2017, July

Farm update – 7/9/2017

For this week’s Whole Farm basket, select two items from the following list: Black Beauty eggplant, Asian eggplant medley, green bell/sweet banana pepper medley, slicing tomatoes (1 lb), cherry/grape tomato medley, pea shoots (3 oz), basil bouquet, or elephant garlic. We have many additional a la carte items including yellow squash, additional pepper varieties, and two new and totally intriguing items, mouse melons and jelly palm fruits (which make a delicious tropical-tasting jelly known affectionately around the farm as jelly-jelly jelly).

We had a great time at the Tift Park Community Market this weekend. This is the first week we set up back in the park following the severe storms that caused so much damage in January. While I know all the vendors (including us!) were incredibly grateful to the Women’s Health Professionals office across from Tift Park for allowing us to use their parking lot as a weekly market space, we were nonetheless happy to be back under the live oaks in the park. Turnout was quite good, and a handful of people, when asked how they were doing or how they were handling the recent warm weather, told us that they were grateful for any day they were alive to stand up under the sun. Even though everyone seemed to be moving a little slower than usual in the heat of the morning, and would have been forgiven for being just a little bit grumpy and undone by the weather, it was that graciousness of spirit that made it such a pleasant market day.

We have spent quite a bit of time this past week cleaning up the summer crops. We’re pulling up any plants that are done producing, not only to let the ground rest until we’re ready for the next succession of crops to go in, but also so that those plants do not continue to harbor unwanted garden pests. Squash plants, cucumber plants, and tomato plants are all contributing to a rapidly growing compost pile.

Today’s efforts included weeding all the raised beds. While tending the peanuts, I noticed that they are starting to “peg” into the ground, and seeing that reminded me that it hasn’t been all that long since I figured out how peanuts actually grow. Not growing up in peanut country, about the only thought I gave to peanuts as a kid was  how much I like them with strawberry jam and on the inside of Reese’s cups. After I moved here, however, my daily commute took me past countless, extensive peanut fields (as do all drives longer than five miles through rural southwest Georgia, I suppose). It was on one of these commutes as I was contemplating the lush scenery that a thought came unbidden into my head: “Wait a minute! Peanuts are seeds, which develop inside fruit, which form from flowers. But peanuts grow under ground, so how are the flowers getting down there?” I was immediately embarrassed about not knowing the answer; I’m supposed to know a thing or two about plants (luckily I wasn’t yet farming, if so I would have been doubly embarrassed). Some plants produce subterranean flowers, I knew, so I reassured myself that that was the likely explanation. Of course, I couldn’t let it go with just that guess, and so I had to Google it. As cool as that explanation would be (at least to a plant geek), the real answer is even cooler. Peanuts do produce above ground flowers, but after being fertilized, the stem (technically, the pedicel) on which the flower grows begins to droop and elongate, until it reaches the soil. It then buries itself under ground (in a process known as pegging), where the peanut seeds grow to maturity.

IMG_20170709_112727647Peanut flowers “pegging” into the soil

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