It's been incredibly hot over the past two weeks. However, the vegetables and fruit and doing well. We've lost a few seedlings but otherwise we're hurting more than the crops. Sitting at the Farmers Market this past weekend was quite... warm. By the end of the market it had reached 98 degrees!
Despite the heat, there are still chores to do around the farm. Our biggest chores have been trellising tomatoes and harvesting potatoes & onions.
We are fairly late on trellis our tomatoes. Ideally you would begin trellising tomatoes when they are small and continue to trellis the plant as needed on a regularly bases. This prevent damage to the plants and ultimately increases plant yields.
There are a lot of methods and materials used for tomato trellising. We chose our method because it was cheap! Materials included bamboo stakes (harvested for free), tobacco twine ($1.50 per roll) and wire (maybe $10 worth). We placed a single row of bamboo stakes (about 4-5 feet in length) down the middle of the row. We placed the stakes about 5 feet apart and lashed them together at the top with wire. To pull the vines off the ground, we simply use tobacco string pulled taunt around the center bamboo that was placed on either side of the plants.
We also had the big job of harvesting potatoes and onions. We planted our potatoes directly into black plastic which prevented us from hilling them. Hilling is a technique of mounding soil around the base of the plant, which allows for more potatoes to grow on the main stem of the plant leading to higher yields per plant. Instead of hilling, we simply planted the seed potato really deep. This method worked well and we've been harvesting potatoes (as needed) for about a month. The plants have been dried out and dead looking for about two weeks, so the entire crop is ready to harvest. Since we don't have a tractor, we dig our potatoes by hand. Quite a task in this intense heat.
Next up were the bulbing onions. They're ready to harvest when their green tops begin to droop and dry out. After pulling them out of the ground, we removed the remaining tops and dusted off excess dirt. Bulbing onions that are going to be stored must be cured. We do this by sitting them in the sun for a few hours and then placing them in the storage shed in a single layer to dry out some more.
Our tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are going to be ready to harvest this week (so exciting)! The cantaloupe and watermelons are getting big and should be ready to harvest soon. We're also seeding our fall crops this week (brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, collards, cauliflower, broccoli, etc). Yay farming! Stay cool folks!
Ross and Jillian Mickens are the owners and operators of Open Door Farm located in the North Carolina Piedmont.