The longest day of the year fell on Father's Day this year. It also officially marked the transition from spring to summer. Around here, it seems that the calendar and the weather seldom jive. After a long cold winter, well into official spring, we pretty much skipped spring this year and went straight into summer, along with a two-month drought. Heard several long-time residents say they'd never seen it "this dry, this early in the year, for this long." Not a big deal compared to what's been going on in California, but we ran out of water in our storage tanks for irrigation. After a little research, we connected with George Fifield of Aqua Trans, out of nearby Gilsum. Even though his schedule was already full, he obligingly squeezed us in, and we were able to get 6000 gallons of water delivered. Of course, the night before he delivered, we had a little rain, and then again later in the day after delivery. Since then, we've had just enough rain, often enough, to not have to irrigate the outdoor gardens. Since it never rains in the greenhouses, they always need to be irrigated.
Our big, spring project this year was building a new farm stand. John Little offered to let us set up in his parking lot at the Sullivan Country Store on Route 9, here in Sullivan, NH. It's a great location, with much more drive-by traffic than we ever got the past couple years here at the farm. We are optimistic and excited about our new location. Many of our established customers, and also a lot of new ones, have already stopped by. As word spreads, and people become familiar with the stand, we expect the numbers to grow.
We haven't had a lot to offer yet, because the summer crops are a little behind schedule compared to last year, but the always-popular asparagus came in stronger this year, as the plants continue to mature. Strawberries are in now too, and they also go quickly at the stand.
The garden is more than twice as large this year compared to last year, as the areas we left fallow last year have been re-planted. All of the beds now have biochar mixed in and have been built into tall raised beds. The extra planting space has allowed us to grow potatoes again this year, after a year off. We're growing garlic, of course, along with onions, beets, peas, green beans, broccoli, and all of the other regulars. We also have a bed this year for a variety of cut flowers. And we planted a much larger bed of squash. The usual greenhouse offerings of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, basil, and dill complete the list.
We're always looking for ways to improve, do better, and be more efficient. The first two years of growing here, many of our eggplants were hit pretty hard by slugs. Beer traps helped a little, but many were obviously tee-totalers and passed them by. It was a little discouraging when picking the gorgeous shiny, purple fruits, only to find deep slug-holes in them. Last year, we made rings from copper foil tape and wrapped the base of the stems of the plants. Perfect! Zero slug damage. The moisture on slugs' and snails' bellies causes a micro-current of electricity that they don't like, and so they won't cross the copper. This year, we also wrapped the peppers, and if we see any slugs on the tomatoes or cukes, we'll ring them too.
Here's another improvement. We put down plastic mulch over the squash beds--- to help warm the soil faster, retain moisture, and prevent weeds. We've used it before with great success for melons and squashes. Last fall, we put it down on our strawberry bed. For some reason, this plastic, as thin as it is, is hard to cut with either scissors or a knife. It tears, more than cuts. Cutting holes for seeds or transplants is always problematic, so we decided to try burning holes. Holding a short piece of copper pipe in vise-grip pliers, heating it with a torch, and then pressing it on the plastic worked very smoothly. No more cutting holes from now on!
Along the lines of improvements, we've come across a few farms that really have their act together. I'll be posting in the near future about them.