On Parasitic Higher Plants or, don’t call me dodder…

Sorry, that Pearl Jam song has been in my head since I read this email Brian sent out yesterday. -JM

Hello folks!

It has been another busy and wondrous week at the farm.  Our strawberries are really starting to perform nicely and our tomatoes are adorned with scores of green marbles that promise the first ripe fruit just over the horizon.   Almost everything is growing well in the long hours of sunlight and moderate temperatures.

We found one thing this week a little bit out of the ordinary that is growing well.  A strange vining organism has begun invading a number of our plants, including our carrots and our snapdragons. It is a bright orange tendril that wraps around and obviously parasitizes the host plant.  It grabs on very tightly but with great care I can unwrap it and reveal minute scars all along the stem of plant like after a suture is removed.  A google search of this ‘alien being’ turned up that its name is either dodder or the more folksy name ‘devil’s shoelaces’.  My feeling that it is unique was confirmed by its classification in the group, Cuscutaceae,  that has no other plant family members.  Dodder is a plant but contains no chlorophyll and has no roots.  Apparently eradicating it is especially difficult because seeds can remain dormant for ten years! So far it has only been a minor nuisance, and the organic treatment has been to unwind the pesky plant if possible or if it is too entwined then we pull out the whole parasite/victim pair.  With all the little and big challenges we face from time to time, one learns to oddly appreciate one’s adversaries.  The creativity of devil’s shoelace has earned my respect :)

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This week we will be at both Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach from 2-5PM and at the Riverside Arts Market under the Fuller Warren from 10-4.  We will be bringing lots and lots of delicious head lettuce (butterhead and green and red romaine), tender summer squash, colorful swiss chard, hearty kale bunches, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, brussels sprout greens, cilantro, dill, edible flowers and basil.  We will also have some glorious sunflower bunches that are sure to light up any room in your home.   ALSO, we will have a limited number of squash blossoms.  This delicacy is something that you can only get locally, and they are absolutely delicous battered and lightly fried.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.  Thanks for supporting our local farm!

Sincerely,

Brian, Kristin, Jennifer and Olivia

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