Farm Happenings at Where the Redfearn Grows Natural Farm
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What Happened to the Cucumbers?

Posted on July 31st, 2021 by Dave Redfearn

I gotta admit, we're glad July is just about over.  That last heat wave really wore us down.  The rain and the sudden cool-down is much appreciated!!!  

Where are the Cucurbrits? 

Cucurbits is another name for the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, i.e. the gourd family, where squash and cucumbers belong.  

Well, let me tell ya, it's the bugs.  As you know, we don't use any chemical pesticides on the farm.  This makes squash and cucumbers a real challenge.  

We even decided to take an entire year off of planting summer squash on the farm (zucchini and yellow squashes) in the hopes that we could break the reproductive cycle of the evil squash bugs and cucumber beetles that keep decimating our crops.  For several years now, we only plant cucumbers inside our screened-in tunnels to keep out the cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  This normally works pretty well and extends the lifespan of the cucumber plants dramatically.

We do expect plants to die off so we seed replacement plants every week or two to replace a 100 foot row every couple weeks that we anticipate will eventually succumb to disease or pests or simply poop out with age.  However we had a really bad squash bug infestation in two of our tunnels that wiped out the majority of the cucumbers. We replaced as many rows of plants as we could but we didn't have that many transplants ready in the seedling greenhouse (Around 600 cucumber plants all died within the same week), so cucumber production has been really low for the past couple weeks.  We've since seeded tons of transplants to replace nearly all the cucumber plants but it will take several more weeks before those plants get into production and we get back to expected cucumber harvests.  That is if we can squish all the adult squash bugs now lurking in the tunnels so they don't simply kill off the baby plants as soon as they go in.  

As for squash, we took the year off on those in hopes that we can have better success next year.  I don't know, maybe the fact that there was no squash outside in the fields made the squash bugs hunt for ways through our screen defenses into the high tunnels to attack the cucumbers (something they don't normally do). 


This is one reason why polyculture is so much more sustainable than monocultures.  We plant dozens of different families of crops.  Many of them have their own unique challenges and are susceptible to different diseases, pests, and climate factors.  Mixing up the crops means, a bad break with one of these challenges won't usually wipe out all of the crops growing on the farm--The farm is more resilient (sort of like diversifying your investment portfolio).  You know what are doing awesome right next to the totally bug infested and dead cucumber plants in one of the tunnels? Sweet Italian peppers!!!  Totally different family of crops. Squash bugs have killed the cucumbers on both sides of the rows of peppers and have nothing left to eat but those squash bugs will starve because they don't eat pepper plants.  We just have to wait until we're sure they're gone to replace the cucumbers with more cucumbers (it would be better to move them to a different tunnel, but there's no room elsewhere....I'm always saying we need to build more tunnels!!!).  

So we're down on cucumbers but lettuce is back up and doing well despite the heat, peppers are doing awesome, okra is starting to produce, pole beans are on the verge of an explosion and slicer tomatoes are keeping strong (cherry tomatoes took a lull for a couple weeks and won't be back up to full strength for another couple weeks).  And WOW, the ginger looks better than ever!  I think we'll be able to start harvesting at the beginning of September (at least judging from the tops....Haven't dug any up to check).  Watermelon radishes and daikon radishes are about to be seeded (and even dandelion if you believe we actually grow that on purpose...really...we do) and we've got a few thousand additional broccoli and cabbage plants to put in the yeah, we feel like we've got some diversification going on.  

Bread and Cheese

Bread: Farm to Market Raisin Walnut Artisan Loaf

Cheese: Hemme Brothers Fresh Mozzerella, 8 oz Ball (NOTE: 7-day shelf life, or freeze) 


Thanks for the Feedback

We just wanted to thank you for giving us some constructive feedback in the mid-season survey.  You have really good ideas that we hope we can incorporate into the future.   If you asked a question in the survey (and left your name) I plan on responding to each one of you.  I'd planned to do that on some rainy day when I'm stuck doing office work rather than out in the field, but those rainy days just don't seem to be in the cards for us.  Anyway, I'll get back to you, I promise!

If you still haven't given us any feedback, you can still do that at this link: 

We really appreciate your ideas and value your opinion about your CSA experience, so please share those ideas and opinions with us.  The survey is anonymous but there is an optional place where you can leave your name if you have questions you want to leave with us.   Of course you can always just email any questions you might have as well.


Grateful for you AND a cooler week!

Dave and Sheri