I told Harmony last night that we needed to dub a new term for this growing season....."Extreme Farming!" I know it sounds as if I am talking about some event at the X games on the order of BMX bikes or skateboarding or bungee jumping.....but no I am just referring to the trials and tribulations of the 2011 growing season.
In one way it is really depressing the way things are playing out this growing season with the COMPLETE lack of moisture and temperatures hot enough to fry an egg, but in another way it allows for some nifty experiments.......
We threw up some shadehouses to test the ability to grow summertime salad greens under shade during the heat of the summer. Anyone who grows lettuce knows that the heat makes it bitter....YUCK! This has been experimented with in Kansas and other places around the country but this was in temperatures hovering around the low to mid 90s. Our greens look amazing so far and it has been one brutal June and early July. If we can grow summer salad greens in these conditions then there is nothing stopping us from growing them in more conducive conditions either.....Experiment 1: SUCCESS......hopefully our CSA customers will see some arugula in pickups for week 12. We had an arugula salad the other night and it was DELICIOUS!!!!
On a different note......never in my farming life have I EVER had a problem with fruit set on cucumbers, melons or squash.......but this season I have seen it firsthand. Beautiful vines of cucumbers are flowering like crazy.......BUT no cucumbers. This is a complicated issue.......a pollination issue for sure, but not the kind we mostly think of. We have bees aplenty......this is usually the problem but is not the problem for us. I did some research and found out that when temperatures are so extreme (as they have been lately) that there is a problem with the pollen tube growth once a flower is pollinated. Also the pollen is usually sticky so that it can adhere to the bee and be moved from one flower to another, but when the humidity is low (like it has been recently because we have no moisture) the pollen loses its stickiness and cannot adhere to the stigma of the flower.......thus no fruit.
We are finally getting some rain (last night and today) so here is hoping that the "Extreme" in "Extreme farming" becomes a little less so!!!!
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )