Weed-Out #1: In the Books
Camp Weed-Out #1 was in full swing on Tuesday! Campers are whisking weeds out of beds of broccoli, leeks, and fennel. Food and Farm Educator, Emma Scudder, and crops team members Cara and Katie are working with the counselors to direct the hundreds of kids. Fantastic job, all! Now that we’ve had about an inch of rain over the past ten days, weeds and crops will be growing faster, and the Weed-Out comes at just the right time.
The Importance of Hand-Weeding
We’re engaged in a long-term effort to reduce the size of the weed seed-bank in the soil. The bigger the seed-bank, the more difficult it is to establish direct-seeded crops like beets, carrots, and mesclun mix: You prepare a bed and seed it, only to find that weeds are germinating in a carpet ahead of your crop! This sometimes happens at Drumlin Farm, but the problem would be much worse if we didn’t devote lots of time to hand-weeding, hoeing, and tractor cultivation.
Straw: It Does a Tomato Good
Last week, volunteer groups helped us spread straw in the tomato patch, which will suppress weeds, help keep moisture in the soil, and prevent mud from splashing onto the lower leaves during heavy rain. The mud can spread plant pathogens into the tomato canopy. Straw is also an important part of our soil management practices. We’re always looking for ways to build soil organic matter, and plowing in straw at the end of the season is one way to do that. It’s the organic matter in the soil that traps moisture and helps our crops survive droughts.
Until Next Year, Peas and Strawberries (and Hello, Potatoes!)
Peas and strawberries are finished for the season. The spinosad spray for Colorado potato beetle, which we applied last week, was only minimally effective, so we’ll see reduction in the harvest as a result of foliar damage to the plants. On Monday, the crops team mowed a few beds of potatoes to prepare them for harvest. “New” potatoes come early in the season, often from plants that haven’t reached full maturity. The skin on these potatoes is very delicate, and sometimes flaky, because it hasn’t had time to toughen in the period between when the plant dies back and harvest occurs. We’ll have potatoes at the stand by the weekend!
See you in the field,