State of affairs

Hi readers!

Here is a short update about what’s been happening at the farm.  We have had a number of really remarkable shares over the course of the summer.  Starting early with an insane amount of mustard greens, kale, collards and cabbage, we’re transitioning to a new season and experiencing very different weather than we had last year.  This is great for some crops, and a challenge for others.  We will ride out the storm together, and will adjust what we can as we go.

We’re still holding on strong as the farm despite the severe lack of rain.  We did lose a fair share of what we’ve seeded in the last month, though hopefully we will compensate with whatever else is doing well.

One of my favorite parts of summer is what challenges the squash family provides:  We’re struggling with the ultimate squash trifecta: squash bugs, cucumber beetles and the squash vine borer, all attacking the spaghetti squash and pie pumpkins! Ahh!! But, alas, because of the hot weather, they are ripening faster than expected, and we may be able to harvest before they destroy everything, but I am going to try a few things to save what we can.  I harvested an orange pie pumpkin the other day that had been sort of eaten by cucumber beetles, (or a combination of others) and baked it.  Sadly, it wasn’t quite ripe, and resembled spaghetti squash more than it did thick fleshed pie pumpkin.  Hmm. A stumper for now.

About a month ago, we pulled off about a million cucumber beetles, and I noticed a few squash bug eggs, but didn’t think it was too serious. I learned yesterday that they have a four week life cycle.  There are eggs on the undersides of many of the leaves, plus the plants are teeming with pupa, little aphid like creatures that have green bodies and black legs. In last than four weeks they’ll be having babies of their own!  Yikes.  The only two tricks I know at this point (since preventative is out of the question now) is compost tea as a foliar spray (spray on the leaves) as well as laying boards by the plants to collect the bugs underneath, and then dispose of the little buggers all together, since they love to collect under cool dark spaces, like underneath your ripening pie pumpkins and spaghetti squash. I hate to do it, but at this point, if we want squash, these seem to be the options available to me.

Tomorrow the compost tea will be ready, so we will apply that at our 5-8 pm Monday night work day.  For the record, here is the recipe:

1 gallon finished compost, sifted to get the finer stuff

4 gallons water, de-chlorinated (sit overnight, or bubble for an hour)

1 ounce un-sulphured molasses

Combine ingredients in 5 gallon bucket, bubble with fish tank type bubbler/aerator  (ideally, one that has a pumous like stone, called an air diffusor that produces millions of little bubbles instead of one big bubble)

Do this for 2-3 days.  The aeration allows for aerobic bacteria to flourish, which are intended to help nourish the soil, the plant, and combat pests and viruses/bacteria that may have developed on the plant or in the soil.  You can do the anaerobic version, but this is an entirely different experiment of which I am unclear on currently.

Strain the ingredients, and water immediately so the aerobic bacteria does not die on you (defeating the purpose!) This project should smell sweet and earthy, not smelly at all.  If it does, get rid of it. Try again!

But thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom! The rainbow chard, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are all coming along beautifully, and our seedlings in the greenhouse are looking quite healthy.  Something got to the poc choy and chewed itty bitty holes in the leaves, but hopefully they’ll make it, and I’ll be sure to plant more soon.  I can say that this has been a remarkable learning experience, and the more you learn, the more you realize how much more there is to learn!

We had a fantastic workday last Monday evening with our workshare folks who came to the greenhouse to organize the immense amount of supplies we have accumulated over this past season.  We also turned the compost, moved an entire pile of compost (it shrinks immensely ones the pile really heats up and gets going! A reminder to anyone out there, you are most welcome to bring your compost to our community compost collection area at 97D Webster Street. If you are planning on doing so for the first time, please contact me in advance so I can give you the run down of accepted inputs and when and where to dump your compost.  We LOVE compost, and want to keep this going.  You are welcome to bring it to the farm during your CSA pick up on Thursdays, or, you can also bring it to our Webster Street locaiton, where the greenhouse is located.  Awesomely, we have successfully used some of our finished compost (sifted by our lovely workshare volunteers) as an amendment to our potting soil for starting our fall seedlings! Woo! We started these compost piles in the late fall/early winter, and they are already useable! (they could break down more, especially the more woody stuff, but sifting makes it possible for us to use it right away.) And it is so rich, healthy, and good smelling. Thanks to all of our contributors, especially Acoustic Java, Annie’s Clark Brunch, Wormtown Brewery, Living Earth,  Blank Slate and a number of others who have contributed your food scraps to what will eventually become food once again.  Together we can close resource loops that have been cracked wide open.  More on that another night!

That’s all for now…

Except for one thing, NUESTRO HUERTO’S 2ND ANNUAL BLOCK PARTY!

August 19th, 3-8pm at the farm, 20 Southgate Street, Worcester–Free!

Enjoy food, family, live music, friends and fun-learn about Nuestro Huerto, meet the community that supports us and learn how to get involved.  Music will be family friendly! Contact nuestrohuertoworcester@gmail.com for more details. Looking forward to seeing you there.

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