Summer is well underway and the farm stand is colouring up nicely.

Here is some of the beautiful food:

  1. Sunflowers - Not exactly food at this stage, but pretty anyhow
  2. Honey - Our delicious wildflower honey; this stuff flies of the shelf!
  3. Potatoes - Colorado Rose, All-Blue, Binje
  4. Peppers - Too many varieties to name (or more honestly, remember)
  5. Leeks - A handful of leeks are the last of the winter crops to come out of the ground

Here are some photos of last week’s harvest for the farm stand. The cool season crops are still coming in and the citrus is cranking!

Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage, Kumquats, Tangelos,  French Breakfast Radishes

Top - Kale flourishing beneath floating row-cover

Below - A gloved stake pushes through a sea of floating row-cover. The stakes were intended to keep the fabric off of plants. The gloves proved insufficient to prevent the stakes from punching through the cloth. 

See my previous post about protecting plants with floating row-cover

Garden Pests - Cover Your Plants!

Some garden pests prove to be true adversaries. Creative measures may be necessary to protect the garden from such nemeses. 

I wrote about managing aphids in my last pest control post. Soft and slow, aphids are a relative walk in the park compared to others. My most troublesome nemesis has been the Bagrada bug. For persistent pests like these you might want to consider trying to prevent them from ever getting near your plants.

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See these insects getting “intimate”? They are bagrada bugs (Bagrada hilaris) and they can be a severe pain in my neck. I have recently observed several bagrada bugs on the weedy mustards surrounding the farm and while I have learned to manage the insects organically, I am never thrilled when they turn up. 

If you’re from anywhere in North America that isn’t Southern California or Arizona then bagrada bus are most likely unfamiliar to you. The insect’s native range lies in southern and eastern Africa and in the southern regions of Europe and Asia. The first documented appearance of the this insect on the North American continent occurred in 2008 in Los Angeles County. Shortly after their North American debut, the pest descended on my crops, laying waste mainly to the brassicaceous plants (the mustard family - cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish, etc…) that they prefer.

Bagrada bugs are gregarious, have a short generation time, and they love to mate. They suck the sap from the tender tissues of crops killing seedlings and rendering more mature plants ugly and/or unproductive. Unfortunately, they are also fairly resistant to common organic pesticides - a worthy opponent, indeed!

I’ll share my strategies for particularly pesky pests like bagrada bugs in my next post.

If you’ve dealt with this pest, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Learn more about the bagrada bug here. http://cisr.ucr.edu/bagrada_bug.html

I thought some photos might help with my previous post on how to grow potatoes. (1) Seed Potatoes (2) Well-spaced potato rows (3) Shoots emerging from seed potatoes (4) Time to start hilling-up your plants (5) The cycle is completed (but we break the cycle by throwing them in the oven!)

Here’s a sample of the harvest from the farm stand today - blood oranges and pomelos, “Nero di Toscana” kale, “Snowball Self-Blanching” cauliflower and “Oxheart” cabbage. 

Grow Some Potatoes!

A store-bought potato is a mere shadow of its home-grown counterpart. I recommend growing fingerling and waxy varieties as these are the most delicious and most expensive at the market. If you tend to purchase these types of potatoes this might just be a crop where a small-scale planting can save you some money. A pound of seed potatoes will cost you around $5 and will ideally yield around 10 pounds of mature tubers.

What a Potato Prefers

  • Season:A cool season crop; hot soil (around 26oC/80oF) causes plants to stop producing tubers
  • Sun: Full blast
  • Moisture:Well-drained and consistently moist
  • Soil Fertility: Mid-range feeders; will grow in moderate fertility but will flourish in rich soil
  • Soil pH:Acidic 
  • Other Soil Characteristics: Loose and free of stones
  • What to Plant: Seed potatoes
  • Spacing: 12 inches between seed pieces; 2 - 3 feet between rows
  • Planting Depth: 1 inch

photos of potato-growing steps are here

How to Grow Some Potatoes…

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All oiled up, covered in salt and pepper, and ready to throw in the oven!

Potatoes are nutrient and calorie dense, easy to grow and propagate, and store well in both the field and home. These characteristics have made this particular tuber a champion food of the peasantry and a crop that has been pivotal in shaping history. Potatoes enjoy a cool environment that approximates their ancestral (domesticated) home in the Peruvian Andes where they have been grown since before the time of the Incas. This is where generations of painstaking observation and skilled cultivation have provided humanity with thousands of varieties of starchy, tuberous deliciousness. Surely, at least one variety will suit your garden and your palate.  

Check-out these traditional agroecosystems up in the Peruvian Andes. 

Carrot (above) and buckwheat flowers - some members of these two plant families (Apiaceae and Polygonaceae) attract ladybugs to the garden and we like ladybugs because they eat aphids. So let your carrots flower once in a while… their flowers are also not too hard on the eyes.