Blooming Glen Farm | On The Farm
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On The Farm

It’s heating up at the farm, and we are working around the clock to keep the farm irrigated. Anyone with a garden, or a lawn, can see that we are in need of some nice steady rainfall. As we irrigate, mostly through drip tape, you can almost watch the plants instantly respond and spring up a few inches. Our intern and irrigation manager, Mike, can be seen buzzing around the farm in the little orange Kubota car (nicknamed “The Shark”), turning water on and off, and fertigating through the drip tape with sea minerals, sea weed and fish emulsion. He and Tom develop a complex set of weekly and daily “directives”, with the field map color coded and highlighted. To keep everything watered, and to take advantage of the cool nights, fields turned on at sunset need to be switched over around 3am, then the next set of fields turned over in the morning, and so on throughout the day. Managing the watering needs of 30+ acres in a dry spell is no small task but Mike, and Tom, are doing an amazing job! Let’s hope for some rain (no thunderstorms please!), to give them a reprieve.

Baby cantaloupes, and irrigation manager/intern Mike Lasecki.

Our crew spent yesterday planting fall brassicas: brussel sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. Next week, cauliflower. As we are on the cusp of harvesting our summer crops (tomatoes!!), we are also looking ahead 8 weeks to the fall crops. These fall crops are planted on white plastic mulch to help them deal with the strong summer heat, so they will flourish when they hit the cooler fall months.

Weeding basil and planting fall cabbage.

Have a wonderful fourth of July, and enjoy this week’s share. I made a garlicky pesto over the weekend and tossed it with lightly cooked yellow beans- delicious, and perfect for a barbecue!

CSA share, week 8, 7/3/12

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

This week’s share included the first “new potatoes” of the season, as well as fresh basil, sweet onions and very sweet and tender pick-your-own green beans. New potatoes are dug in the spring, and have a thin fragile skin. Unlike fall potatoes that have been cured and stored (their skin toughened to withstand long winter storage), these tender potatoes are meant to be stored in the fridge and eaten relatively quickly and do not need their skins peeled before eating. Our new potatoes go tumbling through a potato digger and then our root washer, which furthers removes some of the skin.

Share week 7, 6/26/12

Another tip for this week’s share: store your basil in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers, on your counter, out of direct sunlight. It will keep here for a week or more (it may even start to send out roots!) and you can use the leaves as needed. Do not refrigerate basil!!

Enough about the veggies… how about those flowers! With over 50 different varieties of flowers, the pick-your-own flower patch is a patchwork of colors. Make sure you give yourself time to walk through the whole field so you can see all of what’s out there- different varieties are in different stages of bloom. 

Please read the following tips for pick-your-own flowers:

  • Bring your own clippers from home. If you forget, ask another CSA member to borrow theirs, ask a farmer, or come back another day. The flower patch is an especially beautiful place to be in the cooler evenings and early mornings, and is always “open” for cutting, even on the weekends. 
  • Please do not cut flowers from the discovery garden (where you will find the pick-your-own herbs) or walkway. These flowers are for everyone to enjoy in bloom.
  • Read the poster at the farm titled ” How to Cut Flowers”. This diagram shows the best way to cut your flowers in the field. Please teach your children the best way to cut flowers.
  • Bring a vessel you can fill up with water at the farm. (There is always a hose outside the distribution room  in our wash area). Cut your flowers right into your vessel. TIP:  For a portable vase, take a plastic gallon milk or juice container with a handle and cut a larger opening.
  • There are lots of flowers in the flower field, and they are primarily for your enjoyment! Please do not be shy about cutting a generous bouquet. Most flowers do best when the blooms are continuously cut, especially prolific flowers like zinnias. If you are interested in helping to maintain the flower patch by “deadheading” or weeding, let us know!
  • Re-cut your stems at an angle when you get home.
  • Strip the stems. No leaves under water!!
  • Make a home made preservative: Mix 1 tsp vinegar, 1 T sugar, and 1 aspirin tablet to 24 ounces of water.
  • Cut stems again every other day, and change the vase water.
  • Do not use public water– it may contain chlorine.
  • Don’t put your vase in direct sunlight or near a bowl of fruit.

