September 19, 2016

A Warm End to Summer


Summer is winding down, but it’s still warm on the farm – temps in the low 90s continue. I stood on a dirt road between my winter squash and leek fields talking on my cell phone. The sun was baking the ground, and the protection provided by my wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses was not doing much against the energy that was radiating off of the dry, reflective soil. Finally, the conversation ended, and I could focus on looking at the progress of my two slowest-growing crops.

One set of irrigation sprinklers was going strong in the leeks field. I carefully selected a row of leeks to inspect what was located on the downwind side of the clacking irrigation sprinklers. Removing my hat to wipe the sweat from my brow provided a chance for the hot air on my head to escape. The cool moisture of the sprinklers made me feel like I had walked into an air-conditioned space. The leeks looked happy, despite it being hot. The soil was moist and cool, and the plants had everything they needed. Selecting a representative leek, I bent over and with two hands pulled it from the ground. Pounding the base of the leek against my knee, the loamy, brown soil fell to the ground, leaving the roots of the plant exposed. The base of the leek was about three quarters of an inch in diameter – not quite ready to harvest.

Walking over to the winter squash field, I passed the dry road and felt the heat bounce back onto my body. Passing my truck, I tossed the fresh leek into the back thinking that I should eat it for dinner.

The winter squash plants are huge, almost three feet tall. Parting the giant leaves with my hands exposed the secret part of the squash plant. Protected from the sun were the squash flowers covered in beetles and bees. Attached to the female flowers were the beginnings of a winter squash. Lying on the ground were the large, green bodies of fruit that have started their growth, but still have several weeks to go before their color will appear and a few more weeks after that until they will be ready to harvest.

By the time I returned to my truck, the leek was completely shriveled and wilted. I made another plan for dinner.