2023 CSA Newsletter #20

Last week, it really started to feel like the end of the season was close. Lots of cold, windy days and nights. It still being dark out when the morning alarm went off. Kids not wanting to get out of cozy blankets to get ready for school. All of it, plus some of the big tasks we were able to get done last week. The biggest thing accomplished last week was the clearing out of the heirloom tomato house. We started by harvesting all of the remaining decent size fruit, regardless of maturity. After that, the plants get pulled from the soil and cut from the trellis. There are removable clips that hold the trellis in place near the bottom of the plants but other than that, all plant material and string is composted in the hedge rows. We use a biodegradable twine for our trellis and that makes the cleanup process so much more efficient. We also don't add the plant material to our regular compost pile. Most of the plants are pretty heavily diseased at this point in the season and we don't want to take the risk of having a soil borne disease survive due to the heat levels in the composting process. Eventually our compost ends back in planting beds. Now that the hoophouse is cleared out, we will eventually move it over the kale and collards for the winter. I am not sure if that will happen before the end of the CSA season, but I will give an update if it does.

This week's student project that I am going to share with you is Alison's. Many of you have met Alison during pickup this season. Alison completed her farming internship requirements for her degree last fall but came on as a student worker this season. It has been great having her in the program and as part of the crew. I love all the projects that my students are working on this semester, but I am particularly excited about Alison's. She is the first student that has been through the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program whose Capstone project is in partnership with the TC3 Farm. Alison is setting up a log-grown shiitake mushroom space that has easy access to water for soaking and fruiting. We have grown mushrooms in the past but never had a "mushroom yard" with easy access to water. The shiitake fruiting would happen at random times. Being able to soak and force fruit mushrooms makes for a much better product because you end up on a schedule. To have consistency in fruiting log-grown mushrooms need shade and access to water. We never had both. That is going to change. I had started to do very minor research about growing mushrooms under solar panels, which led to a conversation with my students. Alison was enthusiastically on-board and wanted to take on this project. She has been clearing out an area underneath our panels (which are adjacent to the barn, which has water) and will be inoculating logs later this fall. We plan on starting out small and if this works, we have plenty of area to expand to. 

Okay, onto week 20's share. Tomatoes are still here! There will still be a mix to choose from. There will be scallions, kale and collards again, along with the final lettuce mix of the season. Peppers of all types are still part of the share, as well as garlic. There will also be a small amount of ground cherries this week. They are different stages of ripeness but will continue to ripen. You want them to be an orange-y color and the husks will be a light tan. 

Have a great week!

-Farmer Todd