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Hot Days at the Farm: Well, we made it up to the 106F mark at the farm this week. Keeping plants and animals alive during the heat wave has been a full time job. I run a pretty tight irrigation schedule which allowed me to water plants early and deeply. I am so incredibly grateful for an steady well and working pump! While this surely helped, the heat will continue to leave its mark on the produce over the course of the season. Tomatoes basically cooked right on the vines and many melons have bright white soft patches, indicating sun scald. Some plants have bolted (stop producing fruit/vegetables and start forming seed) which means the harvest season for those crops is basically done. Many flats of fall crops in the greenhouse were moved to the garage to keep them alive. This reduced daylight will be troublesome and may cause a partial loss when planted out in the field.
Most plants stop growing at about 85F. Anything over 95F is just just plain hard on everything. We went into the fields extra early every day this week (around 5 a.m.- not even light outside) so we could get weeding, harvesting and pruning/training done as soon as possible. I spent the remaining parts of each day rotating irrigation sets and doing my best to keep the pigs and chickens cool. I’m keeping a close eye on all the fall crops, as I’m most concerned about making sure those CSA boxes keep as full as possible come the later weeks of the season. I will give you all an update as things progress.
Extra Produce Notes: One plus to the heat is the magnificent early ripening of melons. Most years in the Pacific Northwest are a bit of gamble when it comes to heat loving melons. Last year I had a total of 20 lbs of melons, which I harvested in early September! I coveted those prized jewels like they were each a solid bar of gold.
This year is a totally different story. My new greenhouse, combined with hot weather early in the season and this last week of scorching heat have been a mixed blessing. The downside is that many of the cantaloupe plants simply overheated. All the vines are turning brown and brittle. I expect to lose about 1/2 of my cantaloupe planting. The GOOD news is that the melons are absolutely at their peak in terms of sweetness, and they are arriving in your CSA bags a full two weeks early. I hope you can appreciate how special and unusual these melons are! I harvested over 66 lbs. today, and I will keep harvesting every 24 hours until the weather cools down. Please eat these melons right away; like heirloom tomatoes, they are picked at the peak of ripeness and do not last long.
For the Food Preservationists: Canning & freezing season is in full swing. I have a good surplus of many staples. If you are ready to put away any veggies in bulk, please give me a call or email. I have the makings for salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, pesto, vegetable broth, picking beets, beans, carrots… even zucchini quick breads! I would absolutely love to help you put some of the garden goodness in your freezer/pantry.
Here’s to wholesome food, grown and eaten with love.