THIS WEEK IN THE BOX - week of September 21st
Attention Wednesday share members: The sweet potatoes harvested for Wednesday deliveries have cosmetic pitting and scarring on the skin. We have culled out the really bad ones. The inside flesh is perfectly fine, but you will need to peel some areas of the skin. We have included an extra 1/2 to 1 pound of potatoes to make up for this problem. For some odd reason this only occurred in this one place in the field.
Rosemary or Thyme - 1 bunch
Red Beets or Chioggia Beets - 1 bunch - Finally some gorgeous beets! Seems like it's been forever since our early beets were harvested.
Long Green Peppers - 3 pieces
Green Bell Pepper - 1 piece
Slender Green Beans - .3 lb bag - We are just starting to pick from a beautiful planting. We assumed there would be quite a lot of beans for this week, but the quick shift to cool nighttime temperatures has really slowed their growth. So you may receive smaller quantities over a longer period of time, but if the weather warms we should be able to get a bigger harvest soon. Remember that these beans are a labor of love! It takes 4 people more than 9 hours to handpick the beans for our Tuesday and Wednesday deliveries- even with the light amounts we are giving out! And handpicking beans is no fun, as it requires a significant amount of time crawling on the ground. It is rare to eat a handpicked green bean these days. Most green beans are picked with machine harvesters, which is much faster. We just don’t grow enough beans to justify buying one. Maybe someday!
Sweet Potatoes - 2 lbs - These sweet potatoes are right out of the ground and should be eaten pretty soon. They are kind of mellow tasting right now before they are cured- not overly sweet, but gentle and nutty. The harvest this week is comprised of smaller sized sweet potatoes than you will get in a few weeks from now, and smaller than what you usually see in the store. They taste just as good as larger ones. We will have a lot more sweet potatoes coming your way in the following months. See our season update below for more info on this crop.
Zucchini - 1 piece
Cherry Tomato - 1 pint
Toscano, Red or Green Kale - 1 bunch
Baby Romaine Lettuce - 1 bunch - Tuesday ONLY
Broccoli - Wednesday & Thursday ONLY
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 2
...Picking up where we left off last week with our seasonal crop update...
Peppers and Eggplants - Well, last year was a great year for these crops, and this year was not. Both peppers and eggplants love heat and this was a pretty cool-mild season, especially early on in June and July when they grow rapidly and set their fruit. Even though we cultivated and hand weeded a couple times, conditions were pretty wet for the first 2 months of their lives out in the field and the weeds flourished. Many farms grow these crops on top of black plastic, which heats up the soil and speeds up the crop. We choose not to use this plastic because we think it creates unnecessary waste at the end of the season when it's pulled up and thrown away. (There is a biodegradable version that we tried a few years back, but it is not certified for use in organic production, so we were forced to stop using it.)
Our eggplants have been especially lousy this year with very little fruit on the plants. For the first time ever, our crops were struck by lightning during one of several extreme thunderstorms that passed right over the farm earlier this summer. Shortly after one of these we noticed two circular dead spots in our eggplant patch, each about 50 feet in diameter. The weeds eventually came back but the eggplant did not.
The peppers did not get hit by lightning, but have taken a very long time to ripen. We have been giving out a small amount of green peppers but leaving many on the plant to turn red, orange or yellow. Unfortunately, many of the green peppers are developing decay spots on their slow turn to becoming colorful peppers. The nighttime temperatures are also cooler than usual for this time of year and the peppers are stubbornly resisting changing color. We are probably going to start picking many more green ones and giving them out if the nights stay cold.
Sweet potatoes - There was a time in June when we thought the sweet potatoes would never be planted. And it was truly by great luck that they made it into the ground! We have to use Certified Organic sweet potato slips which are not very easy to find. Ours are purchased from a farm in North Carolina and are shipped up here to the farm. Sweet potato slips are grown by putting seed sweet potatoes in soil beds with or without heat depending on the climate. When the slips are the right size, they are plucked out, crammed into boxes and sent to us. Scheduling the sweet potatoes slips delivery was very tough this year because they are very perishable and should be planted right away after they arrive. We needed to have dry conditions, the beds all prepped to plant, and the slips there just at just the right time. The planting date kept being postponed due to all the rain and it was nearing the end of the planting window for sweet potatoes on Long Island. The slips were shipped on Monday, and luckily they were dropped off early at 2:00 in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 17. Rain was forecast for the next umpteen days so this was our last chance. We had 26,000 slips to plant before dark and somehow they all made it into the ground. And then it rained a lot! And they all began to grow a few days later.
It has required a huge effort to keep the sweet potatoes weeded this year! Several thousands of dollars of hand weeding labor was needed to keep the crop weed free, as it was too wet for many weeks to access the fields with our cultivating machinery. It’s all been worth it, however, as the crop is beautiful and is yielding well. Next up is the curing process! In order to store sweet potatoes for any amount of time they need to be cured. Curing requires 85 degree temperatures and 85% humidity for about a week. This heals over any wounds from harvesting and prevents infection. After the curing process is completed, the sweet potatoes can be stored at 60 degrees for a very long time.
More next week on Winter Squash, beans, lettuce, maybe more...
Be well - Farmer Matt
THIS WEEK'S RECIPE SUGGESTIONS