Love the flowers and want to learn more?? At Blooming Glen Farm on Thursday, July 19th at 6pm, join flower professional Lyn Hicks of Harmony Hill Gardens for “Creating with Flowers”. Lyn will offer you tips to making beautiful centerpieces for your home. A passionate GREEN spokesperson, student and educator, Lyn Hicks leads the Green Collaboration, and is Flower Expert for The Green Bride.

This fun hands-on class with Lyn will help you understand harvest and post harvest to keep your flowers longer, you’ll learn the magic of putting together your own floral piece step by step, and you will leave with a self created centerpiece and the knowledge to present your flowers in a new way throughout your summer. All flowers and containers are included. Go to the calendar of our website for more info and to pre-register.

Important reminder regarding pick-up logistics: we realize that things do happen during pick-up days that can prevent you from being able to come get your share. However, over the years we have developed the policy, as stated in the CSA Rough Guide, that once the pick-up is over, pick-up is OVER. If you are unable to pick up on Tuesday, that does not mean you can come on Thursday, or vice versa. (**We can accomodate switches with prior notice, by 7 pm Sunday of the week you want to switch.)  Even if you encounter an emergency (as we all do at times), we are not able to hold food for you to pick-up at a later time or day. Please understand that we are sympathetic to your emergency, but we have found logistically it is important for our sanity to have a policy in place for missed pick-ups. At our discretion, some or all of any extra food will be donated to a local Food Pantry. Our crew is often in the fields until 6:30pm or later, and the farm family often works later then that. As you can imagine with over 150 people picking up on any given distribution day, there can be a half a dozen pleading phone calls on our answering machine every pick-up evening when we finally are able to come in for dinner. Please find an “emergency” friend or neighbor that you can call that can come pick up the share for you on your allotted pick-up day between 1 and 8pm. In the case that you are just unable to get your share or find anyone to help you, you are always welcome to come and do the pick-your-own crops before the next pick-up week begins- the information will still be on the board until the following Tuesday. Thank you for your understanding.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Summer Solstice is upon us, the longest day of the year. With it comes the first heat wave of the season, a strong reminder of the sun’s power. The evening light glows until past 9:30 pm, highlighted by the flashes of fireflies flickering above the fields, and often punctuated by the steady buzz of the tractor as Farmer Tom works late into the cooler evenings. Here at the farm the summer solstice is the peak of planting time- we are on just the last few pages of our planting chart- a chart that begins in February with onion and celeriac seeding. Today the farm crew harvested a few thousand cucumbers- truly a welcome sign of summer. You can almost sit and watch the tomatoes growing, and I confess, we ate the first ripe heirloom tomato from the greenhouses! The field tomatoes are all trellised on a system called the weave- we can chart the growth of the tomatoes by how quickly we need to add layers of string. The crops aren’t the only thing growing at the farm- it’s a battle to stay on top of the weeds. Most of the weeds are pulled by hand, but the weeds in the aisles between the beds are cultivated with a tractor….the rainy weather kept us out of the fields and the weeds got ahead of us. Now we play catch up.  

Tom cultivating the melon aisles and Jill trellising the cherry tomatoes

The share this week has the first of the garlic- we pulled the bulbs fresh- you can peel them and use the moist aromatic cloves just like you would regular garlic.

CSA share week 6, 6/19/12

Happy Summer Solstice! The bounty of the summer season lies ahead of us- the flowers, the fruits, and all the wonderful vegetables we will enjoy this season. In honor of the summer solstice, and those beautiful, sprawling, flowering, melon vines, I found this poem.

Night in Day
by Joseph Stroud

The night never wants to end, to give itself over
to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.
Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great
triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun–
we break open the watermelon and spit out
black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

The rain came down on Tuesday but thanks to a big effort on Monday rototilling and making beds, we were ready for the storm. Today was spent in a monumental weeding and planting push. The butternut and delicata winter squash finally went in, as well as dill, more lettuce, fennel, basil, beets and green beans. There is still lots of catching up to be done in the weeding department, but we’re getting there!

Before and After: Winter Squash!

For one week only, some beautiful sweet broccoli makes an appearance in the share. We’ll see more of this cool weather loving crop in the fall!

