Monthly Summary– June 2013
Logs reviewed and summary prepared by Rick Morris
General Observations: Extreme heat, heavy rains, and several equipment malfunctions interrupted the normal flow of day-to-day work. The rain allowed us to catch up on some administrative tasks, and a big push for planting at the end of the month kept the farm chugging along.
Equipment (50 hrs): The blessing of machinery is that it allows the farmer to get more done faster. The curse is that some months you just have to spend a lot of time tending to the machines. The ATV broke down three times and needed to be repaired. The big John Deer tractor had a mysterious leak. The Kubota ride-along mower stalled enough that it was left out in the field in the midst of an uncompleted job. Yet, the farming continues!! Some equipment was interchangeable – eg. the small International tractor could pull the ATV’s trailer while the ATV was out of commission.
Administration (48 hrs): Organic certification paper work was updated, filled, and filed by 2nd year apprentice TH. The regular cycle of business paperwork continues, with its yearly, monthly, and weekly cycles. Federal and state property taxes were filed and paid, bank statements were reconciled, and the crew was paid. The long stretches of rainy days gave time to work on the website and catch up on emails.
Infrastructure (93 hrs): The grass was growing fast and mowing had to keep up. Keeping the alleyways between beds and through the fruit cluster is important so that the crew can move about efficiently. Keeping the weed pressure in check on the shoulders and ends of beds requires vigilant attention with the weed whacker. This work often occurs on days when light rain prevents other tasks, though heavy rain prevents the mower from operating effectively. Misters were purchased to increase irrigation capacity. We cleaned and opened the farmhouse pool! It was ready just in the nick of time for the Summer Solstice party.
Greenhouse (44 hrs): Greenhouse tomatoes were trellised and pruned a few times. During hot weeks the greenhouses need to be checked to make sure they are receiving adequate irrigation. Clear communication between the manager and crew was essential to make sure that the right amounts of crops were started in the seedling greenhouse.
Composting (15 hrs): We were able to spread compost during the drier parts of the first and last weeks of the month. 6 big garden beds and 6 flower beds were prepared early on, and a number of field beds (10+) at the end of the month. Efficiency was improved by teaching the crew the best positioning of the ATV trailer relative to the compost pile. A good position allows the big tractor to fill the trailer with minimal movements.
Planting (151 hrs): The 579 field received its first flowers on June 1st! More flower beds were shaped and planted by the end of the week. Heavy rains prevented planting until the end of the month. The last week saw a big push for planting. One day saw a new succession of direct seeded salad mix lettuces, three rows of tomato transplants, and half a row each of pepper and eggplant transplants. Another big day gave us a new succession of transplanted kale, chard, mizuna, squash, and artichoke as well as directly seeded beans.
Crop Care (202 hrs): When rain abounds, weeding abounds all the more fully! The fruit and nut trees were grateful to be tended, but the delicate onions flopped over and exposed their roots. A gentle touch is required. To the delight of all, a brief interlude of sunshine enabled the crew to flame weed the carrot beds 7 days after seeding. The quickly growing tomatoes were strung in the first week, and newly planted beds received irrigation lines in the first and last weeks of the month.
Harvesting (286 hrs): Flowers started getting picked with Sweet William and peonies on the 1st, during which we also picked collards, head lettuce, parsley, asparagus, and kohlrabi. The dry weather allowed for straw bailing. On Thursday of the first week, the crew arrived early (7:30am) to harvest the hardy greens and root veggies before the sun shone too strongly. The next day we harvested salad mix, head lettuce, and parsley in the rain. Saturday, more lettuce, parsley, radishes, and kohlrabi were harvested for the Sunday market. As the harvest month wore on, we noticed animal holes among the radishes in the corner garden, though they still yielded 37 lbs. By the end of the month, we harvested squash, tomatoes, onions, scallions, scapes, turnips, microgreens and bee balm in addition to the standard hardy greens and veggies. With a large diversity of crops heading to different markets and filling a couple of special orders, it is of paramount importance to maintain a clear and up-to-date harvest sheet. Keeping everyone informed and on the same page is key to efficiency.
Handling (80 hrs): The weight of the salad mix changes dramatically when it is harvested in a heavy rain. 85 wet pounds turned into 69 lbs after handling. Egg washing and packing continues with the lesson that eggs should be packed with their pointy ends down.
Marketing (141 hrs): In addition to the normal West Windsor and Summit markets, 80 heads of lettuce were sold to Brick Farm Store. Blueberries and tomatoes were purchased from Zone7 to sell at market. In a dramatic turn, Summit Downtown, Inc. duly informed vendors that the location of the market was moving. Mike and fellow farmers found the new location unacceptable on a number of fronts, rallied together, and protested the move. Read Mike’s article by clicking here. The farmers successfully convinced the board of trustees to vote against the move. Read Mike’s note of appreciation by clicking here.
Special Projects (8 hrs): Microgreens yielded a stead 6-8 units per variety. The number of trays per succession was increased to 4.
Week 1: Started hot (90’s!), ended with a tropical storm.
Week 2: Rainy and saturated soil conditions. Serious thunder and lightening. Offered a day off to the crew because it was too wet for most tasks.
Week 3: Rain rain and more rain. The sun started peeking through by the end of the week.
Week 4: Sunny days turned into HOT days. Threat of thunderstorms all week, but they held off until July.
WWFM– 6/1: $1103 / 6/8: $901 / 6/15: $1403 / 6/22: $1557 / 6/29: $1464 | Market Total- $6428
SMT– 6/2: $2685 / 6/9: $2634 / 6/16: $2340 / 6/23: $3210 / 6/30: $2980| Market Total- $13,849
Market Monthly Total: $20,277
YTD Market Total: $33,231