Fresh Earth Farms - CSA

Fresh Earth Farms Newsletter 9-7-2010

This farming season is just like all the other seasons.  By that I mean it is completely different than every other season.  There has never been one like it before as was the case with last season and the season before and the season before.  They are all different and so they are all the same – i.e. different.

Why was this year so different?  It was warm and rainy.  We’ve had warm and dry.  We’ve had cool.  We haven’t had a lot of rainy, except the fall of 2007.  Last year it snowed in October.  Hope this year October is different.  But this year is the first year I can recall it being warm and rainy. 

So how does this affect the season?  Well, for the most part everything is earlier, including the end.  For example, we typically start harvesting tomatoes in early August (cherry tomatoes come late July).  We continue to harvest the tomatoes until the first frost in the fall.  Many years we’ve spent a whole day harvesting unripe tomatoes right before a forecasted frost so that we could ripen them off the vine.  We’ve had over 500 pounds of tomatoes in various stages of ripeness some years.

This year we started harvesting tomatoes in July.  That’s a good thing.  And we most likely would continue to harvest the tomatoes until the first frost – except for the rainy part of this year.  With all the rain we’ve had all the tomato plants have been hit by disease.  When we worked though them yesterday I found no plant that wasn’t affected and many plants that were dead.  It has been a good year for tomatoes – from a temperature standpoint – but a fantastic year for tomato diseases.

So, you will be seeing a steep slope on the right side of the tomato bell curve this season.  I am fairly certain we won’t have tomatoes until the first frost – unless, er, never mind.  I don’t want to use the f-word in regard to the first few weeks of September.  So let’s just say that this coming week there will far fewer tomatoes and the following week possibly none.

Another feature of this season that is different from past seasons is that the winter squash is ripe now.  We usually wait until the first frost but it is looking good and ready so we will start picking it as soon as we can.  As you can imagine, past seasons had a big time crunch right around the first frost, possibly not this season – unless, No, I’m not going to say it.

One aspect of this season that is very similar to last in that we will have plenty of potatoes to last until the end.  It is now just a matter of getting them out of the ground, washed and stored.  Ever notice how vegetables get heavier/more dense as the season progresses?

One downside to this season is we continue to have trouble growing melons.  This year was particularly bad.  Most melon growers in the Midwest grow melons on black plastic.  Black plastic provides a couple advantages.  First it blocks the germination of weeds; melons do not compete well with weeds.  Second, it warms the soil and the air around the plant.  Melons like heat.  Third is prevents soil from splashing on the melon plant.  This reduces the chances for acquiring diseases.  The downside of plastic is it is a petroleum product and goes in a landfill at the end of the season.  Since we don’t use plastic we don’t get any of the advantages or disadvantages of the plastic.  We continue to struggle getting melons to grow and ripen before they rot, which was the case for this season.  So unfortunately we will not have any melons this year.  Our goal over the winter is to figure out a way to grow them consistently without using plastic.  Hope we are successful!

So what will we have this week?  Tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, garlic, Swiss chard, beets, tomatillos, winter squash, fennel, carrots, and maybe onions or shallots.   I think there are some other things out there but again they seem to slip my mind right now.

The winter squash this week will most likely be spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite squashes.  My other favorites are butternut, buttercup, delicata, acorn, carnival, and virtually any other winter squash.  The unique thing about spaghetti squash is that is really difficult to spell.  Another unique thing about it is when cooked and split open the flesh can be scraped out into strings that resemble spaghetti.  The way we prepare it is by boiling it until a fork can be inserted through the skin and the inside is soft.  Then it is cut lengthwise.  Next, take a fork and scrape along the flesh; the flesh will come off in strings.  Dump the strings into a bowl and add butter, parmesan cheese or any other favorite topping.  A great low cal pasta-like dish!

FruitShare and CheeseShare were this past week, so neither are on tap for this week.  MeatShare came on Friday so those who haven’t picked it up yet please do so.  And of course there is always EggShare.

 We also have an extra quarter beef if anyone is interested.  See our MeatShare page for more details.

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