CSA Share, week 5, 6/12/12

The summer crops are growing well- we are starting to see little itty bitty cucumbers, the watermelon vines are sprawling across the aisles, the tomatoes are growing in leaps and bounds and the basil is almost ready to pick!

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

And of course, it’s just the beginning of the summer squash harvest! We are very happy to announce a new addition to the farm- a conveyor belt! Picking squash is back-breaking work. But especially so when you have to haul a bin along with you as you search and pick amongst the plants. With the conveyor belt, this step is eliminated. You still have to bend over and pick, but now you stand and put the squash on the conveyor belt, where it heads for the farm cart and a sorter who packs it into the bins. We can’t wait to use it on cucumbers and watermelons!

Harvesting summer squash using a conveyor belt.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

The CSA season is off to a great start. The strawberries are a few weeks earlier this season- juicy red and ripe, the early spring greens and roots are growing, and despite all the rain yesterday, spirits are high! Thanks to the (mostly) dry Spring we are happy to have spinach in the share- a first for Blooming Glen Farm. Spinach does not typically like our heavy clay soil, and it definitely does not like wet feet. So we are excited to have it for you this week!

CSA Share 2012, Week 1.

It was a wonderful sight to see all the familiar faces at the farm again- many of you celebrating your seventh season with us, as well as all the new faces- exploring the discovery garden, and eager to learn more about all the wonderful varieties of veggies in the share.

Ready to Harvest!

Our awesome farm crew is rocking it out every day- busy seeding and transplanting and weeding, and now harvesting for both the CSA and the farmers markets. The number of empty seedling trays that need to washed out every week are a great indicator of the number of plants going in every week. And believe me, it’s mind boggling!

Tatsoi in the field; weekly washing of empty seedling trays

The weather has been all over the map this Spring. April was a month of dry warm weather interspersed with freezing cold nights. Our crew spent many hours getting to know the large white sheets of row cover, or remay, which provides an extra 4-7 degrees of temperature protection on any cold-sensitive seedlings. The strawberries needed a double row of covers to keep their blossoms protected from the frosts and freezes, but then they also needed to be uncovered in the mornings for pollination to occur. No small task, all that covering and uncovering! 

Row covers, or remay, protecting the greenhouse tomatoes and field strawberries from the cold nights.

The early spring dry weather enabled us to get lots of crops in the ground right on schedule, now we hope the rainy days and damp weather doesn’t go for too long! We need the sun and warmth to ripen those strawberries, and dry weather will definitely help prolong the strawberry harvest by not encouraging molds and other funk to grow.

Strawberry field and garlic.

Most of our work on the farm in the Spring involves seeding and planting. The weeds have yet to really start growing, and what’s out there we are mostly able to get with the cultivating tractor. In addition to all the planting, we have been busy thinning turnips, trellising our greenhouse tomatoes and getting stakes and trellising lines on our field peas.

Head Lettuce, Trellising Heirloom Tomatoes, Baby Fennel plants

The official first on-farm CSA pick-up is next week on Tuesday May 15th and Thursday May 17th from 1-8pm. What can you expect the first week? Spring radishes and hakurei turnips, spring onions, spinach, bok choy, and head lettuce!

New members, don’t forget to read through the CSA Rough Guide before your first pick-up- this goes over all the logistics of pick-up, like BYOB (aka bring-your-own-bags), what to do if you go on vacation, and how to switch your pick-up day if needed. The Rough Guide will most likely answer many of your questions, so please check it out before next week!  Split partners- be sure to coordinate who will pick-up the first week. If you have yet to send in your down payment, please do so by the first pick-up to be sure you are on our “pick” sheet the first week! Unsure of your registered pick-up day? Check your invoice or email us!

 **We do still have some shares available, so please help us spread the word. Shares are also available for our abbreviated 16-week CSA boxed delivery share to Doylestown Presbyterian Church on Fridays. That delivered share will start in mid to late June.

We have two wonderful classes coming up this month at the farm. The first is on Saturday May 19th at 10am, a Strawberry Jam Canning class with Marisa McClellen of the very popular Food in Jars Blog. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from an expert in the canning world, and a great way to kick off strawberry season! Pre-registration is required for this class!

