Thursday, October 18, 2007

pre-workday thoughts

Good morning,

It's 7 a.m., a half hour before my two coworkers, sisters Jahnavi and Radha, show up to do the harvest for tomorrow's delivery. Jahnavi, my main co-worker (her sister only comes once a week) is leaving at the end of the month, and I met with a couple of possible replacements yesterday. I'm feeling a little nervous about post-Jahnavi era, mainly because I haven't found anyone so far, and whoever that person will be, it's likely that they will have less experience/skill than her.

It's been wet and cold the last week. According to the national weather service, it's supposed to be in the mid-seventies next week -- the last full week of October. That bodes well for the work party I'm hosting here on the final Saturday of the month. Jahnavi works her final couple of days the following week and then whoever's the newbie will start soon after.

The melons have been a bust so far. I went ahead and harvested all of the blackail mtn. watermelons yesterday and will give them to Spruce; hopefully some of them will be edible. It's a little frustrating. I was checking them semi-regularly, but I really didn't know what to check for, and the melons I gave the Pub on Tuesday were mealy, apparently. I didn't have much luck with melons last year, either. Somehow, if it's not gonna sit on the ground and be easily noticeable when ripened, I don't do a very good job of growing it. I think the main reason is that my learning curve is so steep, and there is so much to do, that I really don't want to have to deal with anything that's gonna require extra babying to come out right. I'm willing to try melons again next year, but I should probably have some discussions about it with an experienced melon farmer.

Part of the problem this year was that I grew varieties that I knew nothing about, and was looking for color change as the first predictor of ripeness. I've got this one variety of muskmelon, for instance, called "petit gris de rennes," requested by Mark Sullivan, the executive chef at Spruce, and I guess I assumed that it would turn pale from the dark green it's been the last month or so. Mark had given me a book of melons at the beginning of the season, with these beautiful color plates, which is where I viewed the varieties he was interested in -- blacktail mtn., petit gris de rennes, orange-fleshed honeydew, yellow sugarlump (a watermelon), etc. One of the seed companies also sent me some free seed for a couple other varieties. Anyway, I can't remember what the pictures of the melons look like, and so I'm having a hard time distinguishing when they're ready. The other major indicator is supposed to be that the melons come off the vine easily when moved, and give off a sweet smell. But that doesn't seem to be the case with the watermelons, since I waited and waited for that, and now they're mealy and over-ripe. So it's back to the drawing board, I guess.

That's it for now. More thoughts later.


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