FARM BLOG

CSA Week #16

THIS WEEK IN THE BOX - week of September 14th

VEGETABLE SHARE

Cell Phone! - 1 piece - Holly thinks she may have dropped her cell phone in one of the CSA boxes going out today.  If you find it, please call us at 631-722-3302.  Thank you!!!!!
Baby Arugula
- 1 bag
Cilantro or Dill - 1 bunch
Peppers - 1-2 pieces - if you happen to get a small red one, check to see if it’s hot before cooking or handling with kids!
Red Kale - 1 bunch - This is the beginning of our fall greens of which there will be many more to come.  Be sure to remove the hard stems before cooking.  I usually just rip the leaves off the center stem, which gets tossed in the compost.
Zucchini – 1 piece - Almost the end of the season!
Tomatoes* - 1-2 pieces -  The tomato ripening has come to a halt with the cool weather this past week, so we have a very limited number to send out.  Each week we send out everything we have harvested that is ripe for the week, so the volume you receive directly relates to the daytime and nighttime temperatures.  Have no fear- this is not the end of the tomatoes! 
Cherry Tomatoes - 1 pint
Garlic – 1 head - The garlic has been carefully graded *twice* to prevent any garlic that has internal breakdown from going out in the boxes.  Occasionally it’s impossible to tell from looking at the outside, so if you get a bad garlic by some chance, please let us know!
Watermelon - 1 piece 
Cantaloupe Melon - 1 piece - Tues & Wed ONLY - Picking melons is very tricky, so we've been very careful to pick ones that are just right-- but please let us know if you get a "dud".  
Green Beans -or- Beets - 1 bunch or bag - Thursday ONLY  

*The tomatoes have been sprayed with copper as a preventative for late blight fungus.  This spray is certified for use in organic production and is harmless to humans, but must be washed off before eating.  Also be sure to ripen completely on the counter before eating!  They should be a deep red and slightly soft to the touch.

FRUIT SHARE
Tuesday - 1 bag mixed Bosc Pears & Apples - Bosc pears are ripe when they turn an even brown color. They are still firm when ripe!  Refrigerate immediately when ripe.  If left to soften, they will be rotten when you cut them open, so be careful!

Be sure to remove fruit from plastic bags immediately when you get them home.  They can ripen out on the counter or in a paper bag.  Store ripe fruit in the fridge.  

LETTER FROM YOUR FARMER - SEASON UPDATE - PART 1

Greetings!

At long last, your farm season update! After starting to put down my thoughts last night, I realized just how much information I have to share with you, so this will be Part 1 of several installments I'll write over the next few weeks.  

Our plantings are almost finished here at the farm, with only a couple plantings of baby greens, radishes, and spinach left to seed.  And of course, garlic!  Garlic is planted between mid-October and early November - whenever we have time - to be harvested next July. We also have a lot of cover cropping to do to protect and enrich the soil throughout the winter and into late spring.  We seed various plants after our crops are finished in a field.  Hairy vetch, rye, triticale, oats, crimson clover, and red clover are some of the cover crops we plant on our farm. 

So… things would seem to be slowing down at the farm, and to a certain extent, that is true.  The intensity of our field preparation, our planting, cultivating, irrigating and mental overload is definitely slowing.  We can be somewhat happy that the season so far has not been the disaster that it looked like it was destined to become back in July. And we can always do what many farmers love more than anything- dream about next year! But not quite yet…because there is so much stuff to harvest!  We have 11 more weeks of the 2009 CSA season and lots of good veggies coming your way, as long as the weather cooperates!

This is a great time to do a season and crop update to let all of you know the inside scoop about our farming season and some details of the state of our crops. Kind of like a State of Our (Your) Crops Address.  Sounds like fun! Well here it goes...  This not intended to depress anybody, but more importantly to connect you to your food and to enrich your experience with locally produced food.  After all, as a CSA member you directly experience the events of the season.

