2023 CSA Newsletter #10

I know I briefly mentioned my great help this summer but since the semester ended last week, I thought it would be important to highlight my intern, Buster. Many of you may have met him during the CSA pickup. Buster started in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program at Tompkins Cortland during the Spring semester. He's been a part of the farm since the beginning of the season and has been integral with everything that has happened to this point of the season. From selecting varieties, starting seeds in the greenhouse, transplanting, harvesting and everything else in between, Buster has approached each task put in front of him with enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. He has had tremendous growth throughout the season and look forward to working with him during his Fall Farming Internship. 

It was a shortened week for me on the farm, as my family took our annual summer camping trip. We dodged the tornado watch but endured flash flooding in the Adirondacks. So, the farm was in the hands of the crew post-CSA pickup. The two big jobs after harvesting were to replant in our hoophouses where we have lost peppers and to start pruning the greenhouse tomatoes to create more airflow for the plants. It is definitely too late to plant more peppers, but we had extra kale, so I decided to put them in the spots where the lost peppers were. Since kale is cold-hardy and these are in the hoophouses, they should last well into the winter months for us, possibly even to early spring. The work of pruning the greenhouse tomatoes is a little different than our "suckering and trellising" that happens. We prune the tomato plants to help with disease control now that the fruit is starting to ripen. It will now be a weekly task to remove any lower foliage and harvested fruit clusters. Tomato plants are susceptible to diseases when they are wet. That is one of the main reasons why we grow them indoors. They don't get rained on but there is less airflow indoors and there is still moisture and humidity to deal with. Creating as much airflow helps the tomatoes to dry out quicker, helping with disease control. The pruning is now part of the weekly tomato maintenance. Although, since the plants are putting more energy into ripening fruit, there is less "suckering" to do, but the trellising is still happening. Some of the cherry tomatoes are now approaching 10 feet!

And that brings us to this week's CSA share. Last week it was the cherry tomatoes that made a big jump in productivity. Yes, they are still in share this week and they are just as abundant. If you haven't dehydrated cherry tomatoes before, you are missing out. It is easiest done in a dehydrator but can be accomplished in the oven. The tomatoes should be halved and if dehydrating in the oven, I recommend using an oven-safe cookie rack on a roasting pan. Doing this allows for airflow, which will speed up the process. It still takes a while and you would want to do it when you have the time to check throughout the process. This week, the heirloom tomatoes have decided to make their presence felt. I was amazed at how much we harvested this week. I don't want you to be overwhelmed but there will be a lot to choose from this week. If you're looking for tomato inspiration, look no further than NYT Cooking site. The beefsteaks and paste tomatoes are chugging along but their time to shine is still to come. In addition to the tomatoes that are part of the share, there will be a "seconds" bin. These tomatoes (and other veggies) are our cosmetically challenged veggies. Perfect for processing. There will be potatoes, cucumbers (both slicers and picklers), rainbow chard, basil, eggplant, hot pepper salt and hot peppers. There will also be some new peppers to choose from this week. This will be the first week of Italian frying peppers, shishito peppers and padron peppers. The bigger padrons will pack a spicy punch. Both are perfect blistered whole in a cast-iron pan with olive oil and a coarse salt. They will be part of a choice with the havasu peppers.

Have a great week!

-Farmer Todd