A Note from Layton at Quail Hill Farm | Tomato Season

August 4, 2022

By Layton Guenther

Farms for the Future
Quail Hill Farm

On Sunday, our drier-than-usual summer was rebuffed by a shockingly generous, and entirely surprising half-inch of rain. Natural rainfall also helps us with our field preparation processes: microbial activity that drives breakdown of organic matter like cover crops and crop residue in our field all but ceases during dry conditions. I was able to rush about the blocks on Birch Hill with our disc harrow to prepare fields for late crops and cover crops alike. Hooray for rain!

Last weekend saw the grand debut of a favorite crop of Quail Hill Farm members: tomatoes! These days, cherries, slicers and heirlooms are all now ready to harvest. For best results, pick undamaged fruits and take care not to bruise, puncture or bruise fruits (though you’ll be forgiven for snacking on a few while you hunt). Once home, do not refrigerate! Tomatoes store well on a countertop, out of direct sunlight, for as long as you can resist eating them (up to ten days or so).

If you’ve noticed a dark blemish on the bottoms of new tomatoes, may I introduce you to: blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot (or BER) is very common on early fruits, and is a harbinger of calcium deficiencies in the plant. Calcium, ruler of healthy tissue formation, is highly dependent on water for solubility and uptake into tomato vascular systems. TL,DR: drought = BER galore! Luckily, we’ve been pretty on top of our drip irrigation in that block, so you’ll see a rapid improvement in the coming days and weeks.

One crop that really doesn’t mind the drought: wheat! Last week, our friend Amanda Merrow from Amber Waves Farm (and Quail Hill Farm alumna from 2008) pulled her 1972 combine through our Warthog red winter wheat, reaping roughly 800 pounds for our 2022 crop. Many thanks to Amanda for her time, expertise and patience in getting our wheat out of the field during such a busy time!

Stay cool everyone, and see you in the fields,


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