On Wednesday May 23 at 6pm herbalist Susan Hess will teach “Dreaming the Herbal Garden”, all about starting your own herb garden- whether in containers or in the ground. Click here to read more about Susan’s classes at the farm this summer. Pre-registration and Pre-payment is required.

Last Call for Pastured Chicken Shares! May 15th- postmark deadline. Don’t miss your chance for delicious, nutritious and local poultry, delivered to Blooming Glen Farm when you pick-up your veggies. For more details, click here.  Please contact Ledamete Grass Farm directly with any questions via email or phone: April and Rob Fix, Ledamete Grass Farm, 5471 Sell Road, Schnecksville, PA 18078. Phone: 610-767-4984, email: ledametegrass@gmail.com, website: ledametegrassfarm.com You can also read more on our recent blog post about Ledamete Grass Farm.

What a difference a year makes! Looking over blog posts from this time last season, we were drowning in rain. Plants were waiting, and waiting, to go into the wet soggy fields, we were doing lots of construction projects to keep busy, and we were generally frustrated by too much water. This Spring is the complete opposite. The lack of rain wouldn’t be too bad, we do have a great irrigation system after all, however the wind adds another level of stress to the plants.

Transplants that go out into the field are either hooked up to drip irrigation, which delivers water through tubes directly at the base of the plants, or by overhead sprinklers, which creates a shower-like effect in a 40 foot radius. Overhead is necessary for our direct seeded crops like radishes, spring turnips, arugula and carrots. And with the wind, you can imagine that any overhead watering is quite a challenge. Even when we do get something nice and watered, it quickly dries out again.

Because of this dry windy weather, we have had some difficulty getting germination from our first rotation of carrots, so we’ll be trying again next week. Even the transplants themselves are dealing with wind stress. We often utilize hoops and row covers to try and protect them a bit, but they can act like giant wind socks and cause more harm by banging against the plants.

Blowing in the wind: Row covers (or "remay") over the lettuce seedlings.

We are seeing some wind damage on our transplants, but our hope is that they will be very strong after this week, and will grow in leaps and bounds as soon as they are given calmer weather!!

Sugar Snap Peas

What’s growing out there? Lots! Our crew of 8 has been busy planting, planting, and planting, oh, and a little weeding too! Spring onions, sugar snap peas, lots and lots of potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, swiss chard, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi, beets, fennel, radicchio, and Chinese cabbage are all out in the fields. As our harvest start to trickle in, our farmers markets will begin May 5 and 6th (and we’ll be at the Wrightstown mini-market Saturday April 14) and then once we have enough volume, and when those strawberries ripen up, we will start the CSA pick-ups. Keep an eye on your emails, the blog, or the website. As soon as we know when that first week of the CSA will be, we will let you know! We are in the process of adding classes and events to our online calendar. Check here on the blog, or on our website’s calendar , for updates. We hope you’ll join us April 29th for our Spring event at the farm: Cookbook Swap and Food Tasting Adventure! There are still CSA shares available, so please spread the word. We have flyers if you’d like to hang any in your neighborhood.

Brian potting-up flower seedlings. Spinach seedlings.

We’re excited to announce that the Outstanding in the Field bus is returning to Blooming Glen Farm on Sunday, September 23. Chef Mitch Prensky and his crew from Supper in Philadelphia will be manning the field kitchen again. Tickets go on sale on March 20, the first day of Spring! Tickets for these events sell out quickly- anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 weeks. Join the OITF mailing list to get updates leading up to the release date.

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure that travels around the country setting their long table in fields, gardens, beaches, barns and vineyards. Their mission is to promote local food and agriculture and get people out to the farm to see where their food is coming from and meet the producers. Their long table has graced farms from Hawaii to Florida, and even has headed oversees to partner with the esteemed chefs at the famous Noma restaurant in Denmark. (Read about it in their blog.) And now they’re coming back to Bucks County! Last years dinner at Blooming Glen Farm drew people from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Join us in the field for a farm dinner experience not to be missed. Tickets available on the Outstanding in the Field website on March 20.

