A slow wet spring delayed garden work for a few weeks, but June found us busy as bees. The weeds are growing like weeds, and the vegetables are right behind them. It’s been a great growing season as long as you ignore the calendar.
Monday deliveries of fresh produce have been lettuce, radish, onion, beet, swiss chard and celery, plus a few herbs like thyme, oregeno and garlic. Soon we’ll send potatoes, squash, beans and cucumbers. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will follow, along with sweet corn and melons. We are still planting sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Every week is different.
You can get in on the action. The shop in RBS, across from the Head Start, is open on Monday afternoons. Local folks gather there to get fresh vegetables and learn how to eat healthier. In Nashville we deliver to three locations. One is in Berry Hill, one in East Nashville at Porter Road Butcher, and one at Headquarters Coffee in West Nashville. This all happens on Monday afternoons, too.
Diligent hoeing takes up a lot of our time. The young plants need assurance that n o weeds will bother them. But more importantly, we hoe to conserve soil moisture. By keeping the soil surface loose, the moisture underneath does not leave. If the soil is tight, capillary action evaporates and dries out the soil, wicking away the previous water the same way a candle wick draws up wax.
Irrigation is not necessary here. We get plenty of rain. By building a live soil humus, winter and spring rains soak in and supply water to the crops during summer. Compost, cover crops and tillage are more efficient than an irrigation system. I can’t find any potato beetles. The plants must have a high sugar content, because if they didn’t there would be little red Colorado beetle larvae devouring the leaves. Bugs do not have a pancreas, so they cannot digest sugar.
If you want bugs, use commercial fertilizer. The nitrate nitrogen will use up the sugar in the plants so that bugs can eat them. Then you use the poisons on the plants. These a re the recommendations from the fertilizer/pesticide industry which funds the land grand colleges and the USDA extension service. Old time farmers don’t have extra money from subsidy and crop insurance, so they rely on composted manures. It’s the cheaper way to go.
The summer solstice has come and gone. Our annual celebration went well, preceded by weeks of planting and hoeing. As we enter summer, the soil is loose, the crops look good, and the hoes will continue to stir. We are late on making hay, but the sun is shining.