CSA pick up Week #10 (Even weeks)
Click here to shop our web-store – our freezers are re-stocked! Tomatoes are on the list, as well as basil, and blackberries!
Where to find us?
The Farm – WEDNESDAY (11 – 7).
Northside – Friday 3 – 7 farmers market in Allegheny Commons.
Mt Lebanon Uptown Market – Saturday 9-12
Squirrel Hill Market – Sunday 9 – 1 at the Beacon/Bartlett Parking Lot
East Liberty Market – Monday 3:30 – 6:30 – (at the new Liberty Green Park)
Tim, among his many talents of digging and weed-wacking, is also a writer (and stone wall builder). He’s a CSA member from back when we had CSA pick up was at the Hay Barn by the road. He works on the odd-jobs here (like digging out the patio) and even offered to write a bit of content for the newsletter!
A Farm in a Drought is Like a Fish Out of Water – Tim Time
A farm in a drought is like a fish out of water. By that, I mean that the Farm breathes water. Falling from the sky or bubbling up from underground, water makes it way through the soil, is sucked up by roots into the spongy stems of plants, wicking its way out to the ends of branches, collecting in a bloom, fruit or vegetable. It is the tide of the plant world and a miraculous joy that sustains us.
On the farm, it happens constantly – day and night – in every season. It is so subtle and gradual and seasonal that it is easy to take it for granted. Every once in awhile I stop, look around me and feel the fullness of the water cycle. That is what Farm is. But how does it take place? What in the Name of Science is the science behind the miracle of organic growth? Evapotranspiration. How’s that for a high-falootin’ science word? Let’s take a look at this watery phenomenon.
The total amount of water on earth (including ice that melts and re-freezes) stays mostly the same from year to year through the centuries, even for millions of years. How much water is that? Imagine if you can, that you are out walking and come upon a wall of glass that is a mile high. Looking up, you cannot even see the top of it because it disappears into the clouds. So you walk along the glass wall for a mile, where it turns the corner and continues on. It turns out that your glass wall is one side of a giant glass cube. You continue around the outside of the glass cube, with each side a mile long, until you have walked four miles and are back where you began. All the way along, the box is a mile high and disappears into the clouds. You have just discovered a cubic mile.
Now, if you take a standard fire hose and start to fill the cubic mile with water, at the rate of 100 gallons per minute, it will take you about 21,000 years to fill it. Scientists estimate there are 332 million cubic miles of water on the earth or a little over 365 million trillion gallons. Just for the fun of it, that’s 365,570,892,946,285,660,000 gallons of water. Nearly all of this is salt water and most of the rest is frozen or underground. Only one-hundredth of 1 percent of the world’s water is readily available for human use. Although we can estimate the amount of water on the planet, we cannot really perceive it. If you were alone on a raft in the ocean, you would say it is limitless and you would be right as rain.
Water is in constant motion. It cannot sit still. Even glaciers move. What were once seas are now deserts and vice versa. And though water moves around the globe on a huge scale over time, it does not leave. The earth’s water cannot escape from the planet and fly off into space. Gravity pulls it back down. Lucky us. There is a perpetual exchange of water from the surface to the clouds (evaporation) and back again. With gravity as the motor, the water wheel is always turning.
Part of that endless cycle of evaporation takes place through plants. As water makes its way up from the soil, working its way out to the leaves, it evaporates into the air and back to the clouds. This is called transpiration. Evaporation. Transpiration. Evapotranspiration. Eureka!
Okay, so what does this mean to your local farmer?
Well, being aware that water is moving through the biome makes a difference in the types of plants we choose to grow. Because water moves through the roots, plants with deep reaching roots can more constantly transpire water. On the farm, we utilize many methods of controlling evaporation. In some instances, we’ll plant a variety of crops densely, creating ground cover and slowing the evaporation process from the soil and leaves (lettuce and leafy greens like damp soil and lots to drink). Sometimes, we’ll space crops out, encouraging air flow with the goal of keeping leaves dry and/or to encourage flavor potency (tomatoes don’t do well with damp weather and taste better in dryer conditions than when they are saturated and “watery”). Each year, we plant more perennials, which are crops that go dormant in the winter and come back every year. These crops have more resilience with the fluctuations in weather than the annuals and require less irrigation and tillage.
Herbaceous plants generally transpire less than woody plants because they usually have less extensive foliage. Trees are champion evapotranspirationists. Not only do trees release huge amounts of water vapor into the air, they also cool the air moving through the leaves creating condensation, which then drops to the ground moistening the soil for themselves and other plants.
The circulation of water is the key to life. At the farm, we supplement it with irrigation but there is no substitute for having a critical balance of water moving through the biome. Too much or too little can impact the produce we produce. Fortunately, we live in a pretty moderate climate and lately have been lucky to avoid some of the major storms, heat waves and flooding that other parts of the country are seeing. So next time you bite into that juicy tomato, enjoy the water and appreciate the power of evapotranspiration.
Little Homesteaders is back!
Join us and Sprezzatura for a Woodfired Farm-to-Table Dinner Sept 11, 2022
Enjoy an evening in the country by touring Blackberry Meadows Farm. Get an insight into real farm life and enjoy a delicious, smoky meal of wood-fired tomato and eggplant dishes.