I have a little break in between weekend events and am racing to rip the pepper plants out…. 500 of them…. so that the Student Farm can lift the sides of the plastic for me using their electric tractor. The ground was so compacted around the edges of the raised beds, probably due to the freakishly wet/ flooding weather we had at the end of spring and beginning of summer. I am very grateful to the Student Farm for helping me with this because it brought an all day project down to approximately 2 hours.
I harvested the last of the peppers and I am so sad to see them go. I have made everything from soups and stews to sauces, hummus, salsas and hot sauce. I am making the final batch of hot sauce this week and it should be ready to sell by the beginning of next week.
The chard and nasturtium are as beautiful as ever and I will harvest that as long as I can until the boys are ready to disc the ground (which I am really hoping I get to be a part of again, hint… hint Jeremy 🙂 ). I want to turn the nasturtium into compound butter just as soon as I find the time.
My assistant, Gaunthier, was curious about the farm so I took that as he wanted to volunteer to help me harvest :). We harvested the most beautiful spinach. Now, I was completely impressed by the amount of usable product we took back to AKL considering how many times I had mowed it over due to pest problems resulting in an unsellable product. We got about 20 lbs and immediately mixed it in with the lettuce on the salad bar.
I have decided not to plant a cover crop this year for a couple of reasons. I am not sure where I am going to be farming next year so I didn’t want to do anything to the ground that wouldn’t make sense for the next person, which may be soy beans. Also, I had a lot of problems this year, which I think were caused by the cover crop that I planted fall of 2013. If you remember from my earlier posts I had a terrible cut worm infestation which I had to treat using non organic pesticides in order to save my crop. When Rick Weinzierl came by to examine the problem he told me that if the cover crop doesn’t sit for a sufficient amount of time after being mowed/ tilled in the spring than the worms who laid eggs and over wintered in the crop would not have time to die. He also made the point that this was a downfall to cover cropping because no one really has time to wait to start planting. Although I had much more success this year as opposed to last year as far as success of the plants, I had a much harder time with pests.
I attended a local food symposium at the U of I last week. The main goal was to gather different people who are associated with the local food systems (producers, consumers and market makers) and identify gaps in the system. It was very informative and I was grateful to be a part of it, especially representing not only the Beginning Farmer Program and Hendrick House but also being a producer and consumer (farmer/ chef).