Oh, they grow up so fast… The farmers have been pruning, weeding, watering, and waiting for this very moment; signs of first life! This time of year is what some might call the “slow season” but trust us, we have been nothing but busy keeping up with plant preparation in order to maximize quality production. Thus far we’ve seen the likes of peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and lettuce, all nearly ready for their first gathering. With a fresh crop of lettuce making its debut as the first product to reach Gustavus’ cafeteria, this marks the beginning of Big Hill Farm’s 2013 harvest season.
Below, intern Justin Bruener ’16 harvest the crop of a variety of lettuce:
Up next, we anticipate the flowering of a few more hot peppers before they are ready to be gathered. Thus far we’ve seen around ten pepper plants blooming, with a few peppers over the size of a hand! Growing tomatoes surprise us every day with their rapid production, ranging from the smallest cherry tomatoes just the size of a pea, to the substantial and hearty baseball sized heirloom tomatoes. It’s hard to watch them grow so fast, but every farmer must face separation one day…
With the combination of heavy storms and blazing hot afternoons, we’ve had to be on close watch when it comes to the welfare of our growing crops. Heavy rain and winds can be a farmer’s worst nightmare, but our little soldiers have valiantly made it through each storm with little damage. Save for the loss of a few flooded zucchini mounds to the heavy flooding, the plants have proven resilient in the midst of extreme weather.
As of late, we have been experimenting with different styles of mitigating the battle between man and weeds. Thus far, we have tried three ways of preventing weeds; spreading wood chips to cover the mounds for the “three sisters” crop, utilizing hay as a base in the cool winter crops and half of the tomatoes, and we have just begun to experiment with landscaping fabric in the eggplants, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes. Weeding is not exactly the most fun activity on the farm, but with the help of farming tips and experience in past years, it can easily be aided with the help of well planned preparation.
Although weeding and watering are our main priorities, we’ve focused on utilizing all of our space and seed efficiently. Today, we are very proud to announce the final collection of crops that have been planted on the farm:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Sweet Peas & Snap Peas
- Swiss Chard
- Red & Purple Beans
- Minnesota Midget Melons
- Cold Weather Watermelons
- Miniature Pumpkins
With the help of amazing Volunteers, Big Hill Farm has been more active than ever!