Lessons from a cucurbit jungle

We have been farming for about a year and a half, and we have learned a tremendous amount in that time.  One of the lessons that we learned after our first season was that we should figure out how many transplants we need for our field and then start that number plus a lot more in our greenhouse (just in case!).  Last year we had some unnecessary gaps in our field as a result of bugs, disease and Acts of God, so we wanted to avoid that if possible.  This year we started lots and lots of plants. Dozens and dozens of trays representing hundreds and hundreds of plants to put into the field.  This  helped us tremendously as we are using our field just about as efficiently as we can.  But after we filled all the beds and plugged in extra transplants where caterpillars had chopped their predecesors down, we realized our greenhouse was still pretty full.  We sold a few plants, which was nice, but this bounty of “extra” plants made me look at the field a little differently.  “I bet we can squeeze a few extra plants in over here,” I thought.  Those little transplants are easy to squeeze in when they are two inches tall.  Walking through the field today, I chuckled at how silly some of these plants look now that they are fully grown.  In one area of the field we have squash, zucchini and cucumbers all within a few feet of one another. A cucurbit jungle!  I knew that these spread out and vine extensively, and it was simply a boneheaded thing to do.  Not only does planting like this make it hard to harvest, it also increases that chance that disease will infect the plant because of the lack of airflow. Fortunately I only made this mistake in a few parts of the field, and I will work to avoid it in the future.   Don’t be a greedy gardener like me!

This week at the market we will have a lovely harvest.  Our Rainbow Carrots are long,crunchy and sweet and we should have plenty of bunches.  We will also have Bright Lights swiss chard, Red Russian and Dino Kale, vitamin-packed amaranth, colorful zephyr squash, zucchini, crisp tasty cucumbers, fresh green beans, aromatic basil, and beautiful zinnia and snapdragon  bouquets. Also look for some of our first potatoes of the year, they will be new potatoes which means that they have not been cured and have exceptionally tender skins.

We will be at the Green Market in Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach from 2-5pm and at Riverside Arts Market from 10-4.

Please remember to bring your bags!

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