May on the Farm: in the field!
May is a beautiful time in the field because the leafy greens are all at their finest! This year we planted five different types of specialty kale including Lacinado, Redbor, Ripbor, Wild Garden Kale, and Red Russian Kale. They are beautiful as well as tasty. Here’s the problem: the chefs and market customers have been cooking and eating kale all winter! They seem to be looking for something different. The good news is that the CSA customers seem to love these leafy greens. This week (second week of May), CSA Members got beautiful Red Russian Kale. Yum. Other lovely leafy greens in season include Swiss Chard, Lettuce and Pac Choy. These also are at their best right now.
The blueberries are finished blooming and have lots of tiny fruit. In about a month they will be ready for harvest. At this time of the year, we feed the blueberry bushes weekly with a foliar seaweed extract solution. This keeps them green and growing strong. Good strong foliage is key to photosynthesizing the energy for the fruit to grow. This is not the time to scrimp on plant health in blueberries. Although commercially grown blueberries are often sprayed weekly with insecticides and fungicides, we use no pesticides at all on ours. And I don’t see a lot of problems out there. There are a few spots on the leaves that might be disease, maybe a little Botrytis on the tips of a few shoots, but nothing that is threatening the bushes nor reducing yield. We also wouldn’t dream of using insecticides in May because early in May is when the bees are out pollenating. The last thing any growers should ever do is disrupt bee activity. Although we don’t keep commercial hives on our property, bees are everywhere!
This May was typical of spring in the south. We had nice cool spring days, and then we had a week of temperatures near 90! Leafy greens do not like these high temperatures. The problem is that they just now came into their own, so we can’t give up on them. We need to keep them growing well at least a month or two more until the summer crops come into season. The solution is water. These leafy crops can deal with heat if they have regular water. So, that is what we do: water every other day during extreme heat. Lettuce also is sensitive to heat. When temperatures go up, lettuce will bolt and the taste quality will decline. The solution is to keep it cool with water, but even that doesn’t always work. We have a specific garden we plant lettuce in when it is hot. It gets full afternoon shade. This can extend the season for lettuce by a month or so. This is important because lettuce is a crop people like all year long, and summer lettuce is in high demand.
In another post, we promised an updated picture of the baby chicks, so here you go! Our little peepers are growing fast!
Dinner reminder: In case you missed it before, here is the link to sign up for the Farm to Fork Dinner, here on our Farm, Saturday, June 14, 2014.
Farm to Fork Dinner with Chef Craig Barbour
June 14th at 6:30pm, at Bells Best Berries Farm
And here is a link to our last Spring Farm to Fork Dinner if you want to see pictures and get an idea of what the evening will be like!
We look forward to seeing many of you here on June 14!
Eat your veggies,