July 25, 2012

Hi everyone,

Okay…what goes squooge, slush, slush, grin?
A very happy, and wet farmer Titia harvesting the last of a bumper crop of garlic in the rain last Monday, that’s what! 6000 garlic (or thereabouts, who’s counting) and something like 60-75 hours of pulling garlic, weeding to find the garlic, then trimming off the roots, putting the garlic into its ‘drying sticks’, washing it, and setting it to dry: first with leaves skyward to dry them out, then with bulbs up and finally hanging them in the house to wait for braiding and later sales.

It’s a big job, and takes priority over everything, so I feel kind of liberated right now, able to get back to weeding, mulching, trellising, and watering. Watering hasn’t exactly become unnecessary; the ground still seems as parched as before that delicious Monday rain. For days beforehand, I had heard the train whistle (about a mile away), which always portends rain. If it’s going to be clear, I hear the traffic on the highway (much closer and in a different direction). Just now it’s cloudy, unsettled and I can hear the train. Let’s keep hoping.

So here’s the score:

Potatoes looking poor; you were to get some this week but they just don’t exist and the plants which haven’t grown since I hilled them in June now are actively drying and dying. Maybe the fingerlings will be OK; they don’t look nearly as sad as my Irish Black Potatoes for which I know NO other source of seed if I lose mine.

Onions look good, but now is their moment for needing rain so the large tops can turn into large onions. Beets haven’t grown in a month. Carrots look OK but I haven’t weeded them because I was scared to expose them to the hot sun and dry them out. Salad greens are dwindling.

Tomatoes–my strategy has been to leave the sucker stems on them(they are usually pruned so we get more tomatoes faster). The idea was to let them grow as many leaves as possible first, and hope that rain would come later (like now) to produce a smaller, later crop. Let it start raining and I will have won on that one.

Cukes  wish they could move to England. They are flowering and the squash beetles are enjoying mucking things up. It’s always when the plant’s water metabolism gets screwed up that insects move in. So last, and rather sadly, I shall have to report the arrival of the dreaded swede midge in the barnyard garden, which could spell the end of our enchanted broccoli forest and hopes for abundant kale.

On to happier talk. Your boxes have a lovely small bunch of basil. Perhaps the best quality of the season is the early basil. Use it promptly (Pesto: 4 parts basil, 2 parts oil, 1 part parmesan, 3/4 part pine nuts, lemon and salt) for best flavor.

Kale comes to you courtesy of last Monday’s rain. Then peas or beans, beans or peas, how to decide–oh what the heck, let’s have both. My taste test suggests beans are sweeter than usual, but not as tender as a normal year.

Zucchini for the BBQ and a bunch of radishes for large boxes, which I hope are OK, given the heat.

Garlic braids and/or loose garlic can be ordered anytime now for winter needs. Braids will run from $20 to $50 this year, for loose garlic expect about $2 per good sized bulb.This is best done on my answering machine (268-2248) and if I don’t confirm, phone again. Nearly every rain wipes out the country- style hydro and erases my messages.

A gentle mid season reminder to put your boxes out on Wednesdays. Also PLEASE RETURN THE QUART AND PINT BOXES, as they are very reusable.

Fun stuff on the farm: the two garden cats (Whitey and Captain Velvet) are hilarious. One of their specialties is literally “hanging” out in trees–draped over a branch, perfectly balanced in what appears to be thin air. They figure I’m their entertainment and actively check out the harvesting of beans, weeding of lettuces, transplanting of chinese cabbage. Their efforts to help–paws mimicking my actions, pushing a bit of soil here and there–are very sincere.

That’s it for now. It’s chore time, and I have one sow who has gone on walkabout today–the one with the 8 babies, and I must find her before returning to garden for a bit more mulching.

Till next week, T

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