Yes, all this rain is affecting the farm in a not so good way for many different reasons. Firstly, the fields are like mud puddles. Fortunately for us, none of them are flooded. However, there is still no way you can drive a tractor in them if you plan on getting it back out. This is delaying lots of different work that needs to be done (preparing ground for a new apple orchard, preparing a field for the raspberry plants coming in next week, etc.). Secondly, the cool temperatures and wet weather is really interfering with apple pollination. The apples trees are really loaded with blossoms this year. A lot of apple varieties have a heavy crop on them one year, and then not such a big crop the next year. All these blossoms means future apples! Unfortunately blossoms can only become apples if they are pollinated by arthropods like honeybees. Bees are fair weather creatures, and aren’t coming out to work if it’s too chilly, and definitely not if it’s chilly as well as rainy all day. The high humidity also causes the pollen to clump together, and therefore not properly spread to other apple blossoms. We really are helpless to Mother Nature sometimes.
Greenhouses have so many benefits, and one of them we all have been taking advantage of recently is the fact that they give you somewhere to keep busy if it’s raining. There are lots of vegetable and fruit transplants coming along splendidly. I am very pleased to announce some of these transplants are seedless watermelon! I am very excited about these. I seeded them Tuesday, placed them in our germination box, and they were already popping out of the soil this morning! Along with melons, we have Bok choy, lettuce, tons of tomatoes and peppers, and herbs. Zucchini and summer squash are some of the largest plants we have at the moment. They grow so fast! In this picture, you can see two different sized squash plants. The larger ones are the pollinator plants that we seed first. Like apples, all cucurbits (melon, cucumbers, zucchini) need pollinator insects to help them reproduce. Some grow male and female flowers separately. You need the male flowers present at the same time as the female flowers so the females can be fertilized and produce fruit (the squash). For some ridiculous reason the squash plant produces the female flower first, and then a week or two later decide to grow the male flower. This means the first female flowers are pointless and will just fall off because they weren’t pollinated. So, in order to counteract this, we put a little extra effort into growing a small number of plants ahead of the main planting, and in bigger pots. This ensures that when the main planting puts out it’s female flowers, the pollinator plants will be there with male flowers ready to go. While male summer squash flowers seem to serve no other purpose than reproduction, they are actually used as a food ingredient in several Italian and Hispanic dishes.
I recently discovered that many flowers we see every day are edible! I haven’t tried very many varieties yet myself, but I did order a sample pack of edible flowers to add to our cut flower garden this year. I’m extremely excited about this. Flowers can add such a bright, beautiful and flavorful new addition to food. I was surprised to learn how different varieties of flowers have such different flavors.
With the cold temperatures coming up this weekend, I tucked my babies (high tunnel tomatoes) in really well today. Yes, sometimes I call my plants my babies. We seriously put a blanket over them, literally tucking them in. I think that right there is justification for my case. I even buttoned up the high tunnel nice and tight, to keep out the cold air as much as possible. The “blanket” we used is called a row cover, like I mentioned we put on the corn. Here in the high tunnel, we don’t really need it to capture heat from the sun, the plastic roof does that pretty well on its own. We are using it to insulate the tomato plants from these cold nights coming up. Possibly three nights in a row getting down into the thirties. No fun. No fun at all.
Well, that’s all for this week folks. A little lengthy, but all this rain really gets me in the mood to type. Thanks for reading, and see you right back here next week!