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From the Fields of Freedom Valley Farm 5.24.17

Posted 5/24/2017 6:37pm by Joe Baughman.

Hi All,
Well chalk up another wet May. This will be the third May in row that we have seen excessive rain fall. It seems we just get dried out enough to do a little of something and we get rain again. This week was not a total wash out though. We were able to transplant what we are now calling the Bio Char Tomatoes. The farm has been working with Purdue University now going into a third and final year of studying the effects of Bio Char in the soil. Bio Char is basically charcoal, not wood ash, it is made by heating wood and other products to a temperature in which it chars without exposing it to open flame. The char is then ground up and added to the soil. In theory the Bio Char is supposed to latch onto other nutrients in the soil and slowly release them rather than the nutrients being leached away by rain and snow. So far the two previous crops tested for the most part inconclusive. I feel good that we will see some results this year with tomatoes being the test crop and also being three years in. Purdue has provided the farm with an intern each summer to not only work on the project but also provide a good deal of time working on the farm as part time summer help. This year’s intern is Lia BoBay she is an IU student. She started on Monday a beautiful day but still very muddy from the weekend rains. Today she helped harvest carrots and beets in the rain and mud. She hasn’t seemed to mind and has done a good job so far. Let’s hope with her help and a little luck we will have a good crop of tomatoes from the test plot that we all can enjoy. I will keep you posted.
Speaking of Purdue University, the farm is  working with them on another project this year. The project is a study ‘How to grow early cucumbers in unheated high tunnels’. Our CSA members will be receiving and enjoying some of those cucumbers in their shares this week. Cucumbers are very cold sensitive and need warm weather to grow. Typically they must stay above 50 degrees to survive let alone thrive. We are studying using a grafted cucumber plant. The cucumber plant is actually grafted onto a hardy Chinese squash root. We planted the cucumbers in late March in our high tunnel and have been harvesting them now for three weeks. This would be three weeks earlier than normal. I think the study shows good promise for early cucumbers. Early fresh organic cucumbers can be sold at a premium at the farmers’ markets. So far so good!
Planted this week: We transplanted the Bio Char Tomatoes to the field. Chip and Dayton were also able to transplant our large Heirloom Tomato field planting over 600 plants. The conditions were not ideal but they got it done. Cabbage, fall tomatoes, and cucumbers were all seeded in pots for future transplanting.
In this week’s share: Fresh Carrots (finally - they seem to take forever), Beets, Kale, Lettuce Mix, and Cucumbers. *This week’s storage tip: If you receive fresh root vegetable with the tops on them and wish to store them for future use, remove the tops and place the root vegetable in a plastic bag before storing in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Don’t forget that most of the green tops from these vegetables are edible. Beet, carrot, radish, and onion tops are all edible and will also store well in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Enjoy,
Jim

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