Hello garden buddies! We have be growing a whole month since we last updated you on the farm but so much is happening!
As we mentioned last month this year has been a real struggle with our fruit crop. Our nectarines are officially done for the year. We are sad to see them go especially since we had so many losses. Our one nectarine tree produced more than 30lbs of fruit this year which is far more than last year! However we only go the benefit of maybe 12 of those pounds. I want to cry. It is so disheartening as farm life can sometimes be. We lost quite a few early on with heavy rain and wind associated with thunderstorms. These fruit were no where near ready to harvest. All I could see after the rain was my blackberry nectarine jam laid out on the yard. Ugh! Weather is beyond our control but what was more in our control was treating for pets, the plum curculio to be specific. It wreaked havoc on our nectarine tree for the first time ever! For three seasons we have not had any issue with pests whatsoever and I guess we were being naïve to think that would continue be the case. In reality we are always fighting some pests on everything else and we thought we were catching a break with our fruit trees. WRONG! In conversation with a friend who had a peach tree for many years it was expressed that her family had lost many of their peaches to a bug that lays its larvae inside the fruit. She wanted to give us a warning since we had told her we had a couple of peaches on our young peach trees. We researched the bug and what do you know – THEY LOVE NECTARINES TOO! OH NO! Sadly there are not many options for organic growers for peach, plum, and nectarine trees. So we tried an option we are already using on our other crops. It was too late however. Lesson learned! Next year we will treat as soon as the buds begin to appear and again when they start to swell and color. We also hope to incorporate the use of these fruit bags as was suggested by our contact at the local extension office to protect our valuable crop. Hopefully applying these techniques will mean a much healthier harvest come 2022!
Also our blackberries were a bit of a disappointment. Well not them, the timing of life really. Just as the majority of them were ready to harvest we ended up on a 4 day hospital stay with our baby girl and we forgot all about them – JUST FORGOT! Seriously though our mama, papa, and brother bear were completely activated as we all did our best to stay calm for Ms. Thai as she recuperated. It is what it is! Blackberries will without fail be back next year and we will try this again.
On the brighter side of things our muscadine vine is finally producing for us! It was installed in 2019 and we were told that the following year we should be harvesting our first muscadines. Well 2020 was just a wild year – I think we can all agree to that. So with all the madness it was actually around Fall that we realized the vine didn’t produce. The leaves were beautiful and healthy but no grapes. I did notice that the flea beetle and stink bug had took up lodging in the leaves so we treated for that successfully. Just about a week or so ago I noticed itty bitty grapes forming on our vine! So exciting! You best believe we opened our Farming Basics app immediately to see what pests we needed to look out for! Thankfully they are the ones already common to our neck of the woods.
Our strawberries are really confusing me with their production. We did plant out more this year in strawberry tower instead of a second row in the high tunnel. We are finally over the hump with the slugs and now it seems just as quick as the production rose it has slowed. We are researching more to see if we can get a real grip on what is going on with them. If we can then Spring of 2022 we will start a second row in our high tunnel but that remains to be seen. What we have harvested we have used in oatmeal and for fresh eating. We really want to be successful next year because you all deserve to taste these organically grown, delicious local grown berries!
We could not be more pleased with how well our new flower varieties are doing! We have already begun to make these available to you in our Spring Flower Bouquet. These will remain available throughout the early Summer at the very least. We are not quite sure how the new flower will respond to our HOT HOT Summers so we will wait and see if we can keep these available through Summer right on to Fall.
Zucchini varieties are up for harvesting! We have already added these to our listing page and we have helped ourselves to some ourselves. Last Fall we researched deeply the various Zucchini varieties trying to find a second one that will remain tender and flavorful even at larger dimensions. We are happy to say that we found what we were looking for! We have grilled them and skewered them with shrimp, sausage, and roasting peppers. This week we will be freezing them in different styles to preserve for the year. Man I love the flavors of Summer!
Cucumbers are next to be harvested and although I’m typing this in May for our June blog I’m sure by May 31st we will have harvested our first cucumbers from our field areas and following closely is our high tunnel cucumbers as well. We are growing all our usual fun varieties of cucumbers and look forward to making pickles again!
