Crops that belong to the Brassica family, or cole crops can be tricky to grow. This is not because they a finicky so much as they attract a lot of pests. Cabagge loopers, and flea beetles are the most common culprits.
Some years we have flea beetles and some years we don't. They eat holes in the leaves and give them a unpleasant appearance. This year they really seem to love the kale. We have been battling this issue with garlic and hot pepper spray along with sticky traps. I make the garlic and hot pepper spray by blending garlic cloves and Thai chile peppers in the blender with a little onion and then add water. It steeps in the fridge overnight and is then strained. I add a tablespoon of mineral oil and dish soap each. I shake it up and spray the entire plant. The bugs don't like this and do go away but it wares off so it needs to be reapplied often.
This week I put sticky traps up. These are just yellow piece of plastic with a sticky substance on them. the bugs are attracted to the yellow and then get stuck in the glue. Simple and effective. Yeah for sticky traps. The only down fall is that it also traps beneficial insects. We don't like that.
Every year we battle cabbage loopers. Yuck, yuck, and more yuck. The cabbage looper moth is a prolific egg layer. The eggs hatch and out comes a tiny little caterpillar that grows very quickly as it feasts on your crop. You have got to stay on top of things or it can get way out of hand.
After years of trying floating row covers in various forms, which work until they are torn to shreds in the super strength ND winds, I think we have found the solution. This year we are using low tunnels with shade cloth. We started out the season with row covers. The temperatures are too low in the beginning of the season to use shade cloth. They were once again torn to shreds. We thought that the low tunnel system would possibly work better with the row covers. No, we were wrong. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have replaced the row covers with shade cloth and it seems to be doing great!. Small bugs like the flea beetles can get in through the shade cloth but cabbage looper moths cannot.
Yesterday I spent several hours examining every leaf of the cabbage and cauliflower and squishing any cabbage looper eggs or caterpillars that were able to get at the crops while we were waiting for the shade cloth. I also squished aphids and put up sticky traps for the flea beetles. It is really hard to squish flea beetles because they jump very quickly like fleas. We have to rely on the traps or garlic and hot pepper spray.
The cabbage and cauliflower look beautiful. I will go back through everything in the next couple of days to see if I missed any eggs or caterpillars.
Not all of our cole crops are under low tunnels with shade cloth. We have more cabbage and cauliflower that is not, as well as broccoli and kale. The shade cloth systems seems to be working so well that we are ordering more for some of the cauliflower. The others are planted in a spot that just won't allow for a low tunnel. It is very important that it is actually a supported tunnel. If we just laid the shade cloth over the crop then the cabbage looper would lay eggs on the shade cloth where it was touching any part of the plant. The caterpillars would then hatch and crawl through the wholes of the shade cloth. The tunnels support the shade cloth and keep it off the plant.
Next year we will certainly be incorporating more low tunnels with shade cloth. I'm so grateful to find something that works. May it continue to work so well for the rest of the season!
The Rest of the Crops
I'm said to say that there isn't going to be a strawberry harvest this year after all. When we first planted them they all came up and were beautiful. I don't think there was one out of the 500 that didn't come up. The flourished and began to flower and set fruit. Then we got a horrific storm. We were watering the strawberries just before the storm hit and they were all beautiful. We checked them the next day to find many with leaves that were black on the edges and curling up. Over time more and more followed. We have now lost many plants. We are working with the nursery to see if we can figure out what has happened to them and what we can do, if anything, to fix it. Pray that we figure it out.
The grapes look fabulous. every one has leafed out and they seem to be very happy. We are happy too!
Lots of things are blooming and even starting to set fruit. I believe all the tomatoes are blooming and the Nova and Bison tomatoes are starting to get fruit. Many peppers are blooming and some of them are starting to set fruit as well. The eggplants and zuchinni also have blooms. Winter squash is growing nicely along with the cardoon.
The First CSA Baskets of the Season
The first CSA baskets go out today and will include Flame lettuce, Little Gem lettuce, Buttercrunch lettuce, kale, spinach, garlic, onions, cilantro, dill, Little Finger carrots, and beets.
If you are interested in a CSA share you can still sign up. The price of the share will be reduced in proportion to the amount of weeks that are left in the season. We will be starting the farmers market on Thursdays at the Gazebo park in Beach but the CSA shares are a better deal. We have several sizes available and you can get all the info on our CSA page.
Our grass finished beef is all spoken for at this time but we do have some grass finished lamb still available. $ 50 reserves a lamb and goes towards the final cost. You can contact us here if you are interested.
Enjoy your first CSA baskets!
A few examples of the stick people and the painted rocks. We had a lot of fun doing these. Every stick is different. One bump here, a hole there, and you got a mouth or nose, chin or eyebrows. They all have their own little expressions. I'm not a photographer and I can't capture their expressions to well but I hope that you can see them. The one with a green top has eyebrows and her mouth is cocked to one side all funny. So cute. This is going to be a fun class.
The rocks we have done before. They are fun as well. I need to have my own rock because it is so neat to watch the colors mix and run into each other and down the rocks. The wax interacts with each other in little different way than paints do. It is hard to describe actually, but I'm sure you will understand what I mean when you try it.
You can find all the information on our art classes on our events page. We hope to see you there!
Well, we are about through with 2 giant round bales of straw and we aren't even half way done. That's a lot of mulch. This week we have been spreading mulch over what we call the Green House Garden. We are about half way done with it and there is still two more gardens to go!
