September had no reservations about showing us what fall would be like - we awoke this morning to a chilly 5C outside. A step back from the intense heat of August is welcome but 5C is a little too close to frost territory for our liking. Luckily it seems like overnight lows will be higher for the next few weeks and we won't need to worry about our frost sensitive crops for the meantime. But with that said, this is the time of year we start closing our tunnels in the late afternoon to allow them to build up some heat before going into nighttime.
We've been growing two kinds of melons this season: cantaloupe and honeydew. Like last season, we've lost a few plants throughout the season but don't have a definitive answer as to why - the most likely explanation is harm brought by cucumber beetles. In any case, this is an expected occurrence and so we plant extra melons to account for these losses.
But we've also encountered a different threat to our melons: thieves! And these thieves have good taste. They wait until melons are ripe and then either peck a hole and feed on the sweet innards, or take them to the edge of the field and gorge themselves near some tree cover.
We suspect that both birds and raccoons are making a habit of sampling our melons. Birds peck a distinctive hole in the fruit, whereas raccoons seem to carve out chunks.
Next year we'll be far more proactive in terms of defense and will likely use an electric fence to guard a designated "melon area" to mitigate the raccoons. Birds can be dissuaded by making use of our existing netting.
We're trying to protect and save as many of those remaining that we can but we're anticipating that this may be our first, and hopefully only, true "crop loss" of the season. Apparently there's a sure-fire way to know when the melons have fully ripened: the birds start eating them.
This Week's Share
Food Bank Support
This season we've donated over 2,200 pounds of fresh produce to our local food banks through the Kawartha Lakes Food Source. Our donations are made possible by the support of our CSA members. Thanks so much!