CSA Newsletter #14

Howdy folks!

I mentioned it in last week's newsletter about the inevitable "topping" of tomato plants. Well, it started last week with the heirloom and sauce tomatoes. Since tomato plants (and others) have a limited amount of energy for their root, fruit and foliar production, "topping" is a way to tell the plant that the season is almost over. We cut off the growing point, aka the top of the plant, aka the apical meristem and this signals that the plant should put remaining energy into ripening the fruit on the plant. As they say in A Song of Ice and Fire, winter is coming. Even though the plants are in a hoophouse, sub-40 degree temperatures can put an ends to the plant and we want to maximize our harvest. So, if you have tomatoes growing at home and you want to maximize vine-ripened tomatoes, go ahead and "top" them. In the coming weeks, we'll move onto the cherries and beefsteaks.

I also began a first in almost 20 years of farming. Here's the abridged version: I had mentioned at some point in August that we had lost most (215 out of 225) of the sweet/frying peppers we planted in one of the other hoophouses. I still wanted to do something with that space, so we pulled up the landscape fabric very gently over the surviving plants. There were also some pepper plants that were not completely gone and were growing back. I decided to direct seed the fastest growing cucumbers in the spots where there were no peppers left. A week later, after the cucumbers had germinated, I wanted to scratch that idea. There was no way that the peppers that were growing back were going to make it in time. So, then I decided that we should plant cabbage (and it turns out some broccoli, too) in all the spots where the peppers weren't going to make it. Well, now we have 10 pepper plants, 200-plus cabbage/broccoli plants and 50 or so cucumber plants. Because cucumbers are vining plants, we can trellis them just like we do tomatoes. I started that last week and will hopefully finish this week. I think it's going to be quite a sight. When I think of companion planting, these 3 types don't come to mind together. And knock on wood, but we could have some cucumbers in the coming weeks.

We're here, though, week 14 of the season. In this week's share, salad greens make a return. In fact, there will be two types in the choice. There will be the standard lettuce mix that we have been growing the last few years and and new mix that we're trialing this year from High Mowing Seeds. As mentioned above, the heirlooms are on the downturn but are still with us. I was slightly overwhelmed with cherry and beefsteak harvest for this week and I will happily pass them onto you all. This also may be the peak week for the hot peppers, if you can believe it. There will be a new superhot this week, Gator Jigsaw. The SHU for this one is unknown and is rumored to be hotter than the Carolina Reaper. I haven't given it a taste yet. That'll have to wait until my next Food Preservation class (shoutout to my students who all tried the Chocolate Reaper with me). There will again be a okra/shishito choice and basil, along with another round of fresh ginger. If you are looking for something to do with it besides use it for teas, stir-frys or smoothies, might I suggest pickled ginger. I know that this recipe calls for 8 ounces but the boxes at the share will be just over 4 ounces. It's super simple and super tasty.

Have a great week!

-Farmer Todd