We are now entering our 9th season! We’ve had great years, tragically awful years and those in between. I think this is shaping up as a “those in between.” The fruit is developing nicely, but I think we’ve grown prettier fruit.
How about a brief farm update?
The only thing we know we can expect is that every season is completely different than all others – it’s part of the engaging and exciting part of farming. This year we came out of that terrible winter in pretty good shape, with a fairly uneventful spring. The trees leafed out nicely, except our trees in Block 1 – they didn’t want to wake up. As the spring wore on, we kept looking at those trees and it dawned on us that the ones not waking up were all Romes – they are interplanted with a few other varieties, and those looked fine. We talked with neighbors and some of them had lost their Romes, also. Weird. We did a count and it appears we have lost 190 Rome trees. These are 20-year-old, mature, well-bearing trees that apparently could not handle the winter. So that’s a new thing: mature trees can die from cold. Huh.
The good news is that most of our other 3000 plus trees are fine, including our new peach trees which we planted last year! Somehow THOSE are fine even though many peach trees across the state experienced winter-kill, but our young, barely established trees seem to be just fine. Honestly, I feel lucky – the Romes are hard to sell and we are all super-excited to grow organic peaches! (First harvest expected in 5 years or so.) So if one had to go….
This cool summer has created organic management challenges. When it’s hot, everything goes quickly – pest lifecycles, diseases and growth. This cool weather has allowed pests to linger, and some of the typical apple diseases have just hung around. This means we make a choice – over-react and spray, spray, spray way more than normal and hope that our “soft” stuff works (which is more of a conventional approach), or stick with the consistent nutrient focus of an organic system, and live with some funky-looking apples. So we chose, and we hope you like, funky looking apples!
Our vegetables have been growing fine, although again, this cool weather means that everything just moves at its own pace. Tomatoes are finally starting to come (we picked 600 pounds this week), but they too are slow to ripen. So as long as we have a normal to late frost, we will be fine, with enough time for them all to ripen.
Ask the raccoons how good the watermelons are this year! Every morning we find remnants of a party, with half-eaten watermelon rinds strewn about. At least they could clean up after themselves. But we have to admire their good taste, as the sugar in the watermelons this year is exceptional.
We are working out the final kinks on the CSA logistics and will start deliveries soon. This crazy idea Molly had to offer an apple CSA has really exploded – it’s now a 300-member CSA in our third year of offering. Add to that the 70 Rent A Tree families, and we’ve heard your overwhelming collective voices – keep growing those apples!