Happy Friday and happy Summer! The longest days of the year are upon us. Which is great for us, we now have plenty of time to get everything done that needs to be done, especially if we fall behind on some planting(which never, ever happens).
Yes, the summer is upon us, and there are about 15 hours of daylight now. All this sun certainly makes the flowers go crazy! Especially the perennials. I was watering in the greenhouse yesterday and I looked out the front and noticed how many beautiful flowers were blooming. So many colors. And that’s when I noticed this gorgeous monarch butterfly swooping through, having a late breakfast on our echinacea. I have been seeing a lot of different butterflies recently. That’s always a good sign. I also couldn’t resist including this picture of a snail this week. I’m sorry it’s not really farm related, but I thought it was fun. I think he/she really enjoys the cool, wet environment that our drip-tape creates.
These are aphids. I’ve noticed a lot of them enjoying this specific weed, which is lambsquarter. That’s fine with me, as long as they stay off my crops! If you look closely at this picture, you can see tiny drops of silvery liquid below the aphids. Those tiny drops of sugar-rich liquid are actually called honeydew. They are secreted by the aphid when their mouthparts penetrate the plant. This causes some sap to flow out of the plant, and some of it is actually pushed right out of the aphid. Sometimes you can see hundreds of ants pouring over these aphids, and at first you might think that they are chowing down on them. But if you take some time and observe, the ants are actually “farming” the aphids and collecting the sugary honeydew as a foodsource. They will even protect the aphids, and fend off predators like ladybug larvae.
Rain certainly has made a presence this year. Honestly, at this point for me on our farm with my vegetables, I am not complaining in the least. We may be seeing some fungal problems in the peas from prolonged cold and wet soil, but everything else is doing really well, and we haven’t needed to irrigate very much at all. There is one problem with the fact that the irrigation isn’t running: we aren’t fertigating (adding fertilizer to the irrigation system). So even though the plants are staying nice and wet, the rain water doesn’t have all the nutrients that our crops need, which we were planning on spoon feeding them through the irrigation. This means that even though it may be wet enough under the plastic, I will be running the irrigation anyway. This allows us to add fertilizer, but I will add it at a higher rate so I don’t need to use as much water, because the plants don’t need it. The frequency of these rain showers has been nicely spread out that it gives the fields enough time to dry out so I can go in with the planter and seed a few different crops. Then, usually within one or two days, there will be a nice rain that will help water the seeds in, ensuring that they are making proper seed-to-soil contact, and also have plenty of moisture to germinate. This next picture is a beautiful shot of one of our pickle seeds resting graciously in the perfectly prepared furrow, like a little nest.
That’s all for this Summer Solstice week. Thanks for reading and see you back here next Friday!