As the end of February comes into sight, it's nearing the time to plant sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes (Yams) fall into the Convolvulaceae family of vegetables, along with the Cuban white sweet potato, sweet potato spinach, and Southeast Asian "spinach". They prefer hot weather and grow best when soil temperatures are between 70 and 85 degrees, with no remaining threat of a frost. This being said, one can imagine the important role climate data plays when planning vegetable successions for our fields. Looking at climate data from weather.gov, between the years 2001 and 2016, 6.25% of last frosts in the area were in December, 12.5% were in January, 43.75% in February and 37.5% in March. The very latest frost on record during this time period was on March 25, 2006. We use this data, as well as local weather conditions to predict when would be best to plant. Alas, mother nature's artful conduction of the weather and climate always has the last say.
In addition to monitoring soil nutrient deficiencies in plants, we also monitor insect populations. Cold temperatures during the winter are enough to slow/stop reproduction or even kill pests. Spring is when many species of insect begin to re-emerge in the fields. At this time, it is critical to be carrying out field walks to troubleshoot the emergence of them before they get out of hand and wreak havoc on our fields. Some examples of insects that we battle at the farm are: cucumber beetles, harlequin bugs and aphids.
Thanks to everyone who came out to participate in Chef Fest! The market was a success and the chefs had great food to contribute to the event. One of the exciting aspects of our jobs is having people out on the farm to experience the serenity of the space we are so fortunate to call our office. What better way to share it than gathering around locally produced foods and good company.