This week we’re up to a whole lot out in the fields, and we wanted to fill you in on the progress of two of your favourite fruits: muskmelon (aka cantaloupe!) and blueberries.
First up, melons! The melons have been growing away in the greenhouse for approximately six weeks now. You may remember back at the end of March, when we shared photos of the tiny seedlings in greenhouse. Now, they are all grown up and ready to be transplanted outside! The planting process is like what we described a few weeks back: we make the beds in the fields, lay plastic, poke holes in the plastic, insert the plants in the holes, and then cover the rows with tunnels to create a mini in-field greenhouse which will keep the plants toasty warm, and help speed up their growth.
The plastic we’re using for the melon tunnels is light green in colour, versus the clear plastic we’ve used for some other crops. This colour variation is intentional, as it helps control the heat: clear plastic heats things up much more than green does. We don’t want to “cook” the melons, so we’re using green plastic to encourage more moderate temperatures. The tunnels will remain in place until the melon plants start to flower. At this point, we remove the plastic so that our favourite little flying friends can pay a visit – honeybees! The bees visit the melon blossoms, gathering pollen as they go, transferring it from plant to plant. This cross-pollination is required to produce fruit (melons!). And the most wonderful side effect of pollination is the creation of our sweet and golden melon blossom honey.
On the other side of our farm, our field crew is hard at work manning the wood-chipping machine! Over the winter we gather up wood from all over the farm; fallen trees, branches, and also a few Christmas trees! We make a pile and save them up for chipping. Once May rolls around, we chip it all up and add it to the base of the blueberry plants. As the wood chips slowly break down over the season, they add a healthy dose of organic plant matter. Blueberries have very shallow root systems, so this is a big help! The wood chips also help control moisture and weeds. We typically only have enough wood chips to do half to a third of the field at a time, so this season we’re picking up where we left off last year.
Blog post written & photographed by Alex Chesney, RD