As we brace ourselves for our first heat wave in two years, we take solace in the fact that the hot days and warm nights will expidite tomato ripening. In addition to keeping ourselves well hydrated through this stretch, we’ll also be mindful of our plants’ increasing water requirements. Irrigation becomes a high priority in weather like this. Fortunately we’re ready for the job. Earlier in the summer, in spite of ample rain from frequent thunderstorms, we prepared for these days by laying out miles of drip irrigation tape underneath plastic beds and setting up the infrastructure to feed these lines. Now the work will shift to moving around the PVC manifolds that we’ve built to connect the different irrigation zones and keeping the pump running. Our drip or trickle irrigation system is a very efficient and sustainable way of supplying the plants with water. All the water is released 2″ below the surface of the soil and none is lost through run off or evaporation. Any excess will leach right back down the hill and be returned to the pond.
Irrigation isn’t the only priority for this week. We’ll continue to cultivate and maintain established crops, hand weed the young emerging crops, and keep planting many successions of Fall crops. This week, the last of the Fall carrots and beets will go in and the first plantings of Macomber turnips and watermelon radishes will be seeded. We hope to see you at the farmstand this week and don’t forget to eat lots of vegetables and drink plenty of water in this heat!
As temperatures climb, the Langwater Crew loads into trucks by 7:00 a.m. for the daily harvest. 3×5 notecards with scrawled harvest numbers are tucked into the pockets of our work pants. Glove boxes are stuffed with rubber bands. Truck beds are filled with empty crates and sleepy harvesters. Folks on the crew are known for their proficiency with certain crops. Max, who later in the season will spend countless hours picking perfectly ripe red tomatoes, spends his early summer mornings in the strawberry field filling tray after tray of deep crimson berries. Newcomers to the Langwater Crew spend their first weeks being trained on the surprisingly elusive art of bunching. Bunching radishes. Bunching beets. Bunching hakurei turnips. Bunching so that each bunch is nearly identical. Bunching with ever increasing speed.
Tender greens benefit from cooler morning temperatures and so we devote the early hours to Lettuce, Arugula, Mustard, Kale… Kale is a crew favorite. Right now, kale plants are lush and full, making for quick picking. Unlike those pesky roots that must be arranged just so, a kale bunch comes easier to most novice harvesters. Every 10- 15- 20 bunches, I pause to collect our bunches into crates. By 8:00 a.m. our first truck stacked tall with curly, lacinato, red Russian and all of kale’s cousins is ambling down the farm road for a dip in cool tubs of water before they make their way to you. Periodically throughout the morning, trucks follow the path of the first with herbs, roots and berries until we’ve harvested all of your food for the day. The vegetables are off to our farmstand, markets and restaurants. We are off to our afternoon weeding projects…
The glorious days of spring are here! As the temperatures continue to rise and days lengthen we’re hitting the ground running at Langwater Farm. While we’ve been busily seeding in the greenhouse and repairing machinery since February, these days the Langwater crew is out in the field. Lovelock lettuce, Lacinato kale, Napa cabbage and Bright Lights chard are among the cool-weather seedlings that have found their footing in the newly prepared fields over the past week. Many vegetables are seeded directly into the cool soils. We’re watching for our spring carrots, beets and radish to pop up in the coming days. Deliciously fancy fava beans are also rejoining our repertoire this spring. Passing by the farm, you’ll see long, white swaths of fabric in the fields. This row cover adds an extra layer of warmth, giving our spring greens a boost of growth.
Spring is also primetime for infrastruture projects around the farm. This season, we’re tackling barn renovations at the
Wheaton Farm and fencing around the post office field to protect our strawberries, greens, and carrots from nibbling deer. We’re assembling a high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) at our home base near the farmstand. The moment this tunnel is sheathed in plastic later this week, we’ll fill it up with onion and tomato seedlings that are eager for more space.
With muddy rubber boots and a hopeful spring outlook, we can’t wait to welcome you back to the farm for opening day on Saturday, May 2nd. Until then!