Posts Tagged 'tomatoes'

Amble to the RAMBLE!

Visit our booth at Fairchild’s 70th annual Ramble. We’ll have our full farmers market display BHF's market boothwith plenty of goodies, such as dandelion, callaloo, arugula, and assorted other greens, salad mix, first harvest local green beans!, head lettuces, squash & zucs & cukes, turnips, bok choy, cherry tomatoes, fennel and assorted herbs, betel leaf and hoja santa, avocados, carambolas, jakfruit, passionfruit, sugarcane and persimmons. Everything is certified organic or pesticide-free, AND locally-grown!

We’ll also have our awesome Antidema Butter, Guava Shells, our Fruits of Summer dried tropical fruit mix, and assorted other goodies.

So, come on out – we won’t be at Pinecrest on Sunday, only at RAMBLE!

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Agri-Council Annual Farm Tour

Last week we hit the big time – the annual Agricultural Tour of South Dade came to visit us. Every year, the tour highlights an aspect of local agriculture. This year’s emphasis was on alternative agricultural activities, and the effects of the freezes in January.

Three busloads of local dignitaries, politicians, snowbirds, media personnel,  and local residents took turns visiting a fish farm, a bromeliad nursery, an organic farm (us!) and Farm Share, charitable food distribution organization that receives donations from local farmers and distributes them to needy families and organizations that feed the hungry.

It’s great to see that we are now recognized as legitimate agricultural producers. It wasn’t that long ago that local organic growers worked pretty much underground, without any support infrastructure – in part due to lack information. Land grant universities,such as the University of Florida, now have organic and sustainable agriculture research and training programs. The explosion in consumer demand for organic products has encouraged growers to convert to organic production.

You can listen to the WLRN/Miami Herald reports after the tour here and here.

After the freezess

We took the row covers off today.  What the bitter wind didn’t burn, the freeze did. We had frost on Monday morning and again, briefly but unexpected,  on Wednesday morning.

Many of the bean plants are fried.

beans, after the freeze

bean rows after the freeze

There are a few beans hanging on, and some flowers, but we’ve lost so much leaf cover that what remains may not recover. We’ll water sparingly to avoid more stress, and see what happens.

Even under cover, the tops of most of the tomato plants froze.
frozen tomato plants

tomato plants after the freeze

We were already harvesting some cherry tomatoes, and most of those fell off the plants. We collected them today, and will bring them to market- time to make Green Tomato Jam! The larger tomatoes are still on the plants, in various stages of sizing up. We’ll see what happens with them.

The brassicas as a whole, as well as the chard and carrots, fared much better. They’re bright and perky, as you can see here. But look closely to the right and the left and you’ll see burnt banana leaves and bronzed guava leaves. The greener trees in the background are avocados, which seem for the most part OK- a little bronzing on some top leaves.

happy carrots after the freeze

Getting ready for planting

There’s a lot of preparation involved in planting crops – many are self-evident, some are not. Here’s the steps we go through each season (not necessarily in the order presented).

First, we prepare the ground. This actually begins the previous season. Of greatest benefit is if you are able to prevent weeds from setting seed by pulling or chopping them off before they bloom. Easier said than done, when you’re in mid-season harvest frenzy. Next, we till under the crop residues and plant cover crop, or let lie fallow over the summer.

At the end of the summer, the rank growth is tilled under, and planting beds are prepared. We’ve already written about this process in an earlier post, Preparing the ground.

Somewhere in between the end of the previous season and the bed preparation, we decide what crops and where we’re planting, and place our seed orders. This is a lengthy, complicated process, best accomplished with two people, or duirng the dog days of summer when all you want to do is sit inside in air-conditioned comfort. We compare seed offerings among companies to choose, firstly, certified organic seed. Then, if we have a choice, either the cheaper or the ‘better’ seed (sometimes we have a better experience with a particular seed supplier for a certain variety). Secondly, if we can’t find organic seed, then we must use untreated seed. Treated seed and non-organic starts or bulbs are prohibited. No exceptions! Now all this, while choosing varieties that we expect will do better here, keeping in mind that US seed catalogs are targeted toward temperate zone growers. We are in what is techincally termed ‘subtropical’, but we are more tropical than ‘sub’, so our variety choices are tempered by that knowledge.

When all is complete, it’s time to plant. Oh, but wait! What about climbing crops? Ah, yes… they need support. We trellis our tomatoes (which are 99% indeterminate heirloom types), and many of our beans (heirloom pole types). Our ‘soil’ is basically solid limestone rock, so we use construction-grade, medium-duty rebar which we install in the ground using a ground rod driver with a bit of help from a sledge hammer. The rebar forms the foundation for the trellising. 

bamboo bean trellising

bean poles

For pole beans, we string 2 strands of wire along the rebar, and then weave bamboo poles into the wire for the beans to climb. For tomatoes, we tie up metal square mesh wire fencing material, and either tie or weave the tomato plants into the trellising as it grows.

Finally, we set up the irrigation. We use drip tape irrigation for the veggie crops, and microjet sprinklers for the tree crops. Because we till the veggie planting areas, the irrigation lines must be taken up at the end of every planting season, and reinstalled at the start of the new season. We try to reuse lines and tapes whenever possible. However, we always have to replace a good 30% of the old tapes due to cuts and leaks.

When the irrigation is all laid out and tested, we plant.

Next post: planting methods.


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