Co-op CommunityShaker Gardens

Hello from Shaker Organic Gardens, August 2016!

by Stacey Cooper, Co-op Organic Farm Manager

A brief update on garden things…

Bring on the rain! The soil is quite dry and the heat does not help moisture levels. I’ve been irrigating as much as possible and tried to set up a sprinkler as well. Fortunately germination has been good for fall root crops, just a matter of getting them enough water so they size up. I made a full round of thinning fall root crops and will probably do one final round next week.

I’ve harvested the first round beets for Micro Mama’s to be delivered Monday. I also harvested carrots for the NH Food Bank today and will set up a wash station to get them cleaned, graded and bagged tomorrow. I’ve been harvesting cucumbers, beans and summer squash daily. Cherry tomatoes will be on their way to the kitchen next week and soon after to the produce department and farm stand. I found the first ripe heirloom tomato today!

Shane helped with a kale and chard revitalization this week and the crops are perking up. I experimented with transplanting some strawberry runners into the hoop house this week and I will wait until the heat eases up to start some potted transplanted for sale at the farm stand and to stock our own gardens.

It looks like the first round of sweet corn will be ready by next week.  Very small quantities so it will likely go the farm stand. Carrots for the kitchen have sized up quite well so I harvested about 50 lbs today to clean and store for future delivery. Over the next two weeks I will be pulling most of the early seeded root crops (carrots and beets) for the kitchen and Micro Mama’s. I can clean up the empty beds and get fall greens in. I would also like to get a buckwheat cover crop on the raised beds before covering them for the winter. It is already the time of year for making list of things to do in the fall and planning ahead for crop rotations in the spring!

I’ve harvested carrots and beets for Micro Mama’s, some went out this week and some will go out next week. Food bank carrots are ready for delivery. Some of the onions for the NH Food Bank are curing in the hoop house. I had to pull some early as the wind storm broke the tops on quite a few.

I’ve planted some fall crops of spinach, arugula, pac choi, scallion, and mizuna. I’ve seeded some flats and will be doing some direct seeding in the hoop house of these crops as well to carry into fall. Much time was spent fixing broken tomato steaks, thinning the plants and hunting for hornworms.

I’ve been trying to keep up with thinning of fall root crops to get better sizing in our final harvests. We are into mass harvesting of carrots and beets for Micro Mama’s and the kitchen and storage for the Shaker Table restaurant. I have a pretty good wash system set up behind the hoop house that is efficient. Our first sweet corn has ripened and I’ve been delivering about a dozen ears a day to the farm stand.

The volunteer team helped me clean up the garlic crop curing in the garden barn. I look forward to topping them and getting a total weight on the crop to evaluate how much to plant this fall and how much we can distribute. The first planting of edamame will be ready in a week or so.

We have hit our stride with peak tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash this week. Lots of harvesting along with beans, carrots, beets, scallions, peppers, kale and chard. The first row of edamame was also harvested this week and we are trying out the pods in the produce department. Another shorter row is planted and will ready in a few weeks. I will definitely plant edamame in my bean patch from now on as they saved the bush beans from the swarms of Japanese Beetles!

The mixed color carrots are now at peak and I’ll be providing them to the produce department until we run out! I was able to string up the tomatoes, yet again and they are good shape for the time being. At this point the plants are taller than the stakes and the weight is a bit too much. Each rain storm brings down another patch, but they will still make it to market.

I’ve picked some ripe sunflowers to harvest for seed next season so we can plant a bigger patch. I continue to harvest root crops, empty raised beds of weeds and seed to cover crop. I’ve also cleared the center field of old brassica and bean crops and cover cropped those areas as well.

I experimented last week with cover cropping the perennial patch over the straw we spread out and it seems to have taken very well. Hoping to grow a good biomass of buckwheat and then it will die back in the fall providing more soil/ weed protection for the spring.

This weekend we will get all of the onions into the hoop house for curing, start digging the next crop of Micro Mama’s carrots, and hopefully have time to wild harvest some items for classes this fall and winter.

Fall is in the air! I harvested my only pumpkin from the pumpkin patch this week . I’ve thinned and weeded fall root crops, harvested more carrots and rutabaga for Micro Mama’s, harvested carrots for the kitchen and cleaned and seeded empty beds to buckwheat.

Shane cleaned out the old hoop house where onions were harvested and I was able to get a cover crop it yesterday. I weed whacked and tilled the edges of all of the raised bed plots to help keep the weeds out of the beds.

I’m swimming in cherry tomatoes and heirlooms. I’m working with marketing to try to have a canning special in the produce department next week for our pickling cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve re-potted seedlings of romaine, spinach and pac choi to try to hold them for fall plantings once I free up space in the hoop house.  I’m starting to clean and sort garlic so by the end of next week I should know how much we have available for sale.