Summer is here, and with it comes a substantial shift in our cropping scheme, resulting in new and different veggie possibilities in your boxes. I hesitate to classify the weather patterns of the past 2 weeks (with night time lows 15-25 degrees below normal) as indicative of what we’re used to seeing this time of year, but even with that in mind the changes in the fields are obvious. Gone are spinach and arugula, and the remaining cold hardy short season annuals are beginning to fade out too. Just beyond readiness are fennel, carrots, green beans, and cauliflower, and beyond that sweet corn, tomatoes, and melons.
The planting year started very well. Rainfall was down, but that helped us get into the fields a bit earlier than in a typical March-May wet cycle. By early June, nearly every bed in our 18 acre field was filled with healthy, weed-lite plants. Not all was perfect of course. Flea beetles wiped out arugula plantings, set back kale, and disallowed some early broccoli raab, and bok choy. Asparagus yields this year were down at least 25% from previous years, most likely due to the radical swings in temperature we experienced, and inadequate rainfall early.
Once the rains of June hit, everything changed. Thistle and foxtail (a grass we haven’t seen in 3 years) came on strong and took over several plantings. While we needed the rain, the cold that came with it was difficult for our pigs to endure, and did flood out a couple of seedlings here and there. Field tomatoes look good for now, but late blight has already been found in Wisconsin near Adams. It won’t be all that long until it reaches us ;(
Currently, we are in a little bit of a holding pattern as spring crops die back and summer crops catch up. Beans, sweet corn, sweet onions, and melons are still a few weeks out, but our first carrots will begin this week for one group, and our first beets for the other. I am expecting plenty of carrots and beets for everyone for many weeks to come. Spring cauliflower is not overly predictable, but we have a lot in the fields, and should get some into every share within the next 2-3 weeks. Expect lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, and summer squash to stay consistent in shares for now as well.
Finally, looking to the longer term, all of our heirloom tomatoes this year will be tunnel grown. Even in a late blight context, tunnel tomatoes hold up better, resist blight longer, and just look so much nicer than field tomatoes we couldn’t resist. They are trellised, weed free, and look very strong. Still, don’t expect the first heirlooms until August. Melons are looking really good too after a bit of a rough start. We’ve added Sun Jewel Korean melons to our mix this year. These look a bit like Delicata winter squash, and have a real nice subtle flavor that I’m eager to check out. This will be the first fall we have parsnips in our CSA shares in 5 years, and if we are able to weed all of the beds, we will have lots and lots of them. Same with Kalettes, which now come in a shorter day variety, meaning potential for 2-3 stalks for everyone before Thanksgiving.
So, don’t go digging for your favorite Pico De Gallo recipe just yet, but soon enough!