Wednesday, August 4, 2010

week ten

this week the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes seem to really be starting, finally! i was chatting with another farmer at the market this week and he commented that his tomatoes were taking a long time to ripen, too!
lets see, this week has been another dry one and pretty hot, too. We have been irrigating, but the pond is getting low enough we are starting to worry a little.

this year our focus has been on how to make our business more efficient and profitable. to this point, we have made a modest living at the farm, but not necessarily the kind that will sustain us long term. We have been keeping lots of records, which we will use this winter to determine which things we grow are profitable and which are not. With a CSA we may not be able to drop all of the crops that are unprofitable, but armed with the knowledge we will be able to look into how to grow things more efficiently and which items would be acceptable to stop growing. we'll keep you posted once we do all the math.

one area that we know needs to be improved upon is weed control and we have spent some time since we bought a cultivating tractor last fall (you may remember the photo- it looks like a little orange dunebuggy!) reading about weed control with it. There are lots of options for tools to hang below it to use to kill weeds and we are still not positive which one(s) are right for us. We visited a nearby farm a few weeks ago and they were kind enough to give us the basics and show us their tools and even let us weed some of their vegetables! (wait, they let us do their work for them, we've been swindled!) all joking aside, they were very generous with their time and we learned a lot, but still don't feel confident in this new technology on our farm. We are looking forward to sending an representative to a workshop tomorrow about tractor cultivation and there is one more local farm we'd love to visit as they have a system like ours- with permanent beds and paths, which is a little different than how lots of other people do things and needs to have tools set up differently. We'd like to get one or two cultivating setups set up by the fall so we are all set up for next year. The weeds really slow down by the fall, but it doesn't hurt to get some practice in first on a less weedy patch, where the crops maybe will be easier to see between the little weeds.

love these large mild onions

its funny, we farm on small scale, and a slightly awkward one. We can certainly use well made tools that are geared towards home gardeners, and we do. But we can also benefit from technologies that larger scale farmers use. Sometimes it is hard to find the balance between when a technology will be cost effective for us and when it will just be nice to have but not make a difference in whether the crop profits or not.

For example, with our cultivating tractor, we do have one basic set of "Beet knives" for it. These are shaped like half of an elongated "V" and weed next to beets and other crops. we have used them several times, but they are not quite the right tool for what we were using them for. To cultivate a bed with them takes about 3-5 minutes to actually do the cultivating, but it also takes several minutes to check the gas, oil, coolant, and what not on the tractor, start it up and drive it to the field. To use a hand held "scuffle hoe" (a capital D shaped blade that scrapes tiny weeds with two sharpened edges on the curved side of the D, works on the pull and the push stroke) it can take as little as 12 or 15 minutes per bed (or much longer if the weeds are large!) So when there are lots of beds to be done, the cultivating tractor makes sense, but if there are only one or two to be done, (or there are lots of different kinds of beds that require the tool to be adjusted to different positions) the scuffle hoe can be just as fast.

these are the kinds of questions that our record keeping will help us to better understand, we are really looking forward to sitting down and looking through each crop at the end of the season.

new this week: shallots. nice large mild onions. lovely mild salad turnips

also chard, kale, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, tomatillos, lettuce mix

coming soon, melons!

we saw this cool humming bird moth at the farm, we had only seen them in the insect books before! (sorry these photos seem less clear than they used to, though this wasn't that clear to start with)

still looking for feedback on the august and october events. any ideas, let us know. we are thinking of doing the meteor shower sleep out on friday the 13th, let us know if there is any interest, if not, we will plan something else later in the month. We are interested in having co-operative extension do a nutrition event, give us feedback if you have it.

ok, happy eating, see you around!
liz and matthew

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We got a cultivating tractor this year too. Actually, we got two, Farmall Cubs, so we can set one up for cultivating/plowing and the other for mowing (I think that's how Roger's got it set up). It has made a world of difference already.

I think we are on the same small scale as you.