Early July status

We are thoroughly busy now, feeling somewhat overstretched, but looking forward to the onset of our two best market seasons (summer & fall). Spring is just a dress rehearsal. Very soon, we will be in harvesting hell with cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, okra, edamame, tomatillos, squash, and more all demanding near-daily attention, and many other items ready for twice weekly market & restaurant harvests. In addition, this is the season in which most of our fall items are planned and planted, so we are balancing the summer maintenance and sales with that additional load.

Thankfully, the garlic harvest is nearly complete with only one variety to go, and most varieties look fantastic. Expect to see cured garlic at our stand from mid-July through the rest of market season. Garlic times itself perfectly to need harvesting and processing toward the end of our June lull; a few weeks later and we’d go insane trying to handle it along with everything else.

Our squash have been performing well, supplying Cafe Berlin with up to 30lb a week along with market sales. We’re fighting a major outbreak of cucumber beetles, which chew up the blossoms & plants and spread disease; for the past week we’ve been spending around an hour a day hand-squishing hundreds of beetles a day. This is the reality of organic farming, especially on our farm which refuses to use any sprays at all. Demonstrating the necessary optimism in the face of evidence to the contrary, we just transplanted out another 180′ of young squash plants which will hopefully take over when the first set finally succumbs:
Many things are hard to photograph this time of year, as close-ups tend to look like a sea of green. Here’s a look at our cucumber plantings, lush and flowering heavily but also attractive to cucumber beetles. We hope they last long enough for good sales:

The goats are fine, continuing to produce good milk for us and our employees, many of whom are enjoying learning the joys of basic home cheesemaking. Joanna took her first stab at making cheddar today (usually that cheese is my job); if her round comes out well, it will be opened around my birthday in September. We continue to move the goats onto fresh browse weekly, giving them a healthy diet to balance their base feed of hay and grain. The kids are growing nicely and will again be delicious come fall.
A major project was completed just in time, the finishing of our home-built walk-in cooler. I will write more about this when I find the time, but essentially it’s a 6’x8′ box framed in farm-cut cedar, lined with sealed plywood, and insulated with layers of foam board. Cooling power comes from a standard window A/C unit installed through a hole I cut in the barn siding, and tricked into acting as a low-temperature compressor through a nifty little thermostat called a Coolbot (developed by a small farmer in NY). Details someday, but so far it’s working wonderfully and entered service just in time to house the oncoming harvests of summer items like squash.

Garlic harvest has dominated our schedule for the past few weeks, but soon our days will balance between fall planting, summer harvest, ever-pressing weeding, animal management, market & restaurant deliveries, pest management, and so much more.

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