Field Update and Trials from our Farm Manager Kate
As mid-July passes by, the fields are bursting with growth and ripening fruit (peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes are on deck!). Our weekly work plan has fallen into a predictable rhythm: Monday: big projects with worker share volunteers; Tuesday: harvest and wash for CSA; Wednesday: finish the CSA harvest, bag items for CSA distribution, greenhouse seeding, weeding and transplanting in the field; Thursday: volunteer mornings to tackle big projects, tending to crops; Friday: harvest for the market, tie up loose ends. The schedule is fluid and shifts based on weather and field conditions, but for the most part, it’s predictable this time of year. This week marked a big change in the season: the beginning of storage harvests. We had perfect conditions Monday morning to pull all of our garlic in record time. In the coming weeks, more and more of our time will be spent harvesting.
Each year brings different challenges and successes, but the course of the season is somewhat predictable. The predictability of the ebbs and flows of the season, paired with careful planning in the winter allows for a certain level of stability. However, when you work with Mother Nature, you can only plan for so much. When people ask, “what’s new this year?” the answer is often: not much. We try a handful of new varieties each year: interesting things to try for fun, varieties with better heat or disease tolerance, faster maturing varieties, etc.
We try a few new “big” things each year. Some of these experiments are visible, and others you might not witness. This year, our new things include: a 5 week spring share, “cooling” white plastic mulch in the hoophouse for spring greens, a new area for the herb garden, and diversifying our microgreens production. We rely on our tried and true methods, but it’s through experimentation that we continue to learn and improve.
We are working with researchers from the UW again on a couple important and exciting projects. One trial, which we’ve participated in for several years, is looking at reduced tillage and living mulches for vegetable production. As organic farmers, we rely pretty heavily on tillage and mechanical cultivation to help us control weeds. We are always looking for new ways to build soil health while maintaining crop production. We are grateful to have researchers who can help us achieve that goal. In addition, we are hosting a trial for pollinators in cucurbit crops (melons, cucumbers, squash). We received some exciting news: of the many farm trial sites, Blue Moon is the only farm where there is an active wild bee population.
The growing season is flying by, and I feel grateful to be able to pause and reflect a bit on the work we’re doing. In my seventh year of farming, I continue to learn everyday! You can grow something each year and it will always be different.