Trellising is everything!
We have a fairly small farm that is only about 6 acres. Many of the crops grown in the summer are big! They take up a lot of space. Some examples are rambling tomatoes, vining cucumbers, crazy Chinese longbeans, pepper plants and eggplants. Because we don’t have much space, we go up with these plants. We trellis or stake almost everything in the summer. Our tomatoes are all up on 6 ft trellises; our beans are on a trellis; our cukes are trellised; and even our peppers and eggplants are staked so they stand tall. I wonder how much square footage we are actually growing in if you consider both the horizontal and vertical space.
Good use of space is not the only reason we pound so many polls and string so many crops. Keeping the crop off the ground also helps manage many diseases and insects. Many of the worst diseases can at least be suppressed by setting up a situation where the plants catch a breeze, good light, and the foliage dries quickly. There also are several fungi residing in soil that cause plant diseases. This includes Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Phytophthora. Fruit that doesn’t touch the ground doesn’t have nearly as many problems as fruit lying on the ground. Some insects also are less problematic on crops that are off the ground. For example, cucumber beetles don’t seem to bother the top part of cucumbers that are trellised, however, they will eat up plants on the ground. Flea beetles seem to do the same thing on eggplant. Once the eggplant gets up off the ground and staked, the beetles aren’t a big problem anymore.
Summer vegetables are in full spring in July. We are picking BLUEBERRIES, raspberries, blackberries, all kinds of beautiful tomatoes, several types of cucumbers, squash of many colors, peppers, eggplants, purple, green and yellow snap beans, Chinese longbeans, heirloom pole beans, herbs of all types and many basils. We are even digging parsnips! That is a new one for us. We are still digging the last of the beets, turnips and carrots. We also have a few local farming friends who help us out with peaches, cantaloupes, watermelon, and corn. This makes for a very full CSA bag! July is why everyone loves local produce.
Did you notice that I mentioned that we also get some produce from a few other local growers? We do this for several reasons. One is that the crops we get from other local growers take up a lot of space without high yields, compared to land needed. Corn and melons are both crops like this. There are also some things that we just don’t grow as well as others do. Peaches fall into this category. Although we have several peach trees, we rarely even manage to get any of them harvested, due to insect damage. We have a friend in South Carolina who does a great job with peaches. We love supporting local growers and want them all to be successful. These collaborations allow us to pack an even more diverse and delicious CSA bag.
Eat your veggies,