By design, there are seven weeks between our June and July markets. The main reason for this is because we actually do some farming here at Bloom Where You're Planted Farm ;) We don't grow traditional row crops but this is still a working farm. We raise cattle and grow several acres of pumpkins, squash and gourds. Terry also puts up some hay here and on his parents' farm ground near Weeping Water.
Last week we took 5 cows to the livestock market. We are thinning down our herd and they will go on to bless another cattleman with baby calves for years to come. Haying needs to be done in the next week or two, and then yesterday was pumpkin planting day!
We used to plant by hand, but as we've grown so have our fields. We now use a tractor and small, 4-row planter designed for corn. After replacing some plates inside the planter boxes it now drops seeds with the wider spacing between plants that pumpkins need. We change seeds every 1 or 2 passes so we can squeeze in lots of different varieties. Gourds and mini pumpkis have seeds that are too small for the planter plates, so to finish up two of us (my Dad and I) ride "bean buggy" style on the planter and drop the seeds through a funnel. All total we planted 26 varieties--pumpkins (orange, white, pink, blue, red, tan, striped, smooth and bumpy), squash, and ornamental gourds.
We planted into a cover crop of oats, which helped to keep the weeds down in the field until planting time. Today it is raining which will be great for germination. Sometime in the next 2 days Terry will spray herbicide on the oats to kill them off so the pumpkin seeds can get proper sunlight and space to grow. The residue from the oats will nourish the soil and continue to keep the weeds at bay for awhile.
During the summer we work to keep the weeds down (often a losing battle, but we try!) and watch for bugs like cucumber beetles and the notorious squash bug. When needed we spray insecticide, but only as often as is absolutely necessary, and only in the evenings when the bees and most other pollinators are safely napping inside the closed pumpkin blossoms.
The quote, "Farming is a profession of hope" is so true and one of the hardest aspects for me to deal with. No matter what you do, there are no guarantees. Year after year we pray our way through the season, hoping for good moisture (but not too much!), and no hail storms, diseases or other setbacks. We've seen all those issues in the 16 seasons we've been planting, but when the next spring comes we're hopeful all over again. I guess Will Rogers was right when he said, "The farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn't still be a farmer."