This week on the farm we reach an important milestone of the season, the Summer Solstice! This is one of the most important waypoints on our journey through the season as it is the bridge between the time of planting and the time of harvest.
We began our preparations for this season six months ago at the time of the Winter Solstice. During the shortest days of the year we were ordering seeds and planning the field maps for the upcoming season, even while 12 out of the 13 acres of the farm were fully at rest, planted only with winter grasses and legumes promoting soil health. As the length of daylight increased we began to prepare the fields and plant in preparation for the warmth of summer ahead.
Now at the Summer Solstice the farm fields have the highest area of vegetable plants they will ever have throughout the entire year, with 11 out of our 13 acres planted in produce crops. Over the last few months the number of acres in production has been slowly increasing to reach maximum capacity. After we cross this bridge at the Solstice between planting and harvesting the field acreage in crops will very slowly begin to wane as we bring in crops, just as the length of day begins to imperceptibly shorten. Of course it will still be many months before we reach the point at which most fields are turned over for rest.
One of the key markers of this transition out of the Spring growing season is the planting of our last large-scale crop: the winter squash. We grow butternut, acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash on over an acre of the farm. These seedlings must be transplanted in the evening because the delicate plants are prone to wilting if planted during the hot sunny days of June. We began planting the squash at 5 p.m. and with daylight at its longest, we even finished before the sun had dipped fully below the horizon around 8 p.m. In the photo at right Alicia and Steph collect the empty plant trays after planting butternuts before sundown.
At the same time as we finish the last of our Spring plantings, the harvest has come into full swing with the beginning of summer squash and cucumbers. This picture depicts a view during harvest of yellow summer squash. With the amount of crops we harvest on the farm increasing weekly the work done in the Spring by plants, soil, pollinators, farm crew, and volunteers is echoed back to us in the form of lots of delicious vegetables to bring to our CSA members.