2022 CSA Newsletter #4

Howdy folks. I hope that y'all had an enjoyable long weekend. The weather was absolutely outstanding to be outside and soak it all in. Now, I know that we have plenty of season left and my M.O is to have some minor rants throughout regarding the weather but there hasn't been too much to complain about since the end of May. Yeah, there have been some really hot days and have gone through some dry spells but then we have a day like today. The temperature broke and we got a needed nice steady rain. I may have just jinxed the weather for the rest of the season but I'm going to remain optimistic and hopeful that we're going to have better than average weather for the duration.

The small but mighty crew on the farm this summer has really impressed so far. For my interns, Alison and Zach, the summer semester is almost half over. Each and every time they have showed up, they are ready to go and tackle our daily tasks. Their lack of experience is hardly noticed because of their positive attitudes, strong work ethic and the willingness to ask questions and be present during their work shifts. Laura, who you see at the CSA pickup, has also been a stalwart. I really enjoy and appreciated the opportunity to hire a student who has completed their farming internships and she is no exception. 

Alright, let's give a brief update on farm happenings. The majority of our time this summer has been spent around the greenhouse and hoophouse areas. The crops "under cover" are extremely valuable and they garner the attention they receive. The tomatoes have really started to take off and we began the arduous task of dropping string for the 700 plus plants. The heirloom house has all the string they need and the cherry/beefsteak/paste house is about halfway done. We drop string for the plants because we grow indeterminate varieties that grow as tall as the season allows. This serves two purposes for us. The first is that it maximizes the space in the house and unlike most determinate (or bush) varieties, the harvest is extended of a long period. After we get the string dropped, we then begin the weekly task of "suckering and trellising". This process entails a weekly wrapping of the plants around the string and removing any new growth other than our main "leader". It may seem counter-intuitive to remove potential fruit but since the plant has limited energy for root, fruit and foliar production, we are actually maximizing the energy of the plant. True there will be less fruit but the fruit we do get from each plant will actually be bigger and ripen earlier. It's one of my all-time favorite farm tasks. It was great to see the interns reactions when they started to notice the fruit clusters forming on some of the varieties. They're connecting the dots from when we chose that variety in the winter, to starting it in the greenhouse, then potting-it-on and finally transplanting. I can't wait to see them taste the first ripe one and then start harvesting.

Last week we also finally finished planting peppers. It is going to definitely be a pepper heavy year for us with lots of new varieties and even some different trials we are doing. The final count is 20 varieties of hot peppers, ranging on the Scoville Scale from "heatless" habaneros to the unknown of the superhot Gator Jigsaw. There are 7 sweet bell varieties that we are growing and 4 frying types this season. It is probably excessive but sometimes I get into the "go big or go home" mentality and really can't help myself.

Let's get to this week's CSA share. We are still going to be greens heavy this week. The stir-fry mix is back for possibly it's last week until early fall. You will notice that there are tiny holes all over the leaves. This is from a tiny little pest that thoroughly enjoys the brassica family, the flea beetle. This tiny little bugger gets its name because it flies very short distances that looks like hops. Throw in its size and color (black) and you get the aptly named flea beetle. The damage is just cosmetic. The kale mix is back, as well as the rainbow chard. CSA member Suzanne shared this recipe with me, with the following addendum: 

"Amounts in recipe can be adjusted to taste. I use a bit more orange juice and zest, a touch more maple syrup and sometimes extra craisins. Also I add the maple syrup into the liquid in the pan before adding the Swiss chard back in at the end, just mixes in better. I also cut the stalks up pretty small for more even cooking with the leaves." 

There will also be radishes, hakurei turnips (no tops), some herbs and also the first black currants of the season. The black currants will also be open to u-pick. It's going to be nearly impossible for us to harvest all of them and I'd hate to see them stay on the bushes.

Have a great week,

Farmer Todd