- The eggplant is looking great and is producing in record numbers!
- Tomatoes are continuing their slow ramp up
- We had our new storage container delivered at the farm this week!!!!
- The heat wave has been punishing, but it’s no match for the restorative power of the river
- MELON is happening!
Folks, this is going to be the short one. For a good reason too! My hip is healed and I’ve been cleared for duty! Helen and Kelsey have been looking forward to having another set of hands at the farm, and I don’t want to keep them waiting a moment longer. So, here goes the abridged version:
Well, another July is rapidly disappearing under memories of triage at twilight. Helen and Kelsey continue their long hours weeding, planting and harvesting. In the interim, I continue managing the office while my hip slowly heals. We are anticipating/hoping for me to return to work in a week. It feels very strange to not be acclimated to this year’s defining heat wave; it’s the first one that I’ve missed in over a decade. Hopefully it will be the last one I miss in at least as many years. However, while it’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, it is a minor increment of fondness being added to meager base. Let’s not make the heat wave the topic though; there’s so much good news this week to receive the spotlight.
To beat the heat this week (that only qualifies as periphery spotlighting), Helen and the team have been starting work earlier and going swimming in the river during the hottest hours of the day. It has been particularly notable since it was Ruby Fox’s first time going swimming! Despite loving water in all other respects, Ruby donned a wonderful comically concerned facial expression while swimming. Exie the Dog, on the other hand, might be part fish. While we’re on the topic of fun first time events, let’s check in on operation “Storage Container” aka operation “Shining Justice”.
In preparation for the delivery of the storage container at the farm, we first had to select a site, arrange for grading and compaction (thanks again to our wonderful landlords, the Stephens!) but before all that we had to move a rather large scrap wood pile from the proposed delivery site. This, of course, is a lead in to some more wonderful news: while moving the wood pile Helen uncovered a friendly corn snake! Corn snakes are native to our area and are fantastic hunters of small mammals. After an afternoon of wonderful memories and cunning coiling, our corn snake friend had to be returned to the wild. We deposited her back in her relocated wood pile with our best wishes. We’ll likely continue to check in on her for weeks to come. Well, for how curvy snakes are, that was quite a tangent! So, all snake talk aside, the preparation of the container site is on schedule. While this is going on, we’re, of course, also staying on top of the field.
This week we snuck in some time to mulch our first ever sweet potato planting! At long last they are insulated from the ravages of weeds and the dehydrating heat wave. This type is of weather is a boon to other crops though; the tomato planting is looking vibrant and is threatening us all with extreme levels of productivity! As we steadily climb the first big hill of the tomato coaster, we are continuing to find new ways to experience our midsummer favorites: try out some zucchini chips! They’re a delicious side or snack this time of year!
I think that’s about all the news we have time for this week. We hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine! Have a great week! Wolf Pack out!
It’s been a great week at Whistling Wolf! We are entering the glory days of NJ’s growing season. All of the summer plantings that have been taking up room in our field and our minds are finally starting to produce. This week we saw the first cherry tomatoes, eggplant, fresh onions, peppers even winter squash! (they will be in limited quantities this first week) All of these trademark summertime smells and tastes bring on memories of the past two seasons, the trials, the growth and the late night bouquet creations; it’s a great time of year! In farming though, you’re never allowed to have a single focus.
As we’ve been tending the summer crops and awaiting their arrival, we’ve also been seeding and planting out our Fall crops! We just finished planting out the second beet planting; we direct seeded all of our Fall carrots and our winter squash is already producing! Combine that with the onset of potatoes and onions and things look very bright! At the risk of burdening us all with too much good news, I’ll make this announcement: all the garlic is out of the field, and it looks/tastes amazing!
To expand on this wave of good feelings, I will be starting up physical therapy for my damaged hip this week and hope to be in full swing again soon. Well, it might take longer than I think, but seeing the farm in such good shape this week has left me a hopeless optimist. I hope you’re all enjoying the summer as much as we are. Have a great week!
P.S. We just bought a 40’ insulated shipping container to store vegetables in the off season, so keep an eye out for pics in the coming weeks! Go Team!
