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Letter from John June 18, 2007

Hi Everyone!The hot and dry trend continues and is making life very difficult for us. The Brassica family (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage etc.) is affected most of all by the stress. Plants interpret stress as potential mortality and react by rushing to reproduce themselves i.e. flowering. In the case of Bok choi, tatsoi, and napa or Chinese cabbage this means changing from a rosette form and sending up a long seed stalk, called bolting, before the plant reaches full harvest size. In the same way broccoli forms its seed head (the part we eat) while the plant is still small, producing a small head that quickly opens and develops its yellow flowers. We have run drip tape irrigation lines on all of the brassicas, something I have hesitated to do because it is only time consuming but also needs to be removed to cultivate. Some of the Napa cabbage and the Bok choi have already bolted. We will begin harvesting the Bok choi on the small side and hopefully with adequate moisture from the drip lines the napa will form heads. Lettuce family plants are prone to bolting as well, and so I have been watching these plantings diligently for any sign of revolt (or perhaps rebolt). On Friday night while harvesting lettuce for market I discovered a few escarole pants forming seed stalks, so we immediately cut all of the escarole. At this point they will hold better in my cooler than they will in the field. We will need to do the same for hundreds of heads of lettuce in the next 2 weeks. In this week’s edition of “When Animals Attack”: A marauder got into the greenhouse and wiped out about 200 melon and cucumber plants. I’m not sure if it was a deer or a ground hog, the latter is more likely to enter a structure, but deer have easier access to the plants, which were on tables. Deer have also been grazing some of my tomatoes and have destroyed a planting of early sugar snap peas. The main planting is well fenced and remains unscathed and is flowering abundantly.

This week’s share will be 2 heads of lettuce, English (shell) peas, red bok choi, tatsoi, choice of escarole or endive, parsley and either radishes or salad turnips. I had hoped to have scallions, but they are still a bit small, so we’ll save those for next week. Garlic scapes will be available for anyone who would like more.

–Enjoy! Farmer John

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