Surrounded by seed catalogs, and a revised copy of last year’s 15 page planting chart, we cull together the seed order for 2012. Spread out before us are a few choice catalogs from our favorite seed companies, as well as a few that we like for their descriptions and photos, (but not necessarily their pricing!). Within these pages are contained hundreds of varieties, some depicted with simple black and white line drawings others with glossy photos of the ideal harvest. While we have our tried and true favorites that we grow every year, the catalogs always entice us with new and interesting selections. Often times these new varieties come with outrageous claims of high yields and perfect fruits (we know better). We select varieties with great flavor, that meet the needs of our climate, our soil and our particular disease and insect pressures, while also taking into account what has worked for us in the past, and what other farmer friends have recommended.

Another important consideration when we order seeds is the origin and production of those seeds. As organic growers we always look first for organic seeds. The majority of our seeds are ordered from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Albion, Maine) and from Seedway’s Untreated and Organic Vegetable Seed catalog (Elizabethtown, Pa). We also fill in with seed from places like Fedco and The Maine Potato Lady.

Organic Beet Seed

Lucky for us the seed companies we order from have begun to increase their breeding efforts (done through traditional breeding methods) with the specific needs of organic growers in mind.

As a certified-organic grower and handler, Johnny’s Selected Seeds is able to offer a wide selection of organic seeds produced on its own farm as well as from numerous seed producers worldwide, often from universities like Cornell (developers of our favorite winter squash, bush delicata) and North Carolina State.  If you are confused about traditional plant breeding vs. genetic engineering, take a look at this great page on Johnny’s website where they talk about some of their traditional plant breeding trials. Johnny’s does not sell genetically modified seeds and it does not breed new varieties using genetic engineering. Rather, it breeds plants using traditional methods, a slow and painstaking process that can take eight years or more from the first selection to seed sales. One of the results of their breeding trials, Sunshine, is our favorite winter squash.

Even when an organic selection is not available, we make sure to purchase from seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.  Johnny’s Selected Seeds was one of the original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge in 1999. Johnny’s presents the Safe Seed Pledge as follows:

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically-engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families, or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing are necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically-engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and, ultimately, people and communities.”

In Seedway’s Untreated and Organic Seed catalog it states: “All varieties in this catalog are developed and produced by traditional methods. None of the items have been genetically modified and, to the best of our knowledge, none of this seed has been contaminated with any genetically modified material. We are certified as an Organic Handler by “PCO”, Pennsylvania Certified Organic”.

The good news is, at this time, very little genetically modified vegetable seed has been developed, and it is unlikely that you would “accidentally” purchase any. Buyers of GMO varieties are forced to sign technology-use agreements. The only GMO vegetable crops currently available are sweet corn, sugar beets and a few summer squashes. Sugar beets are grown to be made into sugar (and are white and shaped more like a lumpy turnip), not to be confused with your standard veggie garden variety red beet. It is the store bought processed food, with added sugar, that you have to watch out for.

Check out this article on the Rodale website from February 2011, when shortly after de-regulating GMO alfalfa, the USDA announced it was allowing farmers to begin planting “Roundup-Ready” GMO sugar beets without a completed environmental impact study (EIS), in order to avoid a “shortage of U.S. sugar”. According to Michael Hansen, PhD, chief scientist at Consumer Union, 54 percent of U.S. sugar comes from sugar beets. This decision appears to be less about science and more about marketing – and Monsanto’s monopoly on seeds. Here’s another great article on the website Red Green and Blue: Environmental politics from across the spectrum, talking about how Monsanto’s GMO seeds already dominate the entire US corn, soy, and cotton crops and essentially the sugar beet market; 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton, and 93% of canola seed planted in the U.S. in 2010 were genetically engineered.  Yet as recently as 2008, sugar beet farmers relied exclusively on traditionally bred seeds; the GM ones weren’t commercially available. Two years later, GM seeds dominate the market.

Beyond its potential to contaminate organic seed, what’s the big fuss about round-up ready crops? It’s glyphosate, the key controversial ingredient in the top selling herbicides used worldwide. Check out this article: Cancer cause or crop aid? Herbicide faces big test.

