Throgmorton: On the Farm

June has been a challenging month for the folks at Native Hill Farm. Overnight they went from having a bountiful crop to having a mess to clean up.

Climate is one of the biggest challenges to growing fresh produce on the High Plains. The wind dries out fields and young plants.  Temperatures fluctuate from above normal in April to cool and wet in June. We go from having too little moisture to getting a quarter of our annual precipitation in one week. And unfortunately with the rains often come hail.

Native Hill Farm is optimistic and philosophical after the early June hail storm. I am sure it was still devastating to walk into the fields after the storm. Many plants were damaged beyond hope of re-growth. Other plants could be cut back and will be fine. But the storm caused a lot of work during an already busy time.

The warm season crops like tomatoes and eggplant were spared from the hail. They are being grown in a high tunnel cold frame. These warm season plants are coming on strong with the extra heat provided by the structure. The farmers are considering other structures to protect against the hail.

June is the month for succession plantings. Crops that were started earlier in the season are re-seeded for later production. Salad greens, lettuce, radishes and carrots are some of the successions plantings.

The Farmer’s Markets are starting this month too. Native Hill Farm participates in the Old Town Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. Many local food producers are at the markets. Native Hill also has a market stand Wednesday afternoons at Beaver’s Grocery on the corner of Mountain and Shields.

The markets are part of the farm’s commitment to community. Their CSA members can use their market shares to pick the produce they want each week. It is also an opportunity for non-farm members to buy fresh, locally grown produce. I like the markets because you can talk directly with growers. The markets are a real insight into life on the farm.

Tom Throgmorton, of Throgmorton Plant Management, can be heard on KUNC, 91.5 FM, every Saturday morning at 7:35 and 9:35 a.m.

Originally published on June 29th, 2011.