What your clock is to a day, the seasons are to a farm. And the way to tell it's autumn is when it's time to pluck the plucky pumpkins. They're plucky because this year, the seeds were planted late. They grew even during a hot, dry summer. And they survived pests that we didn't even know existed, let alone how to deter. This year we had Field and Howden Pumpkins (the big ones you use for carving), Caspers (white like a ghost), Small Sugar Pumpkins (more on that in a minute), Mixed Mini Pumpkins, and Acorn Squash.
We went into this week ready to harvest and had to delay because the blueberries just weren't out yet. We had wonderful clusters of white berries but the drought in May and June seemed to stop them from developing further. Then something magical happened: the strong rains that battered the west side of Lake Michigan on Wednesday moved across the water and soaked the fields. By Thursday morning, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" could have been playing as a soundtrack as we started harvesting with a vengeance. July 29 will be even better!
The blueberries are on their way. Normally, that wouldn't be big news, but this year's spring drought has been brutal. According to the NOAA, last month was the 5th driest May on record in 129 years here in Allegan County. That's enough to make any battle-hardened farmer almost cry. Especially if they don't irrigate their crops. But North Sky's blueberries are also battle-hardened: because they've never been irrigated, they've been through this before and are doing just fine. I took this picture Monday, showing their progression from green to white, pink, and soon purple.
Talk about growing fruit in Michigan's Fruit Belt with other farmers and the conversation almost always turns to pests. This bug. That blight. Moths. You name it. I hear a lot about "you know, you can't grow fruit, especially apples, without spraying." Well you can. But your "yield" may take a hit. I guess we're about to find out with our first run of apples just now planted.
The Environmental Working Group has released its 2023 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, with its Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables most and least likely to be contaminated with pesticides. Some conventionally grown blueberries have made it back onto the list for the first time in a while. We're proud at North Sky Farm to produce "true blues." That is, we don't use any pesticides, insecticides, fungicides -- no "cides" at all.
It's surprisingly hard to find real organic blueberries. You can find some that are chemical free like ours, but even then, they're probably grown hydroponically (not in real soil). You have a chance to harvest real organic blueberries on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at the farm. Harvested blueberries will benefit the Wild Onion Market food co-op in Chicago. This is your chance to be a farmer for a day. To RSVP or ask questions, click here to Contact Us.
Making maple syrup — "sugaring" — is one our favorite things to do during February, March, and sometimes into April in the Midwest. The great thing about it is that it's easy to start and get better with every step after it. (Thanks to the Michigan Maple Syrup Facebook group for lots of tricks and tips Thanks to the Michigan Maple Syrup Facebook group for lots of tricks and tips.
In some ways, Katelyn and I wouldn’t have met had it not been for blueberries.