Crops Update: Week 6

With our Spring CSA coming to an end, it’s time to prepare for the summer and all the things that accompany it – most notably our Summer CSA, Farmstand, and visits to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Somerville.

With yesterday’s forecast calling for a 30% chance of showers, we seeded 15 beds of greens, beets, chard, parsley and flowers, and then crossed our fingers, promised to be good, and lo and behold, help arrived! We had been having flashbacks to the drought of 2016 after two weeks of dry and warm weather and poor germination in last week’s field seedings but with significant rain on June 5th and 18th, we’re on track for excellent potato, brassica and onion harvests beginning in July. Our job now is to stay on top of weeds and  control populations of Colorado potato beetle, cabbage looper, and onion thrips. To that end, we started applying certified organic sprays where we have noticed pest outbreaks this past Saturday. Entrust, Trident and Dipel are the trade names of three different formulations of bacteria that target pests specific to these crops. In order to be effective, the bacteria must be ingested by the pest feeding on the leaves. We spray only in the evening, as prolonged leaf wetness gives the best result; dry and sunny conditions quickly degrade the bacteria.  

It is the peak of the strawberry harvest, and the Crops Team has been spending long periods in the patch bringing in the beautiful berries (find a quart for yourself at the farmstand right now). On Friday, we were helped by 25 volunteers with AAFCPA, the firm that handles Mass Audubon’s accounting and auditing, in picking strawberries. The volunteers picked strawberries for two hours and after lunch harvested peas (picture d below and garlic scapes, before weeding carrots–4.5 hours of top-notch work! Assistant Farmer Sarah Lang raved about the quality of the berries she sold at the Union Square Market on Saturday thanks to the careful work of these volunteers.

Back at the farm, Saturday’s Pick-Your-Own Strawberry Day (picture below) was a big success! Our thanks to the admissions staff for handling a high volume of sales, and to farmers Jill Banach and Sarah Stockdale for helping visitors find the best berries in the field.

Earlier in the week, volunteers from Marshalls and Starbucks helped us weed carrots (pictured below) and plant winter squash on two separate days. Last year, we planted the entire acre of winter squash and gourds in one afternoon with one volunteer group. On Saturday afternoon, six community volunteers helped us finish establishing this year’s winter squash patch.

While we were doing that, Farmer Andrew Kelliher was off wheel-hoeing fifteen beds all on his own—somewhere, Hercules just got an idea for a 13th labor! On Thursday afternoon, Google volunteers moved over an entire field checking off jobs in rapid succession. They weeded carrots, planted sunflowers (pictured below), harvested peas, weeded those peas, and then planted summer squash. Wow! Thanks to all the volunteers, visitors and farmers for another wonderful week in the field.  


Want to taste the fruits of our labor? Summer CSA starts next week and registration is open. Would you or your group like to help in the field too? See more details here.

Your Farmers     

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About Kelly R.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln & Metro West Sanctuaries Who: Farm-fanatic, house plant caretaker, and hiking aficionado living in Salem, bringing sustainable practices and outdoor adventures into everyday life. Favorite part of the job: lunch break walks around Drumlin Farm