Today we bring in the maize from the field. We have six rows that are about 80 feet long. We have never planted this variety in Taos before, the last time it was grown was in the north valley of Albuquerque, NM about two years ago. Some of the ears of corn are really big and some have incredible colors as seen a couple of these photos. We will be saving some of the ears that exhibit red to black kernels in hopes of establishing this variety at the farm.
Many, if not most, of the ears of corn are mostly white with some red and blue colorations. Many look orange but are actually red with yellow streaks in the kernels as seen below.
We save the prettiest and biggest ears of corn for decorations in the house. We might pull some seeds from these in the future but most likely they will remain as decorations. Many of these ears have straight rows, full pollination, and no insect damage.
Today is Dia de San Geronimo, an important feast day in the Taos area. There will be dances and celebration at the neighboring Taos Pueblo. We awoke this morning to a layer of ice on the windows of the cars signifying a frost. We are not sure how intense the frost was, but likely the season is officially over. We will now have to bring all the dry crops in such as maize and beans, allow them to dry completely, and then process them for food and seed. It was a good season and the end comes with the anticipation of winter and a sigh of relief that our hard work paid off and that we were mostly successful in the growing season.
Today we gathered at Parr Field to harvest our fruit crops that could be damaged if they are subjected to frost, which could happen any night now… Above you can see a picture of our red chile that is spread out to dry but we also harvested a bunch of green chile to roast and freeze. This is chile we have been breeding for the region, it seems to be doing better and better each year.
We also had to bring in our squash to avert any potential of frost damage. We had a meager harvest of squash this year compared to last year. Last year we brought in over 400 pounds of squash! This year we will be lucky to have about 30 pounds. What was the difference between last year and this year? There were many, but our predictions point to the fact that we likely watered about half as much this year than last year. We had some problems with the irrigation system that did not allow us to irrigate in the way we would have liked. We also suffered more squash bug damage this year than last year.
It seems that when dealing with squash bugs, you have to be more vigilant as the years go on if you are planting squash in the same area. I believe this is because future generations of squash bugs are able to persist in soils and garden areas that continue to have squash growing, year after year. This is a good argument for crop rotation, fallowing, and utilizing diversity in your garden to limit the influence of insect damage.
Nevertheless, we have enough squash to run our processing workshops and to have seed. Looking at the “glass half-full,” it can be said that the squash that survived limited irrigation and the influence of the squash bugs will be stronger than the average seed that we obtained last year that did not have to weather such pressures.
Today we complete the compost pile that has been many weeks in the making. Today we topped it off with a truckload of sheep/goat manure from a nearby source. We layered the manure with cut alfalfa and wet each layer. This is the last episode of building this pile for this year. We will let it over-winter and tear it apart in the spring and then put it back together for another round of decomposition. The thermometer below shows that our pile is a little carbon rich and not achieving the higher temperatures it would if it had proportionally more nitrogen (manure). This is a good sized pile of compost, we hope to employ a front-end loader on a tractor to mix it or else we will do it with a shovel. It will likely be ready for application by our main planting time next May…