Well, Hannah and I fell off the band wagon with this blog… lets see July 16 was our last post. So there is plenty to write about but where to start.
I’ll start with a wrap up of the growing season: it was painful, it was a hotter than imaginable this summer and over-all it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned more in the past eight months than any other time in my life. I learned horticulture. I learned what hard-work means. I learned how to work smarter. I learned a lot about myself. It was a struggle this first year and even though there were times when I wanted to quit and give up, I didn’t and now my resolve has doubled, tripled. I feel more than ever this is what I want to do and as I said before I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.
All year Hannah and I were catching up with the weather, catching up from our mistakes… and we had this phrase when we knew something wasn’t perfect we would say “Next year I want… ” so all season we were making goals for the next year, here are some of those goals:
Head lettuce later in the summer and earlier in the fall, eighteen inch tall celery, softball size celery-root, July forth sweet corn, carrots all year, Constance and Harvey Maloy’s giant sweet peppers (After one saturday farmers market hannah and I walked around our neighborhood and found enormous pepper plants) more summer squash we got hit hard by squash borers and should have done a later planting, more melons especially our favorite variety from this year aptly named ‘hannah’s choice’, more peas, more broccoli, more edamame, and a winter squash harvest like this:
- This is a picture from Wobbly Cart Farm in Washington State that was near the farm we worked on. Young farmers not much older than us started Wobbly Cart, which is what Hannah and I would like our operation to eventually become. Check them out at wobblycart.com
There is some aspects of growing that we have to improve, namely weeding, irrigation and tomato trellising. Our tomatoes got away from us and were all over the ground for the end of August and all of September. Also we didn’t give them enough space so it was difficult picking. Next year it will be weed free maybe even mulched and spaced so that harvest is easy and efficient. We will use two by fours for the posts so the plants will have a sturdy structure to grow on. Hannah and I will be militant when it comes to trellising and pruning – we will not have tomatoes on the ground next year. Also we will drip irrigate all the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, etc so that those crops get the water they need even if it is a hundred plus degrees.
Irrigation was another huge problem for us. We had a barbaric setup with hoses and larger black irrigation pipe that was always in the way… just imagine pulling three seventy-five foot hoses in the heat of summer at least a football field length, then letting the water run all night just to get some water to the plants. So next year more drip irrigation. We can set it up and then leave it for the season and not move hose as much. Which will leave us with more energy to weed.
Weeds were difficult this year for a few reasons. One, there was a thirty year seed bank that we un-earthed. Two, when we irrigated we watered everything because of our crude setup with overhead sprinklers so just as one can imagine the weeds took off. Lastly, we were not the best at cultivating early on but I am a believer now. The difference in weeds is astounding when we hoe early and often. Even ten days after we seed and water in something there may not be any weeds poking up but we can easily kill any weeds that have germinated with just a brush of the ground with the hoe. So next year we will have to be better about using our stir-up hoes and beating those weeds before they have to be pulled by hand. Also I want to transplant more crops because with transplants we have a three-week jump, making it easier to cultivate and not get behind on the weeding schedule.
We couldn’t have made it through this year with out all the great people in Hastings that gave us a chance so we would like to say thank you to everyone that signed up for our CSA. We would not been able to do this with out your interest and support. Without you this business would have flopped, and we would not be doing this next year. You made the difference between a successful farm and an unsuccessful one. Thank you.
To all those people we had to say no to, I hope you understand we just didn’t have the produce to sell this year. We had a little extra that went to the farmers market and we were happy to see some of you there unfortunately it just wasn’t enough for us to take on everyone that wanted to sign up this year. We didn’t expect to have as many sign-ups as we did. We had no idea Hastings would be so supportive of a CSA. We hope you sign up next year because it will be better than ever.
I want to give a special thanks to Hannah’s parents, Connie and Jim, who let us tear up their beautiful back pasture and gave up their animals for this farm project. This has been a chance of a life-time for Hannah and I, we both love what we do, we love growing for our CSA members and our regulars at the farmers market. Thank you for everything and then some.