I returned this morning after being out of town for nearly a week to visit my parents. I was anxious about leaving the farm since we hadn’t had any significant rainfall in a long long while and the temperatures had been really high. Luckily, it rained almost everyday I was gone(!) and I returned to see everything refreshed and thriving. This afternoon, we had another great turnout with lots of CSA members and other curious volunteers showing up to help with chores.
While I was away The Spurgeon General started to install this year’s tomato trellises (there’s one in the very front of this photo – see the rebar) which allowed us to tie up the plants today.
You might be wondering where the tomatoes are in the second photo of Julian cutting twine. They’re hard to see because they’re hiding in the fava beans (photo below) which were planted as an early spring cover crop. The hope is that these will produce some beans and we’ll chop them down in the next few weeks.
Nancy thinned beet seedlings, producing some very pretty little microgreens.
Brooke, Amie, and Claire attacked the weeds that made a home across our entrance threshold.
And Andrew made a rare appearance to spray beneficial nemotodes all over the place.
Things are looking brighter then a week ago. Let’s see what Mother Nature brings us next!
People sometimes look sideways at our tomato vines. We grow them up strings tied about 6 feet up from the ground, prune them down to a single fruiting vine, and they grow to be about 10-15 feet long by October. We fit around 20 plants in a 25 foot row. This practice was the result of reading Fell’s Vertical Gardening and watching a pruning tutorial on YouTube. (It’s linked in this post from a few years ago: “Tomato Fingers.”)
This year I’m trying to train more of our CSA folks to prune the plants. This is something I like to do myself both because I enjoy it and because it is somewhat exacting work. But I need to teach others what I’ve learned the past few years and I need to let go so I can get away from the farm from time to time! Pruning must be done at least once a week.
The hardest part for people to watch and understand is when I cut the suckers, some with stems 3/4 of an inch wide with flowers. They shouldn’t ever get this big but sometimes I miss one when they are young. I see the potential for fruit on those vines too, but I know from experience that it is easier for the plants to breathe, and for me to harvest their produce, when they are cut back.
People always ask whether the plants make as much fruit as they would if I let them grow out. I don’t have a scientific answer but have always assumed that since they are directing their growth in fewer directions the yield is concentrated to those areas and does better than spreading itself out. I still don’t have hard numbers to share- I’m a qualitative researcher afterall – but as the fruit sets this season, I do believe the proof is in these pictures. (top to bottom: Marbonne, Amish Paste, Sun Gold)
Well, this day turned out to be pretty freakin’ amazing.
When we woke up at 7am, it was all of 36 or 39 degrees out, depending on which app we were consulting. It was cold and wet and not feeling like it was gonna be a good day for much of anything.
By 9am when our CSA members rolled in, it was 50°. The sun was making a grand entrance. Catherine Murray of PhotoKitchen, a photographer freelancing for Edible Columbus, followed and we before we knew it we were working our tails off, sharing stories with Catherine, and feeling beautiful.
Once again, I’m too tired to do more than share glimpses with you via photo annotations.
Wish you were here.
Planting flowers, pole beans, more radishes, chard, and arugula.