Strawberry Hill Farm / Blog / Tomatoes, Melons, Fall Greens, and Looking ahead to next year.

Tomatoes, Melons, Fall Greens, and Looking ahead to next year.

Posted on by Tim Livingstone

Our Tomatoes have just really started to ripen up in larger numbers and the crop is looking good.  The ripening is slower than last year, but the plants look better and the crop is heavier.  We have had lots of requests for processing tomatoes which we have been unable to fill, but looks like we will have extra coming up.  We'll let you know when we have extra tomatoes available.

Our melons are now starting to be ready for harvest  This is the latest they've been for the last four years but they are delicious and a real treat all the same.  We are hoping there will be enough for boxes this week.  The cantaloupe and the honeydew melons are the first ones with yellow watermelon next followed by the red watermelon. Now a little warm weather would really help us all enjoy the melons...

As we look toward the fall and winter, we are going to try to do a better job with our salad mix and spinach.  Spinach in particular is very hardy, but it can be difficult to grow so we have decided to grow it mostly as transplants.  It is more expensive to grow this way, but also much more reliable.  The photo to the left shows the transplants growing in the greenhouse.

We have had a very difficult season in some of our more poorly drained fields high up on the farm due to the exceptionally wet summer we have had.  As a result, we have looked for other fields nearby that are better drained.  Gratefully there is land not far from here that has not been used for many years and the owners are pleased we can put the land to use without putting chemicals on it.   This land should help us grow better vegetables and free up some of the land on our farm for hay and pasture for the cows. 

We do not have enough of our own hay for our animals this winter.  We think this is due to the wet weather and the fact that our hay fields are still recovering from past use in a conventional agriculture system.   It takes time for the soil biology to recover and the organic matter to develop again to where a field is not dependent on chemical fertilizers to produce a crop.

Because our animals are certified organic, we cannot just buy hay from anywhere around and finding certified organic hay has been very difficult.  In the end we were faced with a problem.  On the one hand if we use local hay we lose organic status on our cattle meaning it will be about two years before we can have organic animals again.  On the other hand, buying organic hay will cost us about $45 per round bale including trucking cost.  We ended up going with the $45 hay in order to keep our organic status, but it is putting quite a pinch in our budget - an expense we did not need this year.  The good news is that we have been able to find local fields that we can utilize for hay next year if we again find ourselves short.  

We are having our yearly organic inspection tomorrow.  This is a very rigorous cross-examination to make sure we are growing all our crops and livestock according to the Canadian Organic Standards.  I'd better get a good rest tonight so I'm bright and ready to go tomorrow....


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