First CSA Pick-Up and Some Summertime Thoughts

It’s August! 

These last cou­ple of weeks have been so fun! Watch­ing the plants we’ve been labor­ing over since early Spring finally begin to ripen into beau­ti­ful red toma­toes, yel­low pep­pers and pur­ple egg­plants, or curl up into lit­tle cab­bage heads, or lengthen into zuc­chi­nis, has been incred­i­bly satisfying. 

Our first CSA pick-up is tomor­row. Yes­ter­day we cleaned up our work area to cre­ate a nice space for our mem­bers to come get their shares and today we will begin to col­lect veg­eta­bles. And we have much to offer!
The farm share this week will have:

      Mixed let­tuce greens
      Egg­plant (large share only)
      Red and White Russ­ian Kale
      Cherry toma­toes
      Baby sum­mer squash
      Fresh basil
      Super red cab­bage

Inside a sun­burst patty pan squash plant
Sun­gold cherry tomatoes 
Our basil patch

With August has also arrived a host of new con­sid­er­a­tions and prob­lems to solve. These last cou­ple of weeks I have started seed­ing the fall crops: stor­age cab­bages, hearty win­ter­bor kale, onions, lots of beets, asian greens and let­tuces. Despite our irri­ga­tion sys­tem, we were hav­ing a hard time get­ting enough water on our seeds in the field, so I seeded a lot of our new crops in flats. Soon we’ll have a bunch of trans­plant­ing to do. 

Our let­tuces have been bolt­ing quickly in the heat, and some of the heads have become so bit­ter I’ve had a hard time even get­ting the chick­ens to eat them! It’s mad­den­ing to see crops get wasted in the field due to poor plan­ning and tim­ing. Next year, I have vowed to been more dili­gent about plant­ing suc­ces­sion crops con­sis­tently, and in smaller batches. I’m pretty sure a lot of my Feb­ru­ary and March 2012 will be spent design­ing spreadsheets. 

Our per­sonal lists of equip­ment we want for next sea­son grow steadily longer, and a seeder is def­i­nitely at the top of mine. There’s a lot to be said for doing things by hand, expe­ri­ences like kneel­ing among the beds plac­ing beet seeds one by one in rows has forced me to really under­stand and appre­ci­ate every part of the grow­ing process. I can, for exam­ple, imme­di­ately iden­tify a beet seed vs a kale seed vs a let­tuce seed (frus­trat­ingly tiny!). At the same time, if small scale organic gar­den­ers had any time to write songs, I’m pretty sure most of them would be odes to well designed tools. 

We also are think­ing about con­struct­ing a hoop house this fall, to help us extend our sea­son and give us more space to start seedlings. This deci­sion in turn begets new deci­sions: How should we build it? Where should we build it? How big should it be? Where to get the money? We’ve been con­sid­er­ing dif­fer­ent grant and fund-raising options but each comes with it’s own set of prob­lems (and paperwork). 

Our egg pro­duc­tion has slowly been dwin­dling, as many of our layer hens grow too old to pro­duce con­sis­tently. Tomor­row morn­ing we are plan­ning on culling our flock, aka killing the hens that are no longer pro­duc­ing enough to jus­tify feed­ing them. Instead, they will feed us now (every­thing feeds some­thing around here). As our old flock decreases, how­ever, our thoughts turn to next year. Lay­ing hens can take between 4 to 6 months to start pro­duc­ing eggs, and we want to make sure that we have lots of eggs for the begin­ning of next sea­son in order to sup­ply the increas­ing demand. We need to fig­ure out how many we should get, and where we are going to raise them and keep them over the win­ter. The hoop house would also be a good place to keep chick­ens after it gets to cold out­side to house them in tractors. 

So as our hands do Summer’s work, thin­ning, seed­ing, weed­ing and har­vest­ing, our minds are two or three or five months in the future, build­ing hoop houses and design­ing suc­ces­sion plant­ing spreadsheets.

Pop­ping a warm just-picked sun­gold cherry tomato into my mouth, how­ever, there’s no deny­ing it’s def­i­nitely August. And we’re doing our best to enjoy every minute of it.

Black Brook Farm Grow­ers lunch

2 Responses to “First CSA Pick-Up and Some Summertime Thoughts”

  1. Robin says:

    >G — how do you deter­mine which hens are lay­ing and which aren’t? — and your lunch looks delicious!

  2. Gallagher Hannan says:

    >We flipped them over and mea­sured the dis­tance between their pelvic bones (near their vents). If you can fit three fin­gers between the pelvic bones on the hen’s behind she is prob­a­bly lay­ing. If you can’t, then she prob­a­bly isn’t.

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