August 2015 Newsletter

The dry fever of July has broken to cool, damp August mornings that seem already to whisper of autumn—but tomatoes, which to some (me) are the very emblem and embodiment of summer, are just now beginning to be abundant. In fact, apart from peas, basil, strawberries and blueberries, all now lamentably done for the year, our extensive list of crops should continue to flourish and increase over the next several months. Each season contains within it the seeds of the next—that’s what makes winter tolerable, and what gives the bright days of summer just a hint of melancholy—but this season is still young.

This growing season has been, all in all, a favorable one to us. Although it has been much drier than usual, with deficits in rainfall beginning as early as May, the lack of precipitation has really only caused relatively minor problems—poor or delayed germination in some crops, more time spent on irrigation, some stunting in crops we couldn’t seem to water enough or on time—but the lack of disease pressure that comes with dry conditions compensates for these inconveniences. In fact, though we sigh with relief when the rain does come, relieving us of our irrigation chores, we would be happy with a nice dry, warm August and September and long-lived, disease-free tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and everything else.

Both of our berry crops were quite good this year, with quality at least as good as usual, and quantity much better. We had a surprise bumper crop of artichokes, which may be at an end, but could conceivably pick up again with cool temperatures and moisture. Our garlic crop is the best in years—this year we moved it back to the Monument St. farm from the lean, sandy soils of the Peter Spring fields, and were rewarded with bigger bulbs and better winter survival. Our potato crop, likewise, looks to be the best in years even considering last years big yield. And the apples, as those of you who have visited the stand lately and looked out over the adjacent orchard block can attest, look to be both exceptionally abundant and unusually clean.

On the other side of the ledger, our basil came down with a fatal case of downy mildew earlier than that of most other area farms. Our onion crop is very uneven, with rows of large, well-developed bulbs right next to rows of puny, stunted onions of the exact same variety, planted with the same equipment, on the same day. Some of our June-planted carrots and beets didn’t germinate well as we struggled to keep them irrigated, though our later plantings (which will mature in September and October) look very promising. Parsnips, a notoriously finicky germinator, will likely be in short supply this fall and possibly next spring as well.

So, as usual, success walks with failure, and prudent cultivators remain humble, open-minded, and grateful for the opportunity to practice their craft with the help of willing workers and a receptive clientele. We thank you for your patronage of our early season, and hope to reward you with a bountiful August and fall!

-Brian Cramer
Hutchins Farm

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