Here comes the summer. We recently wrapped up our spring field work along with our Baker Creek variety trial. The last of the collards, cabbages, turnips, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and chard has been harvested for the season. Despite some losses, the spring season seemed to be quite successful overall.
We donated around 4,000 pounds of fresh produce during the spring, but we could have probably tacked on another 50 or so lbs of cabbage had it not been for the imported cabbage worm and Hank. How much cabbage does a woodchuck munch when a woodchuck does munch cabbage? The answer is: a lot! Or at least a little from a bunch of separate heads of cabbage. Our friend, the groundhog, who we have named “Hank” has taken up residence under the bridge; conveniently close to our spring field where he seemed to make nightly visits to delight mostly in the crisp cabbage we were growing. Fortunately he left some for us and the array of people in the Goldsboro community to whom we donate.
As we completed our spring season we simultaneously got to work on our summer field. Half of the field was tilled conventionally, while the other half was planted using a no-till method where we planted directly into the mulch/residue of the previous cover crop.
Our summer field will include tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds, peppers, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, and zucchini. For our tomatoes we employed a trellising technique known as the “Florida Stake and Weave” as shown in the image below.
Most of the harvesting lately has been of loads and loads of cucumbers from our high tunnels. The harvests continue to be very strong despite some issues with pests, disease, and nutrients.
As the apprenticeship moves along, we as apprentices continue to get better and better at working as a team.
Our work away from the small farm is coming into focus as well. I work twice a week at the beef unit where we constantly move one of the bulls, the cows and their calves to new paddocks for strip grazing. ‘Tis also the season for lots of hay-baling.
I also do some work twice per week at the W.A. Foster Rec. Center where I recently planted a variety of summer fruits and vegetables. As the school year comes to a close, I will be assisting the Foster Center staff with teaching the kids about growing, harvesting, and preparing fresh fruits and veggies.
Of course it is not all work and no fun. This past weekend we volunteered at an amazing event dubbed the Farm to Fork picnic where Triangle area farmers pair with Triangle area restaurants to dish out delectable hors d’oeuvres. Our job as volunteers was face-painting. Justin wanted to practice his craft on me, so, just like when I was a little boy, I got to be Spiderman for a day.
We also enjoyed a day away from the small farm to assist one of last year’s apprentices in getting his summer field planted.
I am trying my hand more and more at preparing the fresh produce we get from the farm. I am pleasantly surprised thus far with the results. I never knew that cooking fresh veggies was so fun and easy.
Finally, as it warms up, we have started to get ripe blueberries and blackberries as well as flowers in bloom.
Keep checking in- we’re just heating up.