Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Cheez-Its" or "Little Debbie Cakes"

Our associates discussing which is better,
 "Cheezits" or "Little Debbie Oatmeal Cakes".

The past two weeks of tomatoes have been less than typical.  Ordinarily, we begin picking in mid-February to early March.  We pick a consistent quantity of tomatoes from week to week with some weeks being slightly better than others. When the spring arrives, the quantities pick up and continue being consistent until the end of the season when the numbers drop way off.  By the end of the season, we are almost thankful for the low numbers. 

This year we started our season so early that we began picking in mid-January.  We started the seeds in October and were quite happy for the early pick.  With that early start came a fruit load of about 8-9 clusters of fruit throughout the winter months.  Wonderful, right?  Not so fast!  That fruit load on a winter plant (less daylight, and many cloudy days) apparently caused clusters 10 and 11 to be pathetic and either not set fruit (blanks), or give us small rough fruit.  Yikes!!!  In other words, for the past two weeks, we have picked less than half of what we have needed to keep all of our customers happy. 

Historically, we plant the Old Greenhouse so that the fruit will be ready before the farmers markets open.  Last year we chose to plant that house at the same time as the New Greenhouse.  We did not begin picking that Old House until about 2 to 3 weeks later than the New House.  Everything worked out lulls in picking or selling. 

This year, we chose to plant that house much later and wouldn't you know it, when we needed that fruit to take up the slack of the other house, the fruit would not ripen!   Talk about poor planning! 

While in the process of writing this blog and reading it back to Tim, he just said, "I still don't know what I'm doing".   As a typical wife, I have to disagree with my husband.  He does know what he's doing!   This season has been anything but typical for growing.  We definitely enjoyed the warm winter, but with that came the trade off of more obnoxious bugs and a great deal of cloudy days throughout the winter months.  (Yes, more clouds than we'd care to see....we document the daily weather.)

We are already working on next year's plan so that there will not be a repeat of the scenario we've just been through.  Out with the old, in with the new.  (Hint....the Old Greenhouse may finally be retired.) 
I know you're wondering about the aphids and the war that we have waged against them with the Aphidius ervi and Aphidoletes aphidimyza.  We are actually winning that war against the aphids.  In the hotspots in the house, we are finding more and more dead and parasitized aphids.  Aphids that have been parasitized will swell and harden into a leathery, grey or brown colored mummy. The adult parasite emerges through a round hole at the rear of the mummy.  The first mummies can be seen in the crop approximately 2 weeks after the first introduction.  They continue to reproduce and keep the aphid population manageable. 
Son, Jonathan

If you haven't noticed already, the title has nothing to do with the blog posting.  I just had to come up with something to pull you all in. 

Leaf pull time....done every week.  The plants add about 3 new leaves a week.  Three leaves on the bottom of the plant are removed because they are taking more away from the plant than they are adding, so we remove them. 
Nephew, Daniel
Guest Worker, David