Farm Happenings at Oxen Hill Farm
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Welcome to the Summer 2020 CSA Season Week 13! (week of September 14, 2020)

Posted on September 11th, 2020 by Lisa Griffin

It seems we have begun to turn the corner into the last 1/3rd of our Summer season as some winter squash are ready to harvest and will be available this week.  Peppers and eggplants continue to produce well along with a new crop of greens that have been invigorated by the recent rains. The tomatoes are fading away, and are no longer available in bulk but can be a part of shares for those that don’t mind smaller tomatoes at the end of their peak season.

In an interesting experiment five summers ago, we put some temporary hoop houses over a few rows of tomatoes in East Granby.  The plastic cover prevented the foliage from getting wet with dew every morning and from the few major rain events we had that summer.  The sides were rolled up to allow heat to escape and pollinators to enter, and rolled back down when heavy rains were predicted. The types of tomatoes planted varied through the field, but tomatoes both in and out of the hoops were irrigated at the same rates and frequency.  Soil fertility was also roughly the same throughout the field. In the photo below, there are uncovered tomatoes at the far end of the tunnel.

Experimental tunnels

By this time of year, the tomato plants outside of the hoops (seen below) were virtually all dead, having succumbed to bacterial and fungal diseases that affect plants and are spread by moisture. The tomatoes on the dead vines continued to ripen as if they have already been picked, and no more tomatoes were produced.

uncovered tomatoes

The ones within the plastic hoops were thriving and continued to produce new flowers and fruits.  The tunnels need to be taken down each year before snowfall, and moved to a different area to prevent the transmission of plant diseases between seasons.    

tomatoes within the tunnel, same time

This year, in the midst of all the other challenges of farming in a pandemic, we didn’t get the tomato tunnels up in the very earliest part of the season, and then we had so many very hot days with dry weather that it didn’t seem prudent to put the tomatoes under cover.  The time and expense of setting up the tunnels and opening and closing them daily this year just didn’t make sense.  As we have finally had some rain lately and cooler overnight temperatures, the larger field tomatoes are pretty much done for the season, as many have succumbed to disease at this point.   The cherry and plum tomatoes at the U-pick area at the Suffield farm were planted a little later than the others though, and they continue to produce some nice fruits for those that wish to pick them.

Some of the produce you receive has been rinsed from the field, but like all fresh produce, should be thoroughly washed and, usually, refrigerated by you at home.

Please keep in mind that we don’t grow organic heirloom tomatoes because they are classically pretty, or that they have a long shelf-life, but for their amazing flavors and often unusual colors.

The Pinterest Board for week 13  https://www.pinterest.com/oxenhillfarmcsa/week-13/