The Dirt on the Farm: 8/22/2016

Welcome to halftime. Today marks week 12 (the halfway point) of the 2016 CSA season. Farmer Tim here. I hope you are enjoying the produce to this point. I wanted to take some time to update you about the coming 12 weeks, so you know to some extent what to expect. Every year the list of successful crops vs not so productive ones varies (last year we had broccoli coming out of our ears, and nary a melon in sight). This year brassica (broccoli, mustard, cabbage) crops have suffered do to flea beetles, but melons and tomatoes have shined brightly.  July’s lack of rain contributed to some loss and of course weeds overtake something every year. Fall plans are looking good right now with hopes of a abundant and diverse offerings to finish out the year.

Never in my 12 years as a grower, have I seen such a tenacious, continuous flood of flea beetles as i have this year. The species of flea beetle we are dealing with on our farm is the type that, best case scenario, puts little pin prick holes in leafy greens. This year, flea beetles have been much more aggressive, eating heads of cabbage, completely devouring whole crops of arugula, mustards, broccoli, kale (record low for the amount we’ve given out this year) and not stopping like they have always done in the heat of the summer.

The flea beetle scourge has radically shrunk the amount of crops we have available for you in any given week. That should start to improve though in the coming weeks. As cooler temps creep in, we’ll go back to covering sensitive crops with row cover: a thin woven protective fabric. Using this on hot days makes what’s underneath even hotter, and can often force crops to go to seed prematurely. In cool days though, this can keep flea beetles off crops. We are hopeful that arugula, hakurei turnips, radishes, and the other smaller brassica family crops will pull through better from here on out.

What a tomato year! Plants are very healthy, and producing well. Now that we are running a cooler with perfectly calibrated temps (which stop ripening without turning tomatoes to mush) the quality of the tomatoes you receive should be more consistent. We are also bagging tomatoes to try to help keep them safe during transport. Tomatoes should be abundant for another 4-8 weeks.

Melons and watermelons are another success story so far. We expect melons to be harvestable for a bit longer and watermelons will start now, and are typically around for 3-5 weeks.

Carrots have been terribly difficult to grow this year, with zero rain in July, and the usual imperfectly timed weed flushes. We have lots of carrots to weed in the coming weeks. If we make a good dent in them, fall should be redemptive.

We have a good amount of things in the ground already that will bring about new items for the last half of the season, root veggies, short season brassica like kohlrabi and turnip, and hopefully our Brussels sprouts and kalettes will survive the beetles. Potatoes will get bigger and more abundant. Lettuce, spinach, and radish are scheduled to return.

Thank you for eating with us in 2016. We’ll always keep pushing hard to make what goes in your boxes as good as is possible. Your willingness to share in the risks and reap in the bounty is what makes our food community strong. Thank you again for choosing LotFotL and supporting CSA. Now, enjoy the cool nights!