04 Aug Summer frenzy
This is the time of year when we just try our best to hang on tight and survive the ride. The fields get fuzzy around the edges as all non-essential and semi-essential projects are neglected, our summer help of college and high school kids desert us for vacations and back to school, and the few full time full season employees we have left that survived one of the hottest summers I can remember are pretty darn tired. But it’s August on a vegetable farm! That’s peak harvest season for the summer crops and we still need to look ahead and plan for fall. Harvest, harvest, harvest! That’s about all we seem to have time for these days, with a bit of trellising and planting thrown in when we can fit it.
The field tomatoes waited for the cooler weather to ripen- people think well, it’s hot out, the tomatoes must love it, but actually the optimum temperature for tomato ripening is between 68-77 degrees. Anything above (or below) that will slow down the process. And it certainly was way above 77 degrees for the last month! But not anymore- this afternoon we harvested 1,245 pounds of red beefsteak tomatoes. Then it was onto the green bell peppers (the sweet fryers are a week or so away), and off to plant some fall fennel and greens.
The winter squash is looking to be a bumper crop, which is perfect, as our summer squash is winding down. Earlier this week we harvested all the spaghetti squash, so look for that coming up in your share and at markets this weekend- a nice change from all the zucchini heavy meals I know I’ve been making! The acorn and delicata squash look amazing, as do the butternuts and kabocha. Speaking of fall, the sweet potatoes are vining out nicely (see photo below).
Enough talk about fall! It is still summer, and we have watermelon on the horizon- lots of gigantic red ones and some super sweet orange ones as well. The cantaloupes this week were smaller than we would have liked (this planting was one that went through that late frost way back in mid-May, and just never bounced back), but they are still super sweet and tasty- keep them in the fridge and eat them soon.
Another summer time favorite, the Italian eggplant, is beautiful this year- big glossy purple globes. The sweet corn has been awesome (this week’s yellow variety is definitely the best corn I’ve ever eaten), and we hope to have a few more weeks of it (if we can get the corn cannon going to scare off all the blackbirds that like to munch on the tips- argh!).
For our second planting of tomatoes we experimented with mulching it with a heavy carpet of leaves, instead of using plastic. It was very labor intensive, but we are hoping that not only will the leaves help build up organic matter in the soil for subsequent crops, but that it will also suppress the weeds for this crop of tomatoes. And the leaves are free from Perkasie- they’ve been breaking down here at the farm since the town delivered them last fall.
On a more serious note we are definitely very short handed on the farm. We have lost a lot of full season employees that we did not anticipate losing, for various reasons. This farm is much larger than anything that Tom and I are able to handle on our own. The farm suffers when we have to retrain people constantly to do work that requires a lot of attention to detail, as well as physical and mental stamina, all during a season when people are used to vacationing, trips to the beach, and a slower pace. Farming is hard work, and it is definitely not for everyone. Actually it seems to not be for many people at all, and that’s becoming increasingly a problem. We’re really not sure what the answer is when it comes to labor, and I know we are certainly not the only farm to struggle with this issue. But I do know being shorthanded means we have to make a lot of decisions about what work to prioritize, and what to let go. For you all, this might mean less blog posts and things like classes and cooking demos scheduled, and out on the farm things looking a little rougher around the edges than we’d like- (there are definitely lots and lots of weeds not getting weeded, but maybe we are the only ones noticing ;). But we are hopeful that we will get more help hired in the coming few weeks, and get back on track. And we are super grateful for those field workers we have that are willing to put in the effort, the long days and long weeks, and see the season through.
Laura, our friend and CSA greeter, will be leaving us when her kids head back to school. We’ll miss her but we’re so glad she helped us out this summer! We will be looking for a new CSA greeter for Tuesdays (and possibly Thursdays) starting in September through the end of the CSA season in mid-November. The hours are 12:30 to 8pm. The ideal candidate has great customer service skills, has been a CSA member for a number of years, and really values the farm and the food. Must be physically capable of restocking- lifting up to 40 pound bins. Please email me directly for more details if you are interested.
Enjoy the bounty!
Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.