2013 Oxbow Newsletter #15 – An AMAZING & challenging summer!

Greetings all you fine well-fed folks! Farmer Adam here sending some happy harvest moon messages your way.  It is official, the Equinox is upon us, and fall is here so we can say it… What an amazing summer we were graced with!  As the spring woke up after a winter of no flooding, the days came in sunny and warm and just kept rollin’ that way for as long as our calloused hands and warmed hearts can remember.  A season that was unseasonably delightful.  The enjoyable working conditions sometimes aired on the side of too hot, but nothing a little dip in the river couldn’t cure.  This all helped keep our enthusiastic & happy crew; eager to learn, work, and feed the people!  What a nice shift from the last three late, short growing seasons. But as each season brings challenges so has this “paradise” season.

What does this early, hot humid season mean for the crops, pests, and the fine dance of micro and macro nutrients that take place beneath our feet and all through the veins of our food.  Well, what we found in the fields is that it meant confusion for the fine nutrient dance and a hay day for the pests.  We have seen nutrient deficiencies and pest outbreaks like never before, our Boron and Calcium relationship did something wild that we are currently working with soil/plant scientists to get to the bottom of. Thank goodness for the great Extension at WSU and all the fine folks within it! The Boron deficiencies have really limited our broccoli crop quite severely.

What comes with stressed plants? Susceptibility to diseases, of which we have seen plenty, that’s what!  Downy mildew which thrives in humid conditions has caused a lettuce shortage all through the region and we have certainly felt it here on the farm.  For all you returning members I’m sure you have noticed the difference in lettuce (remember those gargantuan heads of romaine) from last year to this year.  Downy mildew is the reason for this.  Each of our five successions was hit by new “races” of mildew we have never seen before. These mildews hindered their holding ability in the field and also required us to harvest them before maturity, in order to salvage what we could from that head.

Though the heat has caused some problems it has really helped many other crops; for example our bean yields were phenomenal. But, they came early and went out quick from the two successions we planted for you but none the less they liked the heat. Also our cucurbit (cucumbers, pumpkins, & squashes) yields have been quite impressive if we could keep the pesky cucumber beetle at bay! This is a fine example as to why crop diversity is key… one crop thrives when another one fails under the same conditions.

We formally and informally trial many different varieties each season in hopes of refining the proper balance varieties to thrive in our micro- climate. As our climate changes so to do the cultural practices we must adapt to in order to bring you the finest food in the land.  There is always something, and I’m not complaining, just bringing to your attention the amazing connection to your food and what the different weather in different seasons means to your local  supply.  I could go on about all of the little nuances that go into cultivation and timing and planning to grow your food. But really I want to go on about is how amazing it is to grow with such a supportive, enthusiastic community that is so passionate about their food, their farmland and the overall health of the planet.  We can hardly wait to launch into this fall with you and share the harvest!

Luke, Adam, Sarah, Megan, Bridget, Tino, Yolanda, Valentin, Julio-Cesar,Mike, Marianna, Lisa, Alice, Sarah D, Dana, Joshua, Arwen, Grace, Brandon, (and our inspiration Pearl, Emuna, Avi Ray & Zoe Rose).