11.18.2006

November Farm Report

The heat, bugs and sweet potatoes.


This warm dry weather is unbelievable! As I sit in the warm sun, watching the greens in the bright light, I have a hard time believing this is November. It has put a real damper on the coolest veggies like baby lettuce, spinach and a few other tender greens. Germination can be random, and has left me wondering when we will see a break in the weather.

To beat the heat we use a few creative tools, like floating row cover. Usually this material is for frost protection, however in this case it is valued for the little shade it delivers. This still has no benefit for the spinach beds which prefer soil temps below 85 degrees. We got a few to sprout, but now they just sit there... waiting, and waiting.

The other challenge the farm faces currently is the flight of moths. These little guys lay their eggs delivering a host of green loopers that feed on our tender leaves of kale and cabbage. Although we rarely need to break out the sprayers, it can no longer be ignored. Armed with natural remedies like Bt or neem oil, I walk up and down the rows applying a fine mist of death to the unwanted visitors. The evidence of their lives still remains with holes chewed through the delicate leaves. It makes you wonder how often conventional crops are sprayed during the season to provide picture perfect vegetables to our grocery stores. Insects are a reality, but it is more convenient for us to not give the residue on our food a thought. It’s a lot easier that way.

Well, the garden still shares its bounty, despite the heat. Our farm members have enjoyed a mix of vegetables including arugula, mizuna, radishes, lettucy cabbage (better than romaine), napa cabbage, broccoli raab, baby beet and turnip greens, tot soi, eggplant, and those wonderfully fresh dug sweet potatoes. We had a bumper crop this year, and I recently tempted a buyer for Whole Foods who has had no luck finding sweet potatoes in Texas. That really puzzled me, as East Texas has always been the sweet potato capitol. Apparently, no one is growing sweet potatoes anymore in Texas. That makes me wonder, is it because of low prices or is there no interest in the next generation of farmers to continue the work? One thing for sure, with a bumper crop like ours this year, it may be something we want to expand next year.

Yours in the harvest!

4 comments:

Jenny said...

This looks great!

Amy said...

I love getting to know my food suppliers! I have a great respect for those persuing the farming life. As I say a quick prayer before my meals, I always give thanks for those who had any part in preparing the food (including packing, driving, etc). I am especially thankful for those committed to providing healthy options- healthy for us and for the environment. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

This is all so wonderful. Thanks for sharing. Bill

Farmer Brad said...

Thanks for your kind comments. The farm life is very rewarding, when you have friends to share it with.

Farmer Brad