Mulch is very helpful in the garden. It does four very important things:
1. It adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. Organic matter helps the soil to soak up water. Organic matter helps "lighten" the soil. That means it doesn't get compacted as easy. It is looser and the plants like that. It is especially helpful with root crops like carrots, beets and potatoes. They don't get all squished like they would in regular soil and can instead grow with ease and not become compacted themselves. We don't use a tiller so it is very beneficial for us to have light loose soil. to work in. Every year the soil gets better!
2. It suppresses weeds. No chemical weeds killers here, just good weed pickers and lots of mulch. The mulch needs to be pretty thick to really accomplish this. Now you know why were are almost through two bales already. And even when it is really thick (6-8 inches), some weeds still find their way through but they are way easier to pick with the mulch. Their root system is still down under the mulch, in the dirt. They have to push up so far to get through the mulch that they just pull right out. We do get wheat grass growing in the straw because it is wheat straw. It is way easy to pick and we have lots and lots of birds who love wheat grass, oh and goats, and cows, and sheep. The organic wheat grass is supper good for them too. It's a win win!
3. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil. The mulch itself holds water and it also helps keep the water from evaporating from the dirt. This saves water and time.
4. Mulch helps prevent disease. I bet you didn't think of that one. Yep, mulch helps prevent disease by covering the dirt. Many diseases that plants get come from common bacteria, viruses and fungus that are found in the dirt. With mulch in place the dirt doesn't splash up on the plant when you water.
If you ever have a garden be sure to use mulch.
Other Happenings in the Garden
So I haven't been in the Big Garden in a few days. Very busy with all that mulch. I went in there today to do some weeding and watering. The plants are very happy with the sun we have been getting these last few days. They are really starting to shoot up.
The Nova tomatoes are getting lots of blooms. Novas are a Roma type tomato. They are great for sauces. I love to cut them in half, sprinkle them with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and some seasonings and then broil them on low for a bit. After that we put them on a sandwich with cheese and other veggies. I especially like eggplant with it. I look forward to these sandwiches every summer.
I took some cutting of them to start a few new plants to replace the ones we lost in the wind. We lost six from about 100. That wind was brutal. We are think we had some gust up to 70 miles an hour. Yuck! I don't like any holes in my rows and cutting are so easy. It is almost like an instant plant.
I could not believe how much the cauliflower, carrots, and sunflowers had grown. It had only been two days. It is so exciting to watch. Also very exciting, the strawberries have little berries on them! Can you tell I like strawberries? We are supper excited about the strawberries. I'm still praying there will be some ready for the first farmers market. There is nothing like strawberries from the garden. So much more flavor and so much sweeter.
The squash are really taking off in the back garden. We've planted Butternut, Sweet Meat, and Tennessee Sweet Potato. Tennessee sweet potato is not really a sweet potato it is just supposed to taste like one. We don't have a long enough growing season here for sweet potatoes. We tried despite that fact and we did get sweet potatoes they were just really small. We had to try because we love sweet potatoes. They were fun to grow and they get cute little purple flowers. They are a very pretty vine. The thing is, they take up a lot of room and we only get tiny little sweet potatoes. So if we can't have sweet potatoes then why not squash that taste like sweet potatoes. We have never tried this squash before so I hope it stands up to all the sweet potato claims.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer!
Talk to you soon,
You know how you get all these plans going in your head. You think "yeah I can get all that done this week, day, hour....." That was me this week. I thought I would have chicken wire up around the entire greenhouse garden in one day. It took me three. Three days! Of course there was lots of other things that had to be done at the same time. Garden farm chores can't be put on hold so that I can put chicken wire up. Watering weeding and planting still needed to take place. Well tonight I got it done and I'm so grateful. Chicken wire is not fun. Out of all fencing wire I think it is the worst. But like I said it is done and I'm grateful. No rabbits will be coming to the greenhouse garden for a midnight snack. Thank you!
4 of the 7 varieties of tomatoes have blooms along with several varieties of peppers. They won't be ready for the first farmers market but we expect to have, several kinds of lettuce, spinach, kale, beets, garlic, onions, chives, cilantro, possibly some carrots (a baby variety), and peas. Maybe, just maybe, some strawberries. Let's all pray!
Have a great weekend.
I want to keep all my customer updated on all the happenings of the farm so I'm starting a blog. I never thought I would have a blog. I'm so busy! But while I'm out working in the garden I keep thinking about things I want to share an update our customers on. So here we go!
I'll be posting pictures with updates of the garden. I've planted every day, except Sabbath for a month straight. That"s a lot! I have lots of updating to do so stay tuned!
We Are Starting Art/Activity Classes
I'm so excited about this. Art has always been a part of my life. I think it is very important for children to be exposed to art and creativity in general. It is no dispute that art is beneficial to children and adults. Why is it always the first thing to get cut in school?
I have some really fun classes put together, giant bubbles, terrariums, and painting with unconventional paints brushes just to name a few. You can find a list of all the classes that we are offering on our Events page. I hope to see you doing some art with us this summer!
This summer we will be having a farmers market in Beach. It will be on Thursdays from 4:00 to 7:00 at the park. They will start in July. Probably the first or second week. We have to see what we have ready to harvest as we get closer to July. Like I said, I have been planting my little heart out and we expect a really good harvest. May God please bless our crops! Come visit us at the market and see what we have been busy with!
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I hope you enjoy my farm life adventures!