This week I continued transplanting peppers and other heat loving crops like bitter melon, tomatillo, and winged bean into the greenhouse. I also sowed our next succession of bush beans and sweet corn in the field. I am trying popcorn for the first time ever–we should have enough time for it to dry down before the rains return in late September. Those of you interested in our winter CSA–keep your fingers crossed for a dry September. The popcorn will hopefully show up in your share.
The potato shoots have emerged and are growing lustily. The winter squash I spoke about last week have started to emerge from the tops of their hills, and I transplanted the last of the summer squash. I am particularly excited about a summer pumpkin (yep, that’s a pumpkin you eat young like we do with zucchini) called Pilar. The seed source couldn’t explain why this sprawling plant would be called ‘pillar’ in Spanish, but I think I know why now. Compared to other pumpkin seedlings, this variety has a seedling with a very upright and thick stem–like a pillar…maybe this is the source of the name?
On the animal front, one of our little black Sumatra hens has gone broody and is setting a clutch of eggs. Broodiness has been bred out of many chicken breeds, and the incubator is now used to propagate these breeds. But some breeds like Sumatras, Silkies, and Wyandottes still have the trait floating in their gene pool. I love the idea of a species reproducing itself–call me crazy–so I purposefully ordered this breed last year in hopes that we could use the hens to raise baby chicks. I added some non-Sumatra eggs to the clutch, so we should get some non-broody chicks, too.
The showers and rain this week have been welcome. I set up our irrigation system last week and was preparing to use it, but the precipation has pushed back the need to irrigate. I am glad because irrigating makes me feel guilty. Irrigation of our crops is necessary here in Oregon since we get so little rain during the summer. Rather irrigation is necessary if one spaces crops at distances that one would see on the east coast. It is possible to grow many vegetables here in Oregon in the summer without irrigation, but one must quadruple the space between plantings. This reduces the yield per acre (but only by about half), and certain crops still require some watering (tomatoes like a five gallon ‘drink’ each month even when dryland farmed). Since we are starting out, and we have water rights, I wanted to go the more conventional route. All of our electricity is drawn from wind power, so I don’t feel particularly bad about using electricity to irrigate from our well. According to the water master, our section of Yamhill county has well-charged aquifers, so we are not mining the ground water. Still, I wonder about the long-term prospects of pumping groundwater for irrigation, though I did just hear about a human-powered well pump that can supposedly move water from as much as 150 feet below ground. I’ll need to keep that design in mind for when the zombies come
Finally, I hope you were able to catch a glimpse of the transit of Venus. I took a break from planting beans to make a projector from a pair of binoculars we had lying around, a music stand, an old harm0nica case, and a cardboard box from our recycling bin. Here’s a photo I took of the projection–sorry it’s wobbly but I was holding the music stand with one hand and the camera with the other.
This week at market we will have napa cabbage, cilantro, basil, sugar snap and snow peas, sorrel, endive, erba stella, beets, chard, collards, lettuces galore, garlic scapes, baby favas, and our braising and salad mixes. This will also be the last week for our walking onions.
Take care and eat well.