July Crop Report

Early harvest of pickling cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a luscious yellow cayenne.
Early harvest of pickling cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a luscious yellow cayenne.

Day Job Farm appears to stand on the sharp hori hori edge that runs between “what if none of this stuff grows?” and “here it comes! RUN!!!”

Corn, beans and squash are burgeoning but not yet fruiting. Nothing unexpected there; they look good. The amaranth looks robust, seems to grow 6 inches a day; its leaves still pestered by Japanese beetles. Cabbages? Those that aren’t being turned to lacy waste are forming heads. We’re praying the bugs don’t get them all. We’ve been harvesting lettuce and arugula for some weeks.

But tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, sweet basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, Thai basil, marjoram and what else … ? They’re all giving us a taste of the onslaught harvest to come.

It’s also good to see bigger, healthier looking veggies at the Westminster Downtown Farmers Market. Saturday we saw one of our farmer heroes, Ginger Myers of Evermore Farm. She was out under a hot sun tending her stand. We talked chickens. We talked growing. We really like Ginger Myers.

Dave Baldwin of Furnace Hills Coffee was there, too. The Saturday before we met one of his growers, Emilio Garcia. He grows coffee in Honduras. Good coffee. We talked roya and bourbon and losing coffee plants to felled pines that are being killed by a new worm in the hood. Farming is tough.

Amaranth.
Amaranth.

Amaranth — Our most exotic crop is living up to its reputation for hardiness. We transplanted over half the working plants — moved them from all-bunched-up to more or less neat rows — and all but a few ran with it. Some are around four feet high. Japanese beetles have whacked their broad leaves pretty hard. But they keep coming. They’re our grain crop. We’re hoping to make flour and do some baking.

Arugula — As noted above, we’ve been harvesting this stuff for close to a month (maybe longer). It exploded. We made pesto. Gave some to friends for salad and pesto. More pesto is in the planning. But we can’t keep up with the stuff. Along with lettuce, arugula tops our list for succession planting next season.

Sweet basil.
Sweet basil.
Thai basil.
Thai basil.

Basil — sweet and Thai — Because Tuphstuf and her sister ducklings get dosed with herbs a couple times a day, we’re harvesting basil, oregano, and sage daily, about a handful. We’ve made a couple batches of basil pesto and the herb keeps coming. We really like basil.

The big question: will this cabbage be eaten by humans or bugs?
The big question: will this cabbage be eaten by humans or bugs?

Cabbage — First came the varmints. In three days they wiped out 60 cabbage plants. Now it’s bugs, cabbage worms near as we can tell. The plants are breathtakingly beautiful in broad leaves and sensuous curves. And we’re afraid we’re going to lose all of them. Each day brings another victim or two. Or so it seems. Just you watch: some will survive … and they’ll taste like broccoli.

Chickens — All 12 Rhode Island Reds are giant pains in the butt. But they are also a source of endless entertainment. They peck at your legs, hands, rings and other shiny jewelry. They are masters at getting under foot. They jump into the duckling shelter and scare the hell out of the new kids. They escape. In fact, they escape so well you’d think they can fly. And they can. They have thrust and elevation down cold. We’ve never seen one catch a thermal and soar around and around over the barn, but shy of that … We had to go in and do a remedial wing clipping. Yes, the chickens are healthy.

Cilantro flowering.
Cilantro flowering.

Cilantro — We believe the term is “bolted”. Our cilantro is bursting up like frothy-topped fountains. We’re hoping that means coriander. Herb and spice in the same plant. We thought we’d cut more cilantro. How can you not make salsa with a garden full of tomatoes and cilantro? Well, the tomatoes aren’t ready and the cilantro’s gone on to bigger, taller things. We still have cilantro plants that haven’t flowered. So salsa … maybe … eventually.

Cucumbers.
Cucumbers.

Cucumber — We’ve harvested three pickling cukes. Several slicers will be ready in a few days. We love to see these guys come in. One, the ducks love them. Two, we like them (especially pickles). Three, they look like victory. The cuke plants came on strong at the start. Then they flagged. We lost several. The survivors make us feel like we escaped a thoroughgoing tragedy.

Ducks — They love cucumber. The eldest three are about four months old. Two meals males and one female. The nine new kids, all ducks, no drakes, are five weeks old. Aside from Tuphstuf, they’re doing well and hoping soon to be released to the poultry paradise. We think they need maybe another week before they’re sturdy enough to jostle with the big kids.

Eggs — Any. Day. Now. We’ve been saying that for a couple weeks. Everyone who knows we have birds asks about the eggs. Any day now.

Garlic — Their stalks look good. One was inadvertently pulled up. It was just the mother bud. No divisions into cloves. That was a while ago. We will probably hold off pulling any deliberately till early September. Again, the timing thing: it would have been nice to have these ready for our pestos.

Buena mulata hot pepper.
Buena mulata hot pepper.

Hots — Red and yellow cayenne, purple buena mulatas, and a couple red question marks — one might be the Creole Bell friend Denise gave us — are beginning to offer up color and heat. The original plan was to sell them if they grew and if we found a market. Too early to say, perhaps, but if we had to guess, we’d guess we’ll get enough to keep us warm through the next 12 winters, but not enough to turn a serious marketing effort. We might pass a few around to gauge interest for next year. The yellow cayennes look lemony delicious.

Lettuce medley.
Lettuce medley.

Lettuce — We can’t keep up. Next year, we’ll succession plant, space it out, maybe offer a salad greens package, and if this year’s any indication, the chickens, ducks and worms will still get many good snacks out of it. The lettuce is mostly beautiful light green. Showy leaves rise like short garden walls. We’re concerned it’ll all bolt before our first serious tomato and cucumber takings. Better timing next year.

Marjoram — This herb gave great results under lights and mixed results – mostly good – under the hot hot sun. A couple numbers look like they’ve had enough of camping under the stars every night. The others are bushy and happy (assumption) and we need to prune soon.

Muskmelon.
Muskmelon.

Melons — We don’t have a ton of musk and watermelons in the ground. They didn’t fare under lights as well as most of the herbs and veggies. But what we have appears to be at least hanging on. We expect these fruits to be enough for the farm denizens and visitors. Treats. That works.

Onions — We will be pleasantly surprised if we get even one decent onion. We planted late, probably not deep enough, too close to the grassy/weedy paths between beds. More will go in the ground as over-winter crops. We’re making due for now with sumptuous white onions from Jenny’s Market.

Oregano.
Oregano.

Oregano — Happy delight. We like oregano, add it to our basil and arugula pestos. It smells soooo good. The current crop will be enough for farm use. We’re likely to plant a lot more oregano and other herbs next year.

Sage.
Sage.

Sage — Their long fuzzy tongue leaves are gorgeous. They smell like Thanksgiving. Along with both basils, they’re our strongest herbs. Too bad we don’t use a lot of it. What, if it’s not Thanksgiving, can you do with sage? Well, fragrance, for one, come to think of it. Garden perfume.

Cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes.

Tomato — Our cherry tomatoes are the front runners. We’ve harvested about 50 in the past few days. The first of many, barring unforeseen hideousness. We grilled most of the cherry toms. Halved them lengthwise, coated in olive oil, added salt, pepper and in one case marjoram and set them on the grill for about 15 minutes. Astoundingly good. The larger slicers and plums are growing but, with two exceptions, are holding steadfastly green.

Tarragon and Thyme — We have a few of each. They’ve proved a bit less hardy than we expected, but according to our dim recollection of the literature less hardy is probably what we should have expected. Who knows? Well, lots of people. In any case, we’re hoping the survivors can eventually be plundered. We plan to dry and jar most of it.