Hey there folks! How are you? We are doing, well, ok I guess over on our corner of the earth. Things have been better to be sure but things could also be worse. This is just the highs and lows of farm life! When we started this blog we decided to be honest and share with you our successes and failures since we know farming is more times than not, not always pretty. Those disappointments happen! So let’s talk about some of them shall we.
Pests have been at an all time high! We knew it was going to be a bad year when entomologist Ayanava Majumdar communicated to us early Spring that the bugs were weeks ahead of schedule for the year. That is never a good thing! Later in June when he visited Hoopty it was abundantly clear to him and us that we were all the way in it! UGH! Ugh really is an emotion that readily describes 2020. So we have been fighting all season long & even harder than usual. In Hoopty white flies and spider mites were terrible at the height of Summer! At the top of the list of aggressors this Fall are flea beetles! They seem to love every crop that we are growing. In particular our Mustard & Asian greens varieties. Of these they have destroyed half the crop planted for the Fall! Some crop losses are inevitable but this year, when things have already been so rough, another loss just wasn’t what we needed. We have and continue to fight these pests by using mechanical and organic remedies. However these become nearly ineffective when yet another element comes into play…
It may seem odd to list rain as a problem however in our case it has really worked against our pest management program. While we know rain is absolutely necessary to grow healthy crops we are griping, if you will about the days on end of heavy monsoon-like rainfall. You see for Diatomaceous earth rain is a huge deterrent. DE washes a way easily and becomes ineffective when wet. Days of heavy rain fall are taken advantage of by the flea beetles and before you know it entire beds have disappeared literally over night!
There has been a joint attack on many of our crops such as our Turnip leaves. There seems to be some sort of an alliance between the Flea Beetles and Fall Army Worms. Although we use BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) for worms, heavy infestations require application every other day and is far less effective if done in the rain. Speaking of the dreaded Army Worm, do you know why they are called “army” worms? One source says, “They are so named because of their habit of crawling in large numbers from field to field when they have exhausted their food supply.” We have witnessed this to be the case as they have moved from one permanent bed to another and leaving much devastation in their wake in a matter of 24hrs! This year, after just one day of heavy rainfall, for the first time we found them eating our Zinna as well as our Fennel! Fortunately we did catch them before those items were lost too.
No rant about pests would be complete without mentioning the dreaded fire ants! This year they have given us grief in our raised beds and in the high tunnel! Not only do these pack a powerful bite but they too are army-like in the swiftness in which they can damage a crop as they build alliances with other pests! Our okra and corn have fallen victim to the ants this year.
Although we have lost time, we continue to plant and take advantage of the long growing season our region offers. Currently re-growing is cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, mustards, lettuce and more!
If we had any idea the cucumbers would be so beautiful in the sea of green that is Hoopty, I’m certain we would have planted far more than we did. They are doing very well! The next set of data is to determine for how long they will grow into the cold months in an unheated environment. We chose two varieties for our trial. However, we have had 3 volunteer plants from a variety planted over the Spring pop up so that brings us to a total of 3 varieties. Of these we will see which yields will be the best under the cooler temps.
Squash & Zucchini
Consider my mind 100% blown when I went into Hoopty and harvested squash this month! I know others are probably like, “Yeah, yeah…you’ve got a hoop house – duh!” For me, however it will never stop being so amazing! We planted one variety of squash and one variety of zucchini for our season extension trials. We have harvested a couple of squash thus far and the zucchini isn’t far behind! We have already determined that we will allow for more space next year for Fall squash and zucchini! I can already taste the roasted zucchini and sweet potatoes!
This one gets logged in the fail colum unfortunately. We feel the failure was due to a combination of pests pressure from ants and late planting. We are not however giving up on corn. We will be planting again in the Spring.
This year the herbs have really been the shining stars of the farm. Lemon balm & Lemongrass have really grown far better than they have in years past. Also Fennel, Purple Basil, Thai Basil, & Cilantro all really left their mark! We enjoy learning to cook new and exciting recipes with these herbs. Our trial with Fall Dill is underway and so far the results are a bit inconclusive. Stay tuned on that front. However the Fall propagated basil is doing fantastic. If things go as planned, we should have fresh basil right up until January meaning there will only be 4 months instead of 5 months we have to go without fresh basil.
THIS WEEK’S LISTINGS
With all of the issues we have had the last few months we are honestly quite proud of our listings that we offer to you each week. As we have mentioned recently, seasonal farm boxes and a wider selection of produce will be available January 2021. This week the Bain family farm has the following home grown goodness to offer your family:
- Scotch Bonnet Peppers
- Hot Pepper Basket
- Sweet Pepper Basket
- Jams Jellies
What’s To Come?
It seems that COVID is going to be sticking around a bit longer. So we remain vigilant to keep our family and community safe. We will continue the contacless methods of delivery for the foreseeable future.
On the farm in the upcoming weeks we will be pulling okra from Hoopty, planting turnips, beets, onions, tulips, carrots and rutabagas. We will also finalize winterizing our strawberries and other fruit bearing plants that require such. I’m tired just thinking about it all! On the brighter side, next month is yet another special month for our family. Do you remember why? Check back next month for more goings ons at Bain Home Gardens!