29 May 2012

Phase 2: Management

I think of farming as a 3 stage process with Phase 1 being planting the crops and Phase 3 being harvesting the crops.  If you think of vegetables like children (which I do for some reason), Phase 1 is having the baby and Phase 3 is finally sending off to college.  There is a heck of a lot that needs to be done in the middle in terms of "managing" the kid (or the vegetables in this case).  Managing these vegetables means keeping them free of weeds and insects, safe from deer, and ensuring that they have enough water and nutrients to grow well.

To this end, we've been spending a lot of time weeding recently.  We have more varieties of garden hoes on this farm than you may even know exist.  In fact, maybe next week I will post about all of the different hoes we use (paddle, scuffle, wheel, Warren, and I could go on) to keep our veggies free of weeds.  Just today my mother and I used a wheel hoe to remove some weeds in our lettuce field.  It was 95 degrees in humid.  We took turns using the hoe and drinking icy water.  I am glad to be inside blogging now instead of out in the heat!

Garden hoes galore.  Maybe next week's blog post!

To protect the lettuce and beets from deer, we use a cloth row cover.  The fabric is thin enough to let moisture, air, and light in, but it keeps the deer out for the most part.

The other day I came upon this doe and newborn fawn.  The doe is in the background and the tiny fawn is hunkered down in the grass.  Can you see it?  How can anything so cute be responsible for so much damage to our vegetables?!

These cloth row covers protect our eggplant and lettuce from insects and deer, respectively.
We have also been on bug-patrol.  Every year, our potato plants get attacked by Colorado potato beetles, and our greens and eggplant get attacked by flea beetles.  We cover the eggplant with cloth row covers to protect it from the flea beetles.  Once the eggplant has grown large enough, these beetles are no longer a problem.

An eggplant leaf with tiny flea beetles on it.  They make the leaf look like Swiss cheese!

We haven't found a way to keep the Colorado potato beetles away yet.  The best system we had was when my brothers and I were ages 10, 8, and 6.  My mother paid us a penny for every beetle we squished between our fingers.  Ewwwww.

A Colorado potato beetle on a potato plant.  Go back to Colorado where you came from!

And now a question from the audience.  "But Brittany, why don't you just use Round-up or some chemical sprays to keep the weeds and insects away?  I have heard that they work wonders!"

Good question, audience member.  At Brittany Hollow Farm, we are of the opinion that if chemicals can kill weeds and insects, they probably aren't great for humans either!  My parents made the decision to be pesticide-free when we were small children.  We walked around the farm barefoot in the summer, and they worried what we might be coming into contact with.  If you see bug holes in some of our produce, be happy!  If the bugs like it, you'll like it too.  Read more about our growing philosophy here.

1 comment:

  1. Like the blog Brittany! Miss the farm, tell everyone I said hello.

    Justin Conklin