Week 4: Weeds and Weather


Plenty of things going on at Bob’s Berries in Riverview to keep me busy this Fall. A majority of my time was spent weeding our entire blueberry crop this week. We have been running what we call “worm tea” through our drip irrigation system to help stimulate growth outside of season. Although the blueberries love it there are some other flora who do as well. The worm tea not only helps the fruit trees grow, but it also makes the weeds grow enormous as well. The removal of these pests is essential to provide the maximum amount of nutrients to our blueberry trees and not the weeds. Look at the root structure in the picture below of this weed I pulled out of one of our pots. Almost pulled a muscle in my back just trying to get it out. The good news is that we never waste these precious nutrients. All weeds are collected and used in our compost pile to create more healthy soil. We get help from our neighbors, many of which have large yards decorated with various trees and plants. Once a week we collect the trimmings and recycle those into our compost pile as well. Below you can see my  contribution this week of weeds and one of our larger compost piles we have out back.

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The vertical strawberry gardens are also coming along nicely and should be ready for growing season early next year. Going through a redesign we decided to swith the triangular shape for a more basic fence like support. The three rungs will hold a line of strawberries on each side and the ground will support one more. This greatly reduces the amount of horizontal space needed for this garden from six feet to about a foot. We also  added two new types of mango trees to the farm this week. They are the Bailey’s Marvel Mango and the Maha Shanooc Mango. Our list of crops continues to expand each week to provide our customers with the best selection of organic produce in Riverview come the growing season. We are looking to make some partnerships with local farmers markets and fruit stands to market our farm while increasing profitability. Riverview is home to many of these businesses and the locals seems to really enjoy picking our their own food. Additionally, this week we have had to prepare for Hurricane Matthew as it slowly bypasses Florida. Although the hurricane will not  actually hit us, the farm will be experiencing some high winds which can send debris or tree branches into our plants. High winds can also snap our growing saplings or even pull them from the ground. We have taken precautions to stake the more flimsy plants to the ground to prevent any damage. Lets hope for some good luck as we try to avoid any damage from flying debris over the next few days. Last time Tropical Storm Hermine did some damage and we lost a few blueberry trees due to oak tree branches. Looking to avoid that catastrophe again this time around. Rain however, is a good thing and helps us to reduce the amount of water we pull from the ground. Also being an organic farm we don’t need to stress about chemical runoff from fertilizers or pesticides getting into the local waterways. There are so many benefits to switching to an organic agricultural system its honestly shocking that we haven’t done so already. As we attempt to weather the storm here in Florida I wish the rest of you a safe weekend.

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