News From the Farm | June 21, 2021

News from the farm this week is that it’s been scorching hot! The summer’s first big heat wave sent us scrambling to keep our summer crops happy. Our irrigation crew has pulled miles of drip tape out to quench those thirsty plants that have grown with only a few overhead irrigations. We are working hard to dig the spring’s last potatoes and get them into our coolers. Sheep graze cabbage fields ensuring that no more will be put into your weekly boxes! We are trying to get all our weeding and cultivating done before our impending summer crop harvest of tomatoes, melons, peppers, and more, consumes every last set of able hands on the farm.


One task that was recently completed was the installation of our two-acre shade canopy over the pepper field. This was after surrounding our pepper field with deer fence to keep the plants from becoming deer snacks. Seven years ago, after nearly giving up on growing peppers entirely, we decided to try a crazy idea: investing in five 600-foot-long rolls of a 30% shade cloth. The first year, it took multiple weeks to design and complete the project. But, as we had hoped, we all agreed it paid for itself in that first year. The plants were markedly less stressed, we used less water to irrigate, and the peppers were not sunburned. Last year, in the midst of the pandemic and with our six-year-old shade cloth nearing the end of its life, we decided to forgo the shade project. We were sadly reminded of the incredible value the shade had provided! Needless to say, we returned this summer season full of hope, and new rolls of shade cloth, dreaming of fried Jimmy Nardellos and poblano salsa. 

The process has been honed to a three-day endeavor. Day one is layout: measuring and placing flags in a grid over the two acre field. Day two, we drill pilot holes three feet deep and stick in the 11 foot steel poles. After all the poles are up, we then string metal wire from post to post the length of the field. This skeleton will support the shade cloth. Next, and perhaps the most difficult part, is unrolling the huge rolls of cloth over the field and carefully (mind you we are doing this over newly planted and one-foot-tall pepper plants) stretching and securing the cloth to the wire. Five rolls later, in the blistering sun, we’ve managed to get them all hung. Day three, we string wires perpendicular from post to post to help keep the cloth from sagging and post pound anchors to keep the wires taut. 


This year, we battled against the wind to get it set up and managed to finish just in time for the 100+ degree days and I know I heard the peppers all heave a collective sigh of relief as they sunk their roots down, eager to push buds, flowers, and fruits that will soon be filling your boxes. Happy Solstice everyone, and get ready for the summer bounty!


— Rye Muller

Welcome Summer  –  by Maria Grazia