Back to vegetable seeds. One common assumption is that you need to buy strictly heirloom or open-pollinated varieties in order to avoid GMO’s. Not so. Hybrid vegetable seeds can also be non-GMO as well as all certified organic seed (which can be either heirloom/open-pollinated or hybrid). For us, the best bet is dealing with seed companies who take this topic as seriously as we do, and are transparent about their beliefs, whether it be through signing the safe seed pledge, or by periodically testing their seed stock for cross- contamination.

Even Fedco Seed Company, which test their sweet corn and beet seed for transgenic contamination, states: “We do not knowingly use any *transgenic varieties. (**Transgenic means to introduce the genetic code of one species into another. Transgenic plants are sometimes referred to as “genetically modified (GM)” or “genetically engineered (GE)”.) Please note the word “knowingly”. Because of the possibility of contamination, over which we have no control, our pledge necessarily stops short of being an absolute guarantee.”

That is the unfortunate reality of the times we live in and why it is important for all of us to stay aware of one of the greatest experiments in human history. Unfortunately, hundreds of farmers have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. Many of those farmers wanted nothing to do with Monsanto’s GMO crops, but because of pollen drift their crops are being cross-contaminated.

Save the Seeds

Something to keep an eye on is a lawsuit brought against Monsanto by 83 co-plaintiffs- encompassing a broad range of agricultural organizations, organic certifiers, family farmers and seed growers who all could potentially be damaged by the uncontrolled spread of transgenic seeds and their unchecked potential to contaminate conventional and organic seed crops. 

Monsanto’s motion to dismiss the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto will be heard in federal district court this morning, Tuesday January 31, 2012 in Manhattan. Judge Naomi Buchwald’s decision will establish if organic farmers are to see their day in court. 

Education and awareness are the tools we possess as farmers to maintain the integrity of our seeds and our fields. We are lucky to have seed sources that share our concerns about the spread of transgenic food crops.  However, it is ultimately up to the consumer to be aware of the power of a corporation like Monsanto to exert control over our food supply through its very base, the seeds.

Written by Tom Murtha and Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen Farm

The cooler weather at the farm this week has us thinking of fall. Though it may still be early August, as farmers we must always be looking a few months ahead- sowing, transplanting and even harvesting crops now, to be eaten later in the season. Direct sown crops like turnips, carrots, beets, arugula and radishes must all go in the ground. Crops that we started a month or so ago in the greenhouse are also being transplanted- celery, parsley, spinach, bok choy, tatsoi and fall lettuces.

Purple-top turnips and transplanted spinach.

The winter squash crop looks exceptional this year. The butternuts, delicata and cheese pumpkins are all starting to color up and finish ripening. The first winter squash to be harvested, red kabocha, or “sunshine” squash, was picked this week.

Red Kabocha winter squash harvest.

You may notice when you come to the farm that the propagation greenhouse has been covered with a shade cloth and converted to a drying area. In there you will see onions drying and the winter squash curing, while the remainder of our seedlings have been bumped to a smaller greenhouse.

The prop house changes duties for the fall.

We aren’t by any means through with summer just yet. Even as we plan for fall, most of our mornings are still spent harvesting summer crops. Like summer squash and tomatoes, crops like okra have to be harvested almost every other day. Okra has a beautiful flower, similar to hibiscus, but the plant itself is very prickly, and rash inducing. Only the brave dare harvest without gloves!

Mighty okra

Despite the realization that sweet corn takes up a lot of space, requires a disproportionate amount of fertility and nutrients, and in general is just really difficult to manage organically, well, like everyone else we love to eat it, so we keep trying. Our first corn rotation blew over in the big wind and hail storm, causing terrible pollination. The second rotation had quite a bit of worm damage, but the worst was the birds- they know just when the corn is sweet and almost ready for picking and they swoop in, strip the tips down and devour the top two-thirds of the cob, rendering them pretty much inedible. Okay, so let’s hope the third times the charm. We didn’t think our neighbors would appreciate a big cannon blasting noise every few minutes to scare the birds off, and we definitely weren’t into having teenagers out there with their BB guns, so we opted for a gigantic bird net. Call us crazy, but we had to try. So now eight out of ten of the 200 foot beds in the third and final rotation of sweet corn are covered in what looks like a gigantic hair net. Yes, red-winged black birds, we left two beds for you! Please, please, please leave the rest for us!!

Bird-proofing the sweet corn. We hope.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.