While it’s hard to find good things to say about our climate when the mercury is registering in the mid-90s, it’s our tendency for warmer weather that allows us to plant successions of summer crops for fall harvesting. Last week we seeded several different varieties of tomatoes for fall and this week we are seeing great germination amongst them. We expect to be able to harden off and transplant these tomatoes in about a month’s time. Here are the varieties you can expect to see in the fall: Indigo Cherry Drop, Indigo Kumquat, Bumble Bee, Lemon Boy, Yellow Pear, Juliet, Sun Gold, and San Marzano.
In addition to fall tomatoes, we seeded two types of basil in the greenhouse: Greek and Obsession. We’re pretty excited to be growing the Obsession variety because it was developed to be resistant to downy mildew. Not to be confused with powdery mildew, downy mildew is caused by a pathogen called Peronospora belbahrii. Though it can show up in different ways depending on the crop, with basil it presents as yellowing along the veins of the leaves, irregular black spots, or grey spores on the underside of the leaves.
Since we are working towards obtaining our organic certification, we have to develop creative ways to deal with common farming issues like weeds. In non-organic farming operations, weeds are often treated with a broad-spectrum herbicide like Roundup. On the Village Farm, we take a variety of approaches from scuffle hoeing to hand weeding to applying herbicides approved for organic farming. This week we implemented a new method to combat weed intrusion by planting a buffer row of zinnias, Rudbeckia, and borage next to our farm club plots. These plants will serve a dual purpose by keeping Bermuda grass from creeping into the plots as well as attracting beneficial pollinators.