Saturday, September 22, 2012

seed starting

September might seem like an odd time to start seeds. Traditionally it seems vegetables go in the ground in the spring and that it is it.

The hoop house changes that. There are year round options of growing that surprise everyone. Including the farmers. Yesterday I found a few cucumbers: not many, but an unusual, known for warm weather (and being consumed by cucumber beetles in the summer) vegetable. Since we don't use chemicals we are constantly experimenting with how and when to plant so that we can have crops: right now we are pulling "summer squash", a plant that is consumed by a number of different bugs in the summer months. Started in early June and planted in the ground in July, these plants are now producing. There is very little bug damage to them and no chemicals at all were used to get them. We had read that a later start avoids the life cycle of most of their aggressive destroyers, and this has proven correct. Since we also grow pen pollinated, heirloom varieties and not F1 hybrids, we don't have the kind that have been hybridized to have resistance to molds and mildews or to the bugs: when there is reference to zucchini growing so rapidly that people lock their doors so neighbors don't leave shopping bags full of this over abundant vegetable it is usually an F1 and not an old, tasty (almost buttery and not a bit waxy) zucchini, patty pan or summer squash that we grow.

I am astonished at the difference in taste and texture in our summer squash. Neither waxy nor stringy, it is clean and buttery.

So seeds start at all times of year. We work to sync with the growth cycles of plants and the season of the bugs, to continue to supply our CSA members with as much of a variety of chemical free (neither organic or synthetic chemicals are used in our vegetable production, ever) and we keep experimenting with growth cycles. Homer takes it as a personal challenge to grow as much as possible out of season as he can, and here is where that begins.

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