Produce, weeds and water

Put the Brookside Farmers Market on your To-Do List.  Saturdays, 8am-1pm at the corner of 63rd and Wornall. 

I know it’s hot, but I had the most pleasant day at the farm yesterday- optimism abounds!  Summer crops are coming along great, and a few vegetables are really starting to wake up.  Cucumbers are multiplying, tomatoes are ripening, squash is squashing.  We’ve been pulling onions of all sizes, garlic is curing, kale is putting on new leaves overnight, and grean beans are just about ready to pick.  I plan to pick more blackberries this week, but that tends to be an evening project- as the sun is going down, and the temperatures start to dip, I love to be at the farm.  I’ve been babying the broccoli, so it should hang in there with some delicious side-shoots.  Thank you Brookside for purchasing our flowers- we’ve sold out of bouquets 3 weeks in a row.  We’ll see what is out there for this week’s color display- definitely more sunflowers and a few zinnias.  We’ll bring more of those new potatoes on Saturday- just perfect for grilling.  We’ll have several ‘small quantity’ items as some crops finish up and others begin.  Come early and beat the heat.  See you Saturday. 

We’ve also been pulling weeds and planting new crops.  Planting new crops??!!  Really?  Yep.  We plant every week of the season, in order to have a steady stream of produce.  In the last week, I’ve planted another couple hundred tomato plants (they will hopefully flourish for fall tomatoes, when our earlier plantings are tired), 200′ of sweet potatoes, 400′ of regular potatoes, 3 kinds of beans, herbs, extra eggplant and husk tomatoes.  Still on the list for this week:  more herbs, flowers, fall broccoli and cauliflower, more sweet potatoes, and hopefully some fall onion sets. 

It seems odd- but I actually hate pulling weeds out of some of these rows in order to plant.  As I’m prepping beds for planting, the rows with weed cover have soil moisture and the rows we’ve tilled are bone-dry.  Bare soil requires so much more water then rows with cover.  Doesn’t make for a pretty farm- but makes for a PRODUCTIVE farm.  Kind of counter-intuitive, don’t you think?  As we allow more and more of our weeds to linger, we notice we have more produce and less need to water.   Now granted, baby transplants and seedlings need open space- and that’s why we pull weeds.  But once they are established, we let the weeds go, and, because we have worked so hard on our soil fertility, the veggies can compete nicely for nutrition, and the weeds are actually beneficial.  I have to keep reminding myself of that, as I look out at our farm, but we are pulling more produce than ever out of the same space.  One step better, would be to replace those weeds with a seeding of ‘green manure’- plants sown intentionally to improve the soil, but for now, we can afford weeds!

As another example, our strawberry beds are so high with weeds, you could bale it.  We are starting to weed them, so the small runners have a place to put down roots.  As I clear each row, I notice the exposed plants get so much drier and need a lot more water then the rows with cover.  Once we get everything exposed, and the runners go nuts, we will have to mulch to replace the benefit the weeds were giving!  Go figure. 

Speaking of water- our pond is miraculous indeed!  Or more accurately, perhaps I should say, God continues to provide.  Our little pond continues to have enough water to keep our plants going.  We seem to get a good rain just about when my water-stress meter goes off. I have a good discussion with God about the state of the pond, He laughs at me, and says, “Ye of little faith”, and then he brings a good rain.  We are investigating the possibility of digging a well- but that requires deep pockets, which we don’t seem to have.  But for now, the little pond with the deep hole is doing a great job of keeping up. 

Hey everyone- thanks for reading and have a great day!  -Ami

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