2022 CSA Newsletter #8

Raise your hand if you can't believe that it's August already. I know I've said it before, but I can't believe how fast this summer is going by. We've got to start to think about back to school for the kids. Aaghh!

This week, I'm going to share with you one of the difficulties with farming. When I hear pests and farming together, I usually think of insects, deer, rabbits and woodchucks. If you've been CSA members with the TC3 Farm long enough, you know of my on-going battles with woodchucks over the years. There's a new nemesis this season and they are mostly after one crop in particular, the peppers. The tiny little creatures that seem to be launching strategic attacks on peppers in both the greenhouse and hoophouse are mice/voles. These adorable little creatures are wreaking havoc like I have never seen before. Between the greenhouse and hoophouse, we've lost well over 150 plants. I broke my last straw over the weekend. We lost half the plants that we replaced in the greenhouse last Friday (the first one being less than 45 minutes after being planted) by Sunday night. Even though it's the beginning of August, I decided to replant in the greenhouse because we have the ability to heat that space late into the season. I was super bummed and went to bed last night wondering what to do. The method that we use to take care of mice doesn't involve chemical bait, catch and release or barn cats. Let's just say, it looked like a snapping mine field around the replanted peppers and it wasn't working. I woke up this morning with a thought. One of our weed management methods was creating the perfect habitat for these critters. In the hoophouses and greenhouse the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are all planted in landscape fabric. Apparently, our mice and voles, with their refined palettes, were loving the peppers planted in the fabric. They did go after a bunch of the eggplant that was also planted in the greenhouse. They went to town on the peppers but didn't touch any pepper plants that are a few beds over but not planted in landscape fabric (due to mixed beds with other crops and different spacing needs). So, what does an old stubborn farmer do? He has the crew carefully remove the landscape fabric over the existing plants to remove the habitat and replant one final time in the greenhouse. I thought the hoophouse was a lost cause because there were only about 10 plants remaining. Upon closer inspection, there were a fair number of plants that had some regrowth happening. And because I'm a stubborn old farmer, I'm going to see what happens with those plants. Hopefully perseverance pays off and we get some positive results and the mice/voles find another cozy place to take up residence.

I could go on and on but just wanted to share a little insight about how one technique on a sustainable/organic operation can lead to problems. So, let's talk about the share this week. The first of the tomatoes will be making an appearance. Now, I don't think that there will be enough for all and they will be grouped with something. But unlike the peppers, the tomatoes are thriving and soon enough they will be pumping out ripe fruit. Alison was amazed that some of the cherry tomato varieties were taller than her already. There's a good chance that they will be grouped with the okra and/or shishito peppers. The hot peppers (which are in pots and bare soil) are doing great. This week there will be red cayennes, some red habaneros, the Red Devil's Tongue, along with the green/yellow jalapenos and purple/yellow cayennes in the mix. There will again be kohlrabi, potatoes, scallions, green tomatoes and black currants. Making its first appearance of the season, will be basil. It won't be large pesto amounts just yet.

Have a great week!

-Farmer Todd