June 2019 updates
It's just two weeks into June and we've already had several days of 90 degree heat! The summer vegetables are perking up and taking off. Here are some updates since our last post about planting.
Vegetable plot update: winners, losers, and observations
-Red Russian kale: no signs of wilting in the heat and getting big, thick and bushy! Not as sweet as in the winter but still good for summer greens.
-Pink mizuna: a totally random experimental green; I've never grown this before. It's doing great, getting nice and bushy, but leaves are still very small and tender. Tastes like mild, tender kale and looks beautiful.
-Early girl tomato: by far the earliest tomato (hybrid) I've grown here. There are already large fruits forming when all of the other tomatoes only have flowers.
-Dark star zucchini: the most vigorous and robust variety out of the three I planted. Has fruit that should mature soon. It is known to do well in dry-land plots and does not disappoint!
-Mary's Niagra ground cherry: it's already spreading in a wide radius with many tomatillo-like fruits. Can't wait to try them! (Ground cherries do well in the PNW; I was curious to try this variety and test its ability as a dry-land crop)
-Three sisters: sweet corn, scarlet runner beans, and watermelon trio are doing great together and better than any of them separately. This is one of the first polycultures invented by the native Americans, with each plant supporting a different functional role (corn for trellis, beans for N fixation, squash for shade).
-Baby bok choi: bolted about a month after I planted it and did not get big enough to harvest because of the slugs.
-Mustard mix: they grew to a decent size but have bolted within the last three weeks. The mild red mustards bolted almost immediately. Green wave has lasted the longest but has just started to bolt.
-Sadly, my two watermelon rows are doing terribly due to an unknown disease(?). They are still green but the leaves are folded up and they have not put on any new growth. I'm pretty worried and bummed about them because last year's melons were fantastic. Interestingly, I planted two of the same varieties in the three sisters plot, and they are doing just fine.
-It appears that the fungal inoculant in the corn rows is helping! Plants look more vigorous compared to the control, though there are marked differences between individuals.
-The winter squash I started as transplants have already been outgrown by the squash I direct seeded. Guess I'll direct seed more of them next year.
Monroe Farmers Market kicks off
Finally, we were able to help organize, manage, and kick start the city's first official market! Featuring both produce and artist vendors (over 15 total), the MFM can be found near the high school baseball field on Tuesdays from 4-7 pm and lasts until October 8. Thorin designed the logo and plays live music every week!
Dry farming is featured in The Furrow
We were featured in the latest issue of the John Deere magazine The Furrow! Read about dry farming, the OSU group that we work with, and some of the farmers and scientists involved in the project here.
Pests large and small
We were plagued by a scourge of cucumber beetles (both striped and spotted), which attacked the zucchini and winter squash. These pests are also carriers of the pathogen Erwinia tracheiphila, which causes bacterial wilt. Luckily, they couldn't access the banana squash that were under the row cover, which is really the only way to prevent infestations. Since I do not use chemical control methods, I started by vacuuming them with a small hand held vacuum. Despite filling the vacuum with a disgusting amount of beetles, the infestation didn't seem to diminish. I asked for help on social media, and behold, there was a suggestion to sprinkle lime or kaolin clay onto the leaves and growing areas. I did this immediately (using the clay) and found it to be highly effective.
The deer have always been a problem, as they've traveled through the field for many years on their way down to the river. We have a perimeter fence that we've been upgrading with random anti-deer measures. Slowly, we are closing off their access to the field, but they are sneaky and still get in occasionally. We caged all of the tomato plants and haven't yet had a disastrous deer strike yet this year. Whew!
A small number of our plants had aphids, which pissed me off. One of them was this young plum tree. So I unleashed the dinos, which made short work of them!
Sour cherries, zucchinis, ground cherries, and early girl tomatoes are on the way!
The first annual Tiny Fest 2019 (Oregon's smallest music festival) will be held on the solstice weekend right here at Lilliputopia! Space is very limited this year but stay posted for some fun photos!
We're still working on getting the old barn converted to the farm store. Our goal is still to have it finished this summer! Stay tuned.