The rain has slowed to every other day or every two days which is better, I guess, than every day. I was laughing with Kevin about the fact that we have only used our irrigation once so far this year. I am trying not to complain (too much 🙂 ) about the weather because I know that this rain will inevitably be followed by a very long hot drought. Oh Illinois…. never a balance.
My good friends Jeff and Julie came up from southern Illinois last week. I always love it when they come to town because they are full of laughs, presents and great growing advice. They remind me of being young and having grandparents visit from far away, not because they are old but because they bring me gifts and smiles. This trip they brought beautiful oyster mushrooms and juicy red raspberries. I was so excited I ate both pints of raspberries in under an hour and probably would have eaten the mushrooms as well if I had been near a kitchen. It is amazing the similarity between the culinary industry and the growing industry, in the sense that you are always eating great food!
Jeff and Julie started experimenting with mushrooms last year. They were growing salad mix in their high tunnels and didn’t have a market for it. They knew that they had prime real estate and just needed to figure out something to grow in there. This is pretty brilliant because with the local food movement growing every day there is a huge demand for local mushrooms. These mushrooms are some of my favorite because they are so versatile and meaty. I hope to grow mushrooms in the future once we acquire more land.
I asked Jeff to walk through my plot before he headed south again. I told him of my plight with the basil and he seemed to think that if I fertilized it would definitely help my transplants. He also said that they still looked good and to wait and see what happened after I fertilized. Zack (Student Sustainable Farmer) has also been stopping by and said the same thing. This was a huge relief because I wasn’t looking forward to ripping out the beds and starting over. So, for now, we are in a holding pattern waiting to see what happens. We are still harvesting once a week/ 2 weeks and last week were able to get 16 lbs, which was taken in to HH and processed into 20lbs of basil puree to be distributed throughout the school year.
Jeff also asked me while he was here if I have ever played the game Hungry Hungry Hippo? I hesitantly replied yes, because I knew what was to follow. In Jeff speak, he was telling me that I haven’t fertilized enough and that my plants were very very hungry, like the hippos 🙂 . Jeremy was kind enough to lend us his 100gl tank so Kevin and I could mix our fish emulsion in that and cart it down each bed in 5gl buckets, dumping a quart onto each plant. As you can imagine, this was incredibly labor intensive and also happened to be the hottest day of the year. Fertilizing using this method is not practical for any more land than we already have. Normally people use an injector and fertilize through their irrigation. Zack was kind enough to lend us his injector for the next time. That was music to my ears considering Kevin and I went home drenched with sweat and smelling of fish. Gross!
All in all it seems as though our weekly problems of fungus, pests and bacteria are under control. The plants look healthy, lush and green. We are even starting to see some little tomatoes on the plants. Tomato sandwiches with Dukes Mayonnaise….. I can taste it already!