CSA Newsletter #15

Well, guess what? It rained again. Every time we take a few steps forward, rain comes in and slows us down. One of the challenges to being a farm on a college campus, especially in the fall, is working around schedules. The interns are out on the farm two mornings a week and I have additional classes that I teach, so when we have a wet season like this one, the weather doesn't always align with labor availability. We're making do because there is always plenty of work to get done, rain or shine. 

A lot of the last week was spent doing some serious maintenance on the greenhouse and hoophouse tomatoes, as well as some work with the sweet pepper house. We were able to get what was probably the last suckering and wrapping of the greenhouse tomatoes. We also did a major pruning of the plants. Since the fruit on the tomato plants ripen mostly from the bottom up, we end up stripping the plants of lower branches and empty fruit clusters. It's a big contrast to about a month ago when the plants were all so lush and green. They are still green but now they look a little naked. This is important to do because we want these plants to go as late as possible into the season and this creates airflow. By creating more airflow, we give the plants the opportunity to dry out quicker in the mornings and help to minimize the spread of disease. 

As for the hoophouse tomatoes, we did a different kind of maintenance. We ended up topping all of the plants. I mentioned last week that this would be happening at some point. Since the tomato plants have a finite amount of energy available for root, fruit and foliar production, topping the growing point signals to the plant that it can stop putting energy towards that foliar growth. This, in turn, allows the remaining energy that the plant has to ripen any remaining fruit. If you're growing any tomatoes at home, this is something that you might want to consider if you still have a lot of green fruit on the plants. The maintenance in the hoophouse peppers was a little different. To help slow the spread of the alternaria that is affecting some of the plants, we carefully removed the most severe plants after harvesting as much of the fruit that was ready. This is something that we will slowly do in the coming weeks to try and salvage as much of the fruit as possible.

For this week's CSA choice we have a new crop in the mix. This week, lemongrass is making its long awaited debut. When you see lemongrass in the store, it is usually just the shoots. Well, there's more to the plant then just the shoots. Because they have use, I decided to keep the leaves attached to the shoots. These can be trimmed and dried to use in teas. For the shoots, think of them as bay leaves. They are going to add a lot of flavor but should be removed from dishes since they are a bit woody. Here's a bit more information on lemongrass. Those beautiful sweet peppers along with shishito and hot peppers are still available this week. As well as paste, heirloom, cherry and beefsteak tomatoes. There will also be garlic, kohlrabi and rainbow chard again this week. Harvesting the basil last week was a little harder and slower than I had anticipated, so it's not going to be in the share this week but it will be available for u-pick. If you're interested in one last hurrah of basil just check in with me at pick up and I will point you in the right direction.

Have a great week!

Farmer Todd