This year has been full of complication.  At this stage of farming, there is not much that can really wreck our season except really bad weather.  And for the most part, that means rain.  Rain and continuously wet conditions can not only destroy crops, but for a CSA farm where weekly succession plantings are integral to the program, it turns most plans upside down. Parts of June and almost all of July brought all of our very complex planting and seeding schedules to a standstill.  While the rain was not hurting our spring planted greens and other crops which were harvested through June and July, it became impossible to get very much planted or to cultivate many of our crops. June is a big month for us to plant many of our large acreage one planting crops like winter squash, sweet potatoes, late tomatoes, melons, watermelons, as well as other multiple planting crops like beans, lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage etc.  We had so few days to plant and weed during these 2 months that it became a nightmare of scrambling to do a couple weeks work in a couple of days.  Every small opportunity to plant or cultivate or prep fields became frenzied, marathon days from before dawn 'till after dark.  And as usual, the crops had to be picked, the boxes made up and all the rest of the normal farm functions went on as usual.  The planting schedule became, “what are most important crops that we can get planted as fast as possible, as soon as we have a chance”.  This is not normal for us.  While we are always working and modifying our plans around the weather, this year we were really not given a chance.  We just had to wait, all the while frustration building, until the ground was able to be planted.  This lasted for weeks at some points.  To most people lots of rain is just annoying or an inconvenience, but to farmers excessive rain and wet air conditions can spell disaster.  We are lucky on Long Island to have soils that drain well, and we have nice raised beds that keep all the crops above any standing water.  We rarely have standing water in our fields for more than an hour or two after heavy rains, but if the soil is saturated we cannot till and plant because it destroys the soil and the plants won’t grow very well- if at all.

So now everybody wants to know how their crops are doing!  Well, not too badly in general.  But specifically, here is our crop update.  This week I'll talk about Tomatoes and Potatoes.  Next week I'll address our other crops out there in the fields...

Tomatoes -  Many of you have learned about late blight this year.  It was here very early and caught many people off guard, including us in the beginning.  It’s easy to think, "Oh, it won’t happen here!”, until you know better.  Anyway, we were the second documented farm on Long Island, maybe in the northeast, to get late blight on one variety of potatoes.  (More about that in the potato section).  So then we started to take things seriously.  Luckily, it was early enough to get ready for the tomato battle to come.  Organic farmers don’t like spraying very much, but there wasn’t much of a choice if we wanted to give out any tomatoes in our CSA this year.  Basically, we had a new job, which somehow we were supposed to find time for in amongst everything else to do.  We’re on our 3rd method of spraying the tomatoes and after buying and borrowing the right equipment we now have the ultimate tomato spraying setup!  A super mini tractor fits down between the tomato rows with a little 50 gallon air blast sprayer attached to the back.  It provides excellent coverage of all the leaves and fruit with a very fine mist that doesn’t go all over the place. For organic farmers, the only way to prevent late blight currently is to have copper coating the plant before it becomes infected.  The leaves, fruit and stem can become affected.  If the weather is right, a beautiful field can turn black and die really quickly. No fun after spending many thousands of dollars on growing, staking, and tying a planting!  We have been successful with our first planting so far.  We're not out of the woods yet, however.  Our second planting of tomatoes was not sprayed at all during most of August when we were working on various sprayers and waiting for parts.  The weather was really great- sunny, warm, and barely any signs of blight.  Then, a couple of dewey mornings and one rain and it took off again! It was all sitting there just waiting for the right conditions. Luckily the new setup was working and the spraying continues in earnest.  The second planting is looking pretty good, so we hope it will continue.

Potatoes - Well, there are a decent amount of not very big, but very good looking and delicious potatoes this year.  They are not too big because it was so wet and we were so busy we couldn’t find time to spray to get rid of the potato beetles that arrive in the early summer.  We sprayed them 2 weeks late and by then they were no longer small larvae and were consuming potato leaves as fast as they could eat! Most of the beautiful 6 acre leafy field of potatoes looked like potato stick plants with all the leaves eaten in a matter of days.  But not all was lost because the plants had grown enough to produce some beautiful tubers, although smaller than normal.  And the best thing was, we didn’t get late blight on most of the potatoes because there was no live tissue to become infected.  The potato beetles did us a great favor after all! As I said before, we did get late blight on one variety, which we promptly flail mowed down so there would be no live tissue.  Some of these potatoes have already been given out in CSA shares so they can be cooked and eaten. They look great.  There will not be the same quantity of potatoes in the share as last year, but they are better looking spuds!  

...More to come next week about our successful sweet potato and bean crops and more!  

Be well, and remember, you are what you eat!  - Farmer Matt

THIS WEEK'S RECIPE SUGGESTIONS

Sesame Kale Salad
Kale Chips 

More recipes for all the week's produce can be found here on our RECIPES page.