So, before we get started let me avoid any confusion here and make this general announcement: This is NOT Helen; this is JIM’S first email! With my hip still on the mend, we have had to reluctantly limit my physical activities at the farm. I’ve been finding various ways to still contribute i.e. writing this email, seeding in the greenhouse, updating our website and photos (check em out!) and tending the aspects of our lives that typically would be neglected this time of year (eating & cleaning mainly). It feels rather alien to have the homestead clean and orderly in July; in fact it almost incites terror as if we had foolishly mismanaged our priorities. Such is life though. With me barred from my normal “day saving” activities, there has been a void in the workforce (aka Wolf Pack). Thankfully, friends and family have stepped up to help us through life’s most recent curve ball, and we thank them not just for their help, but also for their company in this transitional time of year.
Right now early summer crops are in decline and there is a stutter step in the otherwise unbroken march of the early growing season in New Jersey. Many of the leafy greens that we have all been enjoying are going to flower and the successive plantings have not yet matured. Most summer crops have yet to begin producing. This is seasonal living though, as one crop fades out another rises to take its place in our diets. Now if only those crops would hurry it up! I want potatoes!
It is always stressful for a farmer to watch a bed fade from production; the feeling is compounded when there isn’t something to take its place right away. I can’t help but remember the end of Tomato season last year, I watched thousands of feet of tomato plants go the way of the dodo. In my ignorance of my newly chosen profession, I turned to Helen at the time and asked “So, now what do we do”? Helen had a good laugh, and assured me that other crops would soon come to fill the void. She was right (as you may have already guessed). As we speak, new potatoes are being harvested. Tomatoes are slowly ripening. Green garlic is ready. Despite the lessened returns of some crops the past week, this is one of the busiest times of the year. Early and Late season crops overlap and battle for our attention: Weed me! Cover me! Plant me! Seed me! There is no lack of work to be done. But you hired the Wolf Pack to handle your vegetable needs, and we are relentless!
Sally continues her battle against the weeds. Helen, Kelsey and Lara are planting, trellising, harvesting… you name it. I’ll likely continue contributing in the same manor that I have the past 2 weeks. I must admit it’s been nice having the freedom to resolve this issue with my hip. It has been plaguing me for a number of years. There was always another job that needed to get done or another tree to fell. While I know we’re doing the right thing by having me tend office work, I can hardly wait to rejoin my Wife and the rest of the growing team. Hope to see you all at the markets. Have a great week. Thank you all for your help and the warm wishes you’ve sent our way.
Jim, Helen and the Whistling Wolf Pack
Before we even get to enjoy the bounty of our summer vegetables, it is already time to plant for the fall! Cabbage and kale transplants are growing in the greenhouse. With any luck, today the first round of fall carrots will go in along with the beets. The brussel sprouts are sitting pretty, leeks are lined up (and we haven’t even enjoyed our spring leeks yet?) and the field is ready to be prepped for the slew of other fall vegetables.
The important part here is that we are catching up. Many of our crops have been set free from their weed competitors by my mom, Sally the field Savior. The sweet potatoes that were so tiny, are growing, and will be mulched this week to prevent round two of weed battle. She saved the onions, the strawberries, and is now clearing way for the ginger. Thanks Mom. I can feel the burden of weed emergency being lifted from my back. I am so lucky.
We are also experiencing some new success with vegetable spacing! We gave our fennel and cabbage a little more room this year and lo and behold, they became GIGANTIC! I have never been so please with a vegetable result. I made a cabbage-cucumber salad: cabbage chopped, cucumber sliced, salt, pepper, olive oil. It is delicious. Who knew cabbage and cucumber would be good together? I added some bulgur wheat with a little hot pepper and scallion and it was even better. Slice up some fennel to put in there? Don’t mind if I do. It seems that if I am using vegetables fresh from the field, all I add is a little oil, salt, and pepper and they become gourmet. Of course, everything is always better with bread but… that is why there are wonderful bakers at all our markets.
Come out Thursday to prepare for the fourth, or Saturday to high five and get some vegetables for the day’s event and the weeks regular life-ness.
Hope you are well! Here are some dog pictures to make sure.
Exie. Is. Completley. WIPED! Training this new dog has got her so tired she is like a noodle at the end of the day. Sometimes she even needs a mid-day break and heads over to our neighbors house for a treat and a nap in the AC. I am lucky that she introduced me to these nice folks and that they are kind enough to send me a text when she shows up for her siesta.