2020 CSA Newsletter #3

RAIN!!!! We finally got some rain! Since I postponed my first weather discussion (some may classify it as a rant), we’ve experienced two solid rain events. Saturday and today. You know the ones I’m talking about. The nice steady rain over the course of a few hours or more. Not those storms that roll through and dump close to an inch or more in an hour or less (which seems to be the norm these past few seasons). Now listen, in the midst of drought conditions, a farmer will take what they can get. But when that sweet sweet steady rain comes over the course of a morning or afternoon, one can’t help to start to smile.

After an unseasonably cold spring that really felt like second winter, it just jumped straight into those late July, early August conditions. Now hot and dry is good when you’re dealing with disease issues, especially if you’re not spraying fungicides (we don’t), but when plants first get in the ground moisture is crucial for root establishment. Most of the crops that got planted out in the field when the interns started have been holding on for dear life, patiently waiting for that wonderful gift from the sky. The only thing that didn’t fair so well were the first round of cucumbers that we planted. We lost about 80% of the 500 plants. Luckily we have another round of cucumbers being transplanted next week (possibly the end of this week) and we’ll just direct seed more and have them on the back end of the season.

The joke among farmers in the area is that it’s guaranteed to rain during Ithaca Festival and Grassroots weekends and you just hope for a few events in between. But guess what? 2020 happened and the sense of normalcy we once had has now been thrown out the proverbial window.

I could go on and on about the weather, but I’m sure that I’ll have an opportunity again this season. Let’s get you all caught up on farm happenings in the past week. In addition to getting things ready for the CSA, we’ve been busy plugging away at field transplanting. The crops in the greenhouse and hoophouses got their first side-dressing of fertilizer of the season. We also began the arduous process of “tying-up” the tomato plants. There are many ways that you can grow and trellis tomatoes. One factor is whether or not the tomatoes are determinate or indeterminate. Indeterminate tomatoes grow as tall as well let them or the season allows, while determinate varieties grow to a certain size and stop growing. Well, we grow indeterminate varieties on the farm. So that means that each plant has their own string that they grow up. To get them to grow up the strings we first have to drop strings from above. I just did the quick and dirty math and that will be more than 350 “up and downs” on a ladder to get them set up this year. After the strings get dropped, we need to tie them around each plant for support. I’ll get into the trellising and suckering of tomatoes in a future newsletter but now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment, Meet the Interns!

Up this week is Harmony:

  • Favorite Vegetable: Rainbow Chard
  • Favorite Farm Task: Harvesting crops like leafy greens, beets, and fennel.
  • What attracted you to the SFFS program at TC3: Previous to the program at TC3 I was working on several farms while traveling because I love growing food. When I moved back to Ithaca, several friends recommended the program to me who had previously done it.
  • What’s next for you after finishing at TC3: I would love to continue learning Spanish and live in Central America, working with children in schools or on farms.
  • Anything else we should know about you: I love honeyberries more than rainbow chard.

This is Harmony’s third and final farming internship at Tompkins Cortland. She’s been an absolute pleasure to have as part of our team. I’ve had the opportunity to see her grow as a student, farmer and into adulthood. My wife had her as a student at Ithaca High School and she was one of our daughter’s first baby sitter.

Alright, let’s get some details on the share. All the greens this week (minus the lettuce) are a bit larger than last week and may lend themselves to be lightly sauteed over putting them in a salad. The new addition this week are garlic scapes. If you’re unfamiliar with scapes, they grow out of the center of hardneck garlic varieties. We harvest them as they start to curl. In addition to them being edible, harvesting scapes is crucial in the size development of the garlic bulb. Once harvested the plant begins to focus it’s energy in the bulb allowing for larger garlic. They can also be used just as you would garlic but my favorite and probably the most simplest way is grilling them. We put them in a bowl whole and cover them with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss that around until the scapes are well coated and put them on the grill until slightly crisped. And if you’re really a garlic fiend or want to keep the vampires away, try some garlic scape dressing. My wife whipped up a batch last week that was amazing. I forgot to ask her exactly what she did but I found this recipe that looks great.

Hope you all have a great week!