Flint, Michigan, area urban agriculture update — Oct. 20, 2017
Updates about urban and semi-rural small scale diversified vegetable farm and market gardens in the Flint area.
According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint Michigan, temperatures for the past week ranged from a 38.7 degrees Fahrenheit low to a 71F high. We are at 2928 GDD base 50; our season is slightly ahead of the five-year average. The Flint area received 1.84 inches of rain in the three previous weeks, and then 1.85 inches rain last weekend alone. We are still a few inches short of an average year’s rainfall through October. Supplemental irrigation of vegetable crops was a necessity for much of the growing season, as rainfall amounts have been so variable depending on location. Light frost has occurred over the past few weeks, but we have yet to experience a hard, killing frost in the Flint area by the third week of October.
According to research done in the Michigan State University Hoop houses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, growers delayed pulling their summer warm season crops early this fall, because of September and October’s warmth. Fall cool season crops that were planted in the hoops (spinach, kale, collards, other greens) in some cases responded to the September heat by bolting in the hoop house (Bok choy), and had to be removed and replaced with leafy greens. Fall kale transplants with cabbage worms had to be cleaned up before being planted recently on one farm, a late-season appearance for that pest. Eggplant was still being harvested in a hoop house last week. In the field, the fall warmth also prolonged the harvest of the last of the green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and summer herbs. Celeriac has been harvested for storage, but Daikon radish is still in the ground on one farm. The strategy at this time of the year on a four-season farm is to harvest field crops and to leave hoop house crops growing for later fall and winter harvest. Many hoop house growers water their fall crops deeply going into the winter months to build up a soil moisture reservoir in preparation for the deep freeze, after which they cannot irrigate again until spring. If really cold weather sets in early and stops crop growth this fall, these crops are then harvested in the early spring. It is great to be able to bring fresh Michigan produce to market at that time of year.
Going to area farmers markets now
According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, area growers are harvesting salad mix, herbs, kale, collards, Swiss chard, carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, pumpkins and winter squash from the field.