Theme: pest management

News from the Farm | March 14, 2022

Last week we got a box in the mail with a bright green “LIVE ANIMALS” sticker on the side.

And what was inside this box? Beneficial insects to help us combat aphids! In this box, we had lacewings and Aphidius colemani, aphid predators and aphid parasites, respectively. Unfortunately, during certain times of the year, and especially on certain vegetables and flowers, aphids become a problem. We don’t want aphids on our plants at any point in time (they can damage or kill young plants, they can spread viruses between established plants, and our consumers won’t want aphids on their produce) but they’re inevitable. The best strategy for reducing damage from aphids is to grow strong, healthy, resilient plants, but even when we do this, the spring-like weather we’ve had recently is perfect for an explosion of aphids and demands further action. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 27, 2016

We know that many of you are wondering where the tomatoes are and why you are “still getting beets and cabbage in your boxes.”  We also note that some of our members are happy to continue getting something green for awhile, like a cabbage…   As one of our members commented, “every single selection is someone’s favorite or someone’s least favorite.”  Even though the CSA boxes sometimes have the same vegetables in them for a few weeks, taken as a whole, the variety of fruits and vegetables in the boxes from season to season results in a remarkably diverse cuisine, providing healthy inspiration to your creativity and ingenuity in the kitchen.

June is always a month when the CSA boxes reflect a transition from cool weather crops to summer crops. You can follow that transition from afar… In June, the summer crops are growing so fast that you can see changes from day to day, but on the other hand, the spring crops are slowing down and starting to be a little peaked. By the end of June, the greens are long gone and the first ripe tomatoes and melons can be found if one goes on a determined search from one end of the row to the other.  By July, the yield of tomatoes is growing exponentially, from one or two cherry tomatoes, to a few boxes that go to farmers markets, to enough that we could literally fill your kitchen with them, multicolored and vibrating with summer heat and energy. [Read more…]

Getting Aphids off your Greens

Some of you have written to us about about aphids on your greens.  It is true — we have a lot of aphids this year, all over the farm, and especially on the leafy greens.  These unappetizing, sap sucking insects have been doing a lot of damage to our young plants.  Aphids have a lot of natural enemies — ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and others.  But the aphids are more comfortable in cold weather than most of their natural enemies, so until the weather warms up (which it may do this week) we will probably continue to see them in our fields.

We have tried to pick only the parts of the field with fewer aphids, and our beneficial populations are always boosted by flowers along field edges.  Additionally, we have been trying to control the aphids with a garlic-clove oil spray and cedar sprays (using the oil from cedar trees) on a weekly basis, and we have released some green lacewing larvae to eat them up, but despite our efforts, you may find some of the little bugs on your spinach or bunched greens. You can wash them off, but it may take a bit of extra time.  They don’t come off with a simple rinse in water because they adhere to the surface of the plants.  So you have to swish them around in cold water that has a pinch of salt (or a drop of soap) in it. The  salt or soap act to reduce the surface tension between the aphids and the leaf.  Leave the greens in the cold water for a few minutes, swish them around, drain and rinse the greens.