Aphids, More Garlic and A Bit of a Drought

We have…aphids.

This looming horror has been whispered leading up to their arrival -we’ve heard all sorts of stories of previous years and their respective invasions and how to combat them.

Aphids are these tiny, tiny little bugs that travel on the wind and land on the plants you probably the value the most (our fall kales, cabbages, broccoli, collards). These bugs live on the underside of leaves and suck the moisture from plants. They can be incredibly destructive if left unchecked – one female aphid can produce twelve eggs a day.

Keith found some on the kale in the greenhouse last weekend, and they are not too pervasive at the moment, but could be. We sprayed with organic insect spray, tried this new concoction of water and tomato leaf prunings, and Keith just ordered some lady bugs to release in the greenhouse (which is cuter but not quite as cool as the parasitic wasp option). We found some under the row cover up at our most recent mesclun planting Concerned times abound.

Before lunch today we cleaned one of our garlic fields! I want to say it was totally gratifying, but really it was just exhausting. Only a bit more of one field to go – either after lunch today or tomorrow…but I’ll be at my first Wednesday market, so I won’t know! Excited and nervous – it’ll just be Casey and I, and we are on the west side of Union Square with a smaller setup. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well. And as far as the garlic goes, our lower barn is almost full, our tractor shed is nearly there, and the implement shed is looking pretty swamped. We are slowly but surely running out of room for more garlic. The good news is that 1) the garlic is huge and awesome and a great seller, and 2) we’ll finally be able to stop harvesting garlic for hours and start working on other farm needs again, like Florida Weaving our third tomato planting and weeding herbs and a number of other tasks that have fallen to the wayside since early garlic harvest struck.

Today I learned how to hand dig potatoes as well. You stick a garden fork about a foot or so away from the plant and then slowly wedge it under the plants. You dig up each plant, turn it over, shake of the potatoes into a pile, and then dig in the surrounding ground for stragglers. Our Kennebec and Red Gold (which is an early potato) yielded something like 7-9 potatoes on average, which is pretty solid. Overall the potatoes are still small, but we’ll be taking loads more big ones in the upcoming months. The mother potatoes, which are the spud pieces we planted my first week here, are still in the plants roots, and they are slimy and gross but still exciting to see. It’s the first real full-cycle crop I was a part of on the farm, and it’s a wild feeling to see the product heading out to market.

In other news, on Saturday we ran out of water. The irrigation for the tomatoes wasn’t really working, and then the water for the greenhouse wasn’t really working, and now there is pretty much no water anywhere. Matt and Keith tried to hook up a pump to the pond to irrigate some empty fields (it’s tricky to do veggies with this water because of ecoli risks), and though hilarious antics ensued, the pump is pretty much too old to work without a bunch of maintenance.  So now we sat around and prayed for rain, which came on Sunday. We really should have all been out dancing in it, we were so happy. Keith got up at midnight just to check the rain gauge (1.8 inches, huzzah!).

Parker, our two month part-timer, arrived from Ashville Sunday night. Parker was here briefly last year as well, and already knows the sights of beautiful Port Jervis. Yesterday a bunch of us went swimming in the Delaware and then had Brick Oven pizza up the street (though all we really wanted were Meanie Burgers from Arlene and Tom’s, but you can’t win it all). The river is beautiful up here, and it’s portioned off with buoys and has a lifeguard and everything. And after normal hours, we swam back and forth across – and after a day of work, even though yesterday wasn’t too hard, it still felt great.

Also, the entrepreneurship on off hours has paid off. We harvested broccoli raab last week and took it off to market. Not a lot, of course, but enough that Keith was impressed. Enough that he put raab on the harvest day list! And he’s giving us another band in a different field to plant more, because it is looking a lot better than most of our greens at the moment. The tomatillos are coming in strong, Matt took a couple bunches of dill to market Saturday, the chervil is starting to plug and our sunflowers, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are holding strong behind the tunners. Farming after work can be a drag, but the payoff is totally worth it.

And now, off to bed for the night before market. Cheers!

-Farmer Liz

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