Rain stopped around June and only a few significant rains have happened since then. Watering takes a lot of the farm staff’s hours. When I can find time I try to piece together drip irrigation zones out of scattered pieces. Some of the irrigation is left over from specialty crop grant tests so the parts don’t all match or add up to the right configuration every time. Some holes need to be taped up or have a valve for drip tape. Other places need a valve, we don’t have a hole punch so there is some swearing and poking of tubes with screwdrivers. Bit by bit the farm drip is growing. Many areas are watered with sprinklers that need to be moved from place to place. It’s inefficient and has created a weed population we have been fighting back. Every time we weed out an area it gets drip irrigation and the weed problem drops to near nothing. The plan is to discontinue the sprinkler use in every area if possible.
Some of the interns have little previous plant experience so sometimes my instructions aren’t clear enough or my examples are not thorough. It is very good practice, something I want to be good at is instructing others with agriculture and horticulture tasks. Another area I realized needed work is feedback. I am not giving enough feedback, positive or negative.
Succession planting has become pretty difficult with the challenges of watering. Plants in flats are struggling and many have dried out and died. We lost most of the flower starts in one weekend and many other cabbage, tomato and pepper plants as well. When there is time away from watering we are racing to prepare more beds for planting but the heat is making the progress very slow. I often overheat and lose an evening recovering. Several of the interns have had heat issues as well. One thing I have learned is that I need electrolyte replacements and have started adding a powder to my thermos. It makes a difference in how drained II feel at the end of the day.
Some pests are starting to show up that worry me, the striped cucumber beetle and the squash vine borer. On my own farm I use mostly exclusion with fabric covers and replanting to deal with those pests but at the campus farm we have all the plants uncovered in a concentrated area. The cucumbers in tunnels are trellised up strings and seem to be attracting more pest insects than the ones on the ground for whatever reason.