Just as we were on the edge of despair, August 1 arrived with cool nights and arms of unexpected gifts.
The plums and peaches are ripe in the orchard and I’ve been putting them up by the basketful- freezing, canning, and sun drying (the ever-desirable prunes!).
The silk on the corn has dried and the ears are plump. We shared our first ear (split in thirds) a few days ago the way it’s meant to be eaten, straight from the field. We celebrated. Last year we lost our entire corn crop to green worms (I think we let it get overripe). Nevertheless, corn is very difficult to grow Organically and worth a celebration.
Our (or, ahem, Andrew’s) intensive pruning and trellising of the tomatoes (pruning to 1-2 main stems and removing suckers) has so far proven to be working. Last year we went entirely Fukouka and allowed the tomatoes to sprawl naturally along the ground, but that resulted in all small to medium sized tomatoes. This year we are experimenting with growing more beefsteak (heirloom) varieties and allowing half to grow wild (heaven forbid we stray too far from Fukouka), and trellising and painstakingly pruning the other half. An added bonus to trellising is that they are out of reach to the rodents. Although, I wouldn’t put it past our squirrels to learn to shimmy up poles.
Our landlord approached us about financing a rabbit fence that will surround our entire field. It is a work in progress; we have the posts laid and half of the fence stretched. It may very well buy us another year of growing. We are thankful.
The folks from Bob’s Specialty Meats came out last week to harvest our dear Lucille and Ramona. They did an outstanding job, and we cannot have asked for a more humane and fast death. We are still processing the experience and will be ready to share more soon. It was a bittersweet day. We will keep one pig to feed ourselves, and have already sold the other. Our chickens are much happier now, as they get 100% of our food scraps. The goats have been a bit on edge since the day.
This morning while walking the field I noticed for the first time gophers making their way through our potatoes. We made a quick decision to harvest early, or else risk losing them all. We walked away with four huge crates. The small, new potatoes will be eaten or go in boxes tomorrow, and the rest cured, then stored for winter.
Despite our difficulties with rodents, and consequent inability to grow our CSA numbers as we anticipated, we can’t help but feel encouraged. There is a spring in our step. August, we are so happy you are here.