After the record breaking heat of January, and with no mitigation strategy in place to protect the plants, the farm was looking a bit sad. We didn’t blog about it. We told stories of our triumphant lack of planning and subsequent abundance of variety. This wasn’t a lie, but it did mask the fact that we weren’t actually producing any food. To call Earlwood Farm a “farm” seemed like a massive overstatement. Our first okra plants (the beautiful little seedlings that feature on the header of this blog, no less) all died suddenly after the hot days. The tomatoes were shriveled up and not producing any fruit. Our pumpkin and zucchini plants were so ravaged with powdery mildew it looked as though we were going to have pull out the only plants that were producing food. Fortunately, after violent pruning of the sick plants with Craig’s new soil knife (gifted to CMJ by The Varner household of Atlanta, Georgia), extra manure and nightly spraying with milky water to try and crush the spores on the plants brought the diseased plants back from the dead. The cooler days have given all the other plants a chance to either bounce back or commence a rapid growth phase, which is very exciting because we feel like the farm is starting to take off.
Autumn’s brilliant sunny weeks, interspersed with some decent rainfall, have turned things around for Earlwood Farm. We now have had some produce to harvest: snake beans, black beans, chickpeas, radish and late season watermelon. The passionfruit vine has taken root after a slow start and a violent bout of sunburn in late summer, and the cosmos have taken hold encouraging lots of bees to come and join forces with the farmers to help the growth.
We have now moved on to phase two of the garden. We’ve composted the “heavy feeders” such as the tomato, zucchini and pumpkin, after a small yield, and planted some root veges and leafy greens that require less nitrogen and that will grow well in the cooler months: tatsoi, beetroot and lettuce, so far, with more planned once we get started on phase 2 of the farm in the back half of the house.