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes".  It's a story about an over achieving bear and an under achieving bunny and their relative successes at gardening.

There is a specific passage about Bear growling to protect his tomatoes.  Nathaniel decided his role is the bear, so he is empowered to growl at me.  Logic doesnt get too far with toddlers, so I dont bother explaining that I cannot be stealing his tomatoes because young transplants dont have tomatoes.

This was the spring I learned another valuable lesson.  I will never say I am busy, ever again.

This year I decided on another significant capital improvement.  Fencing the entire field.  This meant removing the existing fence and installing the new fence.  Easy enough.

But just as I was pulling the last corner post, my wife walks outside with a slow but purposeful stride.  I have seen this stride before.  A life changing conversation was coming my way.

The following exchange confirmed my suspicions, that our third farm hand was in the early stages of development.  Great!  Except for the wicked morning sickness that soon followed.  Morning sickness is not limited to mornings; afternoons, evenings and night times are equal opportunities for sickness.

I soon took on additional responsibilities around the house, from laundry and dishes to being the first responder to every middle-of-the-night yelp.  That and the full time plus, off the farm job kept me moving and tired.

Factor in the fencing project.  Moving faster and very tired.

Now factor in the starting seedlings, shaping beds, laying irrigation and laying mulch.

Somehow I survived these loong days.

The fence is up and the majority of the early season work is done, all on schedule.

Now we can relax and watch it all grow.