Moving into the Peak of the Summer

Coming out of the red haze of strawberry season always leaves me gasping for air. At the same time, there’s not much room for breathing as our farmstand kicks into what can only be described as “July.”

It seems as if everyone in the northern hemisphere is squarely in the middle of their respective summer vacations and summer mindsets. Folks come in wearing everything from swimsuits to pajamas, and smiles abound.

Wood’s Market Garden farmstand is a must stop next time you are travelling on Route 7 just south of Brandon. Be sure to mention that you are a member of Muddy Boots CSA!

“Where’s the corn?” is a most frequently asked question, even though everyone who asks it just walked right by the same table that has held my crop since I arrived at this farm sixteen seasons ago. Doing a little math in early July, I came upon the fun fact that sometime in August, that same hodge podge table I cobbled together in July 2000 will see the one millionth ear of corn sold since I got here….But who’s counting?

The whole Wood’s Market Garden crew.

Fields are brimming with summer harvests, and the ones we wait for and savor are starting to come in. Corn started this past week, the peppers and their promising rainbow of color are just beginning, and one of my favorites, the melons, will soon grace our plates.  Most crops are looking on target and full of potential.  As a lot of our cultivating [weeding] is completed, we turn into harvest maniacs for the next couple of months.  The newly expanded walk-in cooler is quite full already, and none of us wants to remember what life was like before we put every cart and rack on wheels over the last couple of years.

Boys will be boys.

Our one unintentional experiment is with the straw crop for our strawberries this upcoming winter.  We started raising our own rye straw to use as mulch in 2001. Never even remotely close to a failure, this June proved there’s always a first time.  No different than most any farm in New England, we saw a lot of rain in June. Well, the baler wasn’t ready when the straw was, and consequently it ended up sitting through many a rain storm after it was mowed. Some inexperience on the processing end saw a youngster ted it way too many times. When the hired custom operator went to bale it for us, there wasn’t much left that wasn’t already broken up.  Result?  About 20% of what we hoped for, and need, for our berries’ winter protection.

Our attention turned towards our newly rented piece of close to 20 acres adjacent to where we farm now. We had planted sorghum back at the end of May. It’s a very tall and aggressive summer annual that we usually use for its soil improving attributes (mostly, lots of good organic matter).  Well, we are now managing it to not go to seed so we can produce a weed free mulch.  By mowing it now, it should regrow through the rest of the summer and into the fall, much like a 2nd cut hay crop. The idea is to let it get as tall as possible, after which a frost will kill it standing.  The killing frost alone will cause it to dry down, just like your tomatoes or other sensitive garden plants do after a frost. From what I understand, we can then just mow it and bale it on a nice sunny day in October. I am keeping my fingers crossed, as that all seems a little too easy.

Note from Robin:  How are the Brussels sprouts coming along you ask?  According to Jon, they are looking great!  For those who just joined us this year, many people last year asked for more Brussels sprouts this fall.  Jon is doing his best to make that happen 🙂

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