Potatoes are growing very well and our early potatoes are up for harvest this mid-June and late potatoes the end of July. As soon as we pull these the cycle continues with Sweet Potatoes which ironically is more closely related to the Morning Glory flower than a tuber potato!
Garlic is not due to be pulled till nearly August (based on seed to harvest days) however it is showing signs of nearing harvest earlier than projected. Along with the scapes we are noticing some of the leaves dying back and falling over. We pulled just one just to get an idea of the size of bulbs. What we found was very interesting! What is going on here?! It could be the heavy rains that we have gotten or inconsistent temperatures we really don’t know but that is another research project. The smell is amazing though. We have placed this harvested garlic out to cure with our onions. We grew more garlic this year than we ever have because we wanted to have enough to store for the entire year. If these bulbs are sizeable enough we should have enough for our spice blends and for storage.
Squash is already under attack by the dreaded squash bug! We have diligently searched them out and have been removing them by hand along with their eggs so here is hoping we can harvest a few before having to pull them altogether!
Long beans are back in production and should be in full swing by the end of the month along with snap beans. In addition to our usual varieties of beans we are adding this beautiful Blauhilde bean. I’ll give you one guess as to why this German heirloom caught my attention. Yep. IT IS PURPLE! In addition the pods are stingless and remain tender even at larger sizes. This is important to us as we eat snap beans several times a week! We planted our crop in the high tunnel as well as in an uncovered bed. For the first time we actually treated our seeds with an OMRI Listed inoculant. We think this will become a common practice for us as soil health is very important so if we can add a little to our black gold – why not!?!
High tunnel eggplants are in some production but we are storing these for the family use for the year. As they get into the swing of things they will be made available to the public. Field eggplants will likely not be available till the end of July. Why? Because Bain Home Gardens eggplants are straight DIVAS! Peppers on the other hand are killin’ it! Field peppers (jalapenos only) will begin being harvested this month. We began preserving some of our peppers by making a very hot Cowboy Candy with our Serrano Peppers. We will replicate it with the jalapenos as they become available.
Still there is corn, herbs, tomatoes and more all to be harvested in the upcoming months!
What Is Going In the Ground
This time of the year we are scheduled to plant at least one thing a week. Arugula, lettuce, Asian greens, and radishes to name a few. I like this time of the year because we are basically on auto pilot. We know if something is being harvested then something MUST GO INTO THE GROUND! The only big crops to plant for the season and that is Sweet Potatoes and peanuts and we hope to tackle them this month. We also have a couple of beds to turn over for planting, tomatoes that always seem to need pruning and beds that always need weeding! Ah – farm life!
High Tunnel Happenings
Hoopty has been getting much attention this season; primarily because we are making needed adjustments from information we learned last season. We are learning as we grow. We have often talked with you guys about the Alabama Beginning Farmers Program has be so beneficial to our growth over the last few years. This year we are working very closely with Dr. Ayanava Majumdar on our pest exclusion system for Hoopty. You more than like have already seen our video of the upgrade on the side walls. Now we have the front and the back as well with this improved netting. Air flow is so amazingly improved and this will benefit our crops especially as the months get warmer. Dr. A also has set out insect traps for monitoring different moths and pests on our farm both inside and outside of the high tunnel. This data will be collected biweekly and used to map the flow of pest throughout the state giving farmers a heads up for the seasons to come. I love being a part of this! Networking with like minded individuals and empowering growth with knowledge is such an amazing process. Our farm cat Lucy really likes Dr. A as you can see in the photo. Thank you Dr. A for being such a good sport! We think she just wanted to say thank you too.
What can you expect over on our YouTube channel for the month of June? Well one of our hens (Shrill-x) went is broody and we are allowing her to hatch a few of her own eggs and some of the other hens donated her some eggs to hatch out too. We have been recording the process thus far and whether she is successful or not we will be posting the adventure. You can also expect that video. At some point this month we will also be posting a video featuring our cattle panel trellis and raised bed set up. This idea was born to create a bit more curb appeal for our family garden. Lastly we hope to post a potato harvest video as well. There is so much going on you best stay tuned – from our family to yours!