This week, we've gotten the feel that, though it's still been hot, the summer is beginning to decline. Cool mornings, longer shadows, a little less blaze in the sun. We're ready for autumn or at least a little less summer. Summer vacations are wrapping up and school is about to start. We're still planting like mad in the fields for continued summer and fall crops and some early spring crops like leeks are already planted in the field. The earliest field tomato plants are starting to succumb to the foliar diseases that are only countered by chemical fungicides (which we don't use of course). We haven't started converting high tunnels over to winter crops yet, but that's just around the corner. So things are changing.
So what do we have to look forward to in the coming weeks (we have 9 weeks left including our final deliveries of the season Oct 13-15)? Peppers tend to really shine in this final third of the season. It takes a long time for some plants to get going. Those pepper plants take months to get going but the harvest becomes exponentially bigger at the end of the season. We'll have apples available as different varieties ripen (don't ask us what kind they are...we planted over a dozen varieties and then lost the map we used when we planted them:). We'll start harvesting ginger in a few weeks and should have an abundance through the end of the season and into the winter CSA. We are hoping for a good harvest of beans (I'll talk more about that below). The fall crops will start showing up toward the end of the season with broccolini, cabbage, collards, daikon radishes, salad turnips etc. And we'll have an abundance of greens again as the weather cools. September and October tend to be the months when we have the greatest variety available because the warm season and cool season crops overlap. It is the traditional harvest time of year after all!
Where is the ______ in my share?
To answer some of your questions. Here you go.
Sweet Corn: we don't grow this. Corn is actually a grain and it is therefore incredibly inefficient with respect to land, fertility and water requirements. For us to grow enough corn for CSA members to even have 1 dozon for 3 weeks, we'd need to increase our cultivated land by around 50%! We don't have the space for it, so we don't grow it. We also can't get it from other local producers for a couple reasons: 1) hardly anyone grows sweet corn organically. Most spray with pesticides to kill corn earworm, a bug that is pretty unappetizing to the uninitiated consumer. 2) sweet corn is best fresh picked the day before. Since we need to know how many we'd have almost a week prior in order for you to customize your shares, whoever supplied us would also have to estimate accurately well in advance and then deliver on CSA day. Logistically it's pretty challenging.
Green Beans: We do grow these. Lots of them, but the weather hasn't been cooperating. If you've been to the farmers market you'll note that they just aren't available at the market because no one is having much luck with them this year. We feel pretty good to have been able to send at least some to about half of you every week, but we are very aware that we do not have enough. We've planted way more than we should need but even the pole beans (the yellow ones) haven't produced at all. Just flowers and no beans because of the heat. As the weather cools this fall we should expect an increase in production that should make you all happy. We keep planting successions of beans around 10 weeks apart. Our final planting was around a week ago. With all that field space devoted to beans, we'll probably have more than you can eat or we can pick as we get closer to fall.
Okra: We just can't seem to get enough for you. This may have been an underestimate on the number of plants we'd need, that or ya'll have gotten a real southern streak picking those okra for your boxes. They will produce more as time goes on and the plants fork. Making notes to plant 2x the okra next year.
Ginger: It's coming. Still waiting for it to size up. It was really looking good until a couple weeks ago when some of the patches started dying off. This makes us sad but we do still have a lot of healthy looking plants so we hope to have a lot. We'll start digging them in the beginning of September.
Rainbow carrots: We don't grow them because they have long days to maturity compared to the more compact carrots we grow. These longer days mean they take up precious garden space longer and they also are more susceptible to disease and bad wether. We prefer the shorter, faster growing carrots that all tend to be orange. We can't grow the mega long carrots because we have a very shallow water table that will rot them if they are too long and we get several rainy days in a row. Wet weather can ruin our short carrots too, but the shorter they are, and the higher our beds are raised the less likely they are to get hurt by the wet.
Cucumbers: Boy they were going strong for quite a while but they all got pretty sick from some mildew and bugs. We've had to rip out most of the plants, so we only have a handful each week at this point. More baby plants in the ground but it will be a while until they are ready. This was probably a miss on our part. We could have replaced some of the big plants earlier to keep the succession of plants at different ages going but they looked so big and healthy and productive we made the call not to tear them out. Maybe that was a mistake, now we don't have any cukes for a while. Making mental notes to make the tough call next year and keep successively tearing out healthy rows to keep the train coming.
So, that's a bit about the challenges and why we don't just grow everything imaginable. Hope that make sense for you.
Bread and Cheese
Bread: Farm to Market Sourdough Artisan Loaf
Cheese: Applewood Smoked Curds
Thanks for eating local and keeping our local farm going.
Dave and Sheri